Getting a Cat
At Crab Lane Vets we have obtained ISFM Silver Cat Friendly Status. Further information about this can be found at our page cat friendly practice
The best place to source a kitten is from a household with only one or two queens in it. This minimises the chance of your cat having been exposed to any of the viral infections of cats (Felv, FIP, flu) before you get them. We encourage early neutering of cats to avoid accidental litters but as cats are so fertile, kittens can usually be found. Cats are seasonal breeders so most kittens are born in spring and summer.
If you want a pedigree cat then you will need to research your breed and breeder before you make a choice. Again, it is preferable to get a kitten from a smaller cattery where there is less mixing between different cats but where the kittens are used to being handled by people. Some pedigree cats are very attractive but then all cats are inherantly beautiful!
There's a useful kitten checkist here to give you an idea of what to check out when getting a kitten.
Although kittens are great fun there are many adult cats looking for homes and many cat rescue societies have both adult cats and kittens looking for homes.
Places to try are the local RSCPA, Cats Protection & the Blue Cross. Getting an older cat can be a bit less frenetic than getting a kitten and they are often overlooked in rescue shelters.
Your cat should be vaccinated for feline infectious enteritis, cat flu (herpes and calicivirus) and leukaemia. Microchipping is a very good idea - many cats do go walkabout, and you can get microchip activated catflaps which stop other cats being able to enter your house. This problem is commoner than realised and was illustrated on some recent TV documentaries with cameras showing alot of breaking-and-entering cat burglary going on!
We will neuter cats from 16 weeks and encourage this to prevent unwanted litters but also, especially in male cats, wandering off and ending up as lost stray cats. Some neutered cats will still fight but entire male cats fight more and are at risk of catching FIV from bite wounds.
Single or multicat household?
Cats are great pets and it can be tempting to get more than one.
If you like the idea of being a multicat household then it is probably better to get 2 kittens together or 2 adult cats from a rescue centre that have always lived together. Although some female cats get on I feel that 2 males or 1 male and 1 female are more likely to get on. Cats are a fairly solitary species and care has to be taken in mixing cats to avoid tension. Tension between cats in a mulitcat household is not uncommon - when you get more than one cat you may acquire a new best friend for your cat but you may also acquire an enemy. It may be that the stray cat who 'moves in with you' and is allowed to move in by a resident cat are better companions. Tension between cats living in the same household is not usually manifested by overt fighting - signs of tension can be quite subtle but can involve urine marking inside the house and guarding of resources.
Indoor / Outdoor cat
In the UK most cats have access to outdoors. In the USA many are kept indoors. If you live on a busy road you may wish to keep your cat indoors due to traffic risks. Cats can be kept indoors but in these circumstances it is better that the cat is kept inside from kittenhood rather than trying to confine a cat that is used to going out. An indoor life carries less risk of road accidents, infectious diseases, fighting and straying but it means that you are totally responsible for ensuring that your cats happiness. Indoor cats need an environment that they not only feel secure in but that offers the opportunity to exploration and stimulation.
Making use of the vertical space in your home, shelves, boxes, interactive feeding toys and toys to chase can keep your cat happy, exercised and content.
There is a very useful website here on how to keep your indoor cat happy.
Another useful resource for keeping your cat happy is the article on Your Cat's Environmental needs
Obviously for cats that do not go out or go out rarely then litter trays need to be provided. It is important to use a tray & litter that you cat likes or it will not use it and may end up urinating on your carpets and furniture. A fine litter, good hygiene and a large tray and kept in a quiet area of the house with little traffic will help ensure that your cat uses the tray you provide. More litter tray advice can be found here www.icatcare.org/advice/litter-tray .
Wet food/dry food
All cat food sold as such is nutritionally complete and will contain everything your cat needs. Cats are very different from dogs so never be tempted to feed your cat dog food, it won't be adequate and may make your cat ill.
I would advise wet food over dry food in cats.
Dry food obviously has less water in it than wet food and so may seem better value. But cats originated as desert animals and are not very good drinkers so it is good if they get water in with their food. We see cats with bladder stones and gravel which can cause urinary obstructions and it would be much better if they took in more water to make their urine more dilute. Also older cats with kidney problems are often marginally dehydrated and would feel better if they drank more.
The other disadvantage of dry food is that it is more energy dense - cats only have to eat a small amount to get as many calories as they need - so it is easy to over eat and over feed. It also has a relatively high carbohydrate level and as cats are obligate carnivores they do not deal with carbohydrate very well. Just as in people it can lead to weight gain and an increased tendency to developing diabetes; we have made diabetic cats better by changing from dry to wet food.
Cat food should not be too close to litter trays and in a multicat household it is important that one cat can't control access to food. Puzzle feeders can be a good idea in house cats to give then exercise and mental stimulation and mimic a more natural way of eating. More ideas on how to feed your cat can be found www.icatcare.org/advice/feeding-your-cat-or-kitten
More information on cat care can be found at this website
and a very handy kitten guide here.
The Cats Protection League have a blog with lots of information on cat behaviour & what you can do to keep your cat happy here
We very much recommend the books published by VetProfessionals on cat care.They can be purchased as either books or ebooks from the following site
Titles available include
Caring for a blind cat
Caring for a cat with chronic kidney disease
Caring for a cat with hyperthyroidism
Caring for a cat with lower urinary disease
Caring for an elderly cat
Caring for an overweight cat