Here you can find the basics about caring for your cats and kittens. We advise you have a read through before considering adopting a cat from Stray Cat Rescue.
Cats are now our most popular domestic pet. Some people acquire a cat almost by accident but if you make a conscious decision to get one you should think carefully before going ahead.
A cat needs lots of love and care, including regular worming, flea treatment, vaccinations and dental care. You will also need to keep an eye out for ticks, fleas and ear mites. If your new kitten or cat hasn't been neutered or chipped you will also need to make arrangements for your pet to be done by your vet.
Don't forget that cats need somewhere warm to sleep, a litter tray, a constant supply of water, feeding daily and toys to play with. Food, litter, veterinary care and pet insurance are the regular costs but there will be occasional costs, including emergency vet bills, buying a litter tray, cattery charges.
Cats can live up to 20 years and longer, over this time your cat will expect lots of care, companionship, time for play and grooming. Being able to provide all of this will ensure you and your cat make the most of your time together.
Explanation of why neutering is vital, and links to help with neutering costs here.Every year thousands of healthy animals are destroyed because good homes cannot be found for them. It is important not to add to this pool of unwanted cats. This includes pedigree cats too, there are many in rescue shelters and there are even shelters specialising in certain breeds.Stray Cat Rescue will never put a cat down unless in extreme cases under veterinary advise but sadly this is not the case of all animal rescue centres.Even if you manage to find homes for your kittens, you will have taken those valuable homes away from the many unwanted cats and kittens.
Don’t forget that an unneutered tom will also be responsible for reproducing many litters.Neutering is usually carried out at 6 months of age for both males (castration) and females (spaying). It will cost about £60 to spay a female cat and about £50 to castrate a male cat. Please consider this expense before you take on a kitten.Neutered cats will be less likely to wander and get lost or hit by a car. They will stay closer to home and be a better companion. Males will be less likely to mark his territory by spraying strong smelling urine around the house and garden. Male and females will not mate or have many territorial fights with other cats, preventing injury and potentially lethal infectious diseases such as FIV and FeLV. Both male and female cats become calmer, more affectionate after neutering. Unneutered females are more likely to develop breast and ovary and uterine cancers.
There is absolutely no benefit from allowing your female cat to have her ‘first’ litter. It will not make her calmer and it could put her health at risk. For all the information you need on neutering contact your local vet.Stray Cat Rescue neuter all cats in our care over the age of 6 months. Any exception to this and you will be informed before adoption.
WE REALLY CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO GET YOUR CATS AND KITTENS NEUTERED AS THE UK IS OVERFLOWING WITH UNWANTED CATS AND KITTENS.
Caring for a kitten
It is often said that dry food will clean your cats teeth. However this is no longer considered true. Imagine a human eating nothing but biscuits and never brushing their teeth! Tooth disease would be certain.
Dental problems are as agonising for cats as for us, but cats hide pain very well. So without regular dental checkups you will have no idea your cat is suffering.
If your cat has never had a dental checkup it is vital to book one before starting to brush their teeth. This is to make sure there is no decay already present, which would make brushing very painful.The only way to keep your cat's teeth clean is to brush them. You can get a vet to do this but it will save you money and your cat stress if you do it. The first time just hold your cat on your lap or between your legs, facing away from you, and brush the outside of their teeth. The inside does not need brushing. Your cat will not like this but it will get used to it if done regularly, if you do it calmly and if she gets a treat and fuss straight after. Choose a time when the house and your cat is calm and quiet.
Much more information and advice here.
Most people's first experience of cat ownership is with a kitten. Caring for a kitten presents a number of challenges and requires much patience and understanding, but the rewards are great. A kitten is endearing to everyone but they grow up all too fast. An older cat makes a better first cat.
Before you first bring a new animal into your household you should ask for advice from experts including your vet. You will need to research your pet to ensure that you can meet all its needs and that you have all the equipment needed to care for it. Fortunately most pets remain healthy provided they are well cared for and receive preventative health treatment, such as vaccination and worming. However, it is important that you form a good relationship with your vet so that you can provide the best possible care for your pet throughout its life.
Vaccination against Cat Flu (herpes and calicivirus) and Feline Enteritis are needed for all cats even if they are not going outside. Cats that will be allowed outdoors should also be vaccinated against lethal Feline Leukaemia virus(FeLV). Kittens and cats whose vaccinations have lapsed need two vaccinations, 3-4 weeks apart. thereafter an annual booster injection is needed to maintain the level of immunity.
Your vet will know which vaccinations your cat needs. Please ask the vet to inject the vaccine into your cats leg. There is some small evidence that vaccines can cause tumors. Tumors on legs can be removed easily neck tumors are fatal. This is very rare though and vaccinations are still essential to save your cats life.
A microchip is a way to permanently identify your cat so that you can be reunited if they get handed in as a stray or after being injured. Unlike a collar, the microchip cannot be lost. Implanting a microchip can be done from a young age in a normal appointment slot at your local vets. The chip contains all the owner's details including address and contact number which will need updating if you move or change your phone number. It can be done cheaply at all vets and many vets other discount days.
Kittens should be wormed at the time of the first and second vaccinations. After this, on an average cats should be wormed every 3 months, less often if 6 your cat is not allowed outdoors. This is because worms are caught from the prey that cats hunt and other local cats and from the fleas that live on them. If you have young children you should consider worming 3 monthly as roundworms may pose health risks especially to children and people with a weak immunity.
Vet approved worming tablets can be purchased from supermarkets, vets, pet stores but tend to be cheaper on vet approved websites. You can worm your cat yourself. If you find worming difficult then contact your local vets and they will be happy to help.
Powders that go on the food are available but it is hard to make sure all is eaten. Spotons for the back of the neck are easier, and tablets work best as long as you make sure the cat does not spit it out. Using a pill popper is cheap and makes this a lot easier.
We recommend VetUKor Animed, and strongly advise you do not use bob martin, beaphar or similar cheap or permethrin products. They do not work well and can be lethal to your cat and harm children.
Vet approved products are safer and much better value. Like Panacur, Droncit, Drontal....
Remember that using dog worm treatment on a cat can harm or kill. Also use the correct dose for the size of your cat.
Fleas, Ticks, Mites
Fleas are external parasites. They drink blood so cats with broken, unhealthy skin are more at risk. The healthier the cat and its skin the better. Regular grooming enables you to keep an eye out for fleas and their eggs.
Cat fleas also bite people but cannot live on us.
Fleas can cause severe anaemia in kittens and skin disease in all cats. Flea treatments can be purchased from your vets, supermarkets or local pet stores and vet approved websites like VetUk and Animed. It is always best to contact your vets before purchasing flea treatments as they can offer advice on the use, effectiveness and safeness of the flea treatment.
Powders that go on the food are available but it is hard to make sure all is eaten. Spotons for the back of the neck are easier, and tablets work best as long as you make sure the cat does not spit it out. Using a pill popper helps.
It is best to treat your cat for fleas monthly, hoover often and spray the house with vet approved flea spray yearly. Indoor cats will need treating less often, this is because fleas are caught from other outdoor cats and from the prey that cats kill. Fleas carry worm eggs so controlling fleas is important to control worms.
We strongly advise you do not use bob martin, beaphar or similar cheap products. They do not work well and can be lethal to your cat and harm children.
Vet approved products are safer and much better value, like Advocate, Effipro, Frontline...
Remember that using dog flea treatment on a cat can harm or kill. As can using too high a dose for a small cat.
Many flea treatments also kill ticks and ear mites but not all. Ticks can give your cat Lyme disease and ear mites are incredibly stressful for your cat and cause infection. Tick removers are cheap to buy. If you suspect your cat has ticks or mites get your vet to check them over.
It is important to feed your cat a diet which is designed for cats. Food can be purchased for different age groups from your local supermarket and more specialised foods for health conditions can be found at your local vets and online.
Cats are obligate carnivores, they need meat and only meat. So please choose food with the highest percentage of animal protein/meat.
It is important that fresh water is available to your cat at all times.
It is not natural for cats to drink milk unless they are a kitten drinking their mothers milk. Giving an adult cat any milk can cause diarrhea.
Wet cat food is the best way to ensure adequate hydration as in the wild cat species get most of their moisture from their prey.
Dry food is therefore not a good idea.
Today more cats than ever are suffering from obesity, which reduces life expectancy and leads to conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. Wet food has less carbohydrates. Do not feed your cat between meals. Encourage exercise through play with interactive toys and climbing.
Litter boxes are good for outdoor cats too. Your cat may not always be happy to go outdoors at night or in the rain or cold or if another local cat is around. This can lead to your cat holding it in, which is painful and can cause problems, until they poo or wee on your floor.
The bigger the box the better and multiple cat homes need multiple trays.
Poo and urine needs to be scooped out as soon as you see it. Any smears to the plastic can be wiped off with boiled water and pet safe disinfectant. Clumping litter is important as it means all the urine has been removed.
The whole tray should be emptied and scrubbed clean with boiling water and pet safe disinfectant every week or 2 weeks depending on how many cats you own.
A good litter box can prevent all kinds of unwanted behavior and need not be expensive or take up much time at all to keep clean.
Providing a litter box is also a hugely useful way to monitor your cats health. Cats hide pain and illness well. Changes in poo, urine and their litter tray behavior can indicate problems early.
For human hygiene keep the litter tray out of the kitchen and wash your hands well after touching it and/or use gloves.
More advise here.
Lillie and other toxic flowers
Lilies are poisonous to cats and should not enter the house or garden of a cat owner. All parts of the plant are deadly to a cat. A cat simply has to brush past a Lily then lick its fur to become very ill and maybe die. Spread the word to other cat owners and your local florists. If you think your cat has come into contact with this plant then contact your vets immediately.
A list of toxic plants can be found here.
Ethylene glycol is a common cause of poisoning in cats & a leading cause of acute kidney failure. It is a clear, odorless liquid with a sweet taste which is attractive to cats. It is most commonly found in antifreeze, but is also in many other products. Even as little as a teaspoon or two is enough to kill a cat & ingestion of ethylene glycol is always a medical emergency, and you should take your cat to the veterinarian immediately. We recommend you are aware of the dangers anti-freeze poses to your cat or kitten particularly in the winter months.
Washing Machines and dryers
Dryers in particular are an appealing bed for a tired cat or kitten with the clothes providing a cushion and the warmth. As you can imagine the results of your beloved cat or kitten to fall asleep in a dryer or washing machine unbeknownst to the owner can be horrific and tragic. Please ensure you shut washing machines and dryers after loading and unloading and always check before turning the machines on. Try to discourage your curious cat from entering the machine by raising your voice and removing them immediately should they enter the machines.
Taking your new cat/kitten home
The most important thing is not to let you cat outdoors for at least a month. It needs to learn where home is and be happy there so it will return. Do not let unneutered cats or kittens outdoors.
Put in in a calm room with the door open, away from busy feet, with food, water, liter tray, toys etc. This will be its safe place to explore from in its own time. Be patient.
Remember that cats do not like change. It may take a while to settle in and feel comfortable in a new home. Some cats settle in quickly other cats will hide for weeks under a bed or sofa. Some cats will play up or cry.
It is important to remember this behaviour pattern is likely to stop once the cat feels secure in its new home.
Introducing a new cat to a current cat
A simple way is to put the new cat in one room with its litter tray, food and water and leave it to settle overnight.
Go in and let it get used to you, stroke it and let it get to know every member of the family.
Other cats will smell and hear the new cat through the door. Feed the cats on either side of the closed door so they associate food with each other's smell. This means set meal times, no free feeding.
After a day or so open the door a crack for the current cats to see the new one. Or use a covered baby gate, continue set meals times either side of the door/gate.
When there is no longer hissing, which may take days, let the new cat out to explore in its own time. But put him back in the room at night.
Once the new cat and current cats are ok with each other let the new cat roam the house 24/7.
It is important to remember that you are not alone and you can always contact Stray Cat Rescue for help or advice as well as your local vets.
Bev 01525 875993, Sue Hourd 01582 650167
Registered Charity No. 1098984