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How to Succeed at the Serious Task of Finding Free Cats

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.

What to Consider When Adopting Free Cats

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.

History

Try to obtain as much history about a prospective future pet as you can.

Is the cat wild or feral?

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 or Neutered

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.

Vaccinations

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.

Background

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.

  • How social is the cat? Has she had exposure to other cats, dogs, or children? Does she like people or is she frightened and want to hide?
  • What is his vaccination history? Does he have a history of vaccine reactions?
  • Any history of illness – Kidney or liver disease, feline leukemia, sensitive stomach
  • How old?
  • When was the last veterinary visit and for what?
  • Grooming history – Does the cat receive professional grooming? How does he or she behave during grooming?

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.

Temperament

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.

  • Playful
  • Affectionate
  • Loyal
  • Dog-like – Friendly, runs when called, enjoys car rides, walks on a leash
  • Calm
  • Active and energetic
  • Aggressive to strangers
  • Social
  • Reclusive or shy – Hides when guests visit
  • Reserved – warms up with time

Health

Evaluating a New Cat

Many problems that cats for free experience are readily visible and ones you can avoid.

  • Soiling and bad odor – Can indicate chronic diarrhea
  • Runny eyes or nose, congestion
  • Sneezing, sniffling, or coughing
  • Too thin
  • Unkempt coat like cat has not been grooming itself
  • Lethargic, especially kittens
  • Constantly shaking the head or scratching the ears – Ear mites
  • Excessive grooming or itchy skin – External parasites

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.

A Quick Overview of Some Breeds

One of the most effective ways you can get the look and temperament you want in a cat is by choosing a particular breed.

  • Siamese – Color-pointed athletic and intelligent cat famous for dog-like traits; Can be trained to walk on a leash, is very vocal, loyal, and affectionate; Points are various colors and are accompanied by blue eyes
  • Ragdoll – Large docile cat with long hair and pointed coat and blue eyes; No undercoat as opposed to Himalayan
  • Russian Blue – Slender, agile gray cat with silver tips and green eyes, large ears, and triangular head; Plush triple-coat is low-shedding; Velcro kitty, loyal
  • Sphinx – Hairless cat that looks dignified but is silly and playful; Friendly loyal cat
  • Himalayan – Originally a cross between a Persian and a Siamese; Color-pointed longhaired triple-coated cat with blue eyes; Devoted, smart, affectionate, can be independent
  • Maine Coon – Large cat breed and proficient hunter; Has ruff around the neck to go with a dense coat and a bushy tail; Playful, affectionate, friendly, and intelligent; Notable for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and hip dysplasia; Can be protective of people and property
  • Devon and Cornish Rex – Former has fine wavy fur and the latter only a thin layer of down; Both breeds are affectionate, friendly, social, and acrobatic
  • British and American Shorthair – Former is stockier and larger but both are cobby in build with dense fur, muscular bodies, round faces, and high prey drives; They are friendly and even-tempered and a couple of the best breeds for children and novice owners
  • Abyssinian – Medium in size, this cat has a distinctive ticked coat that is often reddish or brown; A quiet cat that is a great climber; Not particularly given to excessive displays of affection, Abyssinians enjoy being near their owners and do form close bonds
  • Persian – Old long-haired breed with a short muzzle; The exaggerated features have led to breathing difficulties; Quiet and docile, sweet but reserved with strangers
  • Bengal – Exotic in appearance and genetics, the Bengal cat resulted from crosses between domestic cats and the Asian leopard cat; Affectionate and playful with their owners, they require a lot of training to become a good house pet and are sometimes hostile with strangers
  • Manx – Known for not having a tail, the Manx actually has a tail of various lengths including mid-length, bob, and absent; The Manx comes in several colors and is friendly and affectionate; Some bond very closely to a single person; These cats can exhibit guarding tendencies
  • Burmese – Descendants of a lone cat from Burma and the Siamese, the Burmese is much like a solid-colored Siamese with a larger body and amber eyes; Sable was the original color, but various colors developed. The Burmese cat is social, intelligent, and vocal

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.

  • Breeder has an unwanted litter or a few kittens that do not meet show or champion standards
  • Rescue
  • An accidental litter
  • Humane societies
  • Stray

Care of Cats

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.

Grooming

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.

Feeding

What to Feed

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.

How to Feed

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.

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