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Acquiring a new cat may be something you take for granted. After all, how much effort do you need to expend when there are free cats seemingly around every corner? Nevertheless, you can save yourself a lot of future heartaches if you approach getting a cat like any other major commitment. You want a healthy pet that will be able to return your affection for years to come. Also, cats, like dogs, have personality quirks and activity levels that fit some lifestyles better than others. With many rescues, you adapt to what you find, but you can take steps to ensure a healthy and good-natured family companion.
You may not be looking for a particular kind of cat. Still, make a list of what you think are important features of a pet. Try to picture what you believe a cat can deliver as a companion. You may be surprised to learn that cats require much more love and attention than many people give them credit for.
Try to obtain as much history about a prospective future pet as you can.
Feral cats are felines that have returned to their wild states. Many owners abandon their cats when they move or can no longer take of them, and cats are adept at fending for themselves. Sometimes kittens are born on the street and never encounter humans. Generations of cats frequently live free in neighborhoods with no one aware of how many exist. Some cats can be rehabilitated to make good pets while others never adjust to the home. Kittens are commonly easier to tame than adults unless the latter only recently became feral. Knowing if a cat is feral or not is especially important for families with young children who may not understand why a pet hisses at them or scratches and bites. A feral animal does not have to be a deal-breaker, but you must bring a lot of patience. Be prepared to never have the bond you would with a completely domesticated feline.
Spayed and neutered cats generally make better pets than those that remain unaltered. Females experience stimulated ovulation, so they will go into heat repeatedly until they mate. That could be a long spring for you because these cats are often obnoxious, yowling loudly and incessantly. They may become aggressive or show excessive affection, shoving their rumps in your face. Both males and females have a relentless urge to go outside and may become destructive trying to achieve that end. Males can show extreme aggression to other cats, whether to competing toms or unreceptive females. Cat bite abscesses then become a huge concern. Many humane societies spay and neuter pets before adopting them out, but these are not always cats for free. Rescue groups also take great efforts to spay and neuter their cats before adoption, even as young kittens. Breeders who are giving away free cats may not neuter them but will encourage you to do so as soon as possible. When your neighbor’s pet gives birth, any experienced person will think, “free cats near me,” but neutering is a procedure you will need to think about with these animals also.
Kittens have similar vaccination schedules as puppies. They start an inoculation regimen at six to eight weeks of age, receiving boosters every month until they are 16 weeks old. Vaccines typically include protection against feline distemper, calicivirus, and rhinotracheitis or Herpes I. Cats also receive a rabies vaccination once as a kitten at three or four months old and then once every one to three years. Some facilities administer additional vaccines such as feline leukemia depending on the risk. A young kitten you acquire from an accidental breeder probably will not have a vaccination history. Most shelter and rescue animals will have received at least one round of vaccines. Breeders may or may not vaccinate kittens before adoption, but it should be a question you ask. Moreover, kittens also need deworming at a young age and possible treatment for a common one-celled parasite known as coccidia. If you are unable to ascertain an accurate vaccine history, a visit to a veterinarian will get you on track.
Older cats will have more of a history than most kittens. Useful questions to ask if you will be adopting a cat over a year old are as follows.
You may not get an answer to all the questions you seek, especially if working with new secondary owners, rescue organizations, and shelters. However, being as well-informed as possible is key to providing the best home possible for your new cat.
Cats have personalities that differ as much between individuals as dogs do. Sometimes you can predict personality traits by selecting particular cat breeds. However, it is harder to find free cats the more you narrow your search criteria. You cannot tell much about a kitten’s future personality as an adult because the changes are quite drastic. Cats can have numerous desirable characteristics as adults, making it advantageous to adopt mature animals.
Many problems that cats for free experience are readily visible and ones you can avoid.
Some problems have easy solutions such as fleas or ear mites. However, do not allow seemingly simple issues like diarrhea, malnutrition, or upper respiratory infections to suck you in. You could be dealing with a nightmare of resistant coccidiosis, leukemia, other viruses, or respiratory problems that mean months of veterinary visits and an unthrifty cat. Some viruses remain for life, and others can cause permanent damage.
One of the most effective ways you can get the look and temperament you want in a cat is by choosing a particular breed.
There are many other cat breeds to fit any personality. Purebreds are often expensive, but you may be able to find free cats that have pedigrees from a few sources.
Cats require regular veterinary visits, grooming, nail trims, and affection. They also require daily exercise and mental stimulation. Exercising a cat may be more challenging than running a dog through its paces, but it is not an area you should neglect. Cats are susceptible to obesity as well as boredom and anxiety that can lead to pacing, scratching, urinating inappropriately, and overeating. Lasers and string are both great interactive and mentally intriguing games for cats. Make sure to put the string away when you are done playing as it is something cats frequently try to eat.
Brushing eases anxiety, stimulates circulation to the skin, and removes dander and loose hairs. Thin-haired cats require a soft brush and only weekly brushing. Dense-haired cats typically have three layers of fur rather than two that is typical of dogs. Long-haired cats may need you to brush them daily and short-furred cats two or three times a week. You should check your cat’s claws monthly and trim if necessary. Since they are sheathed and cats maintain them, you will not have to attend to them with as much attention as a dog’s nails. Some owners still prefer to keep their cats’ nails short. An older cat’s sheaths often become weaker, and the nails do not stay protected. These claws grow abnormally, and you must clip them regularly, so they do not curl on themselves. Cats do not need baths very often unless they have skin problems. Nevertheless, many cats learn to tolerate warm baths well.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat meat. Although they exist, vegetarian diets are not recommended for cats. Diets that lack the amino acid taurine were implicated in dilatative cardiomyopathy in cats in the 1980s. Taurine exists in meat but is still often deficient in vegetarian commercial cat food. Cats cannot effectively utilize any nutrients in grains or other carbohydrates. They require a minimum of 26% protein in their diets, but optimal health likely necessitates closer to 40% and above. Wild prey would typically be 55% protein from meat and approximately 45% fats. Carbohydrates would come solely as incidental ingested stomach contents from the mouse or bird, for example.
Cats can eat once per day if it is not a huge quantity. GDV, though rare, can occur in cats. Cats need 20 to 35 calories per pound of body weight every day depending upon activity level, age, health, and whether they go outdoors. Canned food is an excellent option for cats that require a low-carbohydrate diet or do not drink much water. Cats at risk of developing urinary blockages also benefit from canned diets as do some with diabetes and overweight individuals. Some felines will only eat dry kibble, and the main advantage is it stays fresh longer than canned cat food. Since the amino acid profile is particularly important for cats, consult with your veterinarian before venturing along the path of homemade, raw, and fresh diets.