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Tips on adopting a cat

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on May 24th, 2023

Cats may be mysterious but adopting one doesn’t have to be.

But before you do, there’s a few things you should know in general about felines. There are many ways to bring a cat into your household: you can adopt one from a humane society or animal rescue organization, take in a kitten from someone whose cat has had a litter or bring in a friendly stray.

The difference between stray and feral

A stray cat has lived indoors and was socialized to people at some point. It has become lost or abandoned and no longer has regular human contact. A stray may be socialized enough to be touched and often lives near people – under porches or garages for example. These cats can become feral if they spend too much time without human interaction, but they can also become a pet again, after a period of being able to re-acclimate.

Feral cats have had minimal contact with humans. They have not lived as domestic animals, are fearful of people and survive on their own outdoors. Essentially wild animals, they will never become a lap cat.

If a feral cat has been spayed/neutered and released, a small piece of their ear was likely “tipped” at the time to identify it has been done. They normally have a caregiver (someone leaving out food and water) and are living outside because that’s where they’re comfortable. These cats should not be trapped and brought to a humane society unless they are sick or injured.

Feral kittens – especially those less than 8 weeks old – can often be socialized and successfully adopted.

Tips on caring for a new cat

Once you have decided on your future feline and where to adopt it from, the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society and other pet experts offer this advice:

  1. Select a nearby veterinary to look after your cat’s routine care and health examinations. Be sure to note their clinic hours and know the location of an emergency clinic for after-hours illnesses or injuries. If you’re bringing a stray into your home, they should be fully examined and vaccinated.
  2. Put the litter box in a quiet, easily accessible spot that offers your fur friend privacy. If you adopted a kitten less than six months old, use only non-clumping litter. Litter can stick to their fur and feet and could lead to digestive problems if the kitten ingests it.
  3. Use stainless steel or ceramic food and water dishes. Clean dishes daily and provide lots of fresh water.
  4. Select a high quality cat or kitten food. Typically, kittens should be fed three to four small meals daily, while an adult cat once or twice a day. Consult your vet about the type of food and feeding schedule.
  5. Never feed a cat or kitten that is refusing to eat baby food containing onion or garlic powder. Your pet could be poisoned. Seek the advice of a vet.
  6. Grooming – beyond what cats do themselves - is important to keep their coat healthy. Use a soft brush or comb.
  7. Cats love toys and activities that keep them stimulated. If you purchase ones with yarn or string, be sure to supervise your cat while playing. Ingestion of these materials can cause serious – and sometimes fatal, intestinal damage.
  8. Cats need to scratch! Clawing is a normal behaviour. Make sure you provide a scratching post that is tall enough for your cat to fully stretch out when scratching. Cats usually have a favourite type of material, so find out if your cat likes carpet, rope or burlap as a scratching post.
  9. Treat your cat for fleas and ticks year-round, especially in a multi-pet household and if it goes outside. It only takes one flea to cause an infestation. Never give a cat a flea treatment for a dog. It can make them sick and sometimes prove fatal.
  10. If you plan to let your feline outdoors while supervised, get a breakaway collar, I.D. tag, harness and leash. Outside poses many dangers to cats. Indoors is safer.
  11. Spay or neuter your pet. This helps reduce the number of unwanted cats that end up in shelters. If you didn’t adopt one that has had it done, speak with your vet about surgery at the appropriate age.

It’s important to remember cats – especially indoor ones – can live long lives. Paying for their care can get expensive but insurance can help. Spot Pet Insurance, for example, can reimburse you for vet bills covering things such as accidents, toxic ingestions, hereditary conditions, behavioral issues and illnesses such as cancer or diabetes. Their Advanced Wellness plan also help owners with the cost of annual exams, dental care and flea prevention.

Give your feline their best chance at nine lives!

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