A. In a word, slowly. Keep your new feline in a separate room for a few days, with its own food, water and litter box. Then let him or her out when you are there to supervise. Some cats take to each other immediately, while others need some time to work things out. Be patient, and never leave your new cat untended until you are sure there aren’t any problems.
A. The ideal time to neuter a male cat is before he is 10 months old. That way, he won’t acquire the "spraying " habit, which is his way of marking his territory. For a female, spraying is usually done at five to six months of age, before she goes into her first heat. Your veterinarian will tell you when your cat is ready for this simple but extremely important procedure. Altering your cat not only prevents unwanted litters of kittens, but also greatly reduces potential health problems, such as cancer, in both males and females.
A. Proper nutrition is a must for keeping your cat healthy, with strong bones, a coat, bright eyes and the ability to fight off potential infections. Most vets recommend a well-balanced dry kibble, supplemented with a bit of canned food. Beef, turkey, and chicken are best, because they contain less ash and magnesium than fish-based foods, which can trigger urinary-tract problems. Make sure to always keep fresh water available for your cat.
A for kittens, they need a richer food than adult cats, and should be fed more often, usually three times a day until they are six month old. Let your kitten or young cat tell you how much food it needs. If you start with a teaspoon of canned food and it eats it at once, give it a bit more, but only the amount it will finish in one sitting.
A. Declawing certainly is painful! Think about having the tips of your fingers removed up to the first knuckle. Many declawed cats use their teeth more because it is their only defense, and a cat without claws should never go outside. In fact more and more veterinarians are refusing to declaw a cat. Ask him or her about other options.
Most cats can be trained not to claw furniture. Provide plenty of scratching posts (sprinkle catnip on them to make them even more alluring!). Keep a spray bottle of water handy and spritz your cat, saying NO loudly, when he starts to sharpen his claws on the couch.
A. The reason could be simple. Maybe the box needs to be changed more often, or you should try a new kind of litter. Perhaps you should put another box somewhere else in your house. Have you added a new cat to your family, or somehow changed your cat’s regular routine?
Perhaps the most common reason for a cat suddenly not using his usual box is that it has developed a urinary-tract infection. Your vet can tell quickly if that’s the case, and prescribe antibiotics to clear up the problem.
A. There are many good reasons for making your cat an indoor-only pet. First, indoor cats live longer and healthier lives. They aren’t exposed to other cats that may carry diseases, and they won’t be eating wildlife that could give them parasites or disease —and they aren’t being eaten themselves by other predators, such as foxes or coyotes, if you live in a rural area. And, no matter whether you’re in the country or the suburbs, cars are always a threat to outdoors cats.
A. Of course! Although cats don’t love car rides as much as dogs do, many people travel successfully with their cats. Use a carrier large enough for your cat to feel safe and comfortable. Stop often on a long trip so that he has a chance to eat, drink water and use the litter box.
It’s a good idea to see how well your cat travels by first taking some short jaunts around the neighborhood. If he seems stressed, ask your vet about possible remedies, some of which are herbal, not chemical.
Use a harness and leash to exercise your cat when you’re away from home. It is also good idea to have him wear a collar with an ID tag listing your phone number, just in case he gets loose.
A. Cats pose no problems for pregnant women, although it’s best to have someone else clean the litter box to avoid coming into contact with any parasites.
As for newborns, cats are not inherently a danger, although they do like to curl up next to something that’s soft, warm and smells like milk! So, if your cat is a cuddlier, be there to supervise both cat and baby together. Installing a screen door on a nursery will allow you to hear your baby cry but will keep the cat outside the room. You can also place a net over the playpen, crib and stroller to keep curious cats of baby’s things.
A. If they are with their mother cat, your job is easy. She’ll do all the work; you just provide soft bedding, a quiet environment and nutritious food. It’s a good idea to feed nursing mothers kitten food, which has extra vitamins, and to feed her a few times a day. If her milk has come in, she’ll be able to nurse her kittens easily.
If you have kittens with no mother, your job is harder. They’ll need KMR (kitten milk replacer), which is available either in ready-to-use liquid form or as a powder that you mix with water. Do not give kittens cow’s milk, because they can’t digest it. If they are really small, you may have to use a dropper to feed them, and do so every three or four hours. If they can drink out of a shallow saucer, so much the better.
You’ll also have to do "play mother" in terms of encouraging a kitten to eliminate. Gently rub a soft cloth, dampened with warm water, over its genital area after it eats
Kittens also need to be kept warm. One good strategy is to place a hot water bottle under a towel or blanket in its box. Just be careful that the water isn’t too hot.
Don’t hesitate to call your local animal shelter for advice and help in raising newborns.
A. Once your cat has outgrown kitten hood, and has received all the inoculations that a kitten needs to get a healthy start in life; it should only have to see the vet annually for a routine checkup (emergencies excluded, of course). The vet will check its vital signs such as heart and lungs, feel the organs to make sure nothing is swollen or out of kilter, check its coat, eyes and ears, and do a dental inspection to identify tooth problems or periodontal disease, which can be very harmful to a cat’s heat, liver, kidneys and other organs. Take in a stool sample, which the vet will check for parasites. A cat gets its first rabies vaccination about the same time it is spayed or neutered. In addition, it should be inoculated against feline leukemia. Your vet will notify about what shots your cat will getting when it comes in for its annual visit.
But remember, certain ailments–such as kidney infections–come on very quickly in cats. If your cat suddenly acts lethargic, isn’t eating or drinking, or seems otherwise out of sorts, call your vet for advice.
© 2011-2014 Bennington County Humane Society. All Rights Reserved.
Site Design: Maureen Stadnik
Second Chance Animal Center
6779 US Route 7A
P.O. Box 620
Shaftsbury, VT 05262
Phone: (802) 375-2898
Fax: (802) 375-0235