Tips for looking after our feline friends

There’s no denying that cats are fantastic companions, and are a great addition to any household. They are often seen as the ‘easier ‘ option when it comes to pet ownership, with many believing they require less maintenance and training than dogs.

While this can be true, there is still a lot that goes into looking after a cat, and a lot of research that should be done before welcoming one into your home, and from the constant scratching and meowing to general growing pains, raising a fur baby can leave you feeling like you’ve got a newborn in your house.

Animal Friendly Life spoke to the CEO of Cat Protection Society NSW, Kristina Vesk who has shared her top tips to raising a cat, in an effort to try to help those who are trying to have either welcomed a cat into their home, or are considering doing so.

“It is no secret that many people treat feline family members like their babies. Although raising an animal isn’t always easy, it is very rewarding,” Kristina says.

“With a few hints and tips, raising your cat to be a good citizen will be a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.”

‘Louie’ one of the residents of the Cat Protection Society

Below are Kristina’s top tips to looking after a cat:

Establish a routine: Whether you have a kitten or have adopted a middle-aged cat, they need to follow your routine. Regular meal times, play sessions and bedtimes are vital if you value your sleep! Keeping a routine will give your cat confidence and make them feel secure, ensuring good habits for life. For active felines, a strategy to ensure they follow your sleep schedule is to have some playtime before bed and leave a food puzzle (like a treat ball with biscuits or a lick mat) that they can play with overnight. Just remember, don’t give in to the 3am snack or games request unless you want to be woken at 3am every morning!

Set in place a curfew: Curfews aren’t just for rebellious teenagers, they work for cats too! Ideally, cats should be kept inside or safely confined to your own property (such as cat proof fencing), but if you do let them out, they should always be indoors from dusk until after dawn. This is when native wildlife is most active. Cats are at risk during the night from cars, predatory animals and other cats, so implementing a lock in time will help ease your mind and keep your feline family member safe. Curfews are great for those who work all day, giving you and your cat time to bond during the evening. Even if you plan for limited outdoor access, for your cat’s safety, kittens should be kept strictly indoors for the first six months.

Train your cat to be a good citizen: Now training your cat might seem a little silly, but teaching them boundaries from the moment they enter your home is very important. This doesn’t mean you will be teaching your cat to sit, shake or roll over, it means your cat will learn good habits such as not jumping on your kitchen bench, scratching expensive furniture or knocking a glass of water off the coffee table while you watch from a distance. It is important to remember that animals respond to positive reinforcement and repetition, so make sure to always use an encouraging tone.

Spade has been with our family for 15 years

Create a grooming routine: Although cats groom themselves regularly, it is important to brush your cat to keep their coat in good condition and to prevent hairballs. Grooming helps you to build a bond with your cat, and remember to target the hard to reach places that your cat might not be able to get to regularly. You should always make sure your cat is up-to-date with flea and tick treatments all year round. Cat owners should also consider how much sun your cat is getting, as cats with light pigmentation are especially prone to skin cancer. So, always keep your cat inside during the hottest parts of the day.

Desex your kitty: Desexing your cat should be at the top of your list as no pet owner wants to discover their fur baby is having an unwanted litter of kittens. Contrary to popular belief, kittens can become pregnant with their own litter, which is why you should desex your new furry family member as soon as possible. Cats can be desexed from as young as eight weeks and this will prevent unwanted kittens as well as numerous diseases. This is the time to find your new cat’s vet, who will also advise on vaccinations and lifelong care.

Caring for older cats

Older cats have different, more specific, needs to the younger ones, so we asked the Feline Services Manager of the CPS, Nerida Atkin, to provide her tips for adapting to life with an elderly pet.

“Something to remember as cats get older is their needs change,” says Nerida. “It’s a lot like us ageing. Eyesight, hearing and body condition start to deteriorate as well as things like kidney and liver function.

“Cats can also get arthritis so they may not be able to use their litter tray the same or jump up on things like they used to. Some older cats can also become sensitive to touch so may need short bursts of patting and grooming instead of all at once. Your cat will tell you if this is happening so make sure you read their signals.

Nerida Atkin (credit Cat Protection Society)

“It’s also important to start looking at getting them six-monthly health checks to maintain optimum health. Older cats need subtle changes in their diet, so make sure you look at age-appropriate food. You also may need to consider a larger litter tray if they find it hard to crouch do to arthritis, and possibly consider getting ramps or stairs if they like jumping on the lounge or bed,” Nerida adds.

About CPS

The Cat Protection Society is a registered charity that was established by a small group of passionate animal lovers in the 1950s. Today, CPS operates a no-kill shelter in Newtown, with the mission that every cat has a loving and responsible home.

For more information visit https://catprotection.org.au/.

 

 

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