It is very important to make your home safe for your new pet, especially if adopting a kitten. They can get into things that you would never think possible! Check out this article to help you cat-proof your home: Cat/Kitten Proofing Tips.
- Poisonous plants
- Electrical and phone cords left dangling
- Keep toilet lids closed (cats will drink the water, which has chemicals and fecal matter)
- Make certain they cannot get in the fireplace
- Open stairways (cats, puppies, cats, and dogs are in great danger in a home with a 'half wall' or even open rails in an upstairs room. They can easily fall through or jump over a half wall, plunging down to the floor below! Take precautions!
- Accessible garbage (especially any kind of bones - bones can either splinter and perforate the stomach or intestines or form an intestinal blockage)
- Needles and/or thread; knitting and/or crocheting materials
- Rubber bands (which can wrap around the intestines)
- Plastic wrap or bags (the cat can eat, or strangle, or suffocate on)
- Styrofoam (especially packing "peanuts") which the cat may eat
- Cigarettes (cats may eat)
- Yarn or string toys (can wrap around the intestines or block them); toys with easily removed and swallowed parts
- Cellophane (turns glassy in the stomach and can cause internal lacerations)
- Christmas tree needles, tinsel and decorations
- Large appliances - always check for cats before shutting or turning on any appliance!
- Put away feathers and toys attached to string (such as kitty teasers) after use (cats eat feathers and swallow string)
- Keep your workshop off-limits (cats will jump at moving objects such as drills and power saws - may also swallow screws, nails, wire, and other small parts)
- Cleaning products and other chemicals (anything with phenyl is deadly to cats - this includes products such as Pineoclean and many other disinfectants)
- Floor and counter surfaces (best solution is to use is one part bleach to 30 parts water)
- Anti-freeze (cats love certain scents, and one of their favorites is antifreeze which will kill a cat quickly)
- Never use Lysol products around cats (over a period of time Lysol can sicken or kill a cat)
Emergency Numbers: Keep the phone numbers of your vet, an emergency 'after hours' clinic, and a local poison control center posted by your phone. The number for the National Animal Poison Control Center is (888) 426-4435.
Indoors / Outdoors: Keep your cats inside! Consider the fact that cats face many dangers when outside such as cat fights, dog attacks, hit by cars, poisoned or killed by people that do not like cats and there are many contagious diseases they can get when outside. Facts clearly show that on average indoor cats live twice as long as cats allowed to go outdoors. Besides the basics of food and water, give them cat toys, a carpeted kitty condo, a nice window to look out of, some attention and affection and they will be content, as well as safe, indoors. Most animals, not all, usually benefit from having an animal companion of their own species. Provide your cat with a window to look out as most cats enjoy sitting in a window. Many Petsmart or Petco Stores sell window seats. Or place a tall cat-climbing carpeted house by the window. Also, many areas have leash laws pertaining to cats and dogs, making free-roaming outdoor cats illegal.
Confinement to the house will prevent:
- exposure to diseases such as feline leukemia (FeLV), feline AIDS (FIV), and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)
- exposure to distemper and respiratory illnesses
- exposure to parasites such as fleas, ticks, ear mites, and worms
- exposure to poisons such as anti-freeze, lawn chemicals, and bait for rodents
- fights with other cats and dogs that could harm them
- torture from cruel people that dislike cats and want to keep them off their property
- being caught in a trap
- being hit and killed by a car
- being crushed by a closing garage door
- them from getting lost
- them from dying from heatstroke or freezing
- being harmed in a car engine
Find a veterinarian immediately and establish a relationship. Waiting until you have a sick animal is not the time to find a vet you like and feel comfortable with. Make sure to ask the vet about who would you contact during the hours their clinic is not open. Some vets treat their own emergencies and other vets send you to an animal emergency clinic. Keep the phone numbers of your vet and an emergency 'after hours' clinic (you may want to drive by the emergency clinic so you know how to get there) readily available. Also, keep a vaccinations/worming schedule and all other health information in a place you can easily locate.
The AMVA recommends the following vaccinations for cats: Feline Panleukopenia Virus Vaccine (distemper), Feline Calicivirus, Rhinotracheitis AKA Feline Herpes Virus, and Rabies. Other vaccines include Bordetella bronchiseptica (for kennel cough), Gardiasis, and Chlamydiosis. Your cat's lifestyle and circumstances will play a large role in what vaccinations he needs - talk with your veterinarian about the best vaccination plan. If you have adopted your cat from CAP, the cat's vaccinations will be up to date, he will be wormed, spayed/neutered, and checked for feline leukemia.
If you plan on giving the currently available Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) vaccine to your cat, be aware that having had the FeLV series does not guarantee immunity and you should therefore still limit your cat's exposure to other cats. Cats.about.com has detailed information on vaccination issues.
Fleas: Do not use flea collars, first because their effectiveness is questionable and second, because flea collars can cause skin sores on long-haired cats due to the concentration of poison around the neck. Rather, a good rinse or monthly single dose of products such as Frontline or Advantage (available from your vet) is a better solution to the problem of fleas. Consult your vet for the best option. Flea products contain toxic substances and their use should be minimized to the extent possible.
How to Trim A Cat's Nails
Trimming a cat's claws every few weeks is a vital part of maintaining the animal's hygiene. Regular trimming not only protects the health of a cat's handlers but also guarantees the well-being of adopters' couches and armchairs. But if the idea of trimming a cat's claws has you biting your nails, know that all it takes is some patience, a little help from a more experienced person, and plenty of practice to sharpen your skills.
1. Stay on the Cutting Edge
There are plenty of tools available to trim a cat's claws; use whichever one works best for you and the animal. Some people prefer a special pair of scissors modified to hold a cat's claw in place, others prefer human nail clippers, and still others choose plier-like clippers or those with a sliding "guillotine" blade. Whatever your tool of choice, be sure the blade remains sharp; the blunt pressure from dull blades may hurt an animal and cause a nail to split or bleed.
2. Take Paws, Part 1
If you approach a cat with a sharp object in one hand while trying to grab a paw with the other, odds are you'll come up empty-handed. Because cats' temperaments and dispositions vary greatly, there is no "perfect" way to handle a cat while trimming his claws. Some cats do well with no restraint at all, but most cats need to be held firmly but gently to make sure that no one gets hurt. Try resting the cat in the crook of one arm while holding one paw with the other hand. Or, place the animal on an examination table and lift one paw at a time. You may even be able to convince a particularly sociable cat to lay back in your lap.
3. Take Paws, Part II
If you've got a helper, ask him to hold the cat while you clip the nails, or just ask him to rub the cat's nose or offer a special treat. If you're having a difficult time trimming a cat's rear claws, try gently scruffing the cat and laying him on his side, then have someone else trim the claws.
4. Take a Little Off the Top
Now that you're in position and the cat's in position, put the claw in the right position, too. Take a paw in your hand, curl your fingers into a fist, and use your thumb to gently press down on the joint just above the claw. When the claw extends, quickly but carefully snip off the sharp tip and no more. Don't get too close to the pink part of the nail called "the quick", where blood vessels and nerve endings lie. Just like the pink part of a human fingernail, the quick is very sensitive; cutting into this area will likely hurt the animal and cause bleeding. If this happens, apply a little pressure to the very tip of the claw (without squeezing the entire paw, which would only increase the blood flow) or dip the claw in a bit of styptic powder, then leave the cat alone, being sure to check on him regularly.
|Note: When working with a long-haired cat, be sure the fur is clear of the clippers or you may pull the animal's fur, hurting the cat and hurting your chances of ever trimming his nails again.|
5. Take it One at a Time
If you aren't able to trim all 20 nails at once, don't worry! Few cats remain patient for more than a few minutes, so take what you can get, praise the animal for cooperating, then be on the lookout for the next opportunity - maybe even a catnap - to cut things down to size.
Nail Trim Guide courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States; illustrations by Susie Duckworth
Scratching is a natural innate behavior of cats. It serves to condition the claws and to mark territory with scent from the paws. Their claws represent instinctive impulses to climb, chase, hunt and defend themselves. It may not be eliminated, but it may be redirected to an acceptable area.
The Declawing Issue
Declawing is unnatural and cruel, and denies your pet its instinctive desire to scratch. It is even a safety peril for a cat if they find themselves outside, leaving it defenseless in the jungle beyond the doors. Most nationally recognized humane welfare organizations strongly discourage declawing, and several cities and states have made declawing illegal.
What Declawing Actually Is
Declawing is actually the surgical removal of the entire last digit of each toe, or amputation comparable to the removal of human fingertips to the first knuckle. Sensory and motor nerves are cut, damaged and destroyed. Although the procedure usually heals well and may not harm the cat, recovery from the surgery is a slow and painful process that follows with a lack of feeling, then a tingling sensation during the long convalescence. The cat must walk on the stub end of the second digit. If the surgery is not performed properly, the claws can grow back, but not in the normal way; rather they grow up through the top of the paw creating a bloody raw sore resulting in further corrective surgery.
Since cats are digitigrade (they walk on their toes), declawing can hamper the sensations and enjoyment involved in walking, running, springing, climbing and stretching.
Numerous case studies confirm the fact that many cats suffer irreversible psychological damage when their natural defense system is removed. The nervous, defensive attitudes of many declawed cats suggest there is a heightened awareness of their vulnerability. Stress in cats can take its toll in a variety of health and behavior problems.
Many humane welfare workers see not only the lovable, well-behaved cats, but also the many that have been rejected by their guardians due to behavior or temperament problems. Euthanasia is often the sad ending for the declawed cat.
Declawed cats may exhibit one or more of the following problems:
- peculiar litterbox preferences resulting in litterbox avoidance
- unprovoked biting
- impaired balance and agility
- extreme timidity, especially with strangers or other animals
- lack of playful and vigorous activity in adulthood, resulting in obesity
Declawed cats must be restricted indoors for life. Should they slip outdoors accidentally or be relegated to a life outdoors for any reason, the cats would be at a disadvantage to defend themselves or escape from danger.
Alternatives to Declawing
Training for the Older Cat
Clipping Your Cat's Claws