How do I choose the cat that's right for me?
Ah, a good question. We've found that choosing a cat is often more a matter of the heart than the
head. Some people come to us with a list of characteristics they want in a new pet (short hair, not
too old, etc.), and end up falling in love with someone unexpected. The most important thing to
consider in a cat is its personality. Does it get along with other cats? With dogs? Is it alright
being alone during the day or does it always need company? Is it a lap cat, or more of an independent soul? Luckily, at Kitten Rescue we're familiar with every cat's personality because we've lived with them, and can guide you to a good match. After all, we love the important people in our lives regardless of their looks...The best thing to do when looking for a cat is to decide on what personality traits matter most to you, and keep an open mind on everything else. True love works in mysterious ways
How can I introduce my new cat to my existing cat?
Because of the nature of the cat, introducing a new cat into a household is often stressful for both the resident cat and the new cat, so this process has to be carried out slowly and carefully. Although cats can obviously be very sociable with other cats, these close relationships only occur when cats recognise each other as part of an established 'social group': cats that are unfamiliar are usually seen as a big threat. This is because of the ancestors of our modern cats evolved over millions of years as territorial and largely solitary animals, which need to defend their territory from other cats in order to catch sufficient prey to survive.Cats are most likely to form close relationships with other cats where they 'grow up' together, or where the relationship has developed over a long time. Resident cats will be very stressed by the sudden introduction of an unfamiliar cat and may react by being aggressive towards it, hiding away and avoiding the new cat, or showing other signs of stress, such as urine spraying or over-grooming. In fact, problems arising from the stress of introducing the new cat to existing cats are some of the most common reasons for cats being returned to Cats Protection adoption centres after homing. We therefore have to be very careful in the way that we introduce new cats into homes where there are already one or more resident cats.The important aspect of the process of integration is that it should be slow and gradual. The newcomer should initially be introduced into a room that is not one of the main 'core' areas for the existing cat. This separate room should be set up with a litter tray, food, water bowl, comfy bed, toys and a scratching post. This room is a safe space for your new cat to get used to and to establish as the 'core' part of his territory. It is important for your new cat to relax into his surroundings and get to know you before facing the challenge of meeting your other cat.Cats rely on scent for communication and identification much more then we do. Because of this, the introduction process starts with the 'swapping' of scent between the cats, for example by exchanging food bowls, toys and bedding. Only when the cats tolerate the scent of the other cat can we gradually progress so that they can see each other. Right through this process, the presence of the other cat is associated with something positive, such as attention, play, or a food treat.Be prepared, integration can take anything from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the age, character and previous experiences of your cats. Taking your time will make it
worthwhile in the end.
How can I integrate a cat into a household with dogs?
The success of introducing a cat to a dog, or vice versa, will depend on the character
and previous experiences of both animals. Cats that have previously happily lived with
a dog are likely to learn to accept a new dog more easily than are those that have either not seen
dogs before, or been chased by them. Equally, dogs that have previously lived calmly with a cat are generally easier to introduce to a new cat than would those that have never seen cats or who have learned to chase them. The process of integration needs to be slow and careful to ensure that both animals are not stressed and that chasing and running responses do not become established.The easiest time to integrate dogs and cats is during their 'socialisation period' (up to eight weeks of age in cats and 12 weeks in dogs), during which time puppies and kittens will accept the presence of the other individual as 'normal'.
Can a cat be trained?
Yes, cats can be trained. They can, for example, be taught to come when called, 'sit', or do tricks such as 'give a paw' and many cats will enjoy training sessions. Cats are, however, generally not as easy to train as dogs. One reason for this is that dogs are more likely to find their toys, their owner's attention and food treats 'rewarding' and will learn to do asks in order to be given these things. When training cats, it is important to find something that they really like, such as a prawn or piece of chicken, to reward them, so that they can learn new behaviours. Cats also tend to concentrate on training for a shorter period of time than dogs. Training sessions with cats, therefore, need to be kept short and sweet! Cats, just like dogs, can be trained very successfully using 'clicker training'.Cats are generally very easily house-trained. In most cases, kittens learn to toilet in the appropriate place when they are very young, when they are taken to the litter tray by their mother.
What diet should I feed a cat?
Cats are carnivores (meat-eating animals) and should not be fed a vegetarian diet. Also avoid feeding a cat dog food as it doesn't contain the correct nutrients for felines. Nowadays, commercial cat foods are specially designed to meet a cat's dietary needs and provide all the nutrients they need. Kittens, pregnant and lactating queens have specific nutritional requirements.
How can I keep my cat's teeth clean and healthy?
Many adult cats suffer from heavy build-up of plaque or calculus on their teeth which causes them great discomfort when eating and will eventually lead to a refusal to eat and/or teeth loss.Plaque and calculus can be removed by a veterinary surgeon while the cat is under a general anaesthetic. You can also buy food which loosens plaque and calculus while eating and teeth cleaning products are available. Many cats do not like having their teeth brushed; however, if brushing is started when they are young kittens tolerance levels increase.
What vaccinations does my cat need?
Your cat will need protection against feline enteritis and cat 'flu. Depending on your circumstances he may also need vaccination against feline Leukaemia and chlamydophilosis. In our shelter we have all our cats vaccinated and we keep them healthy. For more detailed information about diseases and when to vaccinate click here
Is it okay to let a cat go outside?
Some people say it's cruel not to let a cat go outside. Based on our experience at Kitten Rescue, we've put together this list of all the things an indoor-only cat misses:
Being hit by a car
Being eaten by a coyote
Being attacked by a bird
Exposure to FIV (Feline AIDS)
Exposure to Feline Leukemia
Exposure to Feline Infectious Peritonitis
Exposure to upper respiratory infections
Fleas, Ticks, Worms
Being stolen for profit or research facilities.
Tortured by cruel people
Poisoning by food, pesticides, or anti-freeze.
I live in a flat. How can I safely provide fresh air for my cat?
If your cat has to live an indoor life in a flat, you can safely provide him with fresh air by
screening your open windows. Screening involves putting a wire mesh over your
window, which allows air in but stops your cat from falling out. Do not allow a cat out
onto a narrow ledge or balcony, many animals fall to their death from heights.
How can I give my cat the exercise and stimulation he needs?
Remember that cats have developed as effective nocturnal predators, which will naturally
spend between a third and half of their time engaged in hunting activity. Where cats are
not hunting, this type of activity needs to be replaced by other forms of exercise and
mental stimulation. The best way to use up your cat's energy is to play with him.
There are lots of cat toys available in pet shops or they can be made very cheaply from ping pong balls, string or old plastic bottles. The things that make toys interesting for cats are novelty and movement. A toy that doesn't move and which has been on the floor for a week will not entertain your cat! So change toys regularly and actively play with them to make them interesting. Hanging toys up so that swing in the breeze or move with a door will also make them more interesting. Some cats love catnip so providing catnip toys will be very stimulating for these individuals.Cats also like to climb and hide inside things, so providing shelves, climbing frames and cardboard boxes will help keep your cat entertained. They also like to scratch; so providing them with a suitable scratching post will allow them to display this behaviour without having to resort to your sofa! Where cats are kept indoors, they can also be provided with trays of grass, which will not only enrich their environment but also help them to naturally aid their digestive process. For indoor cats, it is also a good idea to feed any dried biscuits in a 'puzzle feeder'. Various types of these can be bought, or they can be easily made using an old plastic drink bottle, with holes cut in that are slightly larger than the size of the cat biscuits. Your cat will learn to knock the feeder along to make biscuits fall out. In this way, getting his food ratio will take much longer than it would from just eating it out of a bowl.
How do I toilet train my new kitten/cat?
Cats are naturally clean animals, but a new kitten will need to be shown how to use a litter tray and toilet correctly. Start by providing a litter tray, filled with a commercial cat litter. Keep it in the same place, somewhere that the kitten can easily get to it. Make sure that the tray is regularly cleaned and that it is somewhere private.Take the kitten to the litter tray after every meal and when he wakes from sleep, so that he gets used to a routine. Wiping his bottom with a moist tissue can encourage toileting to take place (this action mimics the way a mother cat would lick her kitten's behind to make him toilet).
What is the best way to hold a cat?
It is best to hold a cat or kitten by putting one hand under his chest and supporting the rest of his weight with your other hand. Kittens, in particular, must be handled gently as their bones are fragile.Contrary to popular belief, picking up a feline by the scruff of the neck can be painful.
What are worms and how can I stop my cat from getting them?
There are two main types of worms that infect cats - roundworm and tapeworm. Most cats will suffer from roundworm at some point in their lives and infection is not always visible. It is advisable to treat for roundworm in adult cats and for kittens.Tapeworm, if present, will be noticeable as segments are passed in the cat's faeces and can be seen clinging to the animal's legs. When dry, the segments are cream coloured and look like grains of rice. Good treatments for both tapeworm and roundworm are available from veterinary surgeries. Please consult your vet for advice on treatment frequency, as this depends on the preventative product used.
How do I guard my cat against fleas?
Fleas often affect cats, even meticulously clean ones, because the eggs can survive in the environment for a very long time. Fleas can be present all year round especially in milder climates. The good news is that they are easily prevented and treated using the very effective flea treatments now available from vets.
How do I spot ear mites on my cat?
An infected cat or kitten will scratch his ears, shake his head and sometimes damage the skin on his ears and temples. Ear mites live on dead skin inside the ear and brown wax will be seen in the outer ear. Treatment is required to eliminate them so it is best to take your cat to the vet.
How will having a cat affect my lifestyle?
You will need to think carefully before getting a cat as it is a real commitment. You'll need to make time for play, grooming and fuss Make sure that your new cat or kitten doesn't become a nuisance to neighbours, ensure arrangements are made for his care when you go on holiday and be prepared for him to display his natural instincts (like bringing home prey).
Is it harmful to declaw a cat?
This is an issue about which many people feel very strongly. We try to give people the facts based on what our vets and our experience have told us. Which is this: Declawing involves more than simply trimming a cat's nails to the quick; it actually involves amputation of the tips of the digits, bones and all. The declawing operation itself is the human equivalent of removing the first joint of all your fingers.
There are alternatives to declawing - Exercise and play with your cat regularly. Give him a scratching post and teach him to use it. Trim your cat's nails on a regular basis. And, of course, talk to your vet or cat-owner friends about ways to "train" your cat to exercise its natural instincts in non-destructive ways. There is also a product called Soft Paws. This is a fake nail which is not sharp at the tip, which fits over your cats claws. It is sold in pet stores and veterinarian clinics.
Don't all male cats have spraying problems?
No! we neuter the kittens at two or three months of age so 90% of the chance that he will be a "sprayer" has been wiped out.