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Thinking of Adopting a Cat?

The addition of a cat to your home as a family pet is a wise choice. Cats are loving, devoted and
charming pets. They are easy to care for and do not require a lot of room. They are "at their best" as a
full-time indoor pet. Felines are an endless source of companionship, fun and entertainment for you and
your family. However, they are a life-long responsibility and commitment. Before adopting, ask yourself
the following questions:

Am I ready to make a long-term commitment? Adopting a cat means being responsible for his or her
health and happiness that should take the relationship through all of life's transitions, such as moving.
Cats can live 15 to 20 years.

Can I afford the cat? The cost of a cat is more than just the adoption fee; remember to include the cost
of food, litter, basic and emergency veterinary care and supplies.

Is everyone in my household in favor of adopting a cat? One adult in the home should be designated as
the primary caretaker so that the cat's needs do not become lost in the shuffle of busy schedules. Make
sure your landlord allows pets prior to bringing any new animal home.

Do I have at least an hour a day to devote to the care of my cat? A cat requires plenty of love and
affection. Though cats are more independent than dogs, they thrive on your companionship. It is also
recommended that you consider adopting two cats if there is no one home during the day. Two are
company for each other--and two will bring more love into your life.

Am I ready to take on the daily responsibilities of caring for a cat? Although cats are easier to take care
of than dogs, they still require daily care, such as feeding, exercise through play and cats require a litter
box which needs to be scooped clean every day. Using a clumping litter will help control cat box odor
and reduce the number of times you will need to change the litter every month.

Am I willing to commit to understanding basic cat behavior and training? Understanding cat behavior
will help you train your cat not to scratch your furniture, or to use the litterbox. Cats are independent,
but they can be trained with patience, understanding, and love.
Once you decide that the time is right for a cat, there are a number of things that you should do to get
your home ready for the new arrival:

Bringing home kitty: Use a cat carrier to bring the cat home; never let the cat loose in the car or leave
the cat alone in the car.
A room alone: Prepare a room where the cat can live for the first few weeks. A small, isolated room, like
a bathroom, is perfect. Place a cat bed, litter pan, and water and food bowls in the room. Do not push
attention on the cat or make too many demands. She needs time to adjust and get used to the sounds
and smells of your home. Be patient and move to the next step only when you are sure everyone is
really ready.

Prepare the children: Introduce each child to the cat one at a time in a supervised visit. Remind them it
is important to be gentle with and speak softly to the kitten and there will be plenty of time to play
with the kitten later. Kittens are not recommended for households with infants and toddlers.
Bringing home a second cat: Give the new arrival a room of his own and plan on a two week
introductory period. Never force two animals to "interact." Accept that some hissing and posturing is
normal and necessary; they will sort out who will be in charge. Do not permit a fight to break out (have
a blanket ready to throw over the combatants if this happens). Never leave them together when you
are away until they have clearly made their peace. In households with more than one cat, each animal
should have their own litter box and food bowl. Give the resident cat extra attention to minimize any
jealousy.

Feeding: It is recommended that you use a good quality, dry cat food throughout the life of your cat.
You can supplement this with canned food, especially when the cat is young and needs more protein
for growth. Feed adult cats at least once a day.

Feeding Frequency

Kittens: 6-12 weeks
Feed four times a day

Kittens: 3-6 months
Feed three times a day

Cats over 6 months
Feed two times a day

Identification Tag: Make sure your cat wears identification, even if you never let it outside. Agile and
clever, cats sometimes manage to get outside by themselves. Provide the animals with a comfortable,
expandable collar and an attached identification tag with your name, address and phone number on it.
Have your veterinarian microchip your cat--a tiny implant under the skin which can be electronically
scanned and read to reveal an identification number if your kitty is ever lost.

Litter box training: When food is left down, a kitten will nibble all day long rather than eat distinct
meals. Random feeding makes for random litter box use. A kitten often feels "lost" and it might answer
nature's call wherever it happens to be. Once this behavior is habit, retraining is a long and difficult
process. You should train your kitten to go to the litter box right after each meal by placing the box
near (but never next to) the meal area and praising use of the box. Don't take the cat to the box as
this will not teach him/her to seek the box out on their own.

Clipping Claws: You should plan on clipping the cat's nails every two weeks. This will save a lot of wear
and tear on the house until you can train the cat to use the scratching post! If you have never clipped
a cat's claws before, have your veterinarian demonstrate the proper procedure.

Scratching Posts: This is your first line of defense against the unwanted destruction of furniture. Get a
good, sturdy scratching post covered in rope, sisal or carpet backing. The post should be at least three
feet high. Place the post near where she sleeps or next to the furniture under attack. When the cat
begins to scratch things she shouldn't, do not scold: redirect the scratching behavior to the post. Hang
toys off the post and praise the kitty lavishly when she uses it.

Advice: Declawing is painful and unnecessary. The cat uses his claws to defend himself, climb, make
quick escapes and mark territory. Use of the claw is part of a cat's normal exercise pattern of their feet,
forelegs, backbone, and shoulders.
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