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Bringing Your Cat Home
Whether your cat is a stray or a purebred it still requires the same care and attention.
Before bringing your new cat home prepare its sleeping area. Your cat needs a warm, secure place to sleep. Cat bed and baskets are available commercially or a cardboard box arranged with an entrance hole and a blanket is equally suitable.
When you bring your cat or kitten home make sure the house is quiet and allow it to settle in and explore without too much interference. It is advisable to keep your new cat or kitten confined to the house for the first few weeks. Once your cat or kitten has settled in its new home it should be familiarised with all the normal household noises and activities and introduced to visitors to ensure that it becomes confident and well socialised. Other pets should be introduced to the new arrival slowly and under close supervision.
Cats are naturally playful and will appreciate a few simple toys.
To maintain your cats health and well being it must have a balanced diet. Contrary to popular belief, meat alone is not sufficient for cats. Cats and kittens fed on an all meat diet will develop nutritional deficiencies and growth problems. The most reliable and convenient way to provide a balanced and palatable diet is to feed high quality prepared cat food, both canned and dry.
Kittens have different nutritional requirements to adult cats and for this reason it is preferable to feed your kitten with specially formulated kitten foods in canned and dry forms.
Kittens need frequent small meals. Follow the feeding instructions on the labels of the prepared kitten foods. Adult cats often prefer to eat several small meals per day but will do equally as well if fed one meal at the same time each day. Cats prefer their food at room temperature. For details of amounts to be fed refer to the feeding guides on the packaging of the prepared products, or be guided by your veterinarian.
Milk is unnecessary for cats and may cause diarrhoea in those which have an intolerance to lactose in milk.
Commercially prepared cat milk with low lactose is available.
Water is essential to your cat's well being and clean water must be available at all times.
Feed and water bowls should be shallow and clean and be placed in a familiar and safe feeding place.
Clean teeth are important for healthy gums and a fresh breath. Some cats' teeth need more attention than others. Ask your veterinarian for the best approach for your cat. It may be a regular check up and cleaning or feeding raw chicken wings or necks.
Cats are hardy animals but require a few precautions to ensure they remain healthy. When you purchase your cat ask for its vaccination certificate which will be signed by a veterinarian. If your cat or kitten has had no previous vaccinations or if you are unsure whether it has been vaccinated, you should take it to your local veterinarian to receive a health check and vaccinations for feline enteritis, cat flu and Feline Leukemia Virus. Kittens require the first vaccinations between 6 - 9 weeks with the second at 12 - 16 weeks old. All cats require a "booster" vaccination every 12 months.
Cats and kittens need to be wormed regularly to control roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms which live in the intestine. This is easily done by using one of the many available preparations, either as tablets, liquids or pastes.
Fleas and ticks are often a problem during the warmer months. Attempts must be made to kill not only the adult fleas on the cat using either sprays, powders, rinses or flea collars, but also to treat any other pets and the environment, especially the cat's bedding. Cats can be particularly sensitive to flea control products and precautions and directions on the packaging of flea control products must be followed exactly. Only use products which are specifically designed for cats.
Paralysis ticks occur in some areas of Australia and can be fatal to cats. If you live in an area where there are paralysis ticks you should check your cat daily and remove any ticks. If a tick is found consult your veterinarian.
Abscesses are common in cats due to fighting and can show up as a swelling or discharging sore anywhere on the cat. Veterinary attention is required for abscesses.
Cats should be prevented from chewing plants as many common garden or indoor plants are poisonous. Aspirin and paracetamol are also poisonous to cats. Consult your veterinarian if you are concerned.
Training Your cat
Although cats are independent by nature they are highly intelligent and can be trained to show desirable behavior rather than undesirable behavior.
To discourage a cat from scratching furniture provide a scratching post for your cat. If the cat scratches the furniture admonish no in a gruff, loud voice or spray with a jet of water from a water pistol.
Cats are naturally clean animals and kittens learn from their mothers to bury their faeces. This is why kittens are so easy to toilet train and readily use a litter tray. Litter trays should be placed in a quiet area, be readily accessible and kept clean.
Cats spend a great deal of time grooming themselves but long haired cats require brushing and combing several times per week. Pay particular attention to the cats underline and tail.
If you are not planning to breed from your cat it is advisable to have it desexed by the age of 6 months.
Comply with your local Council's laws regarding cat ownership and, for your cat's protection,and especially in environmentally sensitive areas, keep you cat inside at night.
Unfortunately cats sometimes do get lost. You can help prevent this by making sure your cat always wears a collar and identification tag with your telephone number. Confine your cat during thunderstorms and firework displays. If your cat is lost check with your neighbours, your local veterinary clinics, animal welfare organisations, the pound and the local council. Check with these organisations in neighbouring suburbs as lost animals may travel some distance.
You will need to consider how best to care for your cat while you are absent from home. Your local veterinarian may be able to recommend a boarding establishment where your cat will be secure. Reputable boarding establishments will require the cats vaccinations to be up to date. If you are only absent for a few days you may arrange for a neighbour or a home feeding service to visit and feed your cat.
Cats are usually uneasy away from their own environment and may become scared and escape so when transporting your cat away from home it is essential to contain it in a secure cat carrier available from pet shops or veterinary clinics. Never leave your cat in the car as cars can become very hot even on moderately warm days and the cat can die from heat exhaustion.
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