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Our cats own us!
Cats in General
Member Name: miffy1
Cats in General
Advantages: Cats give unconditional love and affection
Disadvantages: They are a long-term commitment and cost a lot to look after properly.
I've always lived with cats. My earliest memory of them is that of our old (and long-gone) black and white male cat, Whisky, who fathered umpteen kittens and had half an ear missing from fighting. For me, they are the perfect pet, fairly easy to care for, though very independant and demanding at times.
We have two cats, a tabby female called Delilah and a half Russian Blue (who is actually black) called Lucifer. Lucifer lives up to his name and is a total demon at times, though we love him! Delilah is our couch-potato!
Cats need several things in their lives...love, a warm bed and a full belly! Give them that and they will love you back unconditionally!
There are a few extras you might need to know about owning a cat...so here goes...
When you first decided to get a kitten do make sure you know what you are letting yourself in for. Owning a cat is a long-term committment. Cats live on average about 13 years, though my mum had one that went on to 17 years and I have heard of much older cats, so you have to be prepared for them to be in your life for a long time!
Do not get a kitten that is any younger than about 12 weeks old. Some people reckon 8 weeks is a good time to take them away from their mothers, but they are really not ready to leave till 12 weeks in my opinion. When you first see the kitten check it all over to see whether there are any potential health problems. Runny noses and mucous in eyes could suggest something more serious, so if the kitten portrays anything like this, either ask to get a vet to check it out or avoid buying. Also check that the fur is clear of any parasites such as fleas and that the kitten has been wormed. Ask also whether it has been vaccinated against feline enteritis and cat aids. These are nasty diseases that are fatal. Another disease you may want to vaccinate against is Feline Viral Leukaemia. I had a cat once that got this disease and it is absolutely horrible, not to mention deadly. At the time not much was known about it, but there is an effective vaccination now and I strongly advise having your cat immunised. If the kitten has not been vaccinated, and you decide to buy it, do get this sorted out with your own vet and do not let the kitten outside until it has been done.
Pet insurance is really a MUST, so look round at all the deals that are on offer and take a policy out. From experience, I can tell you that vet bills can be huge! Our Lucifer cost us about £600 in the first year of his life, just from stupid things like cat scratches (he likes to fight) that lead to infections. Without insurance we would have had to have him put down because we just would not have been able to afford the treatment.
Cats breed fairly easily, so one important thing you need to do is get your cats speyed or neutered at about 5 months old. This is costly, but absolutely necessary. There are too many stray and feral cats as it is, without adding to the problem. Also, it helps to stop male cats from spraying furniture with urine. They do this to mark their territory and it stinks!
As to equipment you'll need, one of the first things you should buy is a good litter tray. Cats are naturally very clean animals and will soon learn where the tray is and use it without any fuss. It goes without saying that trays need to be emptied regulary and washed every day. There are many different litters on the market. We use Tesco Value litter for our cats and are happy with it.
Cats are pretty easy to feed, though if ours are anything to go by, they can be quite fussy eaters at times! Choose a kitten food for them till they are old enough to go onto adult food and feed about 4 times a day when they are small, reducing that to 3 or 2 times a day when they are older. It is up to the individual to decide what sort of food to feed. There are plenty of wet and dry foods on the market and I suggest you try a few to start with to see what your cat prefers then stick with that. If you only feed dry food it is very important that cats have plenty of water to drink as they can get blockages in their bowel. My brother's cat had that and almost died and the vet said eating only dry food with not enough water was mostly likely the cause! If a food gives your cat tummy problems, stop using it and try something else. We have found that some of the wet foods in gravy can cause an upset tum, so we tend to stick to the ones in jelly.
Grooming is very important, particularly with long-haired cats. Most love it and if you have a soft brush, they will roll over and purr like mad. That said, our Lucifer HATES being brushed and bites and scratches, but he does have a few behavioural problems to start with! We try to groom both our cats every day. Delilah adores this and rolls onto her back for us to brush her tummy!
If you do have a cat that presents behavioural problems it is well worth discussing it with your vet. Our vet came up with some basic animal psychology to try with Lucifer when he kept attacking Delilah and it really has worked. Giving him his food first, in his own bowl away from Delilah, stroking him before stroking Delilah, separate cat beds and separate litter trays have all helped him to behave better. He knows he is Top-Cat, and so does Delilah. He still has lapses, though not as bad. There are products on the market that you can buy that help calm hyperactive cats, though we haven't yet had to resort to those!
Sleeping arrangements for cats is easy....you can get lovely comfy cat beds, but the cats will most likely ignore those and sleep where they damn-well like! Follow a cat and you will always find the warmest place! It's up to you whether you allow them on your furniture, but take it from me, once you get a cat, THEY own YOU and will do whatever they like and sleep wherever they want!
Scratch posts will train your kitten not to scratch the furniture, and if they do a squirt of water from a spray-gun will soon teach them that scratching the sofa is not acceptable. Never EVER smack a cat for being naughty! Get you kittens plenty of toys to play with too....they will love them and soon you'll know which are their favourites. Our cats are 4 years old now and still love to play!
It is up to you whether you allow your cat outside. Personally, I think to keep a cat indoors all the time is a bit cruel. They are natural hunters and like to roam. They will always come home to you if they know they will get food and a warm bed! If you live near a main road and want an outdoor cat, I would advise against getting one. You could have one if you keep it indoors, but really think hard about this, particularly if you are out at work all day. I personally don't think cats should be indoors all the time!
As long as you give cats the things they need they will love you forever, totally unconditionally. I can't imagine what our lives would be like without Delilah and Lucifer! They drive us mad, cost us a lot of money to keep (particularly Lucifer!) and are the most wonderful friends we could have!
Cats Rule! (Us!)
Summary: If you want unconditional love, get a cat! They never let you down!
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