Caring for your new cat
Whether your new cat is a pedigree kitten, or an adult cat from an animal rescue centre, your decision to become a cat owner will bring you and your family a great deal of enjoyment.
Your cat will quickly become an important member of your family and, like any other member of your family, you will want to ensure you provide the very best care for your new companion.
- Vaccinating your cat against infectious and potentially fatal feline diseases is a vital part of being a responsible cat owner.
- A kitten should receive its first vaccination at around eight-nine weeks old and will require subsequent vaccinations to build-up its initial immunity - if in doubt, speak to your vet.
- The vaccinations will protect your kitten against three potentially fatal diseases: feline enteritis, feline leukaemia and cat flu.
- Keep your kitten indoors and avoid contact with unfamiliar cats until your vet advises it is safe to do so.
- Adult cats will require an annual booster vaccination to maintain their immunity and most vets will send you a reminder in the post.
- If your cat does not have an up-to-date vaccination certificate, it will not be accepted by a cattery.
- Allow at least a fortnight between the date of the last vaccination and the date you wish to leave your cat at the cattery.
- Keep you cat's vaccination certificate in a safe place!
- Inform your vet if your cat is pregnant at the time of its booster vaccination.
If you don't intend to breed from your cat, then you should discuss neutering with your vet. The benefits of neutering your cat are:
- Spaying and castration are simple inexpensive procedures which can also protect your cat from a number of diseases in later life.
- Male and female cats become sexually mature at around six months of age and could easily mate with other un-neutered cats in the locality.
- Uncastrated male cats will 'spray' their territory - which can be a nuisance for the owner and any neighbours within that territory.
- Neutering prevents unwanted kittens
- If you follow the advice of your vet, neutered cats are no more likely to gain weight than un-neutered cats.
- Your vet will advise you of the correct age at which neutering should be performed.
- Un-neutered Tom cats will often stray in search of females and often become the victims of road accidents
- If you do not wish your female cat to become pregnant you must supervise her carefully while she is in season.
- Although insurance is not a legal requirement for cat ownership, the rising costs of veterinary treatment make insurance an important consideration for responsible cat owners.
- During its lifetime, your cat could suffer any number of illnesses and accidents and a suitable insurance policy will enable you to provide it with the level of care it requires, without having to worry about the cost.
- Every week, hundreds of stray cats are admitted to animal shelters across the country. Often, most animals appear to be healthy and well-cared for and may simply have strayed too far from home and found themselves lost.
- Unfortunately, unless an animal can be easily identified, the chances of it being re-united with its owner are slim.
- Make sure your cat always wears a collar and identification tag with your contact details on it.
- Microchipping your cat is a simple procedure performed by your vet in which a tiny microchip is implanted under the cat's skin.
- Each microchip has an individual number which is stored on the Petlog computer database.
- Once the cat's microchip has been identified by a hand-held scanner, the cat can be traced and quickly re-united with its owner.
- Some cats stray because they are frightened, so keep you cat indoors during firework displays or thunderstorms.
- Cats regularly lose their collars, so have a couple spare - complete with identification tags.
Birds & wildlife
- A cat's natural instinct is to hunt and many new cat owners are distressed to find that this instinct extends to small birds and mammals living in the neighbourhood.
Whilst it is impossible to remove this instinct, by following a few simple guidelines, you can help to keep both your cat and the local wildlife safe:
- A bell on your cat's collar may help to alert birds and other small animals of its approach - giving them time to escape.
- Most small mammals are nocturnal, so keeping your cat indoors at night will help to protect them.
- Cats kept indoors at night are less likely to be involved in a road accident.