- 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.