If you have chosen a cat for your pet, you’ve chosen well. These handsome, intelligent and affectionate animals have a special charm and dignity all their own. And adopting your cat from a humane society or animal shelter was the best choice of all.
Cats can be the ideal pet. Although their “catitude” may seem independent, most cats are very social, preferring the company of others. If you already have a pet (even a dog), your new cat should adapt well. Introduce everyone in a non-threatening way and allow your new pet to adjust slowly to the new environment.
Above all, never forget that your cat needs YOU – your care and affection. Knowledge of his habits and needs will help you give your new pet the best possible care, so you can enjoy each other’s companionship for years to come.
Approximately 4 million cats end up in shelters every year. One of them is sure to be a perfect match for you!
Each year, thousands of kittens are born during spring and summer — and many end up in animal shelters, waiting for loving homes. To promote adoptions of these playful, affectionate animals, the Humane Society of Greenwood joins American Humane to celebrate Adopt-A-Cat Month® each June. Come visit the fabulous felines at the Greenwood County Animal Shelter, and take home your new best friend!
For people seeking a loving cat companion, adopting a cat will enrich your world in so many different ways. Here’s how:
- Cats will keep you entertained with their playful antics. (See the cartoon evidence.)
- Cats are very affectionate and love to cuddle with you.
- Having a cat can reduce your blood pressure and prevent heart disease.
- Cats are very clean — they bathe themselves!
- Cats are independent and can be left alone while you are at work.
- Cats do not need to be housebroken — using the litter box comes naturally to them.
- Cats do not need a lot of space. They are perfect pets for apartments and smaller homes.
- Taking care of a cat can help teach a child responsibility and humane values.
- Cats get plenty of exercise living indoors. Just 15 minutes of playtime each day will satisfy a cat.
Approximately 4 million homeless cats end up in animal shelters every year in the United States. By adopting, you’ll be saving a life.
Choosing the Right Diet
Dry or canned? – The choice between dry and canned food is largely a matter of convenience for you and taste for your cat. Many cat owners feed their cats canned food for one meal and dry for the other. Others feed dry or canned exclusively. As long as the brand you feed provides 100% complete nutrition, and you follow recommended feeding guidelines for the amount, your cat should be fine.
Some Basic “Don’ts”
- Don’t feed dog food to your cat. Dog foods don’t contain the protein level, amino acids, or nutrients that your cat needs.
- Don’t feed your cat table scraps. You can’t be sure you’re supplying all the nutrients she needs, and you could create or increase finicky eating behavior.
- Don’t feed your cat bones. These can splinter and become lodged in her throat or intestines.
- Don’t feed your cat raw fish. It contains an enzyme that destroys some of the vitamins your cat needs, and may contain parasites.
- Don’t give your cat milk. Cats over the age of 2 months don’t really need it, and it often causes diarrhea in adult cats.
- Don’t switch foods suddenly. To introduce new cat foods, mix a tiny amount with your cat’s current food. Gradually increase the quantity of new food and reduce the amount of the old food, until your cat has adjusted to her new diet.
- Litter Box Training
- Dental Care
- Identification Tag
A young kitten should have a well-padded shallow box or basket in a warm, draft-free location. Cats will adapts happily to any house or apartment. You should provide your cat with his own special bed, but don’t be surprised if he prefers other locations-like your bed, a sunny windowsill, or the laundry basket.
Cats are safest at home. They really have no need to go outside, and can live happily indoors. If you must let your cat out, however, do so only in the daytime, preferably under your supervision. Serve an evening meal, so your cat has an incentive to come inside at a regular hour. If he doesn’t show up, you’ll know something’s wrong, and you can start looking for him right away. If he does come in for dinner, keep him in for the night. Cats are more likely to get in fights, be hit by cars, or be exposed to other cats and wildlife with infectious diseases when allowed out after sunset. Keeping your pet inside protects his life and health.
Litter Box Training
For cats, litter box use is almost instinctive, so you should have no trouble teaching toilet etiquette. Simply provide the litter pan and make sure your cat knows where it is. (In a large house, you may need two.) A very young kitten may have to be lifted into the pan a few times, but he’ll soon get the idea. Make sure you place the box in a quiet location where your cat won’t be disturbed by another pet or a child. This will help ensure that your cat doesn’t stop using the box.
Cats are fastidious by nature. Don’t forget to do your part by keeping the litter pan fresh and clean. Remove solid wastes and urine residue once or twice a day with a litter spoon, and change the litter as needed. To help control litter box odors add litter deodorizer at litter changes and again when you clean out the wastes to effectively eliminate odor and keep litter first-day fresh longer.
If your cat stops using his litter box, you should first take him to the veterinarian to be sure he is not ill. Urinary tract infections and other diseases can cause cats to quit using their boxes. Early treatment is vital to protect your pet.
If illness is not the cause, consult with your veterinarian or an animal behavior specialist about the other possibilities that could explain this change in behavior. Together, you should be able to pinpoint the problem and find a solution.
Claws – Cats instinctively claw resistant materials to stretch and “exercise” their claws. A good quality scratching post will help keep nails healthy and will prevent his using your furniture and drapes. In addition, ask your veterinarian to show you how to trim your cat’s claws when they grow too long.
Bathing – One of the nicest attributes of cats is their cleanliness. You will rarely, if ever, need to bathe your cat because cats wash themselves almost constantly. In an emergency, you can bathe him using warm water and mild soap (no detergents).
Combing/Brushing – Long-haired cats should be combed daily with a steel comb made especially for cats. A brush will do the job for short-haired breeds. In addition, this daily grooming routine provides a good opportunity to examine your cat for any cuts, abrasions, or external parasites (like fleas and ticks).
A Hairy Problem For Kitty – While usually not a serious health problem for cats, hairballs do cause unpleasant vomiting and can sometimes cause obstructions that must be surgically removed. Usually, if you find a hairball or an inordinate amount of hair in your cat’s stools but your cat is acting normally, you can assume that the immediate problem is not serious. You should, however, take preventative measures to avoid any future problems. Regular brushing and grooming of your cat is the first line of attack as is supplementing your cat’s diet with some insoluble fiber. Fresh grass is a favorite treat for cats, and growing a pot of rye, wheat or oats is perfect when kitty gets the munchies. If the problem persists, adding a little mineral oil to the cat’s diet is a good home remedy. Add mineral oil at a rate of one teaspoon per ten pounds of body weight to the food once or twice a week for hairball prevention.
Dental Care - Cats, like humans, can get plaque build-up on their teeth, which can lead to gum inflammation and even infections. Since your cat can’t brush, it’s up to you to provide the special care that will help prevent this condition. Gentle home cleaning, regular veterinary examinations, and providing special “tartar control” food and treats can help reduce tartar build-up.
Cats, like dogs, should wear a current identification tag with your name, address, and phone number on it. Cats are curious creatures, and even housecats get out. Be sure to keep the information on the tag current-if you move, get an ID tag made with your new address and put it on your cat before the move.
There are collars made especially for cats with a short piece of elastic sewn in. These collars, which can be buckled snugly around the neck, expand enough to allow escape if your cat gets hung up on a tree limb or fence.
Kittens usually adapt quickly to wearing a collar. An adult cat may panic and writhe in frenzy for a while (usually about 10 minutes, although it will seem like hours to the owner). You can avoid the dramatics. The first time you put a collar on your cat, give him a catnip toy at the same time. By the time the toy is shredded and defeated, the collar will be long forgotten.
The Healthy Cat
- Veterinary Care
- Heartworm Disease
Regardless of her age, take your cat to the veterinarian for a check-up as soon as possible after you get her. Ask the Humane Society of Greenwood, Greenwood Animal Shelter, or other caring cat owners to recommend local veterinarians. Make sure you choose a knowledgeable doctor whose location and hours are convenient for you.
During your first visit, the doctor will examine your cat thoroughly, including her eyes and ears; her heart and breathing; her abdomen and coat; and her mouth for disease or tartar. The doctor will check for external and internal parasites, such as fleas, ear mites, and intestinal worms, and will begin the vaccinations needed to protect your cat against fatal diseases. Keep in mind that with most vaccinations, booster shots may be required each year.
Discuss the regular preventative care your pet will need. Ask what the signs of illness are so you’ll know to get help immediately if your becomes ill, and find out how to get emergency help outside regular office hours. Preventative health care and planning for emergencies before they occur are keys to a long, healthy life for your cat.
According to research recently done by a panel of leading veterinarians, proper and regular vaccinations are essential for your cat’s health. Although some pet owners fear adverse reactions from vaccines or think that because their cat is an indoor pet that they do not need vaccines, this could not be farther from the truth. The fact is that there is a far higher risk of disease and death if vaccines are not given. Following is a list of the crucial vaccines every cat needs and additional ones that may be needed.
Vaccines All Cats Need – FVRCP:
- Rabies - A deadly viral disease of the nervous system that can be transmitted to humans
- Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper) - A deadly viral gastrointestinal disease
- Feline Viral Rhinotraceitis (FVR) - A viral attack on the eyes and upper respiratory tract
- Feline Calicivirus - A viral upper-respiratory disease
Vaccinations for High Risk Cats:
- Chlamydiosis - A relatively uncommon bacterial upper-respiratory disease. Cats that need this vaccine are those who may have contact with stray or ill cats such as outdoor cats, shelter cats, boarded cats, etc.
- Feline Leukemia (FeLV)/Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) - Viral diseases that affects the feline immune system and causes tumors. For outdoor cats, cats in multiple cat households where one cat tests positive for the disease, and cats in multiple cat households where cats have not yet been tested for the disease.
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) - A deadly viral disease that causes either fluid buildup or dry deposits on body organs. For cats that may come in contact with stray or ill cats such as outdoor cats, shelter cats, etc. or cats in a home with a known history of the disease.
- Dermatophytosis (Ringworm) - A very contagious fungal disease of the skin that can be transmitted to humans. The effectiveness of this vaccine is not certain, thus it should only be used for high risk cats such as outdoor cats or cats in a home with a history of the disease.
Did you know cats can get heartworm disease?
Heartworms are parasites that inhabit the hearts and lungs of infected cats. The presence of just one heartworm can result in permanent damage-or even death-to a cat or kitten. In fact, sudden death may be the first and only sign of heartworm infection in some cats.
Cats are at risk wherever dogs are at risk. The prevalence of heartworm disease has increased steadily since it was first identified. It now affects cats in all 50 states. Even indoor cats can get heartworm disease. Since infection is transmitted by mosquitoes, some people think that indoor cats are safe from heartworm disease. There are two reasons why this assumption is false: mosquitoes can, and often do, get indoors, and cats can, and often do, get out. In fact, of cats testing positive for heartworm infection, 55% lived “strictly or mostly indoors”.
Protection is easy. Feline heartworm disease can be difficult to detect and diagnose, and there is no approved treatment for heartworm infection in cats-but prevention is convenient and reliable. Be sure to protect your feline by administering a heartworm prevention medicine.
Signs of Heartworm Disease in Cats
- Breathing Difficulty
- Sudden Death
Know The Facts Before You Declaw Your Cat
Many loving owners have their cats declawed but are not aware of the long range effects that are both physical and emotional to the cat. Declawing is not simply a matter of trimming. In effect, it is ten amputations. A cat’s claw is harder to remove than the tip joint of all ten of your fingers as you do not retract your fingertip. Cats’ claws are set into the joint below in Declawing a complex manner.
The physical effects of declawing is gradual weakening of the muscles of the legs, shoulders and back. Balance is impaired. The cat is 75% defenseless. Cats do not defend themselves with their teeth. They defend themselves with their claws. A declawed cat is really a club-footed animal. The cat cannot walk normally as he must move with his weight on the rear of his pads. The cat’s posture is altered and he loses the grace cats are known for. As they are defenseless, declawed cats live in a constant state of stress making them more susceptible to disease.
Declawed cats are also more prone to bite since they no longer have their claws to use as a warning. As their claws are their first line of defense, declawed cats resort to their teeth in fear. Cats often give a harmless “warning pat” with their paws to let you know they do not like how they are being groomed, etc. Without claws, however, a cat is more prone to bite to let you know. Cats are polite creatures. They give you warning with a little swat before they act to defend themselves. When their warning tools are taken away, they have no option but to bring out the big guns first.
Just like children, cats are the most “naughty” during their growing period, usually the first eight months. Just as a baby chews when teething, a kitten will try his claws on furniture and carpets during his first months but will usually outgrown this destructive habit.
Aside from helping to control animal overpopulation, spaying your female cat or neutering your male cat has many benefits for you and your pet:
- Roaming and fighting are often linked to the sex drive.
- Altered pets are calmer and more affectionate.
- Your cat will be healthier, and less likely to develop certain cancers or be injured in fights with other animals.
- You’ll be less likely to have to put up with the staining and spraying.
- If your cat is a female, you won’t have to put up with male cats wailing and spraying around your house when she’s in season.
- Both male and female cats should be altered before they reach puberty. It has been shown that this procedure can be performed safely as early as eight weeks of age. Even if your cat comes into heat or becomes pregnant before you can have the surgery performed, she still can be safely spayed. Make an appointment with your regular veterinarian or check with the Humane Society of Greenwood’s Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic.
REMEMBER, cats do not need to reproduce to be happy.
- Handling and Training
- Lost Cat
- The Aging Cat
Handling and Training
The sooner you learn to understand your cat’s behavior, the more pleasure you’ll receive from his companionship.
- It is a common mistake to handle kittens too much and too roughly. Children, especially, should be taught that a kitten is a companion, not a toy.
- Let your kitten sleep when he wishes and play when he wishes. All infants need lots of rest.
- Don’t pick up a cat by the scruff of his neck-only mother cats know how to do this properly. Instead, lift him by putting one hand under the front of the body and the other hand under the hindquarters.
- Don’t expect to get obedience from a cat as you do from a dog. The word “obedience” simply isn’t in his vocabulary. If you ask a cat to do something he wishes to do, he will consent graciously-and that’s about the best you can expect.
- In addition, you must accept the fact that punishment has almost no effect-except that he may become frightened of you or indignant and ignore you altogether. Cats usually do not like loud noises. A loud “No! No!” or sharp clap of your hands can be very effective. NEVER hit a cat.
- If your cat exhibits behavior problems you cannot resolve, there are many behavior professionals who can help.
- Lost Cat – If your cat has slipped out of the house unnoticed, use the power of scent to direct it. Place a recently worn piece of your clothing or its litter box in the yard. The familiar odor may attract your cat back home. Always remember to visit the Greenwood Animal Shelter when you lose a pet.
- Traveling – If you plan to travel, you will need to either take your cat with you or arrange to have someone look after him. Unless you will be gone for an extended period of time, your cat probably will be much more comfortable in his home environment. Arrange for a friend or a “pet-sitter” to check in on him twice a day to provide fresh food and water and to maintain the litter box.
If your cat will be traveling with you, follow these guidelines:
- Before the trip, have your cat examined and make sure vaccinations are current. Be very cautious about using pet tranquilizers-your veterinarian will be able to offer the best guidance on when or if these are appropriate.
- Don’t forget his health record, ID tag, a leash and harness (for comfort stops along the way), brush or comb, regular food, food and water bowls, litter box and regular litter, and favorite toys.
- Check with hotels and motels before your arrive to make sure pets are allowed. If you cat flies with you, check with the airline about layovers and expected temperatures in connecting cities. Any layover can be extremely stressful for your pet and should be avoided. Once you arrive, be sure to retrieve your cat quickly.
- Don’t feed your cat just prior to traveling. This will help avoid motion sickness.
- Whether you travel by car or plane, use a quality, airline approved carrier to transport your cat. He’ll be safer and much more comfortable.
- Be aware that health certificates, obtainable from your veterinarian, are required for most commercial travel.
The Aging Cat
With proper care and feeding, your cat may be with you to celebrate his 15th birthday or more. As he advances in years, he will need special care and understanding. He may not be as much fun as he used to be, so don’t expect him to bounce around like a spry kitten. When your cat becomes a senior citizen, you will want to keep a special eye on him. Here are some things to watch for:
Have his teeth checked regularly. Erosion of the tooth enamel can cause gum infections.
If your cat is drinking an unusual amount of water, this could be an early indication of a kidney problem. If the symptoms persist, see your veterinarian immediately.
Older cats are less active, so they don’t need as much food. Watch his diet so that he doesn’t put on a lot of weight.
A loss of hearing frequently plagues the aging cat. You’ll want to take this into consideration if you notice that he doesn’t respond to your verbal commands.
Drafts pose a special problem for the older cat. Since he will sleep more, make sure that his bed is comfortable and out of drafts.
Be sure the litter pan is easily accessible. Older cats may have difficulty climbing stairs.
A Lifelong Friend
There are few greater compliments than the friendship of a cat. You can’t buy or force a cat’s friendship. You get affection and respect only when you earn it-and a cat’s standards for human conduct are high. Provide a safe, warm, dry home, good nutrition, regular veterinary care and plenty of love and affection. These will go a long way toward making you and your pet the best of friends, and the rewards will be endless. Finally, recognize that even with the best of care, your friend’s health and quality of life will one day decline. Your veterinarian can help you decide when the time has come to end his suffering. The kindest thing you can do is to help his pass on with dignity. It is natural to feel sad about this decision and to grieve. Eventually, you may get another cat who will be unique and wonderful, although it will never take the place of the pet you lost.
From “Cat Care” by American Human Association
Heartworm information by Heartgard For Cats
Things That Make You Go “Hmm”
- Some scientists contend that frequent handling of a kitten from the time it’s a week old can improve its ability to relate to humans. However, it is best to keep the kitten with its litter mates for at last six weeks. Early separation can adversely affect feline social skills.
- If your cat just won’t stay away from your favorite furniture, try rubbing the surface with some vinegar or a halved onion. Cats seem to loathe the smells of these two kitchen staples.
- If your cat is giving you a spraying problem, the next time you catch him in the act, you can gently nudge his tail down or call his name calmly to interrupt his behavior. Yelling at him causes anxiety, which can only increase the problem.
- Do cats mourn? Yes, say the experts. A child going away to school, a divorce or the death of a family member can send a cat into depression. You can help your pet overcome his sense of loss by giving him special attention and making sure he feels safe and secure.
- If you are bottle-feeding your kitten, it’s best to allow him to lie in the position he would naturally assume while nursing. This will reduce the kitten’s risk of choking.
- Cats are in 2.1 million households, with an average of 2 cats per house. (Source: American Pet Products Manufacturers Association’s 1999-2000 National Pet Owners Survey)
- According to a Greek legend, the cat is believed to have protected the infant Jesus in the manger from rodents and snakes. This may be one reason that the cat is often given a favored place in Greek homes, while the dog is usually kept outdoors.
- Cats like it when you look at them and slowly blink your eyes. It can have a calming, almost hypnotic effect.
- If your cat is suddenly giving you the cold shoulder, the perfume or aftershave you’re using could very well be the cause. Many such products contain ingredients derived from wild animals, and your cat may be picking up the smell. Using only vegetable-based products may solve the problem.
- An unneutered tomcat generally roams greater distances from home than a female. He’s staking his territory by urinating. If confined to a house, he may try to mark the curtains and furniture. Neutering can resolve these behavior issues.
- Sometimes one cat can sense a medical problem in another cat long before it becomes apparent to the owner. If you have two cats and suddenly one begins to pick on the other, it might be because the other one is sick. Watch for eating problems or any other changes in his routine.
- The Polish legend of the Pussy-Willow tells the tale of a mother cat weeping beside a river where her kittens were drowning. The willow trees took pity and used their long branches to tow the kitties to safety. And this is why willow buds look like little balls of kitten fur.
- Studies funded by the U.S. Geological Society seem to indicate that cats have a sense for impending earthquakes. In China, cats have been used successfully as earthquake predictors for years.
- A cat that lives indoors has a life expectancy of about 17 years, although some have been known to live beyond their mid-20s. The average life span of a cat who lives his or her life outdoors is only three to five years. Having your cat spayed or neutered adds approximately two years to the overall lifespan of your pet.
- Secondhand smoke may be as dangerous to a cat as it is to a human. The incidence of lung cancer, as well as feline asthma and respiratory diseases, is higher for cats that share homes with smokers than for those that live with nonsmokers.
- Sir Isaac Newton, discoverer of the principles of gravity, also invented the cat door.
- Edward Lowe, a clay salesman from Michigan, first introduced cat litter in 1947. He manufactured it from commonly used sand or sawdust and coined the name Kitty Litter.
- Cats may be the sleepiest of all mammals, sleeping as much as three-quarters of the day.
- In the Middle Ages, people thought cats and dogs were invested with supernatural powers. Cats were blamed for storms at sea, and dogs were held responsible for high winds. Thus it was “raining cats and dogs” during a rainy windstorm.
- Because of their acute sense of hearing, cats saved many lives in Europe during World War II. When people saw the cats dashing for cover, they quickly ran for a shelter before the bombs started to fall.
- According to a study by Dr. Jeffrey Kelly, a psychologist at the University of Mississippi, pet owners scored higher than non-pet owners in independence, leadership, warmth, curiosity and self-reliance.