High-quality commercially prepared cat foods have been scientifically developed to give your cat the correct balance of nutrients and calories. Your shelter or veterinarian will be able to recommend the best diet to keep your cat healthy. Buy the highest-quality food you can afford. Lower-quality foods may cost you less today, but they can increase your cat's chances of developing health problems in the future.
Obesity is a serious health problem in cats. Ask your veterinarian to help you determine the ideal body weight for your cat, and adjust your cat's diet to attain and maintain that weight according to your veterinarian's suggestions.
A word about food boredom: It's not uncommon for cats to tire of the same old thing day in and day out. Provide variety in the form of different flavors and textures. Always gradually introduce any new brand of food to prevent digestive upset.
Never feed your cat human food such as table scraps, bones, or high-fat meats. Contrary to popular myth, milk is not necessary for cats and may cause digestive upset. Meat, however, is necessary for cats (because it produces essential metabolites); that's why placing your feline on a low-meat or no-meat diet is never recommended.
Bringing a new cat or kitten into your home and introducing it to your resident cat or dog can be quite nerve racking. You want them all to get along together and welcome the new feline into the house, but this seldom happens quite so easily - even though your reason for getting another cat may be to keep your resident cat company, it may not rush out and welcome the newcomer with open paws! Careful introductions can help to smooth the way towards harmonious merging of animals - controlling the situation rather than leaving the animals to sort it out for themselves will give a much better chance of a smooth meeting and the best possible start together.
Remember that cats do not need to be social creatures - unlike the pack-orientated dog they can function happily on their own without a social structure around them. They are unlikely to feel the 'need' for a companion even though you would wish to have another cat around. You cannot force cats to like each other - some will live with a newcomer easily, others will never get on or they may just manage to live alongside each other in an uneasy truce - you can only try. However, if there is no competition for food or safe sleeping places (as in most good homes) then cats will accept each other eventually and some will even seem to form close bonds with one another.
While it may be a matter of feline choice as to whether cats get along, how you introduce a new cat or kitten into your home and to a resident cat or cats can make the difference between success or failure. Once a relationship becomes violent or very fearful and the cat feels threatened it can be very difficult to change the behavior patterns. Thus careful introductions which prevent excessive reactions and take things slowly are vital.
Remember that scent is the most important of the cat's senses in terms of communication and well-being. You can try and integrate the new cat into your home and make it less alien by getting it to smell of 'home' before you introduce it to the resident cat. To do this stroke each cat without washing your hands and mix scents in this way. You can also gather scents from around the cat's head area by gently stroking it with a soft cloth and dabbing it around your home and furniture to mix and spread scents. Likewise letting the cat get used to the new smells of the house and another cat before the initial meeting can make it more tolerable. For this reason it can be very useful to delay letting cats meet for a few days or even a week. During this time keep them in separate rooms allowing each to investigate the other's room and bed without actually meeting. Happy Cat Sanctuary HIGHLY recommends starting your new cat in a separate room or bathroom, somewhere that you can close a door. You may think this is mean or unfair to your new cat but it is completely the opposite. Especially if you have adopted more of a shy cat, wouldn’t you rather be able to go in a room and pet and comfort the cat instead of trying to drag it out from under a couch or from behind a washing machine or refrigerator?
When you feel the time is right to let them meet without a door between them then you can try to use food as a distraction. Withhold food for one morning or evening so that they are both somewhat hungry and then feed them in the same room. Choose a room where either cat can escape behind furniture or jump up high or hide if it wants to. Put down the resident cat's food and then let the new cat out of its room to eat - you will have to judge how close they can be - don't attempt side by side initially!Be calm and reassuring and reward the behavior you want with praise and tid bits of a favorite treat. Gauge how the cats are getting along - they may find their own spots and curl up for a sleep or you may need to keep the new one separate again for a little longer, using meals as a time for them to get together a bit more. Once you are sure they are not going to fight or chase then you can start to utilize the whole house - the cats will probably find places to sleep and routines which allow them to live peacefully in the same house and partake of all the benefits of food, warmth and attention while gradually becoming used to and accepting one another.
It may only take a day or two or it may take several weeks for cats to tolerate each other. It may take months before the cats are relaxed with each other, but you are on your way to success if you reach the stage of a calm truce between them. It is amazing how a cold wet day outside will force even the worst adversaries together in front of the fire after a large bowl of food.
While dogs and cats have often been portrayed as enemies, it is usually a great deal easier to introduce a new cat to a dog than to another cat. While both animals may be wary of each other initially, they do not see the other as direct competition and can actually get along very well. If your dog is used to cats he may be excited initially at having a new one in the house but he will soon settle down and the novelty will wear off very quickly. He will begin to see the new cat as part of his pack. Many dogs will live happily with their own cats while chasing strange felines out of the garden, so you will need to take care until the cat is seen as one of the household.
Likewise if your new cat or kitten has previously lived with a dog then it will be much less likely to be frightened for long and will become confident around the dog more quickly.
However, initially safety must come first. You will need to keep everything under control until the dog and cat have got used to each other. Stroke the dog and cat separately but without washing your hands to exchange their scents. The cat will then take on the smell profile of the house and become part of the dog's pack. Once again a separate room is ideal for first meetings to keep the situation calm and the cat protected. Let the dog sniff the newcomer under the door and get over its initial excitement. The cat may well hiss and spit but it is well protected. Some dogs, especially those not used to cats or of an excitable or aggressive disposition, need extra special care for introductions. They should be kept as calm as possible on the lead and made to sit quietly. The new cat should be given a safe position in the room and allowed to get used to the dog and approach it if it wants. This may take quite some time and requires patience and rewards for the dog if it behaves well. For quieter dogs and those used to cats, introductions can be made by using a strong cat carrier. Keep the dog on a lead initially, place the carrier on a high surface and allow controlled introductions which are short and frequent. Most dogs will soon calm down when they realize the newcomer is not actually very interesting. Progress to meetings with the dog on a lead initially for safety. If your dog is rather excitable then take it for a vigorous walk first to get rid of some of its energy!
Breeds such as terriers or those breeds which like to chase, such as greyhounds, may need to be kept well under control until they have learned that the cat is not 'fair game'! Young pups are likely to get very excited and may try to 'play' with the new cat which is unlikely to want to join in! You may need to work hard to keep things calm and be aware that a sudden dash from the cat will induce a chase. Praise the dog for calm interactions, make it sit quietly and use treats to reward the dog for good behavior. Again, associate the presence of the cat with reward for calm behavior. When you progress to access without the lead make sure there are places where the cat can escape to - high ledges or furniture it can use to feel safe. Never leave the dog and cat together unattended until you are happy they are safe together. The cat's food will be hugely tempting for any dog, so set it up and out of the way of thieving canine jaws! Likewise a litter tray can be pretty tempting and should be kept out of reach of the dog if it is likely to munch on the contents.
If you have any other cat questions please feel free to email us and we will do our best to answer them.
Cats develop strong bonds with their environment so house moves are potentially stressful. Planning ahead will ensure that the transition from one home to another goes smoothly. After all, this is a traumatic time for you and one less worry would be a good thing!
If your cat does not go outside already, we do not recommend letting cats outdoors, there are far too many dangers for them out there.
If your new home is nearby your cat may explore when he first goes out and find familiar routes that take him back to his old home. It is wise to warn the new occupiers that your cat may return and ask them to contact you if he is seen. It is important that they do not feed him or encourage him in any way, this will merely confuse him. If you have moved locally it would be beneficial to keep your cat indoors as long as possible. However, this is rarely a practical option since those cats likely to return to previous hunting grounds will not relish being confined for such a long period. Follow the advice above for settling your cat into his new home; this will help, together with the use of both synthetic and natural scents to make the environment seem as familiar as possible. It may take many months of retrieval from your old home before your cat eventually settles down. If this process appears to be distressing him, he persistently returns to his old home or traverses busy roads to get there it may be kinder and safer if the new occupier or a friendly neighbour agrees to adopt him.
It is never ideal to change your cat's lifestyle from outdoor to indoor but occasionally it is necessary and a house move takes place that requires him to be confined. If your cat spends most of his time outside anyway it may be kinder to re-home him. If, however, your cat spends little time outside then it may be acceptable for him to be kept inside in the future. Indoor cats require extra effort from the owner to stimulate them to encourage exercise and avoid boredom. Suggestions to enhance an indoor cat's environment include:
Occasionally owners are fortunate enough to move to a property where they can let their cat outside for the first time. The transition from indoor to outdoor cat, if taken gently, will enhance your cat's emotional wellbeing and enable him to live a more natural life. Follow the guidelines for letting your cat outside but accept that the process should be gradual. Many cats, under these circumstances, may prefer to go outside only when you are there to provide reassurance.
If you have a multi-cat household then your cats have become used to living with the available space of your previous home. Moving to a smaller property could potentially cause some tension between the individuals. Limit the risk of antagonism in the new home by providing sufficient resources, such as:
Moving house is supposed to be one of life's most stressful experiences. By helping your cat to settle calmly and with minimum problems, the harmony of the new home can be established that bit more quickly.
Cats generally do a good job of keeping themselves clean, but for various reasons, there will be occasions you'll need to bathe your kitty. It's not as hard as you may think, once you both know the routine, so practice when your cat is young.
Research has shown that a single hostile encounter between two unfamiliar cats can set the tone for their relationship for a long time to come. So to prevent your new cat from getting off on the wrong foot with your resident cat, plan to introduce them gradually. Adults that grew up around other cats usually adjust more easily to a new feline housemate. If you are adopting from Happy Cat Sanctuary, we will try to help you match the personality of your new cat to that of your resident cat. Remember to spend plenty of quality time alone with your resident cat in order to minimize jealousy. At first, do not allow face-to-face contact between the two cats. Instead, follow these steps:
Happy Cat Sanctuary follows this guideline to introducing new cats to our facility; we have been quite successful and have cats (anywhere from 10-25 at a single time) of all different ages, sizes, genders and personalities living together peacefully.
Happy Cat Sanctuary is here to help you, if you have any questions or concerns about introducing your new cat to your existing cat, please contact us and we will offer tips and suggestions to make it easier for everyone!
So, you had a cat in the family when you were a kid. And you are thinking that the addition of a cat into your home would make a terrific family pet, and would give your children the pleasure of loving and caring for an animal.
Most likely you'd be right.
But, just because you have nothing but pleasant memories of growing up with a much loved feline pet doesn't mean that things always go faultlessly well.
There are things to remember and steps to take before introducing a cat to your children.
First thing make sure that your children would want a cat as a family pet. Most probably they will enthusiastically welcome the idea, but make sure that they understand that caring for a living breathing creature has responsibility attached to it as well as pleasure.
Be prepared to assume all the responsibilities of taking care of the family cat yourself. Children can, and should, be taught to take care of some of the chores if they are old enough, but if they lose interest it will be up to you.
No matter how laid back or tolerant your cat is you should never leave a toddler unattended with a cat. Even older children should be under your supervision until you are quite sure that the cat and your kids respect each other.
Try to have a place that your cat can retreat to when he or she does not want the attention of kids (or adults for that matter.) Sometimes children do not understand when a cat does not want to play or be petted and a room, or someplace that your cat can be alone when it feels the need to can save disharmony.
Children need to be told just how sharp the claws and teeth of a cat are, don't let them find out by painful experience! Explain that cats can bite and scratch if teased, stressed or over excited. Show you children how to play gently with their pet and preferably with the sort of cat toy that keeps the cat at a little distance, such as a catnip mouse on a string.
Kittens may not be the best choice for very young children. A toddler may not be able to understand just how fragile a kitten is and that an over enthusiastic hug could harm their pet. A kitten is also less able to tolerate the rapid movement and gleeful shouting of a very young child than is an adult cat. An older cat, two years and up, would be more likely to be laid back about the attention of a toddler and certainly more robust than a kitten.
Demonstrate to your children the proper way to hold a cat. Show them how to gently pick kitty up with one hand supporting the chest and the other the back legs. If your kids are too young to learn how to do this they should be dissuaded from trying to pick up your cat. Tell your children to beware of a cat's sensitive areas such as stomach, tail, ear and paws.
A strong bond can develop between kids and cats and this can teach them love and respect for animals that can last for the rest of their lives. Teaching your children the basics of looking after their pet will reward them for years to come.
Introducing a new kitten or a cat into a household needn't be a trying experience for either the kitten or adoptive parent. Felines are most likely to adapt to new living arrangements and homes with or without resident pets if a few precautions are taken. No single plan will work equally well for all cats due to their different nature (each cat may differ in breed, personality, early experience, etc). Added to this, the same cat may react differently to two different living situations (some homes are smaller, noisier, and more crowded than other homes). However, cats are most likely to successfully adapt to a new home, with less stress, if the following arrangements can be made prior to introducing the cat. This is only a guideline, if there are specific suggestions we will let you know prior to bringing your cat home.
The litter box should always be placed away from other motivationally important areas, such as sleeping, feeding, and playing areas. The box should be placed in an area that gives the cat both PRIVACY and ESCAPE POTENTIAL. NEVER punish the cat for missing the box by rubbing its nose in it, shaking it, or placing it in the box while upset (you or the cat). Instead, think about what might have made the box an unattractive place to use, and what made the "wrong" place a more attractive location, from your cat’s point of view. Make the necessary changes. Call your local veterinarian or cat shelter if you think your cat needs professional help!
If you have any other cat questions please feel free to email us and we will do our best to answer them.
Note: These are only guidelines, we recommend that you contact a veterinarian if you have any questions about the health of your cat.
Cats are notorious for their ability to appear healthy when actually sick. Get in the habit of giving your cat a weekly mini-physical and be on the lookout for signs of illness.
This common sign of sickness is sometimes difficult for owners to recognize, as healthy adult cats may sleep up to 16-18 hours a day. Get to know how much is normal for your cat.
Keep track of how much your cat normally eats and drinks so that any variation can be detected easily and early.
An ill-kept, oily coat can indicate illness. Conversely, cats that groom too often may have a nervous or itchy skin condition.
This sign often goes unnoticed, especially in long-haired cats. Owners who regularly groom their cats may notice the ribs and backbone becoming more prominent. Those who regularly weigh their cats are sure to see a change. A sudden loss of one pound in a cat that normally weighs ten pounds is cause for concern.
Cats that start visiting the litter box more frequently or that repeatedly urinate or defecate outside the box may be suffering from a disease of the lower urinary tract or large intestine. Cats that strain to urinate may have a urethral obstruction - such cats are in grave danger and need immediate veterinary attention.
House soiling and aggression are both behavioral problems that can sometimes be prompted by a physical illness.
Make the home checkup an extension of normal physical attention you pay your cat and he will not even know he is being ‘examined’. If your cat is normally not allowed on the kitchen table or counter, don’t examine him there, as it may be confusing and stressful.
Pass your hands over your cat’s body, feeling for swelling, asymmetry, sensitive areas, patches of hair loss, black flecks that signal fleas, scabby areas, or skin bumps. With your cat facing away from you gently lift the tail and take a look at his rear end. If you see tan-colored, rice-size objects, you are probably looking at packets of tapeworm eggs which require treatment. Next, use a moist paper towel to clean away any feces. In longhaired cats in particular, feces can get caught in the fur and, if trapped against the skin, can cause serious problems. If the hair has become matted, you will need to use blunt-tipped scissors. Be careful cutting out mats, and think about going to a veterinarian or professional groomer.
Face your cat head-on and examine the eyes. They should be bright and the pupils should be of equal size. There should be little if any tearing at the corners of the eyes and if the nictitating membrane (the opaque white membrane fanning out from the corner of eye) is protruding, the cat may have a health problem. Gently roll down the lower eyelid with your thumb – the tissue lining the lid should be pink, not white or red. Be sure your cat is not squinting with either eye.
With your cat facing you, gently pull up on the ear flap and look at the inner surface and down into the ear canal. The ears should be clean and light pink in color. Any discharge, redness, swelling or odor is abnormal. Do not attempt to clean your cat’s ears – probing into the ear canal can aggravate an ear condition or even cause trauma or infection.
With your cat facing you, push back the lips to examine the gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling. The teeth should be clean, without any brownish tartar. Sniff your cat's breath - a strong, smelly odor is abnormal and may indicate a problem. Excessive drooling can also be a sign of oral disease. The nose should be pink and there should be no nasal discharge.
Kittens over 8 weeks of age who’ve had no positive interaction with humans often take much longer to socialize. However, these same guidelines are often effective up to 6 months and often even with adult ferals although we recommend that only for people who have had experience with feral cats.
The best place to socialize kittens is anywhere where the socializer can get on their same level and comfortably interact with the kittens without the kittens feeling "backed into a corner," or hiding out of reach. A dog pen large enough for the socializer to enter can be set up in any room and has the added advantage of more frequent exposure to typical human activity if placed in a busy room of the house. Most bathrooms work very well although they are isolated from continual household activity. A small room without hiding spots under couches and beds or behind furniture can also work very well. Radio and television sounds can contribute to getting outdoor ferals accustomed to the indoor environment. Small cages or carriers don’t work well since the cats always feel cornered when we reach in and they have no room to make the important "mind shift" where they decide to approach us out of self-interest in order to get the food they desire. They need to have the option not to be near you in order to make that decision to approach.
FOOD is the most important tool to facilitate the socialization process. Growing kittens have an insatiable appetite which will give them the courage to approach you and be touched when they might normally never allow you anywhere near them. Putting food down and walking away takes away any incentive for them to welcome you into their world.
The following guidelines are not hard fast rules. You may find that the kittens skip to advanced stages very quickly or you may find they follow a sequence of their own design.
Most feral and shy kittens are frightened by interactive play when first exposed to humans. There is no rule for when to introduce it, or when they will accept it, but the best way to start is with a toy which isn’t too threatening. A string on the end of a stick or some toy that allows you entice them from a distance allows them to get involved with your game without being face to face with you.
Save Baby Food (or whatever proves to be their favorite food) as a reward for new steps or to break through a plateau. Once a step has been mastered, only offer regular food as a reward for that step saving special treats for new territory. Remember the Mantra is "tough love."
Outfitting a house for a new cat isn't nearly as complicated as it may seem. Just a little advance thought will help make the newcomer feel at home and welcome in strange new surroundings.
Every cat household needs the following:
The litter box, or pan, should be shallow enough for the cat to jump into easily, but the sides should be high enough to contain scattered litter as the cat scratches in it. Commercially sold plastic litter boxes are excellent. Some have high-domed lids on them to keep flung litter from spreading throughout the house.
You probably won't have to worry about training your cat to use the litter box, but you will need to show your cat where to find it. Cats are fastidious and have a keen sense of smell. It is important to clean the pan daily.
Never place a litter box close to where the cat is fed, because cats believe these two duties are quite separate, and they will choose to do one or the other elsewhere. Many people put the litter box in the bathroom, away from high-traffic areas.
Each cat should have his or her own food and water dishes. These must be shallow; cats like to keep their faces and whiskers clean while they eat.
Although cats groom themselves, they generally love to be brushed and combed. Long-haired cats must be brushed daily to prevent their hair from matting. Even short-haired cats enjoy the attention and the stimulation of being personally attended to. Use a daily brushing ritual to keep an eye on your cat's overall health and on skin and coat conditions. Some rubber brushes have special teeth that dig down and remove loose dander and dead skin cells. Metal, fine-toothed combs are designed to extract fleas from the coat.
You also can use human-nail clippers. Read our tips for trimming your cat's claws (see link below) and, if you have trouble convincing your companion to cooperate, ask your veterinarian or groomer for additional advice or a demonstration.
Cats can be easily trained to scratch on a scratching post instead of the sofa arm or mahogany table leg. The scratching post should be untippable and covered in sisal rope or the webbed reverse side of carpet (a fireplace log is also a good alternative). Do not cover the post with the same kind of fabric that you are trying to protect in your home—upholstery or carpeting. That will only confuse your cat.
Cats will sleep where they want to, which is usually with you. If you do not want your cat in bed with you at night, you must provide a more appealing option, such as a soft pillow or an inviting old comforter. Anything soft and warm, especially if it has your scent on it, can attract your cat. But let your cat discover it; a cat who is forced to lie down on a restricted spot will summarily reject that spot. And consider rethinking your policy against animals in bed. A purring companion at your feet is a better sleeping aid than anything you can find in a drugstore.
Many common household items make great cat toys. Plastic rings from milk jugs and Ping-Pong balls are fun to chase. You can make a "mouse house" by cutting a hole in the bottom and the side of a paper bag; flick a wad of paper inside the bag and watch your cat ingeniously fish it out.
Avoid string, ribbon, or rolls of yarn. Cats' barbed tongues make it difficult for them to spit anything out once they begin to swallow it. Besides the potential for choking, string can cause serious problems if ingested.
When buying commercial cat toys, pick a toy that you could give to an infant. There should be no parts that can come off and be swallowed. Keep small children's toys away from cats. Contrary to the myth that cats only eat what's good for them, toy soldiers have found their way into cats' digestive tracts.
Although your cat may act independent and be litter-trained, he still counts on you to provide him with food, water, safe shelter, regular veterinary care, companionship, and more. Take care of these ten essentials, and you'll be guaranteed to develop a rewarding relationship with your feline companion.
The hardest task is to pick just two.
The decision to adopt a kitten is an exciting event, but not to be entered into lightly. Kittens require an enormous amount of care, which, of course, is compensated by the extreme pleasure of watching them grow and develop. Sometimes, it is better to adopt two kittens, whether this is your first cat or an addition to a feline family. I put the challenge to my forum members to explain why two kittens are better than one. They came up with some very solid and creative arguments for two kittens.
"If it's kitten season, that's one more kitten that will get a home instead of growing into an adult which will decrease its chance of getting adopted." It is entirely true that kittens are much easier to place than adult cats, and the 15-month-old cat you see in the shelter today is very likely a holdover from last year's crop of kittens. Another way of looking at it is that it's better to get all the kittens adopted out right away, to give the older cats a better chance at finding homes.
A kitten left alone during the day can become lonely and bored, which sometimes can lead to mischief. Two kittens will never be lonely, especially if they are siblings but that is not always the case - a kitten from 2 different litters can and very often form a bond just as strong as if they were littermates. In fact, you'll often find situations in shelters and rescue group adoption where a cage will contain two kittens with a sign, "These kittens may be adopted only as a pair." Shelter volunteers recognize that siblings and bonded cats/kittens really need to stay together. And since shelters are often frightening places to small creatures, unrelated cats often form close bonds that should be respected when adoption time comes.
Older cats' patience runs thin when a kitten wants to play Although it might sound contrary, an older, established cat will probably accept two kittens better than one. One kitten will seek out the older cat as a playmate, or worse, tease and pester the senior cat which can cause stress to an older cat. The kitten in return, will be "rewarded" for his playful efforts with hisses and swats. Two kittens will expend their energy in play with each other, leaving their older "uncle" to relax in peace.
These kittens are learning litter box manners together Kittens learn by copying. If one kitten is quick to learn appropriate litter box use, the other will be likely to copy. They also help each other with grooming; washup after meals soon becomes a ritual with two kittens.
These kittens are "playfighting," an essential part of their development Even the most devoted human caregiver can quickly become exhausted by trying to keep up with the energy of a single kitten. Two kittens will wear each other out, leaving their human parent free to just enjoy watching them. The downside to this, of course is sometimes you have double trouble!
Jaspurr and Joey take time out on their own bench Many people who experience behavior problems with kittens find that some of them go away when they adopt another playmate. What may be perceived as mischief is often just the result of boredom. Much like their human counterparts, kittens sometimes misbehave because "negative attention is better than no attention."
Two kittens share everything, including food preferences "If one kitten is finicky about food, the belligerence is often overcome by curiosity at what its sibling is eating. (Feed one cat Same Old, the other cat New Stuff, and they both end up tasting the new stuff.)"
Joey finds that Jaspurr makes a superb pillow. Kittens will often play so hard that they simply flop where they are, and more likely than not, they will flop next to (or on top of) each other. There is no sight so endearing as two kittens curled up together for a nap. Their peaceful innocence can soften the heart of even the grumpiest curmudgeon, and the sight of that blissful moment will wash clean the slate of their previous misdoings.
There's no denying it; kittens are insanely fun! "And last, of course, they're just so much darn fun to watch!" Having lived through (and survived nicely) the joy of adopting and raising two kittens, I can personally attest to the downright fun of having two kittens.
Jaspurr and Joey enjoy their first birthday "cake," together - still best friends Two kittens who grow up together will almost always be lifelong friends. Although they will sometimes have their little squabbles (what friends don't?) you will more often see them engaging in mutual grooming, playing together, and sleeping with their best pal. If you are considering adopting a kitten, think about your best friend and consider whether you would deprive your kitten of the enrichment a friend brings to life.