Cats and Kittens
Hints & Tips
Welcoming a feline into your household can be extremely rewarding. Whether it is a kitten or an older cat that you decide upon, both need just as much love and in return they will make your house into a home!
It is important to be fully prepared for the new addition to your family. Whilst looking forward to all the fun you can have playing with your new cat or kitten, remember there are new responsibilities.
This section will give you information on getting a cat or kitten and settling them in to their new home. It will also provide an insight into what to expect and how to go about bringing your new pet up to be happy and healthy.
There is a vast array of books available with further information and advice on rearing cats and being a responsible owner. Don't forget your vet would also be ready to assist in any way they can, so make the most of them!
A Cat or a Kitten?
It is hard to resist choosing an adorable kitten, but they can be hard work and require more of your time than you may at first think. The important things to consider are that a kitten will need its vaccinations and if you do not wish to breed from them they should be neutered or spayed. You will also need to make sure your kitten gets four meals a day, adequate play time, training and constant supervision. The old saying about cats and curiosity could not be more fitting than with an inquisitive kitten, so keep your eye on them!
Having a kitten or a cat from an early age can be a wonderful experience, but there are many older cats that still need loving homes. It can be highly rewarding choosing an older cat from a rescue home or a previous owner, and doing this does have its advantages. Older cats are more likely to be toilet trained and will already be in the pattern of having just two meals a day. So, unlike a kitten, your older cat will not need constant supervision and they are more likely to be independent and capable of amusing themselves. This doesn't mean they don't enjoy play time with their owner as well!
If you decide to get a kitten, remember that it is a difficult time for them when they are taken away from their mother. Make sure you give plenty of time to your kitten, especially in their first days with you, to help them settle in and form a bond with you. They need to feel safe and reassured within their new family. Try to have your kitten's bed somewhere near to the family in a warm, quiet place. Kittens tend to sleep rather a lot and should be settled down at your bedtime after the last feed of the day.
A new cat or kitten needs time to settle into their new surroundings. During their first weeks in your home, they should be allowed some quiet time to explore each room thoroughly. Only after they have grown accustomed to their indoor environment and have adjusted to a regular feeding schedule should you allow them to venture outdoors. If you acquire a cat during the winter, you should wait for warmer weather before allowing them outside.
If you already have another pet, the best time for them to meet the new addition to the family is at mealtime. It is probably wise to keep your other pet confined while your cat explores its new surroundings. If your existing pet is a dog you may want to keep him on a lead until the two have been properly introduced! Remember, if you have fish or birds as pets, it may not be your cat that needs protecting so be sure to take all the necessary precautions!
Cats are carnivorous and they become mature at about seven to eight months old. Up to this time their protein requirements are higher and the protein should be of animal origin. Cats cannot survive on a vegetarian diet! Cats also have nutritional needs and reputable brands, either canned or dry food, cater for those needs. Remember if dry food is fed, water must be available at all times.
Do not feed your cat chicken bones or skin. Do not feed fish all the time and do not feed liver alone more than once a week. Most cats will only eat what they need.
Your cat is a natural hunter. Don't assume that they are hungry and hunting for food. If your cat does bring you a 'gift', accept it - it is meant as a contribution to the larder!
Breed and Personality
There are many different breeds of cat to choose from. Firstly, you need to look for a breed that will suit your lifestyle. If you are someone who works long hours and has no outdoor space at home then a less active cat with indoor tendencies would be more suitable than an adventurous, outdoor cat.
Next, you need to decide whether you would like a pedigree, crossbreed or mixed breed cat. With a pedigree cat you can predict that their behaviour will be similar to other pedigree cats of the same breed. With crossbreed or mixed breed cats this is less easy to predict, but many people enjoy having a cat with its own unique personality traits. A crossbreed cat is one where both parents are pedigree but of different breeds. A mixed breed cat is one where parentage is more often than not unknown.
The third consideration is whether you would like a long haired or short haired cat. If you decide upon a long haired cat you will need to be prepared to allocate time every day to brushing their fur, as leaving it will lead to fur-balls and matted fur. Short haired cats also enjoy a brush every now and again; not surprising considering the amount of time cats spend cleaning and preening themselves every day!
Whatever breed and type of cat or kitten you decide upon, it is your love and time that will be most valuable to the new addition to your household.