The responsibilities of owning a cat are significant and are a long term commitment.
When deciding to get a cat the first question you should be asking yourself is whether you are able to take on the care of its well-being, health and happiness for the next 15 to 20 years. If this is not likely you could eventually find yourself adding your new pet to the millions of cats that are unnecessarily euthanized each year.
This is why it is extremely important to look into what caring for a cat entails not only being able to give it the love and affection it needs and deserves, but also being able to provide the practical day to day care and necessities, taking into account the financial factor as well. The cost of providing for a cat is not huge, but is ongoing for the duration of its life and a major factor that should not be overlooked in deciding to permanently adopt a cat or kitten. Can you reasonably guarantee not just to be able to provide its daily essentials, but also the occasionally unexpected medical essentials?
Kittens require vaccinations since maternal antibodies obtained from their mother decrease after weaning, so they require several boosters to ensure they have the maximum antibody response to help protect them against highly contagious and often fatal diseases. During this visit the Vet will give your kitten a good check over to ensure optimum health.
The first vaccination is given to kittens between 6-8 week's of age, the second at 12-14 week's and the third at 16-18 weeks and then yearly for the rest of the cat's life.
An annual visit to the Vet for vaccinations and thorough check over every year is extremely important as pets age an equivalent of 4 to 7 human life years in a 12 month period.
Micro-chipping is now compulsory with all new pet registrations with Local Councils. A micro-chip is a permanent form of identification. It provides an individualised identification number for each pet contained in a capsule that is the size of a rice grain. The capsule is implanted by a Vet just under the skin behind the back of the neck via a quick injection. This can easily be done during the de-sexing procedure when your cat is under anaesthetic, but also afterwards, with little discomfort to your pet.
Should your cat be found wandering or hurt and is taken to a Vet clinic or Animal Shelter it will immediately be scanned for a micro-chip. This individual identification number is recorded on a central database system and linked with the owner's personal contact details. Through this information you can be contacted immediately if your cat has been identified, which is especially important in the case of a medical emergency. It is extremely important to update your personal contact details whenever you move house or change your phone numbers.
Worms are highly infectious and are picked up by your cat from the ground, through the skin or via its mother as a kitten is nursing.
Once infected your cat's health will be affected in some way, especially where kittens are concerned.
Roundworms and hookworms can also affect people, particularly children, with serious consequences.
While treatment kills worms present in the intestine of your cat at the time of treatment it does not protect against future re-infestations. Once is not enough and regular worming is essential. Kittens are wormed every two weeks until they are three months of age, then monthly until six months of age. Adult cats are wormed every three months for the rest of their life.
When it comes to fleas it is much easier to prevent infestation because once you have fleas on your pet and in it's environment they can prove rather difficult to eradicate.
There are 4 life cycles of the flea. The adult flea makes up only 5% of the flea population. The remaining 95% consits of eggs, larvae and pupae which can be found in your carpet and between floorboards, in your cat's bedding, under and in furniture, even in the garden. So, using a product that treats all of the lifecycles is extremely important.
There are also medical reasons for treating your cat/kitten for fleas. The adult flea can be ingested during grooming and once inside your cat or kitten's stomach is broken down and a tapeworm is released. The tapeworm then connects itself to the intestinal tract and matures before segments break off which can then be found in your cat's faeces. Kittens are at risk of becoming anaemic when infested with fleas which can be fatal. Some cats are alergic to flea saliva which is a condition known as flea allergy dermatitis, a very common skin allergy in cats.
To avoid all of these problems, we recommend you use a topical treatment such as Frontline Plus, Advantage or Revolution which comes in a liquid form and is applied between the shoulder blades once a month all year round.
It is a good idea to get your kitten used to eating different textured foods from a young age.
Apart from feeding a soft (fresh meat) or canned variety of food it is a good idea to offer a dry food as well to help prevent plaque and tartar build up. RAW chicken bones are also good to introduce at a young age. The gnawing reduces the build up of plaque and tartar which is the main source of gum disease in domestic cats. This can lead to serious health problems down the track and the possible loss of teeth later in life.
Your cat will most likely require a dental scale at some stage of it's life, but if you can post-pone this as long as possible through the type of food you feed them, the longer it will be before your cat will require an anaesthetic. Anaesthetics always pose a small risk to your animal, so the fewer times your pet requires one, the better it is for it's overall health.
- Part 1 –
CHOOSING YOUR NEW FELINE FAMILY MEMBER
There are many things to take into account when considering adopting a cat or kitten. Most importantly; every person in your household should be consulted and be happy to do their bit in taking care of your new family addition, as he or she could be with you for the next 10 to 20 years. So it certainly is not a decision to be taken lightly.
When you have decided as a family that you are going to adopt a cat or kitten, it is good to have a think about what sort of lifestyle your family has. Are you an active family that likes to play often and spend time with your cat or kitten tempting it with toys and watching it run around? Or are you a more quiet family that is looking for a cat or kitten to mostly sit with and smooch and cuddle on the couch in front of the TV or with a good book? Do you have small children or older ones? Do they understand or are they of an age they can be taught about the do’s and don’ts of interacting with a cat or kitten and what is involved with looking after it on a daily basis.
Perhaps there is a particular type of physical appearance that you are looking for. Cats and kittens come in a wide variety of fur-colours and markings, fur lengths, and even quite distinctly differing eye colour. If you decide on a long-haired cat or kitten; do you have the time and patience to groom it? And last but certainly not least; do you have a particular preference for a male or female cat or kitten, or would you let yourself be guided more by their personality when you come and meet with them for the first time?
These are all important factors to consider because you need to be happy with the decision you make, as your new pet will be reliant upon you and your family for a very long time after you have taken him or her home.
After looking at the type of personality and perhaps physical characteristics of your new feline family member, it is just as important to think about the practical considerations before you make your final decision to adopt a new cat or kitten. Do you already have other pets and if so; how well would they interact? Are you able to allow for someone to be at home in the first two weeks after adoption to keep your new family addition company when he or she is getting settled in their new and foreign environment? And who will be there on a more regular basis down the track? Would you consider taking in two cats or two kittens at once so they have each other for company as well? And when you go away from home on holidays or for business, who will care for your cat while you are away? Would someone come into your home for feeding, cleaning of trays and a bit of company or have you considered a reputable Cattery that is within practical travel distance from your home and if so, what would the cost be for your one or two cat(s) or kitten(s) to stay there for any length of time?
It is also important to contact your local Council to check on the local cat laws such as curfews and perhaps needing to contain your cat within the boundaries of your property. You may need to consider the one off cost of putting up a cat enclosure or decide whether your new feline family member will be kept solely indoors.
Another important factor to consider is the cost involved with adopting and looking after a cat or kitten long term. After the initial adoption cost which includes de-sexing, micro-chipping, vaccinating, worming and flea treatment when adopting through Rescue A Cat Inc., there are other initial one off costs at the start for such items as; bedding, bowls, cat litter tray(s), scratch post(s) and toys. The main ongoing costs you will have are for good quality cat food and cat litter. Next to that there are off course the medical necessities such as annual vaccinations, regular worming and treatment against fleas. You also need to take into account that there may be the occasional unexpected medical expenses should your new pet fall ill at some stage.
No one can look into the future, so please don’t be overwhelmed by all the above suggested considerations before choosing to adopt, especially if you have never had a cat or kitten as part of your family life before. The most important thing to consider is whether your lifestyle today and in the most likely near future overall will allow for the practical, emotional and financial care your new cat or kitten needs when taken in to live with your family. If the answer is ‘yes’; then please have a look at our Adoptions Page to see which cats and kittens are available for adoption now, or give one of our Foster Carers a call to find out if your special someone is there waiting for you but has not been put up on the R.A.C.I. Website just yet. You may be the first in line for a meet-and-greet with your new feline family member.
- Part 2 –
SETTLING IN YOUR NEW FAMILY ADDITION
A quiet area of your house - When choosing an area ensure it is escape proof and there are no small areas in which the cat or kitten could get stuck, somewhere warm and draft free is ideal. A laundry or bathroom is a perfect place as it is easy to clean as well as somewhere that can be closed off and prevents your kitten from accessing the rest of the house. This is important especially if you have other pets. If this is a room with a toilet ensure the lid is always left down because it is possible for kittens to drown in toilets, or if the room has a cat flap ensure it is permanently locked.
This is the area that your kitten should be introduced to as soon as it comes home. It is generally a good idea to keep your kitten here for the first 24 to 48 hours and also when unsupervised (when you are at work or unable to keep a close eye on him or her) to give him or her a chance to settle into the new environment and get use to toileting here. Also feed him or her here so he or she can use the litter tray after eating and then come out for a play and cuddles. After this period or when your new addition seems comfortable in the environment he or she can gradually spend more time out of the room. Initially shut doors to all bedrooms, and other non relevant rooms, leaving access only to the main living areas. When you see that he or she is able to find his or her way back to the litter and food in the original room you can slowly introduce the rest of the rooms in the house by leaving doors open, one more every time he or she is out to play. Introducing your kitten this way will help him or her settle in a lot sooner and avoids any unwanted accidents that could otherwise occur when he or she can’t find the litter tray, especially if too large a new area is made available to him or her in one go.
On the first night a heat pack or hot water bottle (just warm, NOT hot!) can help make him or her feel more secure, like he or she is snuggled up with litter mates should he or she feel distressed. A teddy or a radio left on (sound low, preferably classical music) in the room can also be helpful.
Comfortable bedding, which will need to be checked daily to make sure it hasn’t been soiled. Make sure you place the bed in a quiet spot in the room away from drafts that can come in under doors. Also place the bedding as far away from food bowl(s) and litter tray as practically possible.
Food bowls & food; your new cat or kitten is dependent on you to provide a diet that is complete and balanced for healthy growth and development. Kittens grow rapidly and require higher levels of energy and nutrients, up to 3 to 4 times the amount needed by an adult cat which is why it is important to keep your kitten on a kitten-variety of food for the first 12 months. Your kitten may be hesitant to eat in the first few hours but if you leave him or her alone with it, he or she will be more inclined to eat.
It is a good idea to always have dry food available as cats like to graze. You can change the type of food you are giving, but just do it gradually over a few days to avoid him or her getting diarrhoea.
Clean food bowls daily to rid them of old food residue.
Water bowl should be cleaned and refilled daily. NEVER offer cows milk as this can cause diarrhoea. If you do want to introduce milk, offer a kitten variety that is lactose free.
Both the food and water bowls should be kept well away from the litter trays.
Litter trays will need cleaning once used, which will help prevent soiling in inappropriate places. NEVER use clumping litter, as this can be ingested by your cat or kitten during grooming and may cause intestinal blockages. You may need to vary the types of litter used or add a scoop of dirt to the tray if you notice the tray isn’t being used or move the tray to a quieter and more discreet spot. Trays should be disinfected when cleaned. It is very important to take notice of the litter tray contents when cleaning, making sure there are no traces of blood in urine or stool, nor should there be any diarrhoea (runny faeces). If you do find these contact your Vet immediately for specific medical advise for your kitten.
Provide toys for environmental enrichment such as fluffy mice, plastic balls with bells, even scrunched up paper, empty toilet rolls and cardboard boxes are a great source of entertainment.
A scratching post is an essential item (especially for indoor cats and kittens) and is fantastic for teaching kittens to scratch at, thus avoiding having them claw at couches or carpet. Playing with them on the post or even just simply patting them while on there makes it a positive place for them to be.
Playing with your kitten is extremely important for physical development and social interaction although be vigilant not to encourage biting or scratching. Stop play as soon as he or she bites or scratches and walk away. You could use a stern ‘No’ but this must be said immediately when the play becomes too rough. This will teach them that gentle play keeps you involved and gets them attention, but rough play and biting and scratching will end play and make you walk away.
Handle your kitten as much as possible and get him or her used to lots of cuddles. Touch your kitten’s paws and feet which will help when their nails need cutting. Brush regularly (even short-haired cats and kittens), increasing the length in time as the kitten copes better, this needs to be a positive experience, the sooner they get used to being brushed the better. All this will make a visit to your Vet a much more pleasant experience for you, your cat or kitten and the Vet as well.
You may allow children, family and friends to handle your kitten, which will help him or her, get used to many different people which is fantastic but this should always be done under your supervision. Remember: EVERYTHING should be a positive experience.
Adopting through Rescue A Cat Inc. means saving a life. Thank you.
Please find below some suggestions for re-homing your own cat(s) and/or kitten(s):
* Ask all your friends, family, neighbours, work-colleagues, parents at school, people at your gym or social group, or other groups you attend.
* Make up a poster (with photo, pets details and your contact-details) to hang up in schools, at your work-place in the coffee-room, or local supermarket, your gym and other public places.
* Make up flyer (again with photo, your pets details and your contact-number) you can hand out to people interested. If a friend of a friend could offer a new home for your feline family member, they have all the information they need right there.
* Do a letter-box drop with the flyer in your area, the right person to provide your family pet with a new loving home may be just around the corner.
* Take out an ad in your local paper, school-news-letter, sport-club-newsletter or other locally circulated publication. If you have two animals you would like to re-home as a pair, state that clearly in your ad.
* Advertise on an advertising Website that caters for that specific purpose. Type into your search engine words like ‘cat’ – ‘kitten’ – ‘adoption’ – ‘for sale’ - . Then several relevant websites should come up for you to have a look at. Write a few lines describing their character and perhaps a cute anecdote that gives a good indication of what sort of family or person would be best matched with your pet and upload a photograph of your pet.
* If you are unable to re-home your cat(s) and/or kitten(s) with people you know and trust, we do suggest that when you advertise you put a (reasonable) price for your animal in your ad, as while you can put ‘free to good home’ it may not necessarily guarantee that the person collecting your animal(s) is genuine and will want them for a pet. If a person is willing to pay a reasonable price for your feline family member to take them on, they are more likely to be genuine and willing to look after it for the rest of its life. They will also be more inclined to outlay any veterinary fees should they arise in future.
* If you have an older animal with possibly some pending or existing medical problems, you may decide to advertise that you intend to contribute to the cost of its ongoing medical treatment after adoption. This will make it easier for someone to decide to take on your family pet and care for it for the rest of its life, knowing you are there to help with the financial side of things.
* If after all the above you have not (yet) been able to re-home your feline family member(s), but your circumstances are about to change, you may wish to consider boarding your cat(s) and/or kitten(s) until you have found them a new permanent loving adoption home.
Good luck from all at Rescue A Cat Inc. On behalf of your feline family member(s), we thank you for making the efforts to finding them a loving new permanent home.
Please note that we do NOT actively advertise your animals, but we can keep your details on file in case we are contacted by someone looking to adopt a cat or kitten that fits the description and characteristics of the family pet you are looking to re-home.
Please copy and paste the following information into an email and fill in the details being brief and to the point (do NOT send us any pictures):
* Cat / Kitten details:
- Age / D.O.B. (Date of Birth):
- Male / Female:
- De-sexed or entire:
- Long / Medium / Short-haired:
- Colour / Markings:
- (Micro-chipped: yes / no)
- (Vaccinated: yes / no)
- (Wormed regularly: yes / no)
- (Flea-treated regularly: yes / no)
- Character / temperament:
- Likes / dislikes:
- Now lives with: (State details like: family with small children or retired single person, or with no other animals, or with two dogs and a duck, etc.)
- Any known health-issues:
- Other relevant information:
* Owner's details:
- Phone-number and/or email-address.
We would appreciate it if you'd also let us know when you have been successful in re-homing your feline family member, so we do not needlessly send people your way, nor keep your cat's details on file longer than is necessary or practical for us.
All RACI members are volunteers and most of us have regular jobs and/or young families to look after as well as our RACI cats and kittens, so please consider this when contacting us.