Whether you are brand new to pet ownership, or have some experience, we are here for you.
Our team has curated a collection of important information that will help you to take great care of your new cat. Read through the whole guide, or jump to a specific section using the icons below.
Making proper preparations is essential to bringing home a new friend. This section will cover feline-proofing your home to set your new cat up for success, choosing a good veterinarian, collecting necessary supplies, introducing your new friend to your family and friends, and more.
Cats, especially kittens, are very curious and adventurous by nature. You must ensure your whole house is safe from anything your new pet could get into. Cat proofing right after adoption, or if possible, before you bring your new pet home, will save you time and heartache later. When making your home safe, check for hazards by getting down on the cat’s level to assess potential hazards.
- Hide electrical cords and wires and block unused outlets
- Block/limit access to decks and balconies
- Lock up all pesticides, cleaners, weed killers, pest control bait, and medications
- Put away small items such as pens, rubber bands, twist ties, needles, thumbtacks, etc.
- Store or dispose of all plastic bags or items made of foam
- Invest in closed trash cans
- Leave all toilet seats down
- Be mindful of hot items such as irons and hair appliances
- Remove all indoor plants that are within reach of your new cat. Many common indoor plants are toxic to cats. See: Toxic Plants
- Look for possible hiding places and minimize access. Cats like to hide in dark, warm areas such as cupboards, closets, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, etc.
- Keep your eyes peeled and shut doors carefully! Cats love to be near your feet and lurk in doorways
FOOD & WATER BOWLS
There are many options for feeding your cat. Ceramic or metal bowls are recommended as they are easier to clean and harder to tip over.
The water bowl should hold at least 8 ounces of water and be kept clean and full at all times; never restrict water intake. Many cats prefer to drink from moving water sources, so another excellent water option is a fountain.
Choose a litter box that is easy to access and that your cat will want to use. In most cases, this means an open litter box. Select a good quality litter with limited ingredients. We use pelleted cat litter throughout the facility as it is inexpensive and absorbs smells. Most cats are very accepting of it. Only use clay litter for cats over 6 months of age, as kittens will often eat the clay, which can cause an intestinal blockage. If you adopt an already de-clawed cat, please remember to choose a soft litter and keep it deep; do not use pellet litter which could be painful.
Cats love soft places to snuggle. So your new cat will need soft, clean, warm, and dry blankets and bedding to sleep on to feel safe and secure.
Scratching is an instinct for cats and should be encouraged in a designated scratching area. Provide scratching posts, towers, or cardboard scratchers that help prevent your cat from choosing somewhere undesirable to perform this natural behavior.
We strongly encourage adopters to invest in a cat tree or cat shelving that allows your cat to follow their instincts to climb and jump. Providing their own climbable space will reduce your cat’s tendency to jump onto surfaces you would prefer they avoid.
TOYS & ENRICHMENT
Toys can provide entertainment and enrichment for your cat. Be sure to provide a variety of toys to allow for several types of enrichment, though we recommend only offering a few at first to avoid overwhelming them. It may be a good idea to select only a few toys to start off to learn which types your cat is interested in or which may not be a good fit for them. Then, once you’ve learned their play style and interests, select more. Also, consider rotating toys in and out of availability to keep them interested.
THE FIRST DAYS
The first three days of bringing home your new pet are about allowing them to decompress. Coming from a shelter environment, possibly transferred multiple times or returned to the shelter after prior adoptions, and now arriving at your home can be extremely stressful. You are understandably eager to socialize, but your cat will acclimate to their new home better if you give them plenty of time and space to decompress.
We strongly encourage using a Sanctuary Room during the first week to 10 days. It should be a small room such as a bathroom, laundry room, or small bedroom with necessities, including a litter box, food, water, a scratching post, bedding, and toys. Setting aside a separate place in your home will help your cat decompress and have time to settle in a controlled way. It encourages continued use of the litter box, helps ease fear and anxiety, and allows them to become familiar with the scents of their new home and other residents in the house.
Setting boundaries for spaces in your home from the beginning will help your new cat decompress and learn where they are allowed to be in your home. It enables them to become familiar with their new environment and gives you time to learn more about them.
In addition to having your home set up for a new cat, keep a close eye on them and spend quiet time with them, which will help you bond successfully and learn their behavioral cues.
New pets can be extremely overwhelmed by children. Children will need to learn how to read their new pet’s body language to understand when they want attention, what kind, and when they need time to themselves. Allowing them to invade your new cat’s space can be dangerous. Make sure to supervise any interactions between your children and your new kitten/cat and help them learn to play gently with each other. Remind children that the new pet is a living, breathing being with its own feelings and thoughts. It is not a toy. Adults should always be present when children interact with animals in the home.
Resident dogs should be on a leash when they meet the new cat. Your new cat may hiss or growl at the dog, which is perfectly normal. Never punish your cat for communicating their fear or anxiety in this way. Your dog will likely be very excited, which is also to be expected. The novelty will probably wear off within a few days, but it can take a month or longer for them to accept the new cat fully. Dogs should never be allowed to chase the cat or harass them in any way; allowing this behavior will delay their ability to be unsupervised. Until you feel that your cat and dog are entirely comfortable and safe with one another, please do not allow them to be together off-leash or unsupervised. If anyone becomes overwhelmed, bring your new cat back to their sanctuary room or separate them if they have graduated from the sanctuary room.
Cat-to-cat introductions can take a long time. Make sure to introduce them in as neutral territory as you can. It may be several months before your current and new cats warm up to each other. Please do not leave them unsupervised until you are sure they can be left together safely or until they are roughly the same size. They will eventually develop a hierarchical structure that works for them, but this could take several months.
If you adopted a kitten, remember that your new pet is a baby! They will be curious, energetic, and eager to explore and get into everything. And we mean everything! Patience and consistent boundaries will help you and your kitten develop a lifelong bond built on positivity and love.
Behavior & Training
Cats learn behaviors in two ways; through imitation of their mother’s actions and positive reinforcement of desired behaviors.
Training is NOT just for dogs! Kittens and cats should also receive training on appropriate behaviors for several reasons:
- Building training into your cat’s playtime stimulates them mentally and physically and can improve their overall emotional and mental health.
- Training your kitten not to scratch and bite teaches them that those behaviors are unacceptable before their teeth and claws fully develop.
- Training for new experiences and situations can help your cat adjust to unfamiliar experiences calmly and without aggression.
- Training your cat on the basics, such as litter box and scratching post usage, can help them feel more comfortable in their home.
Skills you should teach your cat:
- Recognizing their name
- Using the litter box
- Using a scratching post
- Socialization with other animals and people
Teach these skills using positive reinforcement training techniques, observing your cat’s body language, and ensuring your feline friend has the tools to succeed.
YOUR CAT’S HOME
Your home is now also home to your kitten/cat. Once they decompress after their first few days, allowing them time to become familiar with their new surroundings and life with you is essential! It takes most animals about three weeks to realize that they may have found their forever home and start learning the routine. However, some kittens/cats can take even longer than this.
Many kittens learn to use the litter box by watching their mother. If you need to train your kitten, bring them to the litter box after each time they eat and wake up. Be sure to give them a lot of praise and love when they go potty successfully!
Place the litter box somewhere quiet and away from food and water bowls. Most kittens/cats prefer an open litter box. Closed-style boxes are more aesthetically pleasing but may cause litter box regression in your kitten/cat. Use a type of litter that is comfortable for your kitten/cat. It is recommended not to use clay or clumping litter until cats are at least 6 months old. Many kittens will ingest the litter, which can cause fatal and expensive to treat intestinal blockages.
When you adopt a new pet, it’s best to keep their diet as consistent as possible to avoid stomach upset. At the NOAH Center, kittens are free-fed Nutri Source Dry Kitten food, and adult cats are free-fed Kirkland Signature kibble. The wet food is typically Friskies pate, but you should look for higher-quality food options.
After the first few days, start transitioning your cat to the new food that you plan to feed them. Then, start mixing the new food with the old, increasing the ratio each day until you successfully feed them only the new food.
If you have adopted a kitten, offer them wet food at least twice per day and have kibble and fresh water available at all times. Adult cats should be provided with wet food at least once per day and have kibble and clean, fresh water available at all times.
Socialize your new cat by slowly introducing them to their new surroundings, including rooms, furniture, appliances, noises, people, other animals, etc. Follow your cat’s lead by watching for signs of stress and anxiety:
- Arched back and fluffed tail
- Low and fearful body
- Hiding or running away
- Swatting (not to be confused with soft batting)
- Trying to bite
Some cats adjust quickly to their new surroundings, while others will take more time. Handle and pet your cat often to familiarize them with being touched and handled. Regular handling will also help you bond with your new cat and set them up for success when meeting new people or going into unfamiliar situations, such as visiting the veterinarian.
Spend time playing games with your kitten that helps to develop natural behaviors such as stalking, swiping, and pouncing.
PLAYTIME V. NIGHTTIME
Cats are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. While playtime during the evening is unlikely to be problematic, the early morning, especially in the summer months, may not be ideal for most people. Providing plenty of activities, toys, and climbing options available for your kitten/cat can help keep them entertained during these active times during the day.
Consistent routines, such as turning down the lights and reducing noises when it’s time to rest, will help your cat learn the routine in the house and know when it’s time for bed.
We suggest adopters strongly consider keeping their cats indoors only. Indoor cats statistically live longer than those who are allowed outdoors. Additionally, once a cat is allowed outdoors, it can be challenging to return to being indoors only.
If you decide to allow your cat to be an indoor/outdoor cat, remember that kittens should be at least 6 months of age and fully vaccinated before they go outside. Their first few times out should be supervised. With any new cat, even if you want them to be indoor/outdoor pets, make sure they have ample time and supervision in your home and yard spaces before being allowed to go in and out at will. We always want them to return home!
There are options if you prefer to keep your cat indoors only but want them to have time outside! Consider adding a catio to your home, or if this isn’t possible, many cats can learn to explore outdoors on a harness and lead.
ENRICHMENT & ACTIVITIES
Cats should have access to several toys that can help them practice their instincts for hunting. Many of these toys include toy mice, balls, scrunched-up paper, toys with catnip, wand toys, tunnels, etc. These toys encourage running and chasing games and are excellent for giving your cat the exercise and mental stimulation that they need.
Puzzle feeders aren’t just for our canine friends! Cats can also enjoy the physical and mental stimulation from puzzle feeders, making them think and work for their food. Your local pet store or online pet supplier will have many choices of these kinds of feeders.
Cats are natural climbers and jumpers and love having access to high places where they can explore and see the world from a better vantage point. Providing your cat with climbing trees, perches, or shelves will help ensure they get their enrichment and your furniture stays safe!
No two cats are exactly alike. Like people, animals have different personalities shaped by their inherent nature and how they are nurtured. Allowing your cat the time they need to acclimate to their new environment will help nurture them and give them the freedom to be themselves. Some cats are social and playful, some are highly affectionate, and some are more aloof. Still, others are shy, reserved, and can take longer to come out of their shells. Remember, just as you get to know your new cat, they are also learning who you are; be kind and consistent, and use positive reward-based reinforcement to help build the bond between you and your new pet.
FELINE BODY LANGUAGE
Like people, felines use body language to communicate how they feel. Learning cat body language opens up an entire form of communication and understanding and is important to building a bond. Taking the time to read their body language can ease frustration and save possible heartache in the future. Please refer to the chart below for some common body language communication that you will see from your cat.
Quick Healthy-Cat Tips:
- Learn your cat’s body language so you can tell when something isn’t right, and they may not feel well.
- Make sure to feed a balanced diet with proper nutrition.
- Cats, especially kittens, need a lot of sleep, so ensure they have comfortable, quiet places to rest. A typical cat will sleep around 12-16 hours per day.
- Never wake a sleeping cat!
- Cats are social and need exercise so play with them regularly.
- Help your cat socialize by handling them often.
- Follow your veterinarian’s recommendation for routine healthcare such as vaccinations, worming, flea treatment, etc.
Veterinary care is essential for every animal. Getting established with a veterinarian right away is key to ensuring your pet stays up to date on vaccinations and routine health maintenance. More now than ever, we recommend choosing a veterinarian before even bringing your new pet home.
Continuous and regular veterinary care is essential to your new cat’s health and long, happy life. Sometimes the idea of making an appointment, crating your cat, taking them into the car, and then into an unfamiliar environment can be intimidating to pet owners. You can do a few things to ease this process and help ensure your feline friend gets all their needed veterinary care.
- Understand that your cat may be nervous or frightened of new places and people. Be patient with them, and make sure to bring their favorite treats and perhaps a favorite toy.
- Take your cat to a Fear Free Practice. These practices have made specific changes to their practices to help relieve stress and provide a calming environment for pets.
- If you have a multi-cat household, allow the returning cat some time to decompress before rejoining the rest of the feline family. It helps them to calm down and have some time to rest.
When you completed the adoption of your new cat or kitten, you received a Pet Health and Immunization Record that you can utilize to maintain records of all of your cat’s routine medical care.
CHOOSING A VETERINARIAN
Choose a veterinarian near your home whose hours work well with your schedule. Consider asking friends and family with pets for recommendations on veterinarians in your area. When you’ve found a few you are interested in, read reviews online.
Research how your veterinarian’s office manages emergencies so you are prepared for any eventuality. For example, do they answer after-hours calls or work with a local emergency clinic? If necessary, be sure also to learn where your nearest Emergency Veterinary Hospital is. Having the address and phone number programmed into your smartphone is a good idea.
FIRST VETERINARY VISIT
Schedule a veterinary visit for your new cat within one month of adoption. The NOAH Center provides a Free Health Exam Voucher that can be used at several clinics. This exam helps you and your new pet get established with a veterinarian who can journey with you throughout your cat’s life. They will double-check any medical needs and schedule vaccines, which will likely be soon if you adopt a kitten.
Routine veterinary care is essential to the health and well-being of your new friend. Taking the following steps can help ease the process:
- Understand that your cat is likely nervous or frightened. Cover the crate with a towel or blanket to dampen the unfamiliar sights and sounds. Respect that your cat may need time to acclimate to the new environment.
- Use the right carrier! Choose a stable, hard-sided carrier, preferably with a door that opens from the top. The firm structure will help your cat feel more secure during transport, and the top-opening door will ease the transition between spaces.
- Work on making the carrier a friendly and familiar place by storing it in a place where the cat spends time, and leave the door open so the kitty can explore it on their own. Keep soft blankets, toys, and treats inside to help make it an inviting space.
- If you have a multi-cat household leave the returning cat in the carrier for a short period after coming home. Observe how the cats react to the unfamiliar smells and separate the kitties if there are signs of tension.
Cats do not need their ears cleaned regularly. However, if you notice an odor or discharge, contact your cat’s veterinarian immediately, and do not attempt to solve the problem yourself.
See also: Grooming
If you notice that your cat has dry nasal secretions at the edge of their nostrils, it can be removed with a wet, warm cotton ball or tissue. Consult your veterinarian if your cat’s nose seems excessively dry or snotty, which could point to an underlying issue.
All animals are spayed/neutered before adoption. If the spay/neuter surgery took place recently at The NOAH Center, you would receive a copy of the after-care surgery instructions in the waiver documents emailed to you at the time of adoption.
If you have any questions regarding the incision site, please send a photograph of the incision to firstname.lastname@example.org, and a team member will reach out to you to discuss any next steps that need to be taken for the health and well-being of your cat.
When you adopt your new cat, they will be up to date on all basic vaccinations and treatments, including FVRCP, Rabies (if they are over 4 months old), dewormer, and flea prevention. Below is more information about common vaccines, treatments, and diseases.
This vaccine helps prevent the feline panleukopenia virus, feline calicivirus, and feline herpes virus. These vaccines are started at 6 to 9 weeks of age and are given every two weeks while the animal is at the shelter. After adoption, follow your veterinarian’s advice regarding the frequency of boosters. For adult cats, booster vaccines are usually given every 1 to 3 years.
This vaccine helps prevent Rabies and is first administered around 16 weeks of age. If you have adopted a kitten under that age, you will be responsible for taking your kitten to get that vaccine. If your cat is older than 16 weeks, they will have received their Rabies vaccine before adoption, and a re-vaccination date will be listed on the medical documents emailed to you at the time of adoption. Please work with your veterinarian to determine a re-vaccination schedule that works into the complete healthcare plan of your pet.
Cats from the shelter often require follow-up care for various parasite prevention. It is important to remember that shelter cats likely have not received primary care for much of their lives and will need thorough medical evaluation and treatments to help overcome these challenges.
Listed below are some common types of parasites, both internal and external. Regular preventative treatments can help minimize the impact of these parasites on your pet. Work with your veterinarian to determine the best prevention regimen for you and your cat.
External parasites live outside a cat’s body and can often be visibly seen, especially in cats with shorter or light-colored fur. If you have a cat with long or dark-colored fur, look them over often and watch for signs of external parasites such as itching.
Preventing fleas is much easier than overcoming an infestation. Flea preventions are oral or topical; administer them as your veterinarian recommends. Flea prevention should be given all year, but it is especially important during the spring and summer. Please talk to your veterinarian about what type of flea prevention is the best for your new cat.
If you wind up with an infestation, see our Resources section on our website:
These tiny parasites cause an ear infection by living in the ear canal. If you notice an abundance of blackish and waxy discharge coming from the ear and signs of ear irritation, including head shaking and rubbing the ears, please seek the proper treatment from your veterinarian.
Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection that affects the skin and can transmit to humans and almost all other animals. It is very resilient and highly contagious, especially in cats. Please seek the proper veterinary treatment, and while ringworm is entirely treatable, be prepared for a long and somewhat complex treatment plan.
Cats pick up tickets almost exclusively outdoors. Ticks usually attach themselves around the neck and ears and can cause severe inflammation. When removing a tick, make sure to remove the head entirely.
Glancing out your cat’s stool may seem odd, but it’s a great way to gauge their internal health, including if internal parasites are present. Often a glance is enough to notice worms. Below is a list of common internal parasites in cats; each will require a veterinary visit for treatment.
Important Note: Kittens are more susceptible to parasites than adult cats and should receive regular deworming treatments.
These small worms can lodge in a cat’s small intestine and cause blockages if not treated. In addition, you are likely to notice the presence of eggs in the cat’s stool or rectal area.
Tapeworms are long, flat, white worms that can cause severe weight loss. Tapeworm “segments” break off in the stool, and you may see what appear to be rice-sized and shaped worms in the stool, the rectal area, or even dried out in their bedding.
It is a tiny parasite often picked up from drinking contaminated water (such as outdoors) or coming into contact with another contaminated substance or surface. Giardia adheres to the small intestine’s mucous membrane and causes diarrhea, incomplete digestion, and gradual body weight loss. Your veterinarian can identify infection through a fecal test. Giardiasis is commonly recognized by very foul-smelling diarrhea containing mucus.
Coccidia is another tiny parasite that causes diarrhea, incomplete digestion, and weight loss. This parasite can only be confirmed by your veterinarian, though typically, with coccidiosis, diarrhea is usually watery and may contain blood or mucus.
HYGIENE & GROOMING
Kittens will start self-grooming around two weeks old, mainly using their tongues but occasionally paws. Cats have very flexible feet that allow them to groom all of their backs and behind their ears.
While cats groom themselves, brushing their fur is a healthcare necessity that can reduce the frequency and acuteness of hairballs from ingesting too much loose hair from their coats. Hairballs can cause digestive issues, including vomiting and dietary problems.
Start brushing your cat consistently to get them used to the feel of the brush. It can be a bonding experience for you and your new pet if done gently and without stress. It also encourages overall health for their skin and coats.
The key to successful grooming is consistency and gentleness. Be patient, especially if working with an adult cat who may not be accustomed to grooming with a comb or brush. Always brush following the hair’s natural direction and then backcomb gently to remove dead hair and untangle knots. The neck and areas behind the ears are the most prone to developing knots, so these areas may require extra attention. Finish all grooming sessions with the tail.
- Brushing short-haired cats once per week is more than sufficient.
- Use a soft brush with natural bristles to prevent irritating the skin.
- Before brushing, massage against the natural flow of the hair to help remove any loose or dead hair and to stimulate the skin.
Medium to Long Hair
- Medium to long-haired cats should be brushed for a few minutes each day.
- Regular brushing prevents mats and tangles that can negatively impact the cat’s health and quality of life.
- Use a large-toothed metal comb for cats with medium or long hair.
- Pay special attention to the neck and areas behind the ears.
Most cats will not require a bath as they typically do a great job grooming themselves. However, there may be cases where you want to bathe your cat, and in that case, you want to ensure that bath time is as pleasant as possible.
How to bathe your cat
Fill the bottom of a bathtub or sink with warm water between 96 – 98 degrees. If you run the water over the inside of your wrist, you should not be able to feel the temperature of the water on your skin.
Gently place your cat in the water on their feet, gently stroke their back, and talk to them in a low, soothing voice to help them stay calm.
Moisten the cat with a wet sponge or soft towel. Always use a special shampoo designed specifically for cats. Wet the back of your cat, ensuring not to get water or soap in their eyes, ears, or nose. When washing your cat, be sure to concentrate on the areas that are dirty and rinse thoroughly with warm water.
Towel dry your cat with a warm, dry towel. Please ensure they are in a warm room with no drafts until they finish drying.
Kittens have milk teeth that appear between three to six weeks of age. Their second set of teeth will not come in until they are around 4 months old. All cats will develop tartar on their teeth which can cause decay, inflammation of the gums, bad breath, and even tooth loss in extreme cases.
Ask your veterinarian to perform routine dental checks on your cat during physical exams.
Cats are known to use their claws to mark territory. It can be damaging to your home and furniture. If your cat displays this behavior, you can routinely clip their claws. Some easy-going cats will tolerate this well, and you can likely do it yourself. If you need help, you can bring your cat to your veterinarian or a cat-friendly groomer. If you choose to do this yourself, ask your cat’s veterinarian which part of the nail you can cut without risk of injury. Please do not attempt to cut their nails without discussing this with your veterinarian first.
While nail clipping is not painful when done correctly, and it may be an easy task with a kitten, many adult cats will not enjoy it. If you have adopted a kitten, begin trimming nails consistently to develop the trust to allow you to do it.
Use clippers designed for cats. Trim only the tip and be careful to avoid the quick. The quick is the pink area under the nail, containing the blood vessels, nerves, and other tissues that support a cat’s claw and will be painful if clipped. Regularly stroke your cat after each clip to help them remain calm and at ease.
Just like people, cats have their preferences for types of food. Many cats prefer smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
Many factors can influence a cat’s appetite, including breed, activity level, habits, and instincts. For example, indoor cats may overeat out of boredom and cannot hunt, so provide them with the appropriate nutrition and portions.
While humans have many taste buds, cats have very few, so their food preferences develop through sensory experiences related to texture, aroma, kibble size, and shape. Therefore, over time cats will prefer foods that meet a specific nutrient balance over foods that we think should be tastier.
One of the most common questions we hear is, “What should we feed our cat/kitten?” The simple answer is to choose a food formulated for their age, labeled as a balanced diet, and containing taurine.
Dry food and fresh water should be available at all times. Wet cat food should be offered twice daily while your cat is still under one year old. Adult cats should be provided with wet food once per day. For the first few days after bringing your cat home, add a bit of water to the wet food to help encourage more hydration which is commonly lacking in stressed animals or still recovering from spay/neuter surgery.
When transitioning foods from one brand or type to another, it is important to do so slowly and gradually to avoid stomach and digestive upset.
Proper hydration is essential to your cat’s well-being. Cats typically need to consume around 60 ml/2 oz per kg of body weight by drinking or wet food. The temperature, exercise levels, physical condition, and diet will affect how much water they need to drink. As a general rule, the more wet food a cat consumes, the less water they will drink.
Cats can be particular about their water, so always keep fresh water available. Change the water at least twice daily. If you have adopted an adult cat and you notice them visiting sinks and pawing at the faucet, they likely drank from a sink in a previous home, and a water fountain designed for cats would be a good alternative.
Never give your cat any table scraps.
Kittens grow rapidly, often gaining weight after every meal. Adult cats, however, rely on their nutritional needs to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
0 to 4 months
Kittens grow rapidly during this period and rely on an antioxidant-rich diet. From zero to 6 weeks, they rely heavily on the milk they obtain from nursing. By the time they are 8 weeks old, kittens should be eating solid foods, including wet food and kibble. Wet food should be smooth and moist during this time to allow a smoother transition during the weaning process. During this time, kittens have a fragile immune system and are more susceptible to illnesses such as Upper Respiratory Infections.
4 to 12 Months:
These kittens are still growing, even though their growth rate will slow as they age. Therefore, it is important to ensure that kittens at this age continue to get a diet rich in easily digestible nutrients. They are getting stronger, but their immune systems are still more fragile than adult cats.
ADULT & SENIOR NUTRITION
Adult cats can have adult-formulated cat food. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best nutritional needs for your cat based on age, breed, special conditions, and overall health.
You love your cat, provide them with great care, and do everything right, but sometimes accidents happen. Every pet owner should be prepared for emergencies and know what to do when they arise.
CAT FIRST-AID KIT
- Alcohol-based disinfectant
- Antiseptic solution
- Bandaging materials: gauze pads and rolls, rolled cotton, self-adhesive wraps, tube socks for slipping over an injured paw
- Cotton balls
- Eye dropper
- Extra blankets and pillows
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Petroleum jelly
- Rectal thermometer
- Blunt end scissors
- Transport crate
- When animals are in pain, their behavior can be highly unpredictable. Your otherwise docile and friendly cat may growl or bite
- NEVER put your face near an injured cat’s head
- Perform any examinations slowly and carefully, making sure to stop immediately if the cat becomes agitated
- Pad the injured area with bandages and gauze or improvise with towels, clothing, etc.
- Before any necessary transport, do your best to stabilize any injuries. For example, you can use rolled newspapers/magazines to create temporary splints
- Use a rectal thermometer to check the temperature. Newer digital thermometers are good options.
- You can check your cat’s heart rate by placing your hand over your cat’s chest and counting the beats per minute.
- Respiration can be measured by observing flanks or holding wet fingers in front of your cat’s nostrils and counting the breaths per minute.
Normal Vital Signs:
- Heart Rate: 160 – 240 bpm
- Respiration: 10 – 20 breaths/minute
- Temperature: 101 – 102.5 degrees F
- Abnormal Temperatures: Below 100 degrees F or above 103 degrees F
- Neutralize a bee sting with baking soda
- Neutralize a wasp sting with vinegar or lemon juice
- Apply a cold compress
- Apply calamine or another antihistamine cream
- In case of severe swelling or difficulty breathing, transport to a veterinary clinic immediately
- Gently pull the tongue forward and inspect the mouth and throat
- If a foreign object is found, hold the mouth open and attempt to remove it by hand with tweezers or a pair of small pliers. Be careful not to push the object further down the cat’s throat
- If the cat ceases to breathe, go to the nearest emergency veterinarian immediately
- Arterial bleeding requires emergency veterinary attention. It will be bright red, bleed in spurts, and be very difficult to stop
- Apply clean gauze or a sterile cloth to the wound
- Apply direct pressure for at least 5 to 7 minutes to stop the bleeding
- Seek veterinary care as soon as possible
- Immediately place the cat in a cool shaded area. Bathe the cat in tepid water as soon as possible. NEVER leave your cat unattended while soaking, even if they are conscious
- Monitor rectal temperature.
- Transport to an emergency clinic. Keep monitoring their temperature and do not allow the cat to become chilled
- Gently attempt to localize the injury. Examine the affected area to check for pain, swelling, heat
- If a fracture is suspected, gently stabilize the limb for transport
- Cover any open wounds with a clean, dry cloth. If the animal is bleeding, see the section on bleeding
- Examine the vomit for blood or other clues that may help determine the cause
- Gently press on the stomach to detect any abdominal pain. Withhold all food and water until a veterinarian has been consulted
- If poisoning is suspected, call your veterinarian right away. Bring a sample of the suspected poison, if possible, preferably in original packaging, to the veterinarian
OTHER SIGNS OF EMERGENCY
Abdominal pain, enlarged stomach, and unproductive vomiting are serious signs. If you see these, contact your veterinarian immediately. There are many possible causes, and only your veterinarian can determine the cause and best steps for treatment. If your veterinarian is unavailable, contact your Emergency Veterinary Hospital.
The ingestion of harmful substances typically causes vomiting. Ensure that the substances listed in this next section are locked up or kept securely away from your pets. If you have further questions or need more information on a substance, please consult the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control at 1-800-548-2423.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- At Home Perm Solution
- Boric Acid
- Brake Fluid
- Carburetor Fluid
- Dandruff Shampoo
- De-icers for melting snow
- Diet Pills
- Drain cleaner
- Dry-cleaning fluid
- Fire Extinguisher
- Furniture Polish
- Hair Coloring
- Metal Polish
- Mineral Spirits
- Nail Polish and remover
- Paint remover
- Photographic developers
- Pills (such as Coumadin)
- Pine-oil disinfectants
- Rat Poison
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Shoe Polish
- Sleeping Pills
- Snail or bug bait
- Suntan Oil with cocoa butter
- Windshield washer fluid
Two common household items that are very deadly/poisonous to cats:
- Chocolate: Chocolate is one of the most dangerous foods a cat can consume, as it contains caffeine and theobromine – both of which stimulate a cat’s nervous system. The amount and type of chocolate eaten are major factors in how sick a cat may become. If you suspect your cat ate chocolate, take them to the veterinarian immediately.
- Xylitol: Xylitol can be found in sugar-free gum, peanut butter, candy, and even some baked goods. When a cat consumes xylitol, the cat’s pancreas releases a massive amount of insulin, which results in a decrease in blood sugar levels in the body, also known as hypoglycemia. Xylitol can also cause liver failure if eaten in high quantities. A trip to the vet is recommended if a cat is suspected of having ingested an item containing xylitol and is exhibiting symptoms such as vomiting, weakness, or diarrhea.
Systems Affected by Toxic Plants
Lower GI Tract
- Amaryllis plant and bulbs
- Bird of Paradise
- Black Locust
- Castor Bean
- Grown of Thorns
- Daffodil plant and bulbs
- English Ivy
- Hyacinth plant and bulbs
- Jerusalem Cherry
- Nightshades (including tomatoes)
- Pencil Cactus
- Potato (green parts and eyes)
- Precatory Bean (Rosary Pea)
- Tulip plant and bulbs
- Wisteria plant and bulbs
Upper GI Tract
- Calla Lily
- Christmas Rose
- Dumb Cane
- Elephant’s Ear
- Four O’Clock
- Skunk Cabbage
- Almond pits
- Apple seeds
- Apricot and cherry pits
- Lily of the Valley
- Peach Pits
- Yellow Oleander
- Bleeding Heart
- Cardinal Flower
- Golden Chain
- Indian Tobacco
- Jimson Weed
- Mescal Bean
- Morning Glory
- Poison Hemlock
- Yew, all varieties
- Water Hemlock
Highly Toxic, Possibly Fatal Plants
- Easter Lily
- Yew, all varieties