If you’re a first-time cat owner, you might not know what you need to prepare for a furry new arrival. Adopting a cat is a rewarding experience. Cats are independent, comforting and loveable. Anyone considering getting a cat should know what they’ll need before and during their period of cat ownership. Let’s look at the basics of cat adoption and explore some essential cat care resources and information.
Before Adopting a Cat
While cats are soft, adorable companions, understand that they’re living, breathing animals. Cats have needs and aren’t simply accessories for your lifestyle. They’ll have their own personality, needs and wants — just like people. Before adopting your cat, prepare for the realities of caring for an animal:
- Money: Giving an animal a home is wonderful, but you need to have the budget for it. Cats require food, treats, litter, shelter, toys and vet care. You’ll pay for these things for the rest of the cat’s life. Pet owners have to prepare for expensive emergency vet costs and other surprise fees associated with owning an animal.
- Stability: Cats need a stable, comfortable environment to live in. If you’re in-between homes or jobs, you should wait until you have more security to adopt an animal. Make sure wherever you live allows pets.
- Personality: Not all cats are gentle, cuddly lap pets. Cats have their own distinct personalities and quirks. You might end up with a cat who hates being held — there’s no guarantee your pet will act exactly how you imagined them. Keep an open mind when getting a cat and try to see your pet for who they are rather than for who you want them to be.
Located in the Lakewood Ranch area? Click here to check out the adoptable cats at The Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch who are looking for their forever homes!
Bringing Your Cat Home
Once you’ve financially and mentally prepared for your new pet, it’s time to bring your cat home. You’ll need several things to set up for your kitty to ensure they feel comfortable in your space.
Create a Space for Them
Moving into a new home from the shelter can be stressful for cats. They’re territorial and might feel overwhelmed by your home’s unique sights, sounds, smells and textures. To acclimate them to your home, pick a small room to keep the cat in for their first few days or first week. Place all necessary food, litter box, toys, bedding, water and hiding spots in the room to make the kitty feel comfortable.
This setup doesn’t isolate the cat — instead, it gives them time to adjust without bombarding them with your entire home. Watch for signs of anxiety in your cat and ensure they’re comfortable with the small room before letting them explore the whole house.
Cat-Proof Your Home
Cats are playful and like to get into trouble with loose odds and ends. Secure and tie up any fragile items, strings, cords, cleaning supplies, hazardous chemicals and food. Close all doors to unsafe or banned cat areas, and make sure your exterior doors and all windows are closed. Double-check everything — you never know what your cat might chew on or play with.
Understand Litter Box Etiquette
You should have one more litter box than the total number of cats in your house. If you have one cat, you need two litter boxes — for three cats, get four litter boxes. This gives them more space and ensures they always have somewhere to go. Use unscented, clumping litter — if you’re unsure what brand to get, ask your shelter. Using the same litter the shelter uses can make your home feel more familiar to the cat. Clean litter boxes at least once a day.
Stock up on Food and Water
Cats prefer their food and water separate from the litter box — you wouldn’t want to eat dinner in your bathroom, would you? Like people, cats can be picky about their food and water. Try to start out with the same food the shelter uses. Replace their food and water daily, so it’s always fresh. Additionally, consider putting your cat on a wet food diet. It’s got water for hydration and is typically favored by cats over dry food, although it’s more expensive.
Buy Toys for Your Cat
Grab a small variety of cat toys to see what your cat likes best. Many cats enjoy fuzzy springs, kick toys, feather wands and bell balls. It’s also likely your cat will love household items like shoelaces and cardboard boxes more than any cat toy or tree. Monitor them as they play and get rid of any broken toys or loose pieces. Provide them with scratching posts or boards — cats need to sharpen their claws and stretch their muscles, and having them do it on a scratching post instead of your couch is always preferable.
What Vaccinations Do Cats Need?
Like all pets, cats need regular vet visits and vaccinations to keep them healthy. Cats need preventive health care to catch issues early and prevent significant health problems. Your new cat should start receiving their vaccinations at around 6 to 8 weeks old. The two essential vaccines indoor cats need are:
- Rabies: Rabies is almost always fatal, so you should protect your cat from it. Cats receive their first rabies vaccine at 12 to 16 weeks and a booster every three years.
- Combination FVRCP: This vaccine protects against Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR) or feline herpes, as well as Panleukopenia virus — or feline distemper — and Calicivirus. Feline distemper is often fatal for cats, while VFR causes uncomfortable respiratory issues. Once a kitten is 8 weeks old, it should get its FVRCP vaccine every four weeks until they’re 4 months old. After that, adult cats receive the vaccine every year.
Unfortunately, all pets can experience health issues during their lives. Regular vet visits are the best way to ensure your pet stays healthy. Getting a routine wellness plan for your pet can provide you with discounts, free services and special perks. De-worming, nail trims, vaccines, tests and emergency visits can all add up — enrolling in a regular vet care plan can save money and maintain your cat’s health.
Heartworm Disease and Prevention for Cats
Heartworm parasites are transmitted by mosquitos. They can infect your cat’s lungs or heart, leading to heartworm disease. Once they’ve infected your cat, heartworms can grow up to 4 to 12 inches long. These parasites can cause death in some cases, so heartworm prevention for cats is essential to their health.
Heartworm disease is not as prevalent in cats as it is in dogs and heartworms don’t live as long in cats either. The symptoms of heartworms in cats are somewhat vague, so take your cat to the vet if they exhibit these symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Decreased appetite
If your cat shows the above symptoms, get them tested for heartworms at the vet. The vet will test your cat for heartworms, and cats who test positive will need treatment to manage symptoms. Medication used to treat heartworms in dogs is toxic to cats, so your cat might receive antibiotics, steroids to reduce inflammation or heartworm-preventive medications to help the cat outlive the heartworms.
Prevent heartworm disease in cats by keeping them indoors to lower their risk. Additionally, you can ask your vet to prescribe preventative oral or topical heartworm medication.
Different Types of Intestinal Parasites
Intestinal parasites can infect your cat, using its body as a host to survive. They are not all visible to the eye, but all intestinal parasites can cause harm to your cat’s health.
The most common internal parasites are:
Keep and eye out for common signs of worms and parasites in cats. If your cat starts experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, rapid weight loss or severe bad breath, take them to the vet. These are potential indicators that your pet has an intestinal parasite and needs medical attention immediately.
Contact UAC to Set up Your First Vet appointment With Your New Furry Friend
If you’re looking for personalized vet care, contact University Animal Clinic. As an accredited American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) practice, we’ll provide your pet with high-quality medical care and services. Additionally, we offer a wellness program that gives your pet all the essential vet services they need with special rates and perks.
Stop in at our pet clinic in Bradenton, Florida, or contact us online to schedule an appointment today!