Cat Basics

The first thing to consider when choosing a cat is do you want a moggy or a pedigree? Moggies can be hardier but personalities are less easy to predict, while breed types do have their own personality traits and are also predisposed to certain hereditary and congenital conditions. Do you want a long or short-haired cat? Will a cat suit the whole family and their lifestyle? Once you have decided on these things, what other things are there to think about?

Nutrition

Depending on what age cat you get will depend on which life stage diet you require.

For kittens, it is critical to choose the correct food during the first year of life to promote healthy development. Overfeeding a kitten will lead to adult obesity so you must follow the feeding guide. Adult cats require a maintenance diet and there are several tailor-made types available from Regular, Light, Hairball and so on. You’ll need to choose the correct diet for your cats lifestyle.

For senior cats will need to provide a senior diet, this takes into consideration the aging process of the cat and adjusts the nutritional requirement accordingly.

The choice of feeding wet or dry food is up to you, dry tends to promote better dental care but you will notice that the cat will drink more water – this is normal.

Make sure that you are feeding a good quality complete food and always follow the recommended feeding guide. Overfeeding leads to obesity and on to further health problems that will reduce life expectancy.

Cats and Milk 

Cats actually don’t need milk and for some cats cows milk can cause diarrhoea, therefore if you want to give your cat milk then make sure it has been specially formulated for them. Whether you provide milk or not, water should still be available at all times.

Vaccinations

This is an initial course of two injections three weeks apart, followed by yearly boosters. Vaccines cover the main diseases which are: Cat Flu, Enteritis, and Leukaemia. These diseases are killers so make sure you keep vaccines up to date. More information about vaccines can be found on our vaccination page.

Identification

Cats are not required to wear a collar for ID purpose, and in some respect, they are not always appropriate as they can hang themselves on branches and various other obstacles that might get in their way, not to mention collar injuries under armpits and around mouths that can occur. The alternative would be microchipping and more information can be found on our microchip page.

Exercise and Training

Cats need exercise to stimulate mental health, prevent boredom and prevent obesity. They need to hunt, climb, scratch and sleep – this is the natural behaviour of a cat and therefore this must be accommodated for especially if you wish it keep the cat indoors.

Hunting skills, climbing, and scratching can all be provided for through play in the form of toys, activity centres and scratch posts.

For kittens, you’ll need to aim to spend at least 20 minutes a day of interactive play.

Because cats love to climb or get into hiding places, don’t forget to cat proof your home.

Toilet Training

Cats are naturally clean and the chance are that any kitten you get will already have learned how to use a litter tray. But if you experience difficulties then show your kitten where the tray is and put the kitten in there after meals and also if you see it sniffing around, crouching or generally behaving like it needs to go.

Keep litter trays away from food or sleeping areas and make sure it’s somewhere reasonably private. Litter trays need to be emptied regularly as cats don’t like using dirty trays and may go off to find an inappropriate place around the house if no other options are available. If you find yourself cleaning up urine areas around the house make sure that you use a cleaning product specially designed for the job as regular cleaning products contain ammonia products which will attract the cat back to that site to re-offend. Cats recognise ammonia as another cat marking their territory.

A point to remember on the human side her is Toxoplasmosis so if you are female and considering pregnancy, then strict hygiene is a must, wear rubber gloves and wash hands thoroughly afterward.

Personal Hygiene

Worm, flea and tick prevention are good personal hygiene routines to have, Not only do they lead towards health problems for cats if not treated, but also they can cause health problems in humans. The frequency will depend on your cats lifestyle.

When it comes to kittens they are not actually born with worms but they can become infected while feeding from the mother, therefore, it is very important to start a worming regime as soon as the kitten is old enough. If left untreated, it will lead to poor development and a life-threatening intestinal blockage.

Make a point of regularly checking your cat from head to toe. By grooming your animal on a regular basis you will make yourself familiar with anything that is abnormal and by doing this you will also get the cat used to being handled. Remember long haired breeds will require more frequent grooming than short-haired breeds.

Dental care is important to all animals and should be encouraged from an early age on a regular basis; this is to help reduce dental disease and loss of teeth in the years to come. The build-up of tartar encourages bacteria to pass from the gums into the bloodstream spreading further infection around the body. Always use a toothpaste specially designed for animals as human products cause digestive upsets as they are not designed to be ingested.

Neutering

This reduces the risk of unwanted litters, also reduces the urge to fight with other cats in the neighbourhood therefore the cat will be less likely to get infected with infectious diseases such as FeLV and FIV. More information about neutering is available on our neutering page. 

Cost

Cats cost money on a regular basis whether it be food, worm or flea treatment, vaccinations, bowls, toys, bedding etc… But what about unexpected vet bills due to illness or an accident. This is where pet insurance comes in and it’s owrth looking into the right policy. More information can be found on our pet insurance page.