Cats make amazing pets. Not only are they relatively low maintenance but they are perfect for cuddling up to after a stressful day and generally make our lives happier and healthier.
In fact, research shows that cat owners are at a lower risk of having a heart attack or developing other cardiovascular diseases. Thinking of fostering or adopting a new feline friend? Check out this simple guide to learn more about cat ownership so you can decide whether it’s the right choice for you.
What to consider when fostering a cat or kitten
Fostering a cat or kitten is a great way to provide a loving home before you make a long-term commitment. It is also an opportunity for socialization and training which will help to increase a cat’s chances of eventual adoption.
Whatever your reasons for fostering an animal, it saves lives and makes a huge difference in your community. Ready to become a foster parent? Before you take that step, here are some things to discuss with your local animal shelter:
Does your potential foster cat have any bad habits or behaviors you should be aware of?
Does she have any particular needs or requirements relating to her health such as special foods or medications?
Any likes or dislikes, for example, a specific toy or having her belly scratched?
Is she comfortable around kids and/or other pets?
Cat or kitten: which should you adopt?
Many soon-to-be pet parents instantly fall for the appeal of a cute kitten but generally speaking a kitten needs more supervision, especially during the first year of her life. If you have young children or spend a lot of time away from home, you may want to consider adopting an adult cat. Depending on her age and health, an adult or senior cat could be easier to look after and can bring just as much joy to your household.
Adopting a kitten - tips for the first vet visit
Whether your kitten has been adopted from a shelter or a breeder, she should be seen by a veterinarian within her first week home with you. The first appointment is a good time to discuss nutrition, immunizations and any other concerns you may have. What’s more, once your veterinarian has your pet’s medical record on file, it will be easier for you to contact them in the case of an emergency.
A kitten’s first vaccine is administered between the ages of 6-8 weeks but she will receive a series of “boosters” every 3-4 weeks up until she is about 4 months. Vaccinating your kitten is important as it protects her from potentially life-threatening viruses and bacteria, including feline distemper (panleukopenia), feline viral rhinotracheitis (feline herpes virus 1), calicivirus, and rabies.
Spaying and neutering
It is generally considered safe for kittens as young as eight weeks old to be spayed or neutered. Research shows that spaying your female kitten before her first heat reduces her chances of developing cancer in her reproductive organs. Your male kitten’s risk of developing testicular and prostate cancer when he gets older is also reduced with neutering. Other good reasons to spay and neuter your cats are to decrease overpopulation and prevent behavioral issues (not to mention to avoid smelly tom cat urine). Be sure you talk with your veterinarian to discuss what this procedure entails.
Cats are known to be independent animals and can be great escape artists.. Whether you intentionally let your cat outside or not, you should consider getting her microchipped. Unlike collars and tags which can get lost or fall off, microchips are safe, reliable and can offer peace of mind for pet owners. In most shelters, it’s normal practice to microchip a cat prior to adoption, so make sure you obtain any microchip information (and don’t forget to update it with your address). If you’re unsure if your new cat has a microchip, you can always have your vet and check.
Tips for adopting a cat – preparing your home
When you first bring your new cat or kitten home, it may take her a while to adjust to her new surroundings. During this time, you should make her feel as comfortable as possible and allow her enough time to get used to you.
Make sure you introduce her to other family pets in a controlled and safe space. Initially, keep her confined to a smaller area, such as one room. For the first meeting, you may want to keep a dog or cat on a leash. Your kitten should also be kept in separate areas from other animals for feeding and sleeping. This helps to avoid feelings of mistrust or competition between your other pets.
To help your kitten settle in, we’ve put together a quick checklist of everything you need to create a safe and welcoming home environment.
How to kitten-proof your home
A kitten is a natural explorer which often means she is prone to getting into trouble. That’s why you need to take the steps to prevent situations that can lead to damage to the home as well as injury to your kitten. Here’s how to kitten-proof your home:
Tuck away loose wires, cables and chargers that could be potentially harmful to your kitten.
Keep the floor clear of ribbon, rubber bands, safety pins, threads or any other edible items.
Seal your trash can and recycling bin to prevent your kitten from getting into the garbage and eating something she shouldn’t.
Provide a scratching post to deter her from scratching or clawing your furniture.
Secure storage areas. You may want to consider buying a latch or lock for cabinets that hold cleaning supplies or medication.
Make sure the door of your clothes dryer is closed as your kitten could decide to climb inside to keep warm.
On average, a cat sleeps 15 hours a day so it’s important that she has a cozy spot to sleep in. Designate a quiet area to place the cat bed and pad it out with a cushion and a blanket. If she has a favorite blanket or toy from the shelter, lay that in the bed too as a familiar odor will give her comfort and can make the transition to a new home easier.
If at first, your cat ignores her new cat bed, you can coax her over to it with toys and treats. Be prepared that while some cats love a plush new cat bed, others are simply satisfied with curling up in a cardboard box.
Most kittens who are at least 8 weeks old will already know how to use a litter box. Just fill it with natural, unscented litter and place it in a quiet spot away from her food and bedding. It will need to be scooped out daily, replaced with clean litter every week, then thoroughly washed and disinfected every month.
Most cats will have no problems using their litter box but if she is showing adverse behaviors or has frequent accidents, you should speak to your veterinarian.
While cats clean themselves fastidiously throughout the day, your pet will still benefit from a good grooming session. You should try to brush her one or two times a week as this can help improve blood circulation and ensure her coat maintains a healthy shine. Purchase a brush with soft bristles or if she has longer fur, choose a brush with larger bristles or use a shedding comb.
Just like us, cats need daily dental care to ensure that their teeth and gums stay clean and healthy. If possible, you should try to brush her teeth with a soft toothbrush and some feline toothpaste a minimum of 3 times a week. This will help to remove plaque and prevent a tartar buildup. While it’s best to teach your cat to accept a dental routine when she’s a kitten, with patience and persistence most cats will learn to tolerate some level of tooth brushing.
Cats are very playful and will make a game of just about anything. You should provide a selection of toys for you and your cat to play with together and some toys for her to play with on her own. The movement, texture and possibly scent of the toy can be used to stimulate your cat’s curiosity and natural hunting behaviors. Appropriate environmental enrichment is key to keeping your cat happy. Additionally, if you have a kitten or a young cat, avoid any toys with loose pieces that are small enough to ingest.
Cats need a regular feeding routine and should have access to fresh water at all times. Choosing the right food is one of the most important decisions you make as a cat owner. Before you purchase cat food, do your research to ensure you know how to provide the optimal diet for your cat. No matter what you feed her, you should always read the label including the feeding recommendations. Remember cats at different life stages have different nutritional needs so you should also speak to your vet if you are unsure of what’s best for your cat.
At CANIDAE®, we work in partnership with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist to ensure your cat is provided with a nutritionally balanced diet, whatever her age, size or breed. Canidae cat food contains no fillers, artificial flavors or preservatives − just complete and balanced goodness. Plus, every mouthful is supported by probiotics, antioxidants and Omega 6 and 3 fatty acids.
NEW Canidae Goodness Dry Cat Food is a health-first line formulated specifically to support different healthy adult cats’ needs. Developed in partnership with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, each bite is packed full of ingredients scientifically proven to provide focused nutrition for your cat. Each formula has real poultry or fish as the first ingredient and is composed of high-quality, wholesome ingredients.
NEW Canidae Balanced Bowl wet food products are delicious recipes inspired by healthy, home-cooked meals. Each recipe is made with high quality proteins and vegetables in gravy to deliver wholesome meals. Canidae balanced bowl is complete and balanced wet food for adult cats that can be used as a meal or mixed with kibble as a topper.
Discuss switching to the Canidae’s delicious recipes today!