Taking on the responsibility of any animal is a long-term commitment and this must be taken into account when thinking of adopting a cat or kitten. Acquiring a kitten, who might be just a few weeks old, is a bit like having a new baby in the house – it is time consuming, an endless source of amusement and delight, sometimes rather messy, you find yourself watching it, even when it is asleep but when it snuggles up to you, your heart melts.
Here are some things to ponder before adopting a new cat or kitten:
Owning a cat is a lifelong commitment. Cats can live up to 20 years; be sure you are ready to provide food, shelter and love for the rest of the cat´s life. Major changes can be stressful for a cat but with love and care, cats are usually very adaptable.
Be prepared for the financial responsibility. Feeding and housing a cat is not that expensive – depending on the quality of the food you buy ( we always recommend buying good quality food) but this can be about 5 – 7 euros per week.
Be aware of veterinary costs as emergency care or treating an illness could work out very expensive. We would always suggest taking out animal health insurance with a reputable company. This need only cost the equivalent of about one euro per week. Speak with your own house insurers or try on the Internet – Protectapet, Pet Plan etc
Cats, like all pets, need love and attention. Creating a human bond is crucial to developing a lasting relationship with your cat. Most cats will want to be near you when you are home so make an effort to pet your cat whenever you can. Devote time playing with it and engaging in physical and mental stimulation. Each cat is different and needs different levels of attention. Your cat will let you know, in no uncertain terms, whether or not it wants to engage with you!
Cats do not necessarily need to have access to an outdoor space. Indoor cats will adapt as long as they have plenty of stimulation otherwise they can become lazy and overweight. Make sure they have access to sunlight and windows and ideally some grass, grown in a pot if necessary. Outdoor cats have a higher risk of contracting diseases, being killed by other animals, by cars, by being trapped or being taken by someone. Always make sure your cat is up to date with all vaccinations. (See cat diseases)
Make sure you have all the basic supplies. These include high-quality food, food and water bowls (steel, glass or ceramic preferred), litter box and supply of litter, toys, a scratching post ( encourage the cat to use this from an early age or save up for new furniture!), a secure cage/carrier for travelling to and from the vet etc. We recommend the white plastic- covered type with hinged lid as these are totally secure.
Cat-proof your house or apartment. Make sure you do not have any items that could be harmful to your new cat. These can include poisonous plants and chemical cleaners (Click here for a list) Cats are very curious and can get themselves into all sorts of trouble – a bucket of water, the washing machine, the toilet bowl – these could all be potentially fatal for a small kitten. Be aware!
Take care when introducing a new cat into the household. Let your cat explore every nook and cranny of its new surroundings, give it a space of its own for feeding bowls, litter tray and bed. Keep it indoors for at least a few days before letting it out ( if practical) and do not feed it so that it comes back to you for food.
A little trick I find always works is, when feeding cats repeat a word over and over while they are waiting for you to put the food down for them and when they are eating. I use the word “fish” but you can choose any word or even the cat´s name. They then associate this word with food and will usually come running when they hear it. Be extra careful if there is a baby in the house as cats love the smell and warmth of babies and will, if given the chance, lie on them and can smother them. Use a cat net for the cot or pram.
Introducing the cat to a litter box. Your cat should be able comfortably to get in the box and there should be plenty of room for it to perform its ritual of sniffing, digging, squatting and covering up the faeces. The box should be private and easily accessible. Once the location of the box is established, do not move it. Clean the box at least once a day as cats abhor dirty litter boxes.
Scratching is innate behaviour and should be addressed by providing the cat with the proper equipment and place to scratch. A scratching post should be tall enough for the cat to fully stretch its front legs, be made of soft wood with sisal rope and mounted on a stable base that will not tip over.
Self-grooming is a large part of a cats life. Long-haired cats must be brushed every day to avoid knots in the fur but even short haired cats benefit from brushing with a soft-bristled brush to maintain a soft, shining and healthy coat and to reduce the possibility of hair-balls.