Animal Care

Cats & Kittens

Foster KittenSo, you’re going to get a kitty cat, congratulations. Cats are wonderful pets and the reasons for adopting a cat from us, the DSPCA, are numerous. Sure, you can’t go wrong. Our rescue and rehoming centre cats will reward your love and kindness with a lifetime of unconditional devotion…you can’t rival that!

However, before you adopt your friendly feline, we want to make sure you know exactly what you’re letting yourself in for. I mean, apart from love, you’ll need to provide her with the correct food, fresh water, and a safe place to sleep, a litter tray and professional veterinary care.

We get lots of enquiries from visitors to our rescue and rehoming centre and, for your information, we’ve decided to compile a list of frequently asked questions and answers because we know that it will be helpful for you, our new cat parents, to know what to expect when you bring her home. 

HOME

There are a number of things to look out for. The cat that appears affectionate while in her pod at our rescue and rehoming centre may suddenly become shy and withdrawn once she’s in her new home, or maybe she can become aggressive. Remember, your home is familiar to you but it’s a strange environment to your new friend. She may have spent some weeks, even months at our rescue and rehoming centre, surrounded by other cats; so a bit of pre-planning on your part will help avoid problems.

How do I prepare for my cat’s arrival?

Ok, she’s had a bit of a rough day. She’s a bit stressed at leaving our rescue and rehoming centre and her buddies and is not used to life outside of her pod. We suggest you keep her in a small, safe room for her first few days in her new home. 

Let her set her own rules…initially. Don’t get upset if she hides under the sofa for a few days; this is fine, so long as she knows where her food, water and litter tray are; she’ll be ok. Also, give her a toy or two to play with. We bet when you’ve let the room she’ll come out and play and explore.

Gradually increase your time together. Sit down, read a book or watch some TV; we bet in no time at all she’ll hop up onto your lap and you’ll know she’s feeling safe and loved in her new home.  

Keep your kitty safe by keeping her indoors. Cats love the security of always having access to the house. If you are allowing your kitty to go outdoors, we at the DSPCA recommend an enclosed, outdoor cat run, this way she gets the freedom of the great outdoors with the security of her own back garden.

NUTRITION

What do I feed my cat?

Again, as with dogs, a healthy, balanced diet is essential. Take a look at different foods available and check the ingredients. Are they quality ingredients or are they fillers? Don’t go spending lots of money; instead ask for some samples and see how your kitty reacts to them. If, however, you are in doubt, discuss your cat’s dietary requirements with your vet. Make sure your cat has access to fresh, clean, water at all times.

Dry or wet cat food?

Dry cat food has become very popular with many cat parents. It’s convenient and cats seem to prefer dry food and it helps keep teeth clean. However, cats that eat a dry food only diet need plenty of fresh water. Try to choose dry food with little or no grain. Some grains like corm and wheat can trigger allergies in cats. Also a high carbohydrate diet can cause feline diabetes. If in doubt, check with your vet.

Can I give my cat dairy products?

Be careful about giving cats dairy products. Yep, they like them but they aren’t good for them, cat’s don’t digest them well and they may end up getting sick from eating them.

Remember: Cat’s are prone to dehydration. A cat can go without food for a couple of days, losing up to 40 per cent of her body weight and she will survive. However, a loss of body water of only 10 per cent can kill her. Make sure she has plenty of fresh water – we cannot stress this enough.

GROOMING

Do I bathe my cat?

Quick answer to this is no! Cats don’t need to be bathed. They are capable of cleaning themselves. However, there are a few reasons why you may need to bathe your cat and they are if she gets covered with an unpleasant or poisonous substance or if she has fleas. However, if you are inexperienced then you should let the vet take care of the bathing ritual.

Your cat, however, will benefit from a good, regular grooming. It’s well known they do a pretty excellent job of grooming themselves but if you want to take her from scruffy to fluffy, then you need to be able to provide her with expert grooming. Make sure you factor this cost into your budget.

The advantage of bringing your cat to a professional groomer is they are skilled and experienced. They will get your cat’s coat in ship shape quickly and, most importantly, humanely. If you’ve never removed matting and tangles from your cat’s coat you run the risk of injuring her.

Does my cat need toys?

Cats love anything shiny or small enough to smack across the floor. As she doesn’t have hands, she likes to pick things up with her mouth and this is where there is a danger of choking. Best case scenario, your cat can vomit or have diarrhoea, worse case scenario, there is a danger of choking. Provide your cat with a selection of toys that you can rotate regularly and make sure to get a scratching post...it will keep kitty away from the furniture.

Should I get my cat vaccinated?

Yes! It’s essential your cat is fully vaccinated and has her boosters. There are a lot of cat viruses out there that can make your cat seriously ill or are fatal, the cost of vaccinations are cheaper and a lot less stressful than having a sick kitty. 

Should I get my cat spayedneutered?

As shelters across the country are already full with unwanted cats, we at the DSPCA strongly recommend you have your cat spayed/neutered.   Two cats together can have 52 kittens each year and those kittens can breed as well so you do the math, that is a lot of kittens to get homes for.

Can I train my cat?

Hmmm! Cats usually have their own agenda when it comes to what they can and can’t do in the house. I mean, think surly teenagers and you’ll understand. However, with repeated, gentle, persuasion your cat will learn some basic house rules. Oh if only that was the case with teens!

Never, ever, hit your cat. If you do feel she needs an extra touch of discipline, we recommend you use a squirt gun filled with clean water to distract her momentarily if you catch her doing something you don’t want her to do.

Other info!

Provide a litter tray for your kitty. Put it in a quiet spot, cats like privacy.   Show her where it is and she’ll use it. Scoop the dirty litter out of the tray at least once a day and make sure you wash the tray on a regular basis.  

Make sure your cat is micro chipped and wears a visible collar that includes her name and your contact details. If your cat does stray, and remember, a spayed/neutered kitty is less likely to want to stray, then, if she’s micro chipped, you increase your chances of having her returned safely.

On average cats live for 12-14 years, but they can live for up to 20 years.

Cats like to be alone and will look for companionship when they want it. They spend a lot of time resting but must be able to have enough space where they can play and climb. Indoor Cats need a lot of stimulation (toys, high areas to climb, scratching posts, etc ) or they can become bored and stressed.

If you need to pick up your cat place one hand beneath the cat's chest and the other round its back legs, so that all its weight is supported if you need to pick up your kitty. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of its neck or front of its body.  

Well we think we’ve about covered it; however, if you’ve any questions, please contact us for advice at education@dscpa.ie or info@dspca.ie  or speak to your local vet.

 

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