Cat Care

???????????????????????????????Before… Before becoming the proud person in a cat or kitten’s life, you should arm yourself with the basic equipment necessary to make the new addition to the family feel at home. Top of that list should be a kind heart and a willingness to be patient – just think what it must be like to be taken from everything and everyone that you know, with no way of  understanding what is going on! Having said that, young kittens do ‘live in the moment’ and very quickly forget what went before. It is surprising, too, how quickly even adult cats adapt to their new people and surroundings with those that have had a hard time being pretty grateful for the love and care that you provide. On a practical level, here is a list of things you will need:

Billy and Charlie comp

 

 

BeddingA comfortable bed is a must – and, you never know, the kitten or cat might   even decide to sleep in it! Back to top

 

Litter tray and littermake sure the tray isn’t too deep if it’s for a young kitten. For adult cats, I actually use plastic stacking boxes about 12” deep to help prevent scattering. There are also covered trays available and some cats prefer the privacy this gives them. It is sometimes a good idea to remove the cat flap from this type of tray until the cat gets used to using it. There are many types of litter on the market, but it’s  helpful to use whatever the kitten or cat is already used to and then change it gradually by mixing with whatever sort of litter you prefer to use. Bear in mind that clumping litters can be very dusty (and therefore unhealthy for both you and the cat) and very heavy when wet. It is vital to provide a tray for night time use even for cats that venture in and out during the day. Most accidents happen at night and it is then that cat thieves are most likely to be at work, so cats should be kept in at night. Kittens under 6 months old, and not yet neutered or spayed, should only be allowed to play in a safe garden under supervision.Back to top

FoodThere are many brands of kitten and cat foods on the market but, at least to start with, it helps the kitten or cat to settle if you stick to the food used by the rescue centre. Really cheap food is usually a false economy because it won’t provide the nutrients the kitten or cat needs and they will probably refuse to eat it anyway. If you are out during the day, a dish of good quality dried kitten or cat food should be available along with a bowl of fresh water. Kittens need to be fed little and often. Back to top

Food and water bowls - there are lots to choose from but the non-spill ones are probably best. Using almost flat saucer-like dishes will only result in food being chased around the dish and then the floor. And just watch what happens when a daft kitten chasing a ball bangs into a low-sided water dish! Back to top

Transport – A cat carrier is an absolute necessity! The best ones are made of robust, solid, plastic with  ventilation slats and good strong catches. Personally, I don’t like wicker baskets because they are hard to keep clean and much less secure. Back to top

AngelPlayPlay is vital to your kitten’s or cat’s well-being. The type of toys you choose will depend on your circumstances. For example, a totally indoor cat will need a robust scratching post to scratch and climb (a long piece of driftwood is great if you have the space for it, and just about guaranteed to attract claws!). The sky’s the limit as far as price goes for scratching/climbing frames but you don’t have to spend a fortune to make your cat or kitten happy.

Playing with your kitten is really important as it helps establish your long-term relationship BUT don’t be tempted to play rough e.g. encouraging a kitten to ‘attack’ your hand. These play fights are natural for kittens but try to redirect their kick-boxing activities to their toys or you will most certainly regret it later when the growing kitten continues the game and gets a bit too rough. Catnip-filled toys, bought or home-made, are always a great hit as are adventure playgrounds made out of upturned cardboard boxes with holes cut in them and a few small plastic balls inside. Obviously, ‘dangly’ toys appeal but must be used with great caution since kittens and cats can very easily become entangled and, if no-one is around to help, may lose a limb or even be strangled. The best toys are often free though – crumpled up ‘noisy’ paper inside an old sock with the open end knotted shut, a large paper bag left on its side, plastic straws…..Back to top

Dangers – Avoid leaving lying around loose string, elastic, rubber bands, toys with bits (eg eyes) than can be bitten off and ingested, plastic bags, paper clips, pot pourri or any other small item that can be swallowed.Dangers are very real to the naturally inquisitive cat and the kitten with no sense whatsoever of danger are washing machines and dryers, toilet bowls, cleaning materials, anti-freeze, electric cords, blind cords and even your car engine. Many household plants and some flowers are very toxic to cats and can kill them. Indoor plants to avoid are: Amaryllis, Azalea, Cactus, Caladium, Lillies, Dieffenbachia, Ivy, Mistletoe, Philodendron and Poinsettia. Take a look at web sites giving information about toxic plants for more information on this subject. Back to top

HealthcareHaving sorted all that out, you will also have to have your cat inoculated against cat ‘flu, feline leukaemia etc and you might also consider having the little dear micro-chipped in case he/she wanders off and gets lost. Neutering or speying is absolutely vital and will already have been done by the rescue centre before homing if the adoptee is old enough. If you take on a very young kitten from a rescue centre, you will be told when the op is due and should inform the centre when it has been done. Remember, these centres (and this certainly applies to CAT’77) are sometimes run entirely by volunteers who give of their time, energy (and often money) to help animals that are the victims of human neglect and cruelty. Take a look at our page on the importance of neutering for some shocking facts and figures!Back to top