MAKE A PROMISE
TO YOUR CAT
When you take ownership of a pet, you become responsible for the life of an innocent creature who depends on you for all of its needs. Without your good decisions and a sense of responsibility, he or she could become miserable. They may even become sick and die.
Promise your pet that you will always do your level best to care for them. If you ever need help, rescue organizations can help you with whatever you need. It's what they do!
Make sure your kitty gets fresh, clean water every day, and always in a clean bowl! This is very important. Feed them a good quality cat food, in a clean bowl as well. Quality food makes a big difference.
NOTE: WATER IS LIFE. Cats will drink much more water, much more often from a fountain, unless the fountain is allowed to get yucky. Cats naturally avoid standing water but will eventually drink it if they have no choice. By this time however they have become dangerously dehydrated. Ceramic is recommended, even for food bowls, as bacteria collects in the micro scratches found in plastic.
A good quality ceramic fountain with a filter and spring water will greatly enhance the quality of your pet's health, happiness, and longevity.
Take them to the vet for regular check-ups and any time you have a concern. Cats are masters at hiding sickness. It's a survival tactic deep within their DNA. In the wild, any animal that appears sick or injured becomes a target. So if you notice them acting a little off, it's possible that they've already been feeling poorly for a while.
Promise to give your cat lots of love and attention. Though they don't always act like it, cats are social creatures. They need interaction. And when they want their space, let them have it. They'll love you for it and trust you even more.
Keep your cat away from people, places and things that could hurt them, and keep them sheltered from extreme environments that are too hot, too cold, hazardous, smokey, or undesirable for whatever reason.
Keep their shots and vaccines up to date, along with the registration information connected to their chips. Keep a written history on them with any useful information so you can refer to it. You'll be glad you did.
Always have a back up plan to care for your pet in the event you are unable. Ask a responsible neighbor, friend, or family member if they can step in during an emergency, before something happens. Prepare a written plan in advance that includes the cat's routine, food, veterinarian, etc.
Remember: Our pets need us to do right by them. They depend on us to take our commitment to them to heart. Their well-being depends on it.
While indoor cats can easily live 20 years, their outdoor counterparts only last two or three years. Some can make it five years but it's rare.
Outdoor cats face many challenges. Food and shelter don't come easy, and there's no one to take them to the vet.
They run a high risk of getting into fights with other cats and other animals. They get various wounds and infections. Sometimes they get snake bites. Many get eaten by coyotes and birds of prey, or they get hit by cars. Some fall from high places or die from accidental poisonings.
Outdoor cats also run the risk of contracting diseases such as Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and FIV (otherwise known as Feline AIDS or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). They can pick up tics, fleas and lice, and they can transmit these things to other cats. Sometimes they even bring these things right to your door step.
Given their innately curiously nature, there's no limit to the kinds of dangerous situations cats can get into.
Unless your cat is a barn cat, whose specific job is catching mice, you should keep him or her inside.
And make sure they're spayed or neutered!
Bringing home a new kitten is exciting, whether the kitten is your first or an addition to your current pet family.
Your kitten will be entirely reliant on you to ease his transition from mom cat's side or animal shelter to this strange new place.
Keeping him safe and happy takes planning and patience for everyone in the household.
The efforts will pay off, as your new little friend grows into a confident, affectionate kitty who knows there's no place like home.
Here are some tips for making your new friend's arrival easier:
Kittens are sometimes adopted at six weeks of age, but 10 to 12 weeks is better.
Those extra weeks spent with his mother and siblings help a kitten learn acceptable behavior, from getting along with siblings to getting used to human contact.
A six- or seven-week-old kitten may be stressed and confused at being separated from his or her family too soon; your kitten may be fearful of people, and could try to hide or run away from interaction.
If a kitten has been gently handled and has gotten used to humans, he will be friendlier and better adjusted.
In choosing a kitten, look for one that is inquisitive, doesn't shy away from your touch, and is ready to play.
Kittens are growth machines for their first year and need different nutrition than adult cats. Extra protein for muscle and tissue development, fat for fatty acids and plenty of calories are key to kittens' health.
Specially formulated kitten foods fitting their nutritional requirements should be given until the kitten is a year old.
Away from his litter mates or mother, the kitten needs to feel secure as well as warm. Whether you provide a cardboard box lined with a blanket or a fancier bed from a pet supply store, keep your kitten's bed in a quiet place, away from household traffic.
Litter training is easy -- cats instinctively bury their waste -- but it sometimes takes patience.
Put the litter box in a corner or other secluded spot. After your kitten has awakened from a nap, or shortly after she's finished eating, place her in the box. If she doesn't dig or scratch, gently take one of her front paws and simulate digging with it.
Praise her if she uses the box, but never punish her if she doesn't. Just place her in the box at hourly intervals until she gets the idea. Kittens don't associate punishment with an unwanted action unless it happens simultaneously, while the unwanted behavior is happening, but there's no guarantee.
By the way - yelling at a kitty or spanking it DOES NOT WORK. Your cat will only learn to fear you. Cat's respond to positive reward and patience when needed.
To discourage clawing furniture, provide a carpet-covered scratching post. A post covered with sisal rope is even better. Try and use a material that doesn't match what you're trying to prevent kitty from scratching.
Although everyone will want to hold the kitten, limit handling for the first few days while your new pet adjusts.
Set up her bed, litter box and food in a quiet room where she can feel secure until she gets to know her new home.
Imagine for a moment that the home you know has disappeared, and you're now in a strange, unfamiliar place scared for your well-being. Then several strange giants start grabbing at you and passing you around before you've had a chance to figure out whether or not they want to hurt you.
Show some compassion by allowing the kitten to come to you when she's ready. If you let her come to you when she wants, and let her go when she wants, she will come to trust you and, knowing you're safe, will want to be with you. And she won't accidentally scratch you because she overwhelmed with fear.
Children under five should not interact with kittens. Many shelters and rescue groups will not allow families with very young children to adopt kittens because children can be rough, sometimes tragically, with kittens.
Older children can be shown how to hold a cat -- with one hand just behind the front legs, the other supporting his hindquarters. They should be taught never to grab a kitten's tail or ears, or pick it up by its scruff. This could injure the kitty and or stress her out in a big way.
Show children how to gently pet a cat's head and back. Remind them to always wash their hands after being around kitty.
Always supervise children's interaction with kittens, especially if they have friends visiting.
Kittens can get tangled or choked by anything swinging or hanging. Therefore, keep your new pet safe by securely anchoring drape or blind cords out of reach.
To prevent chewing on electric and phone cords, bundle them with a cord manager and fasten away from kittens' reach.
KITTEN PROOFING YOUR HOME
Rubber bands, jewelry, Christmas decorations, balloons and other small items are dangerous to kittens that may swallow them, especially pieces of string. Some kittens and cats love to swallow sewing thread, often by the foot!
Remove poisonous plants, and roach or ant traps and make sure the toilet lid is down.
Keep kitchen and bathroom cabinets closed so your kitten doesn't encounter bleach, detergent, dental floss and other potentially harmful household items when exploring.
In the laundry area, keep washer and dryer doors closed: A kitten may climb into a warm dryer for a nap.
Remember that if something would be harmful for a toddler, it is just as harmful to your kitten.
After you have kitten-proofed your home, let her explore, and start to introduce your kitten to your home one room at a time.
EASING KITTY INTO YOUR HOME
Place her open carrier in whichever room to which you are introducing her so she has a retreat if she wants it, and let her walk around while you sit quietly. This helps all cats to feel safe.
Talk to her softly as she explores. Knowing you're there, sitting back, will help. She may hide under a bed or scoot behind a refrigerator, so you need to be vigilant. Remember that cats of any age can eventually get into anything and everything.
If you don't want her in the habit of climbing on your bed, gently remove her and place her on the floor. Bring her back to her own space, and repeat this introduction process in each room of your home until she has explored every place.
Before bringing in a new kitten, be sure your resident pets have recently been checked by your vet, and are disease-free.
When the kitten is in his or her secured room, if you have other pets they will sniff around the doorway. Give your resident cat extra attention to ease his or her anxiety.
Once the kitten feels comfortable, allow the two to meet briefly. Stay in the room while they sniff and explore each other. There may be some hissing and growling. If one cat shows real hostility, separate them and try again a few days later.
Never leave a dog alone with a new kitten.
Dogs can become aggressive, or a kitten may claw at a dog's face. Make sure your dog is properly leashed as you introduce him or her to your kitten following the same procedure you would to introduce a cat to your kitten. This lets the animals learn each other's scent.
The kitten should not be allowed to run away because the dog may think chasing it is a game. Reward both pets for calm behavior. Always supervise their interactions until the kitten is fully grown.
A kitten's high energy level makes her eager to play at any time. To keep her safe, choose toys carefully, just as you would for a child.
Avoid toys with buttons, bells or other small parts that can come off and create a choking hazard. Watch for sharp edges, and beware of string, yarn or ribbon. Ingesting these things can create real problems.
If a toy has any of these, always supervise the kitten when she plays with it. Small stuffed animals to attack and a ball too large to fit into her mouth will provide hours of kitten fun.
You can hold a plastic fishing pole, anchored by a secure line to a fuzzy mouse or other small toy, in front of the kitten who will delight in chasing this prey. Your new kitty will love you for playing with her, and this will help to strengthen the bond between the two of you.
A kitten left home alone should be secured in one room with her bed, litter box, scratching post, food and water.
If you'll be gone until evening, add a nightlight. Give her enough safe toys to keep her busy, such as a trackball toy. Place a radio just outside his door, turned to a classical music or country western station. It's been shown that cat's like these two genres. Some cats also like listening to talk shows, perhaps soothed by the human voice.
If your kitten will always be alone during the day, spend extra time petting and playing with him when you return.
When you first bring your kitten home, he may miss his siblings and mother. He'll meow in confusion or wake up during the night.
Ease his stress by picking him up, stroking him while speaking in a soothing tone. Wrapping a ticking clock in a towel and placing it near his bed to remind him of his mother's heartbeat.
Kittens have so much energy, they need to stay active to be happy. If you bring home two kittens together rather than one, they'll focus their play-fighting, scratching and wrestling on each other, and are less likely to feel lonely. They are also a lot more fun to watch. Having both you and a feline companion with which to play gives kitty more variety.
When you have the time, try and read up a little about cats. It can only make you a better pet parent.
Good luck, and have fun!