Useful tips for caring for your new cat or kitten

Owning a cat takes a little work but gives a lot of joy in return. Here are some ideas on how to make your new kitten feel at home while giving you peace of mind. It’s a transition to owning a new pet, so take it one step at a time and have no fear.

If you have a little kitten, be sure to handle them a lot and gently show them you’re someone they can trust. Place a ticking clock where her bed is, the soothing sound mimics the mother cat’s heartbeat. If you’re keeping the kitten in a separate room until she’s ready to get used to the household, make sure she has a soft pillow or cat bed to sleep on. A few toys are also appreciated. Some great free toys are things like a cotton swab that attaches to a string and hangs on a doorknob (supervise play with this item) or a milk jug ring (the plastic ring around the cap). Buy superballs, a laser pointer and catnip mice from the pet store, then sit back and watch the show as Kitty exhausts herself as a spring-loaded, furry ballet dancer who leaps in the air while chasing his “prey”. Find toys that are light and toss them around a bit to show the kitty how to play. Kittens learn by watching their mothers, so they learn by watching their adopted human parents too.

Set up a litter box area in a well-ventilated, quiet area. Then show the kitten where it is, grab your hand and play with it scratching the litter to show it’s okay to use it. Again, cats learn by watching, and kittens in particular sometimes need a little guidance. If the kitten relieves itself outside the box, don’t punish them, just put them in their crate right away. Do not show anger as this will startle the cat and make it afraid. Fear is not a good teacher, quiet praise and encouragement is what you want. Be sure to address the issue immediately for best results as cats have short memory spans and will not correlate the accident to the crate unless you quickly link the two with corrective action (putting cat in crate ).

All my life I have fed my cats both wet and dry food. Ask your vet about the right amount to feed your cat, but make sure you’re getting a quality food that she likes and not just something cheap you see at the store. Feeding your cat good quality food will give your cat a better chance of avoiding health problems later. My vet told me that male cats can get crystals in their urinary tract that are painful and expensive to remove. To avoid this, do not feed your cat foods high in magnesium. Read ingredient labels. Since I have hangovers myself, I avoid fish products and give them canned food flavored with turkey, chicken or beef. The ones with rice in them are good too. Just like humans, vary the flavors of the food you feed your cat. I buy a box of canned food and feed mine a can at the same time each day.

Save money on veterinary medicines by buying them online. You can take the kitten to the vet if she’s sick and buy the medication there, but unless it’s an emergency then by all means look for lower priced pet medication like flea or parasiticides. My cat had tapeworms (they look like rice in cat poo) so I found out what medication the vet uses and found them on an internet pet store. The drug would have cost me over $30 if bought from the vet, but I got the exact same kind online for $15. It is worth studying the safety of the medicine recommended by veterinarians and following the dosage instructions very carefully. Don’t dose your pet higher than directed, and don’t use dog medication on cats unless the vet says it’s okay. Cats are self-grooming, and if you use topical medicine on a cat meant for a dog, it could potentially poison him as he cleans himself. Better safe than sorry. Never give human medicine to pets, cats have different systems than we do. Don’t bet on your precious pet’s life.

When it comes to the question of whether or not to let your cat outside, it has been proven that indoor cats live longer than cats that are allowed outside. This is because there are a variety of dangers and diseases outside that a free-roaming cat can encounter. Cars, cat-hating neighbors, dogs, diseases from other people’s pets, and of course fleas are high on the list of dangers. Growing up we had cats all going outside and one by one they died from things like leukemia, being poisoned by a neighbor, hit by cars (we lost a few cats to cars) and one got caught and came returned with a mutilated leg that had to be amputated. We lived on a peaceful, upscale street, and yet all of this happened. I can’t stress it more, indoor cats live longer. As adults, my cats were indoors and lived to be 21 or more years old. Just get your house kitty a scratching post or scratching post and place it near the window for bird watching.

Protect your cat when you have guests who are either rough on cats or don’t like them. Put Kitty in another room if you don’t want her to be handled by very young children, for example. If you have young children, be very careful and thorough in teaching them to be gentle and kind to pets. Well-meaning children can break a cat’s leg by incorrectly picking it up (one of my cats was a rescue who had this happen), so it pays to monitor your young child’s interaction with a new pet. This is also to protect the child, as rough handling can cause a cat to scratch! Cats are affectionate, but they must be treated with kindness or their natural instinct is to protect themselves.

If you’re going to be away for a week or so, make sure a pet sitter or friend looks after your cat while you’re away. Set out plenty of dry food and water for the cat, but make sure someone checks it hasn’t run out. My on-site pet sitters charge me $15 a day, a small price to pay for peace of mind when away from my furry friends.

Having a pet is both a commitment and a privilege. Remember, your pet will be with you through thick and thin, so be there for them through sickness or health. Give him the same chance at a happy and fulfilling life that you deserve by giving him a forever home. If for any reason you have to part with a pet due to unforeseen problems, take responsibility for finding your pet a good home. Do for your pet what you would do for yourself. There are few circumstances that would justify giving up a pet, so I encourage you to honor your commitment no matter what. I live in a hurricane evacuation zone and if I need to evacuate my pets have a large fan cage in the car so we can be together. If you’re in a hurricane zone, plan ahead for disasters by arming yourself with a collapsible cage for the back of your car, a jug of water, and food for when you evacuate. Never leave your pet behind as they may not be there when you come back. I have had my three cats microchipped so if they were somehow physically separated from me they could come to my house. Microchips carry the owner’s address, and authorities screen strays to see if they have them, so they’re a great investment.

Owning a pet teaches patience and responsibility. In return, you will be paid with unconditional love and acceptance. If you have questions about cat care, contact your local ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) section or your veterinarian and they will usually help you through that Phone. Over time, you and your pet will become more comfortable together. Until then, just take it slow, remember to be gentle and supportive, and you’ll have a special friend for life.

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