Information about Adopting
Cats make delightful pets. They are affectionate and easy to care for, but remember that when you take a kitten or young cat into your home you are accepting a long term responsibility. Most cats live at least 10 years, some much longer.
Are you prepared for the costs involved? A kitten that is offered free will still cost you money! When it is ten to twelve weeks old it will need vaccinating and at five to six months it will need to be spayed or neutered. The kitten may be free – but veterinary treatment is not. All its life your cat will need food, sundry items such as worm pills and flea powders, and from time to time there will be veterinary bills to pay for. A kitten is not a toy for children to play with. It is a baby creature which must be handled gently at all times.
A kitten tires quickly and needs plenty of sleep. A kitten will also need toilet training and four small meals each day.
A kitten does not remain a kitten for very long. Cats breed fast! Your female kitten can come into season at five months of age. She will be visited by all the neighbourhood toms and 63 days later will give birth to her kittens. By the time they are weaned she could be carrying her second litter. Your cat family, and your food bills, will be expanding at an alarming rate. Please do not let this happen. Spay your cat before she has her first litter.
Cat or Kitten? If you are away from home all day, or if you have very young children, select an older kitten, say three to five months, or better still an adult cat. It is often possible to adopt a cat which has already been de-sexed and vaccinated. A donation is required by most animal welfare organisations, but the saving is still considerable.
Short Fur or Long? Short-haired cats are easier to care for. If you choose a cat with long fur it will need regular grooming all its life to prevent its coat from becoming knotted and flea-ridden. Accustom your cat to regular brushing and combing from an early age.
Male or Female? Once de-sexed, there is little to choose between them. The female cat costs more than the male to desex, but as this is an operation performed only once in its lifetime, the saving is minor.
Signs of Good Health: Kittens and cats should be alert and quickly responsive to sounds. They should have a well-covered body, a clean coat free from parasites and dirt. There should be no bald patches. Eyes should be clear with no discharge or inflammation. Rear end should be clean – no sign of diarrhoea. Ears should be clean – no discharge or inflammation. Dirty ears often indicate the presence of ear mites.
Health Check: If you have any concerns about your new pet make an appointment for your veterinarian to make a complete health check. At the same time your veterinarian will advise you on any other routine procedures. such as de-sexing, worming, flea control. This is also a good opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have.
Taking home your new cat or kitten:
Going to a new home is a traumatic experience for an animal, whatever its age, so avoid introducing it on days such as Christmas or a birthday. Wait until party time is over.
You will need a secure carrying container, a toilet tray (preferably plastic for easy cleaning) and some form of litter material – sawdust, fine bark or kitty litter which is obtainable from your supermarket, pet shop or veterinarian. Set aside one room, say the laundry, in which to keep your cat/kitten while you get to know each other. Set out food, milk and toilet tray. Provide a cosy bed – a cardboard carton with a blanket or towel will be fine.
The Journey Home
Transport your cat or kitten in an escape-proof container, preferably a well ventilated cage or box designed for the purpose and available from pet shops or veterinary clinics. This is a good investment as you will need it throughout your cats life – for trips to the veterinarian, to a Cattery or when moving house. Never travel with your cat or kitten loose in the car. It could cause a serious accident.
If you have Children
Do not allow them to crowd around and give the new pet an over-enthusiastic welcome. Allow it to settle in quietly. Do not let it outside at this stage. When it has had a meal, a wash, a sleep, and has begun to purr, you will know it is beginning to relax and feel at home. During its time of confinement talk to your cat so it will get to know your voice. Keep a small kitten indoors for the first week or two. Keep an adult cat indoors for about four days. If it is a nervous cat, keep it in at least a week.
On arrival, put the carrying container in the room you have prepared. Check that doors and windows are closed. Open up the container and allow the cat to come out in its own time and explore its surroundings in peace and quiet.
If you Lose your Cat
Sometimes a cat will disappear for a few hours when it first goes outside. Don’t panic! It may be that it is just exploring its new territory. If it does not return within a few hours, go outside when its quiet and call softly. Sometimes it is a good idea to place the cats used toilet tray outside the door. If it has lost its bearings it may pick up its own scent on the breeze and return to you. If it is still missing next day do the following:
Telephone your local SPCA and report its loss. Some branches run a Lost & Found service and have reasonable success in re-uniting lost pets with their owners. Also telephone any other local animal welfare groups. Ask your neighbours to look under their houses, in their garage etc. Contact local veterinarians in case your pet has been picked up injured.
Do a letter-box drop, describing your cat and giving your telephone number and address. Advertise in your local paper and watch for someone advertising your pet as being found. If your cat has come from another private home, not too far away, ask the previous owner to come round, preferably when it is quiet, and call the cat by name. A nervous cat in new surroundings will usually respond to a familiar voice.