Being a responsible cat owner is taking care of anything related to cat safety. It is not only about feeding your cat every day and taking it to the vet if it is sick or injured, it is also about making sure it wears a collar and ID tag, is micro-chipped (and your contact details are kept up to date) and properly vaccinated annually.
A good rule of thumb is to imagine how you would feel if you were your pet. For instance, how would you like breakfast added to last night’s stale supper or your bed being in the noisiest room in the house? Most of the behavioural and veterinary problems we encounter at Second Chance Animal Rescue are due to owners not looking after their pets properly.
Their basic needs are simple: to feel secure cats need to have a daily routine and be loved.
Most cats need access to a garden, indoor cats, who do not have the mental stimulation provided by the outside world, can become bored and stressed. This can lead to serious behavioural problems and destructiveness. Cat activity toys can help your cat amuse herself when you are absent. Both indoor and outdoor cats enjoy playtime so interact with your cat through play, and provide a scratching post so she can exercise her claws without shredding your sofa. Cats need socializing too; try to get them used to daily sights, noises and situations from an early age.
Cats should not be shut out at night. Most road traffic accidents involving cats occur after dark and she may not want to go outside after she has spent the evening indoors, especially during cold weather. Cats are also often criticized for hunting and killing birds, which are at their most vulnerable at dawn and dusk when they are feeding. You may choose to get your cat used to staying in at night and provide her with a litter tray. To become familiar and confident in her new surroundings, a newly acquired cat should be kept inside for at least four weeks. Do not feed her before letting her out for the first time but feed her immediately when she returns. You can train her to respond to a signal when food is ready, for example by whistling or rattling her biscuits. Kittens should not be let out until they are at least six months old and have had all their vaccinations and the first few outings should always be supervised.
If your cat needs a litter tray, put it somewhere secluded, away from her food. Cats will not use dirty litter trays and may resort to using your pot plants instead so replace litter regularly and disinfect trays every so often. Both tinned and dried pet food provides a balanced, nutritious diet but remember to provide extra water with dried food. Water must always be clean and fresh. Human food is not recommended. Your pet’s bed should be in a quiet, draught-free place out of direct sunlight. Vacuuming or laundering the bedding will keep smells, and fleas, at bay.
When planning a trip away, ensure you make proper arrangements for your pets. You should only consider friends or neighbours if they can be trusted to care for your pet properly. If necessary, take time to introduce your cat to her carer before you go away. Explain her daily routine and leave contact numbers for yourself and your vet in case of emergencies. Put a new identity disc on your pet’s collar with the contact details of her temporary carer and if your pet is micro-chipped let your microchip provider know. If you are considering a cattery, visit beforehand to check it is suitable. Word of mouth is the best recommendation. You will need to book up well in advance, especially at peak holiday times, as the best catteries are always fully booked.