Cats, Cats, Cats!

It's been mostly wall-to-wall kitties for PatchPets recently, so how about a few 'Top Tips' for how to have a healthy, happy cat?

 

As anyone who shares their home with one of these sparkling personalities of the animal world will tell you, our feline family members might be small in stature but they're enormous at heart. Read on for some handy hints for making sure your cat or kitten is a healthy and happy member of society!

 

Finding your cat or kitten

  • If you're ready to welcome a furry friend into your life, the kindest choice is to adopt. There are thousands of gorgeous kittens and cats of all types waiting for a home in rescue centres across the UK. A rescue group will be able to match you with the perfect cat for your unique set of circumstances.
  • Like all companion animals, taking on a cat is a lifelong commitment. Cats live on average for 13-15 years, but up to 20 isn't uncommon.  Our last three cats' ages averaged out at 19 years!
  • If you're not quite ready to take this leap, you could consider becoming a foster carer and help save many lives. Adoption centres will be happy to talk through the options with you.
  • It's important to be able to spend some quality time with your cat each day — despite an unfair reputation for aloofness, many cats thrive through human interaction.
  • Introducing a new cat or kitten to existing animal family members is a sensitive moment. If possible, use screen doors or even baby gates to allow sniffing without contact, ensuring dogs are on a lead and that cats have somewhere to retreat, preferably up high.  Take things slowly and gently to give the best chance of a harmonious household.

 

Keeping your cat healthy

  • Your cat needs access to plenty of fresh water, adequate nutritious food and a clean litter tray.
  • Cats also require an annual vet check, flea and worm prevention and an appropriate vaccination schedule.
  • It's crucial to neuter your cat to prevent any unwanted litters of kittens, either born into your house, or (unbeknownst to you!) into someone else's. Old-fashioned notions that a cat 'should' have one litter before being neutered are thankfully dying out, but still, many cats are euthanised every year in the UK because of accidental (or not-so-accidental) over-breeding. Talk to your vet about neutering options, as they differ from male to female kittens.
  • Cats generally love to groom themselves, but long-haired cats need a bit of extra help with regular brushing to remove excess fur. Make brushing a fun part of your cat's daily routine, to help maintain a healthy coat and build an important bond with your pet.
  • Pet insurance might be useful if you're concerned about unexpected vet costs through your cat's lifetime. Check with your vet and do some research to decide if it's right for you and your kitty.
  • One of the most common health issues seen by vets in cats is their being overweight. It's very easy to overfeed a cat, especially because they love to convince you to do so! Ask your vet for advice and keep an eye on their waistline.


Identifying your cat

  • Make sure your cat is microchipped — responsible rehoming and rescue groups will do this before rehoming an animal. Most importantly, keep the registered details up to date so you can be contacted if your feline friend goes missing. And a collar with your phone number on a nametag is a quick and simple safeguard.


Keeping your cat safe

  • Cats who are allowed to roam outside are at risk of being struck by a car, fighting with other cats, contracting diseases or even becoming trapped in sheds or garages. Encourage them to spend as much time as possible indoors, especially at night; this may help to protect your cat, as well as keep local wildlife safer.
  • Indoor life can suit some cats perfectly — simply make sure they have enrichment such as playtime, toys, hiding spots and a scratching post. For the icing on the cake: some greenery, a spot in the window to sunbake or even a cat climbing gym are often a hit!
  • You'll need to make sure your cat is cared for when you go away. Friends and family, or a professional cat sitter who can come to your home, are usually the most stress-free options for you and your cat. Kennels and catteries also often provide a great service, but it's important to check in person that you're comfortable with the premises and how they operate, as well as any fees. 
  • If you have children, it's important to teach them about cat body language and how to gently handle or pat your cat, so that both cat and kids stay safe and happy.
  • Cats are naturally curious, so to protect them from potentially harmful chemicals and dangerous household appliances, it's a good idea to make sure that washing machines, dishwashers, fridges and cupboards are kept closed so cats can't climb in and become trapped.


The best cat is a happy cat
Just like people, cats are individuals, and have different preferences and personalities. Some cats love being the centre of attention and enjoy plenty of interaction, and many others prefer a more peaceful home-life. That's one of the great advantages of adopting a cat, especially from foster care, as you'll know what kind of environment will help your furry friend flourish.

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