There’s a saying that dogs have masters and cats have servants! It’s quite true that cats seem to have minds of their own but they do need us humans to love and care for them. Looking after a cat is different from having a dog in the family. They are less high-maintenance and can be trusted to go out for walks by themselves for example! But cats still need affection and attention.
Getting a cat
A cat may be with you for 20 years so it pays to pick the right cat for you and your family. Do you want a male or female? A kitten or mature cat? A pedigree or moggy? Would you like to adopt a cat from a rescue centre? There are plenty of things to think about.
If you can, give them a comfortable space of their own, whether it is a small room or even a cardboard box. They can feel safe there and it’ll be a place to retreat to when everything gets too much. It won’t be long before comes your cat comes out of its shell and is quite happy to cuddle up on your lap.
The settling in period for a new cat can take some weeks, depending on its personality and what the cat has experienced before arriving at your home. With patience, your new companion will quickly become part of your family, and you won’t be able to remember life without them.
Cat toilet training
Even though cats would never admit it they can actually be trained! We’re talking trained to use a litter tray rather than sit up and beg type stuff.
It doesn’t take long to get your cat litter trained or trained to do their business outside. Kittens usually know how to use a litter tray by watching their mum and siblings. Get a litter tray that is the right size for your cat and put in a quiet part of your home away from the cat’s food and water. Keep the tray clean, because cats don’t like using a dirty tray and may start soiling the floor.
If you want to train your cat to do its business outside when they’re old enough just move the litter box in stages nearer to the door. Finally move it outside to a place you want the cat to go and sprinkle some of the dirty litter there to encourage it.
Letting a cat out
A cat shouldn’t be allowed out until after its second set of vaccinations and ideally until they are neutered because cats can get pregnant as early as four months old.
An adult cat in a new home should not be allowed out for three weeks or so. It should think of its home as being safe, familiar and secure and a good place to return to before being let out.
Maybe, make sure your cat is hungry before you let it out for the first time so you know it’s more likely to return for food.
You may want to put in a cat flap to give you cat easy access outside.
Games for cats
Playing with a cat is fun for both of you. It teaches you about the cat’s personality. It also helps kittens’ coordination and development. They love stalking, pouncing, batting away, grasping and biting in play. It brings out the hunter in them.
A cat can make a toy out of most things. A stray frozen pea dropped on the floor will be a tiny football. A cardboard box or a paper bag is a cat’s playtime dream.
There are lots of toys available in pet stores and supermarkets, fishing rod type toys, balls, pretend little animals sometimes impregnated with catnip which your cat will go wild for!
Scratching posts, especially those which are tiered that cats can climb on are ideal. Cats love looking down from a height as it makes them feel in control.
Cats are pretty good at grooming themselves. With their barbed tongues they seem to be constantly licking and preening themselves. Cats do need brushing and combing though, especially long and semi-long haired cats. There are plenty of brushes, combs and grooming mitts on the market and doing this regularly will not only keep their coats mat free but will be a good bonding time for you and your cat.
If they do get tangles and knots they need to be teased out. Left to their own devices they may develop into full on fur mats which are awkward to get out. Imagine a cat dreadlock and you’re on the right track!
It can be even more difficult to remove them if your cat doesn’t want you to and likes to nip! Just try your best to groom them out slowly. Don’t try cutting them out with scissors as a cat’s skin is very thin and could easily be snagged.
If they are really bad you may have to go to the vet’s to get them shaved off, so it pays to keep on top of them.
Micro-chipping your cat
Micro-chipping your cat is the best way to make sure they get back to you if they ever get lost or hurt.
Each micro-chip has a unique number linked to a database holding your details. The micro-chip itself is a bit smaller than a grain of rice and is inserted under the cat’s skin in between their shoulder blades with a special implanter. It’s quick and no more painful than an injection. It’s usually done by the vet at the time of the cat’s first or second set of injections.
You can also get cat flaps which recognise micro-chips and will only allow your cats in rather than the rest of your neighbourhood felines!
Remember if you move house or change your phone number make sure you inform the database that you are registered with so they have your correct contact details.