Getting a new kitten?
So you have got a new ball of fluff or are thinking of getting one? Don’t rule out getting a rescue cat. There are many shelters with lots of kittens especially in the summer time. Sometimes an older cat can be a good option as they require less input initially.
If you already have one or two cats, think carefully about getting another. Unrelated cats can find it very difficult to get on and this can lead to stress and stress related physiological issues such as peeing on the toaster and overgrooming of the belly, scratching, itchy skin, cystitis etc. If you are getting a second cat introduce the cats very slowly and in a supervised manner. New cats should be kept segregated for the first two weeks in case of contagious disease such as ringworm or FeLV. If you like to have more than one cat, taking siblings (kittens from the same litter) can be a really good option.
Get your new cat or kitten vet checked as soon as you bring them home, this is a free service available at your local vets and can pick up on all kinds of common conditions such as cat flu, calicvirus, ringworm, ear mites. Your vet may recommend a blood test for FIV/FeLV especially if your cat is from a cat shelter. These are two viruses the cat will have for life and may spread to other cats. It is important to know your cats FIV/FeLV status as these viruses will spread to other cats via shared feeding bowls, bite wounds and unrestricted mating and are linked to co infections and cancers such as lymphoma. If positive your cat may live with the virus for quite a long time, but it is important to restrict the chances of spread of these horrible viruses. If you cat is negative FeLV can be vaccinated against, however for FIV there is no vaccine.
Keep your new kitten in one room of the house for one or two weeks, complete with their bed, litter tray and feeding bowls. This allows them to settle in slowly and in peace while getting used to the smells and sounds of your household.
Try to resist the temptation of inviting the entire street around to pet and pass the kitten from person to person on the day you bring your gorgeous new fluff ball home. This will be uncomfortable and overwhelming for the kitten.
Feed your kitten good quality fresh wet food, supplemented with some fatty mince (fresh). Some dried kibble is okay but the latest veterinary studies show that wet food is very important for cats particularly indoor cats.
Do not accept bunches of flowers from people containing Lilies, or keep Lily plants in the house as these plants are highly toxic to cats. Keep your kitten indoors until he/she is vaccinated AND neutered. Two vaccines 3-4 weeks apart are required.
Male cats need to be neutered too, even thought they will not bring kittens home to you , it is irresponsible to allow them to terrorise other peoples kittens and your tomcat will catch diseases, and sustain serious injuries from fighting.
Worm your kitten at least once a month for the first six months of life. All kittens are born with worms . Protect your kitten against fleas before they go outdoors. Fleas are best prevented rather than trying to get rid of a home infestation. See fleas and worms FAQ .
Consider getting your cat microchipped at the time of neutering although it can be done at any stage, it is useful for activating automated cat flaps, increasing home security and great peace of mind should your cat go missing.
How much does it cost to keep my cat for a year?
As ever, getting your pet cat will be the cheapest part of pet ownership whether you get a free rescue or spend on a purebred cat. The yearly cost of food, vaccines, and parasite prevention can be up to €500 per cat. Not including unforeseen veterinary costs due to illness or injury. A pet health plan set up at your local vets, pet insurance or both will help to spread the cost of unexpected and routine veterinary bills.
How much time do I need to spend with my cat?
Cats are wonderful in that although the seem to enjoy and seek out human interaction, they remain independent by nature. You may spend as little as 20 minutes per day with your cat, however we would suggest you would be missing out on some quality cat time by doing so. However it does make cats a good option for people who work long days or shift work as cats can be quite content with long periods of time by themselves.