Rural Animal Welfare Resources
Empowering You to Respect and Care for Animals

Caring for a Pet Cat

Mon, 01/05/2015 - 13:27 -- penny

The cat is an independent animal and this may suggest it needs only a low-level of care.  This is not true and only if taken good care of will a cat reach a healthy old age.  A well-cared for cat can live for 15-20 years.

Take your cat to the veterinarian for a health check straight after you get him, no matter how old he is.  Use a plastic pet carrier to transport cats.  They can claw and eat their way out of a cardboard box.  An upset cat loose in your car is dangerous

Identification

Your cat should wear a special cat collar with identification tag with your name and telephone number.  A cat collar will come loose if caught on something, for instance a branch.  Puppy collars are not suitable for cats as they do not have such a safety release.  Some collars don't have a safety catch, but a short piece of elastic that stretches so the cat can free himself from the collar if accidentally caught.  consider putting a small bell on the collar to protect wild birds.  If you want your cat to hunt, use the bell in spring when fledglings are about.  Take it off again in the autumn and winter for the vermin season.

Your veterinarian can insert a micro-chip under the skin in the shoulder area.  This chip will ensure that your cat can be identified if he has lost his collar and tag.  It is not expensive and an important help in getting your pet back home.

Neutering

Neutering is important so that your cat will not carry or cause unwanted kittens.

Female cats will look for a quiet and safe place to have their babies,which could be quite a distance from yur home.  You may never know about the kittens your cat put out in the world until they have turned into feral cats and there is an overpopulation or territory problem!

If your cat is male, neutering him can reduce roaming, fighting, spraying and crying.  And he can no longer contribute to the overpopulation problem.

A Purrrrrfect Cat Environment

  • The Basics

Provide your cat with his own warm bed.  Cats prefer a quiet and draft-free spot.  To keep their nails in shape cats need to scratch.  Save your furniture by providing a scratching post.  A good scratching post can be as basic as a piece of wood covered with an off-cut of carpet.  You will also need water and food bowls that are easily cleaned and a cat toilet.

  • Cat Toilet

Cats need a toilet, called a litter tray.  Consider having one even if your cat has access to a garden.  A litter tray is a useful tool to keep track of your cat's health.  There are many types and brands of trays and litter.  Place the tray far away from the food area.  You wouldn't like to eat in the bathroom so don't expect your cat to either.

  • Cat Litter

If you can, choose a litter that is environmentally friendly in that it doesn't harm the natural environment in its production process or after the cat has used it.  Solids should be removed from the litter tray daily.  Any type of scoop will do.  Don't put the poop in the compost for your vegetable patch, it is unhealthy for (pregnant) humans.  The litter itself should be changed regularly.  How often depends on the product you use.  Before you put in fresh litter clean the tray inside and out.  Get into the habit of disinfecting the tray and the place it stands once a week.  Good hygiene is important when cleaning a toile .  Wear rubber gloves or wash your hands thoroughly.

Cat Behaviour

Cats are intelligent and need mental stimulation.  They love small toys to play with.  If they do show unwanted behaviour, physical punishment will not work.  Cats may become fearful or, smart as they are, simply misbehave when you are away.  Cats also use unwanted behaviour to get attention!  Good cat training means rewarding good behaviour.  Stopping unwanted behaviour means you will have to be consistent.  What will you accept from your cat and where do you draw the line?  When the cat exhibits unwanted behaviour, make a loud noise or squirt with a water bottle to stop it.

Food & Drink

Dry food and fresh water should be available all the time to cats of all ages.  Offer some wet food, cats are desert animals originally and they often don't drink sufficient water - they can get some from the moisture in wet food.

Cats have a different digestive system from people and dogs.  To give an example, cow's milk can cause diarrhoea and vomiting.  There is a special cat milk available from pet suppliers, but your cat really only needs clean and fresh water available at all times.

Dry cat food helps to keep your pet's teeth clean and is the easiest to handle and portion.  Avoid putting dog food where the cat can eat it.  Cats need more protein and amino acids than dog food provides.  Equally cat food is not good for dogs and can cause health problems.  Don't feed table scraps unless you want your cat to roam the kitchen for more.  Never give your cat bones.

  • Feeding Kittens

Kittens should not be taken from their mother until they are seven to eight weeks old.  If you find a motherless kitten, take it to a veterinarian to find out about age and feeding.  Kittens require high calorie food because they are growing fast.  Remove any uneaten food after ten minutes.  Overfeeding can cause diarrhoea and vomiting.  When your kitten reaches one year of age gradually change the dry food to an adult formula.  Mix one quarter adult food with three quarters kitten food.  Gradually increase the adult food to 100% over a 5 to 10 day period

Grooming

Brushing or combing your cat daily will help reduce hairballs from forming in the stomach when he grooms himself and grooming will allow you to check for any physical problems that may be starting.  Use a soft brush or wide-toothed comb for long-haired cats.  A rubber bristle brush works well for short-haired cats.  Special food is available for cats that have a tendency to form fur balls

 

Adapted from/Source:

www.catcaresociety.org

www.bluecross.ie