As a first time cat owner, you may have several questions on the daily care your new pet will require. Here is some basic information about your new cat/kitten’s necessities:
- Dry cat food helps maintain good dental health whereas wet cat food provides water content that your cat may not be getting enough of.
- The most important thing is to feed a consistent premium quality diet that meets all of your cat’s nutritional requirements. Look for food that has been tested and met the requirements of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)
- Treats are a good way to reward your cat for good behavior. Remember that commercial treats are high in calories and should not be given in large amounts or as a main source of nutrition.
- Do not buy continuous feeding bowls for food. Allowing your cat to chow down can cause severe weight gain.
- In general, 1 litter box per cat is recommended. Make sure the litter box is in a low traffic area of the house that easily accessible by you and your cat at all times.
- The box should be scooped at least once a day
- The entire litter box should be changed once a week or whenever the box starts to smell
- When cleaning the litter box, it is best to use a mild detergent without a harsh scent. Strong smells can deter your cat from using the litter box and could cause other health problems.
- It is best to go with a dust-free and unscented clumping litter. This will help reduce and unwanted respiratory issues in the future.
Scratching Posts/Nail Trimming:
- Cats use scratching to condition and to mark their territory. It is natural and essential to their wellbeing. Scratching also exercise and stretches many muscles in the cat’s legs.
- Scratching posts, scratching pads (cardboard sprinkled with cat nip), no scratch sprays/repellants and sticky pads/double sided tape can be bought in stores. Kitty condos and kitty castles make great scratching posts and places for your cat to climb, sleep and hide.
- Cat nails can be trimmed by you or your veterinarian to keep them short and less sharp. You can schedule a demo with a technician if you are unsure or uncomfortable on how to trim nails.
- Soft paws are another alternative. They are acrylic and applied over your cat’s nails to make them blunt so they are unable to ruin furniture.
- Kittens and young cats love toys. Crinkly toys, little mice, jingly balls, and feathered toys are all appropriate. Make sure toys are supervised if they have small parts because there is a chance that your cat may ingest them.
- Adult cats may prefer toys that allow interaction with you such as laser pointers and cat dancers.
- Cats are very clean animals and tend to need little grooming. Long haired cats need some assistance and should be brushed daily to maintain a healthy coat and to prevent matted fur.
- Waterless and non-rinse shampoo is available for ‘bathing’ your cat but ONLY if it is necessary. For serious matted fur you may need to schedule an appointment with a groomer.
Routine Health Care:
- Make a vet appointment within the first month. Some shelters will recommend a time for you, based on when the cat or kitten may need additional shots or de-worming. Some shelters even offer a free first vet visit or a free period of health insurance for the pet. Even if your cat shows no signs of problems, make a first visit with your vet within a month, to establish a relationship and familiarize your cat with such visits. A good first visit can mean less stressful visits when real problems arise.
- Schedule annual veterinary visits. This can give you the peace of mind that your kitten is growing healthy or your cat is free of illnesses.
Pet Insurance/Emergency Savings
- Pet insurance is designed to protect you from a major financial loss in cases of unexpected health crises, and that protection can take effect as soon as 24 hours after enrollment (waiting periods vary by provider).
- Even with the best pet insurance, you are still responsible to pay the deductibles you chose, so it makes sense to have an emergency savings in place to protect your budget when times get tough.
- When it comes to the question of buying pet insurance or starting an emergency savings account, do both. Let the pet insurance provider cover the majority of the tab and let the savings account take care of the little things.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, have patience! It can take a few weeks or even a month or two for your new cat to be fully adjusted to its surroundings. Let them wander the house supervised for the first few days and then slowly allow them the freedom to explore on their own. Keep a gentle eye on your cat, and discuss any concerns with your veterinarian. Enjoy!