YOUR NEW CAT'S ESSENTIALS
Did you know there are over 80 breeds of cats recognized by different cat registries around the world?! You should keep in mind that with every breed of cat, there is a certain personality to consider, along with their physical attributes, which can differ greatly between breeds.
A mixed breed cat will certainly fit into your family just as well as a purebred cat; you just won't have the knowledge of their lineage.
Cats are now the most popular kept pet in the world. Felines provide companionship that can range from aloof and nonchalant to very affectionate. At Petland, we train our pet counsellors to help you in selecting and caring for a cat that suits you and your family. If your cat is coming into your home as a second addition, it's important everyone in the household is involved in helping to form a good relationship between her and your existing pet. Like people, cats (and dogs) will need time to form a friendship.
To provide a happy, healthy atmosphere for your new companion, Petland recommends the following necessary, and fun accessories. We have listed them as your new cat's four basic needs; Environmental, Nutritional, Maintenance and Behavioural. When these needs are met, along with a loving environment provided by you, your cat will be purrr-fectly happy!
Cat Furniture – Your cat will love to explore, climb and scratch. Cats scratch for two reasons; to remove the dead, outer husks from their claws and to mark territory, both visually and with scent from glands in their pads. You can lessen the husk-removal scratching by keeping her claws clipped regularly. Scratching is a behavioural need, so satisfying this need with scratching posts and cat furniture is important. The use of catnip spray or honeysuckle on cat furniture will attract her to it. Have the posts and furniture available from the first day you bring her home. Suggested areas to put them are close to the cat box or in the living/family room area. This will deter your new companion from staking out your furniture as her own.
Cat Bed or Mat – A cozy cat bed, perhaps scented with catnip to attract her, is a welcoming and secure place to cat nap. Every cat is different when it comes to napping. Some prefer to nap under a table or behind the drapes, others in a closet, while some will choose the back of a chair or couch. Providing a mat or covered bed for your cat, will show her she has a special place all her own, thus protecting your furniture and bedding from excessive hair.
Travel Bag or Carrier – Some cats enjoy riding in a car, but most do not. For safety and control, keep your cat in a pet travel bag or carrier while travelling to and from the vet, and for other travel needs.
Cat Food – Cats have an acute sense of smell but have relatively few taste buds compared to humans. Interestingly, they also are known to be pickier eaters than their canine counterparts. Not to worry, as there are many premium foods available to suit your cat's age and lifestyle. Your cat's nutritional requirements will vary depending on the age and how much exercise she gets. Research suggests that canned food should also be offered as it is an excellent way to encourage water consumption, because it is high in water content and most cats love the taste. Your cat has been fed the best quality of food available to her. Changing it when she first arrives in her new home can result in stomach upset and diarrhea. Ask your pet counsellor how much food you should be offering your cat, and at what times of the day you should feed her. Keep fresh water out at all times. Milk should not be offered, as it is difficult to digest.
Skin and Coat Supplement – This is added to your cat's food to develop and maintain a healthy coat and to noticeably reduce shedding! Premium cat foods often will have the necessary ingredients your pet requires; however, with seasonal changes, they will benefit from the addition of a coat supplement.
Hairball Remedy Paste – Cats keep themselves meticulously clean with their daily ritual of grooming. Because of this, they will ingest hair and hairballs will form in their stomach. Your cat will regurgitate to get rid of these hairballs. This can be a source of distress for both your cat and you. Giving your cat a hairball remedy paste, and treats or hairball remedy food will help to prevent hairballs from forming.
Cat Nail Clippers and Coagulant – Cat nail clippers should be used to maintain the length of your cat's nails. Done regularly, this will deter some scratching habits. Take care not to over trim or cut into blood vessels running through each nail. Should this happen, have a blood coagulant waiting and ready to use (see our What to Expect Cat Tips tip sheet).
Brush and Comb – Cats are naturally fastidious. Routine brushing and combing your cat will prevent matts and tangles, and reduce hairballs. With short-haired cats, use a rubber brush or comb to stimulate natural oils and produce a beautiful shine. Groom medium to long-haired cats with both a slicker brush and a comb. For long-haired cats, a de-matting tool is also needed. Ask your pet counsellor what brush and comb is right for your cat.
Dishes – Choose bowls that are easy to clean and hard to knock over. Ceramic, glass or stainless steel work best, especially for moist foods, as plastic dishes tend to trap odours. Cats have very sensitive whiskers and do not like putting their face into a bowl; a wider bowl may be necessary.
Always having fresh water available is important, as dehydration in cats is a common problem. Most cats tend to drink more if the water is fresh, clean or moving. Consider getting a fountain water dish. Re-circulating water dishes have carbon filters that remove substances (cats are more sensitive to odours and tastes than we are), providing fresh tasting, filtered water with a multitude of health benefits.
Oral Care – Periodontal disease (infections of the structures around teeth) is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult cats & dogs, with 80% showing signs by 5 years of age. Symptoms could include red & swollen gums, bad breath, pain & tooth loss. The best defense to maintain oral health is to brush your cat's teeth using a pet specific toothbrush & toothpaste. Rinses complement brushing by ensuring the whole mouth receives attention. Because cats can't rinse and spit, an easy to use drinking water additive is the ideal choice. Gels & foams can also be used. Specialized dental cat food and dental treats are also available, that can help clean teeth through chewing action.
Litter Box and Litter – The litter box should be big enough to accommodate the size of your cat when full-grown. Most people find it easier having two cat boxes available, placing one on the main floor and the other in the basement or other area their cat frequents often. If you have more than one cat, multiple litter boxes are a necessity since many cats do not like to use the same litter box.
Clay litter is generally better accepted by kittens. You may want to gradually change this litter to a clumping (which is easier to sift through) at around 3-6 months. Try to keep your cat on the litter she is presently used to, as some don't like certain types, and changing litter when also changing homes could result in her not using the litter box.
Litter Deodorizer – Powdered products and spray deodorizers can be used to reduce litter box odours by adding it regularly to the pan.
Litter-Scoop – This is necessary for spot cleaning, to keep litter fresh and it also makes for fewer pan changes. Litter pan liners are also handy to use, and make dumping and cleaning your cat box more convenient. (Expectant mothers should not clean litter pans. Ask your doctor for more details).
Soiled Litter Disposal System – For soiled litter, consider using a litter disposal system like LitterLocker® that eases litter maintenance and comes with a litter scoop. One refill replaces 60 grocery bags, and it is quick, odourless, clean and easy to use.
Treats – Treats play an important part in your cat's day-to-day routine. Treats work well to reinforce good behaviour, and are a tasty break to look forward to! Some treats also help with the elimination of hairballs.
Toys – Many cats love to play, and it is through play that they learn many valuable lessons. Give your cat a variety of safe toys. Busy balls, catnip-filled sacks, anything made for cats is suitable. It is crucial that certain household items are off limits as playthings: toilet paper, long strings or ribbon, tinsel from a Christmas tree, cellophane, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, twist ties, rubber bands or cotton swabs are all dangerous.
Leash and Collar – The best way to insure a long, happy, healthy life for your cat is to keep her indoors. Even indoor cats should have some form of ID in case they escape and get lost. We recommend an expandable collar with a bell and ID tag. The expandable collar will help prevent strangulation should it become entangled. A harness is the best device you can use to take your cat for a walk, since collars are easy to slip out of. Give your cat some time to get used to the harness by practicing a few times indoors before you venture outside. A lightweight cat leash is necessary since dog leashes are much too heavy. If you plan on being close at hand, a lightweight cat tie out attached to a tie out stake is perfect for giving your cat a taste of the outdoors while safely enjoying the fresh air.
Repellents – Petland has a wide variety of repellents to help pet owners overcome undesirable behaviours their new cat may exhibit. Some cats enjoy chewing household plants which may be toxic. To deter chewing and scratching consider using an odour or sound emitter spray, sticky tape, or electronic training tools. As well, remove her from the situation, and provide her with acceptable cat grass to chew and a post to scratch. Follow up with human reinforcement, keep nails trim and give her furniture of her own.
Cleanliness and Safety
All pets can potentially carry diseases that may be contagious to people. Young children, infants, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems and the elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with pets or their environments. Regular cleaning of your pet’s environment with a pet safe cleaner may help avoid the spread of contaminants.
Hygiene procedures such as washing your hands before and after handling your pet and/or after having any contact with their habitat, is a necessary routine. Children should be assisted with hand washing and always have adult supervision when interacting with pets.
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