Cat and kitten advice

About Cats & Kittens

A cat can be the perfect companion giving you someone to come home to everyday or even someone to keep you company at all times.

Diet

You will get to know when your cat wants food and if they are grazers, fussy or just too greedy! Ideally food for a cat should be high in meat content and provided in smaller portions often but usually 2-3 times a day is perfectly fine. Always read the packet of each food and make sure they are being fed the suitable amount for their age and weight. If you notice that they are losing or putting on weight this may be good to discuss with your vet if they are already being fed the correct amount. It is important that kittens are fed kitten food suitable to their age and enough of it as they have lots of growing to do.

Finding the right food for your cat can be a jungle as there are so many options. The most important thing is to feed your cat a product that suit your individual cat’s needs. If it’s old, young, or got health issues there is a product that suits it’s needs. When you have narrowed down the type of food your cat needs you should do a little research to insure the food is of a high quality.

Like humans, cats need a balanced diet with the right amount of nutrients, so it’s best to stick to a reputable pet food which includes everything cats need to stay fit and healthy. Commercial pet food is classified as either complete or complementary:

  • Complete foods provide all the necessary nutrients in the right balance so that no other food needs to be added.
  • Complementary foods must be combined with other foods to provide a complete balance of nutrients.
  • Whichever food you choose, remember cats always need fresh water, which should be changed daily.

Cats have a higher protein requirement than many other mammals and so must eat meat to satisfy their needs. However, there is no need to feed your cat an entirely homemade or fresh food diet, unless this is recommended by your vet for medical reasons. It’s very difficult to provide the right range and balance of proteins, vitamins and minerals that cats need to thrive. An unbalanced diet can cause growth problems and/or medical conditions. If you are feeding your cat a reputable complete cat food, there is no need to give your cat a vitamin supplement unless advised by your vet. It may cause a dietary imbalance which could be harmful. If you have adopted a cat it’s wise to keep them on the same food that they have been used to for a while, as a sudden change of diet can cause an upset stomach. If you would like to change your cat’s diet you can slowly introduce the new food by mixing it with the old food over a period of a week or more.

Remember, your cat…

  • is an obligate carnivore and must have amino acids such as taurine that can only be found in meat, so they cannot be a vegetarian
    • should not be fed dog food. The balance of ingredients are not suitable for cats’ digestive systems and will not provide your cat with all the nutrients they need
    • likes to eat, drink and toilet in different places. In an evolutionary sense this allows them to avoid water that may be contaminated with waste from prey, so move the water bowl to a site away from the food bowl and move the litter tray away from both the food and water bowls
    • prefers to eat away from other cats. Reduce any potential competition for food between cats by feeding them in different areas of the house

Snacks and treats

Limit treats or choose healthy treat options for your cat as some treats are high in calories, salt and carbohydrates which are not good for your cat. Some healthy treat options could be plain chicken or fish (remember to remove all bones!).

Always provide fresh water, in a bowl, 24/7 for your cat. You probably won’t see them drink much, especially if they are on a wet diet and this is normal for a cat but still always provide water.

Flea and Worm Prevention

At the rescue centre we always use products provided by our supporting veterinary practice to keep away fleas and worms and we recommend you do the same. Speak to your vet to see which products they recommend and how often it should be applied. If you notice your pet scratching or they have an upset stomach this could be caused by worms or fleas, in that case your should treat your pet immediately. There are pet shop alternative treatments for fleas and worms but these are not the same as the products provided by your vet.

Diseases and Vaccinations

Unfortunately, like any living creature, cats can become unwell. There are several illnesses and diseases that cats can get. Some of them they can be vaccinated for. All cats leave our rescue centre after at least their first part of their vaccination course, unless there is a medical reason why they cannot be vaccinated. The vaccination we give covers your cat for feline calicivirus, feline herpes and feline panleucopenia.  There are also additional vaccinations for other diseases that can be given which can be discussed with your vet.

Some diseases cannot be vaccinated against, for example, kidney disease, heart failure or arthritis. It is therefore highly recommended that you register to a veterinary practice, insure your pet and keep vaccinations up to date or as your veterinary practice recommends.

Signs of a cat that may need to see vet are:

  • Diarrhoea,
  • Vomiting,
  • Lethargy,
  • Not wanting to eat,
  • Drinking lots of water,
  • Having trouble breathing,
  • Sore areas of skin or bleeding,
  • Personality change e.g. hiding or being grumpy out of character.

Litter trays and toileting

At the rescue centre we use wooden pellets for litter for most cats. Some cats prefer gravel, soil or sand and some will just be happier going outside to the toilet. With most cats at the rescue we don’t know this until they are in a home. To avoid accidents, we would recommend providing 2 litter trays per cat plus 1 spare. So if there were 2 cats in a house there should be 5 litter trays, at least to begin with. If accidents occur it may be worth trying different litter, making sure you have enough trays and that the cat has 24/7 access to the litter tray. Some cats will not go to the toilet in a used litter tray. It is important to clean litter trays regularly as bacteria can grow in there. Always thoroughly clean your hands and/or wear gloves after cleaning a cat litter tray.

Grooming

All cats may need grooming but long haired or elderly cats may need grooming more often. There are several types of grooming brushes that are suitable for different coat types. Long haired cats can become matted on their back end, as a result, can become unclean. Their fur may need carefully trimming at times. There are cat groomers or vets that will be able to help maintain long haired cats that are not keen on being groomed. When a cat gets older or if they are overweight they are less flexible and may struggle to bend to clean themselves, these cats may need help keeping their coat in good condition. Cats will shed more fur as seasons change or when the central heating is switched on. If you notice bald or sore patches of fur this may be caused by excessive grooming and may need a visit to your vet.

Neutering – Why neuter your cat

All of the cats at our rescue centre leave neutered unless there is a medical reason not to, but these cats would need to stay indoors. Here is a list of reasons why cats should be neutered:

  • To reduce the cat population. There are so many stray cats and cats in shelters with no home that shelters are often full with a waiting list!
  • Neutering cats reduces the likelihood of them getting diseases that are spread through fighting or breeding, such as Felv or FIV.
  • Getting your cat neutered will be cheaper than raising, feeding and then trying to find homes for a litter of kittens.
  • Entire male cats are more likely to show unwanted behaviours such as spraying in the house, fighting with other cats or roaming far from the house looking for a female.
  • Females are at risk of developing pyometra (an infection of the womb) when they are not neutered.
  • Unneutered male cats are at risk of testicular cancer
  • With the new Lucy’s law it is now illegal to breed cats to sell kittens unless you are a registered breeder.

Vets and Insurance

It’s a good idea to register all of your pets at your local vet, you never know when you may need them and in an emergency its peace of mind to know you’ve got it covered.

We always recommend getting your cat or rabbit insured; Injury, accidents and diseases can happen at any time, even to house cats – Vet bills can be costly and sometimes unexpected. You will get 4 weeks free Pet Plan insurance from us when you adopt a cat or rabbit.

Going outside and house cats

We believe that cats enjoy exploring and being adventurous outside. We like to offer as many cats as possible to opportunity to go outside but there are ways to help them keep safe.

When we rehome cats we would only send suitable cats to live near busier or built up roads. For example, a cat that is more streetwise, or a cat that is too nervous to go anywhere near the road or even an elderly cat that may prefer to stay indoors.

When your cat goes outside for the first time do it in the morning before breakfast, this way they are hungry and will want to come back for food! Make sure it is a day where you are around all day to let them back in. If you want your cat to use a cat flap make sure he knows how to use it as some cats may be nervous of the cat flap to begin with.

It is our policy that a cat leaves the rescue centre with a collar and tag on. It is a good idea to use a reflective collar and one that will snap open if your cat was to get stuck somewhere. On the tag we would recommend putting your telephone number on as this will be the quickest way that your cat would be reunited with you if they were to wonder off. A collar with a bell on can be helpful as not only will you know where your cat is but so will the wildlife. Some cats are very clever at hunting mice and birds and so having a bell on their collar will pre-warn the small creatures and hopefully they can make their escape.

All of our cats leave the rescue centre microchipped. The chip is about the size of a grain of rice and goes into their scruff. If your cat was to wonder off and lose his collar someone could take your cat to a vets or rescue centre where the microchip could be scanned and then you could be contacted. Always make sure that your cat’s microchip is registered and up to date, especially if you move house or change phone number.

Depending on how much your cat likes to go outside there are restrictions that can be in place to help keep them safe. Some people only let their cat out whilst it is daylight and keep them in at night. This will reduce the risk of them not being seen by the roads. Some people have fully enclosed gardens, this is good but make sure they are able to get back over the walls to come inside if they do manage to get out. Others prefer to keep cats as house cats. We will rehome cats as house cats but only if we feel the cat is suited to that lifestyle or if there is a medical reason why they have to be kept in or if they are very elderly. We recommend keeping kittens in until they are 6 months old, so that they are less likely to get injured or lost. Please keep any unneutered cats indoors until they can be neutered as otherwise, there will be unwanted litters of kittens and the spread of disease between cats.

If your cat does wonder off it is a good idea to contact your local vets and rescue centres, speak to neighbours, put up posters, hand out flyers and post it on social media. Always notify your cat’s microchip company and make sure your details are up to date.

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