FOR NEW CAT OWNERS
Congratulations! If you have adopted or thinking about adopting a new cat or kitten, there are some things you can do to help make the settling process run smoother.
Bringing home your new pet
Moving can be stressful for felines so try to create a relaxing and private environment for them in your home. Restrict your new pet to one room, with water, food, toys, and a litter box, for the first few days as they settle in.
Once your veterinarian has confirmed your pet is healthy, you can start to introduce them to your other pets.
Spaying and Neutering
Did you know an intact female cat can have as many as 25 kittens in one year?
Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures used to sterilize animals, making it impossible for them to reproduce. Sterilization of your pet by spaying or neutering prevents the birth of unplanned litters and helps keep animals out of the rescue system. Spaying and neutering also reduce the incidence of certain behavioural issues such as aggression, roaming, urine spraying, and mounting behaviours.
Cats scratch to condition their nails and mark their territory. Although it is unwanted behaviour to humans, for cats it is normal behaviour.
To prevent damage to your furniture, train cats to use a scratch post. Encourage and reward good scratching behaviour with treats. To get cats to use their scratching post try attaching toys to the post or scenting it with catnip.
Most cats will know how to use a litter box. However, the stress of moving to a new home may cause them to eliminate outside the litter box. If your cat or kitten fails to establish or breaks litter training, consult with your veterinarian immediately.
There should be at least one litter box for every cat in the household, plus one more (for example, if you have 2 cats, you will need 3 litter boxes).
Location is important when finding a place for the litter box. Some cats will not use the litter box if it is placed in a noisy or busy area.
Scoop out feces at least once a day and empty and clean the litter box with mild soap and water weekly to reduce any odors. Some cats will stop using the litter if it smells like disinfectant or other scents so make sure the litter box is rinsed thoroughly.
Cats are carnivores; they need protein in their diet from meat and fish. They will become ill on a vegetarian diet. The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association also explains that cats have different nutritional needs than dogs, so it is important to stick to food made specifically for cats.
To learn more, visit: Pet Food Labels
Exercise is an essential part of keeping your pet healthy. The amount of exercise necessary will vary from cat to cat. Chasing toys is an excellent way for cats to stay in shape. Play with your pets daily to ensure they are getting enough exercise.
Regular veterinary checkups are an excellent way to prevent disease and obtain professional advice about the care of your pet.
To learn more, visit: Got a Pet - Get a Vet
Vaccinations provide your cat with the best protection against disease. Talk to your veterinarian about the types of vaccinations your pet will require and the appropriate time to get them. The timeline may vary depending on your pet’s age, health, and immune status.
Diseases of the teeth and gums are common in cats. Routine home dental care (along with regular dental examinations and professional cleanings) will make a significant difference in your cat’s overall health and comfort. Be sure to use a feline toothpaste and a toothbrush designed for cats. It may take a few months for cats to get used to having their teeth brushed, but the health rewards are worth it.
To learn more about cat dental care visit CVMA: Oral Cavity and Dental Disease in Cats
Cats spend about one-third of their waking hours cleaning themselves, but they also need your help. Brush your cat regularly to avoid hairballs. Long hair breeds will need more frequent grooming to avoid painful mats in their fur. Cats should have their nails trimmed every 10-14 days to ensure they do not become overgrown. Your veterinarian can demonstrate proper nail trimming techniques.
A number of pet insurance plans are now available to assist with the cost of an unexpected illness or injury.
To learn more, visit: Pet Insurance
To learn more about the care of your new cat or kitten, be sure to check out the Cat Owner's Handbook, prepared by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association: https://publications.ovma.org/i/995093-ovma-cathandbook-2018/0?