Have you decided to bring home your first feline member, of your family?
Please do your homework thoroughly though, on things you should consider prior his arrival.
Obviously, it’s not possible to cover everything about a vast subject like this in a single article, but this one, is a checklist of some of the things you should be considering before you bring a cat or kitten in to share your home.
Your vet is going to be a very important person in your cat’s life, in fact, he or she literally has his life in their hands, so how do you choose exactly the right one? One of the best ways is to ask around friends and neighbours to see what their opinion is.
Ask to have a tour of the facilities and see if you can have a tete-a-tete with the vet him or herself and see if he or she has opinions compatible with your own. Go to the surgery during the daytime and see if it’s busy, and see what kind of a reception you get from the staff.
Are they competent and friendly? See if you can afford their rates and find out if there’s a payment plan. Then, find out if they do an all-hours service for emergencies.
Spay and neuter
One of the first things you should do for the sake of your cat’s health and your own peace of mind is to spay and neuter.
A female cat goes into oestrus every few weeks and if not spayed will have litter after litter of kittens, because unneutered tomcats roam the neighborhoods in search of females with whom to mate.
Mating is instinctive, but unpleasant for the female, and unwanted kittens are a real problem. Many of them end up in animal shelters.
Essentials for your new cat include good quality kitten or cat food, a litter tray the appropriate size for the cat, cat litter, a cat bed, cat carrier, scratcher, food and water bowls and a collar which detaches itself so that the cat can’t choke on anything.
Cats are curious and playful creatures, so it’s best to make sure that they can't injure or kill themselves on any of the things we take for granted in our houses.
Close toilet lids put childproof locks on any cupboards containing toxic materials and don’t leave little things like hairpins, erasers, pencils and rubber bands on the floor. Bits of string are particularly dangerous as choking hazards.
Dangling electrical flexes from things like irons and kettles can cause serious injury if the cat plays with the wires and pulls the appliance down on top of himself. Cats love small cosy places, so keep your dryer, washing machine and dishwasher doors firmly closed. Cats are experts at opening doors if you leave a small space.
When you go on holiday, who looks after your cat? A number of different alternatives have to be evaluated.
Leaving him with a friend, this is an attractive option, but the cat will have to be kept indoors at all times, for fear of its running away. Interaction with other cats may or may not be a problem too, so you need to trust your friend to keep a close eye on all of them to avoid disputes.
You can try a cattery, and this is the best solution if you can afford it. Your cat will have spacious accommodation, veterinary care, good food, and safety.
You may decide to employ the services of a cat sitter, a professional who can take care of your pet’s every need. After you get a list of traceable references, preferably from your vet, you can give your sitter a schedule of his routine, amount of food, feeding times, and, of course, your vet’s number. This has the advantage of keeping the cat in its own familiar surroundings so he won’t be stressed.
You may be happy with a trusted friend or neighbour, but it’s best to do a trial run for a few days to make sure he or she understands how your cat ticks.
You may be able to ask your vet, because many of them do a boarding service at their facilities, and you have the consolation of knowing that he’s being looked after by an expert. Many animal shelters also have volunteers, but please give them a little reward and a donation to the shelter, and next time you adopt, make sure you get a shelter cat.
There are many other interesting aspects to this article, such as interacting with other pets, whether you should have an indoor or outdoor cat, and how to choose your kitten! An educated cat owner is a better cat owner!
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