If you have ever visited a shelter or pet adoption center, it is difficult to resist bringing home a kitten. Kittens and adult cats can be a great addition to a family and with a little careful planning, cat ownership can be wonderful.
If you are new to pet ownership or live in an apartment, a cat is a great companion. Remember, kittens are a lifetime of care and the average cat can live 15+ years. To prepare yourself and your house for cat ownership, we first must understand some basic cat behavior.
- Cats are carnivores. Cats cannot be vegetarians and should be fed a high quality commercial cat food. Cats prefer to eat alone and in multi-cat households, each cat may need a separate feeding area. Cats prefer small frequent meals. Food puzzles are a great way to help your cat use it's 'hunting" skills and prevent obesity.
- Cats do not like change. If you adopt a kitten, it is important to desensitize them to cat carriers, car rides, new people, and dogs at an early age. This will make them more accepting of change as adults. Older cats will need time to adjust to their new surroundings and may hide for several days until they become comfortable.
- Cats are territorial. Cats can live in harmony with one another provided there are adequate resources (food, water, toilet, space). There must be 1 litter box per cat plus 1 (2 cats= 3 boxes) and they should be located throughout the house. There must be easy access to food and water. Cats value vertical space and cat shelves are an easy way to create extra space in a small house. Remember, your adult cat may not appreciate a new kitten invading their territory so make sure you prepare for a slow introduction and give each cat their own room until they become familiar with one another.
New cats and kittens should have a veterinary check-up soon after adoption and prior to introducing them to other cats. All cats and kittens should be tested for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). This test is not done at the shelter. Kittens start their vaccine series at 6-8 weeks of age followed by a booster vaccine every 3-4 weeks until they are 16-20 weeks of age. At each visit, your kitten will also be dewormed. Kittens should be spayed or neutered by 5 months of age. Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives than outdoor cats. If your cat wants to go outside, consider building a catio to keep them safe. Regardless of you cat's age or lifestyle, they should visit the veterinarian at least once per year for a wellness exam.
Cats are wonderful pets and can supply you with a lifetime of love. If you have questions regarding adopting an adult cat or kitten, please call Four Paws today.