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Just Cats Veterinary Clinic
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Adopting a Cat
Adopting a cat is a significant commitment that should not be undertaken lightly. Cats can live for up to 20 years or more and during that time they will require your attention, care and financial support. There are many things you need to consider when making a decision on cat adoption. The following list of considerations is not necessarily comprehensive but should help you to make the right decision.
What sort of home will you be offering to a cat? Do you live in a house with a garden or do you live in a second floor flat? Although many people do keep their cats indoor not everyone considers this to be a particularly fulfilling or healthy lifestyle for a cat. Allowing your cat to go outdoors provides a cat with important exercise and a more fulfilling life but also exposes the cat to many risks. An outdoor cat can be exposed to diseases carried by other animals, the danger from road traffic and the possibility of becoming trapped in garages, garden sheds and other buildings. Indoor cats may become bored because of a lack of physical and mental stimulation, which can have an adverse effect on their health.
Cats require stimulation through play and affection. Are you prepared to commit time every day to playing and caring for your cat? Are there other members of the household who can help you with the day-
Have you considered the full cost of keeping a cat? Feeding your cat can cost hundreds of pounds each year. The most basic veterinary care comes at a cost. Vaccinations and regular worming and flea treatment can add £100 or more to the annual cost of caring for your cat. If your cat is not already neutered then expect to pay £50 or more for neutering. If you cat is kept indoors or if you choose to have a litter tray then cat litter can add a further £100 each year in expense. If you choose to insure your cat to cover unexpected medical costs then you can expect to pay £100 or more each year for the most basic level of cover. Veterinary bills for unexpected medical conditions can range from hundreds to thousands of pounds so if you do not have insurance cover for your cat are you able to cover these costs? Who will care for your cat when you are away? You can expect to pay a minimum of £5 a day if you place your cat in a cattery. Reputable catteries will require proof of vaccination before they will board your cat.
Cats can be great companions for children as well as adults. By adopting a cat you can teach your children how to care for and respect animals. A child’s enthusiasm for handling and playing with a cat can sometimes overwhelm the cat and mishandling a cat or kitten can lead to injury or distress for the animal. When you first bring a cat home you must explain to your child that they will need to be quiet and handle the cat gently until the cat feels safe in its new surroundings. Teach your child how to handle your cat safely without causing stress to the cat. Squeezing the cat when ‘cuddling’ it, chasing or picking the cat up in the incorrect way can distress the cat and possibly lead to injury to the cat or child. If you have a litter tray for your cat you need to ensure that your children do not play with its contents and you need to have somewhere to place the litter tray that is not accessible to very young children.
Does anyone in the household have an allergy to cats? Symptoms of an allergic reaction to cats include nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes and skin rashes. Although allergic reactions to cats can be lessened by minimizing exposure to them, this is not always a practical solution. Certain breeds of cats are considered to be less likely to provoke an allergic reaction in humans so having someone in the household with a cat allergy does not necessarily mean that you shouldn’t adopt a cat.
Children in particular love kittens. They’re cute, fluffy and hugely entertaining to watch and you get the benefit of watching them grow into adults. You should avoid adopting a kitten if it is less than 8 weeks old as these early weeks of a kitten’s life with its mother are hugely important to the kitten’s wellbeing. Being with its mother in the early stages of its life teaches a kitten many valuable lessons as well as the mother providing it with vital nutrition to help it fight infections. Kittens tend to be very playful so you can expect them to climb your furniture and curtains and play with just about everything you don’t want them to play. Be prepared to put items of value safely away for a while.
Adopting an adult cat has many advantages over a kitten. An adult cat will have already formed its own personality so you have a good idea what sort of cat you are getting. An adult cat may have already been neutered and vaccinated thus avoiding some of the costs associated with adopting a kitten. Adult cats also tend to be less energetic and are less likely to play with those valuable items in your house. An adult cat may be more suitable than a kitten if you have very young children, as they are able to avoid situations that may unsettle them.
Are you looking for a particular breed of cat? Different breeds of cat often display characteristics specific to the breed. Certain breeds of cat have inherent health issues so you need to do thorough research on the breed you have selected before adoption to be sure you fully understand the implications of your decision. Do you want a shorthair or longhair cat? Longhaired cats can often require more grooming as their fur can mat leading to significant discomfort for the cat. Once the coat of a longhaired cat gets matted it can be very difficult to remove the mats and a visit to the vet may be required to have the mats removed.
Having more than one cat gives each cat the benefit of company when you are not there to be with them. However, you need to consider the additional cost associated with keeping more than one cat. Will your cats get on with each other? Cats often live in social groups and do not necessarily mix well with cats from outside of their social group. If you already have one or more cats and you bring a new cat into your household there is no guarantee that the cats will engage socially. This can lead to problems such as fighting, spraying and even one or more of your cats being driven out of their home.
Animal shelters have many cats and kittens desperately in need of a new home. You may wonder why animal shelters charge you a fee to adopt a cat from them, sometimes as much as £80. The reason for this charge is that the animal shelter will incur the cost of neutering the cat as well as ensuring that the cat has been vaccinated, had a microchip implanted, wormed and treated against fleas. The charge the animal shelter makes really does represent good value. By adopting a cat from an animal shelter you are also giving a cat a good home whilst freeing up space in the shelter for other cats requiring adoption.
Newspaper advertisements and word of mouth is another way to adopt a cat. Some cat owners who have not had their cats neutered often find themselves with unwanted litters of kittens. Although the cat may be offered free to a good home you need to consider the likely cost of neutering, microchipping and vaccinations before adopting a cat this way. Sourcing a cat from an animal shelter is often a cheaper option.
You can buy a kitten from a pet shop but you often have a very limited selection of kittens to choose from. Furthermore, kittens purchased from pet shops may still require neutering and the final cost of obtaining a kitten this way can become far more than if you had adopted one from an animal shelter.
Another place to adopt your cat is from a reputable breeder. If you want a particular breed of cat then this may be your only option but you can expect to pay an appreciably higher price for your cat. A reputable breeder should have vaccinated the cat and may also have had the cat neutered but always check with the breeder so you know what additional veterinary costs you may be facing.
Before you adopt your cat you will probably need to purchase a number of items in readiness for the new arrival.
The following list is not necessarily comprehensive but should give you a good idea of what you are likely to need:
Ideally a kitten should not be allowed to venture outdoors until it has completed its first and second courses of vaccinations and has been neutered. Vaccination of kittens generally takes place at 9 weeks of age with a second booster vaccine given at 12 weeks. Kittens can be neutered from the age of 16 weeks onwards.
You should introduce your kitten to the outside world gradually and accompany your kitten at all times. You can put a harness and lead on you kitten to ensure that it does not run off, as can happen if your kitten is scared by loud noises or sudden movements.
Your kitten should be microchipped or wear a correctly fitted collar with a nametag so that it can be traced back to its home should it wander too far.
Similar advice also applies to cats that have not been vaccinated or neutered and for your cat’s safety and wellbeing you should ensure that it is vaccinated and neutered before introducing it to the outdoors.
If you have adopted a cat that has already been neutered and has up-
If you have installed a cat flap for your cat then you need to be sure that the cat is familiar with how to use it. Spend some time with the cat helping it in and out through the cat flap until it is comfortable using it.