BEHAVIOR AND PRACTICAL TIPS
INDOOR CAT OR OUTDOOR CAT
Before getting a cat, think through what sort of daily life you can offer the cat. Should it live only indoors, be allowed to be both inside and out, or you can offer a variant in which it is inside, but has access to a fenced in and covered area in the garden?
Cats can be kept inside, especially if they are accustomed to it since kittenhood, but it requires that you make an effort to keep them slim so they do not become obese. Obesity is a frequent lifestyle disease in cats. It also requires safeguarding its apartment, so the cat cannot fall from a balcony or out of a window. It’s also a good idea to tattoo or microchip an indoor cat in case it escapes by accident.
Cats who can go in and out will typically use more energy during the day and will not be as prone to obesity as indoor cats. Cats allowed to go outside should have their ear tattooed or be microchipped so that they can be returned to you if it becomes lost or injured. You also need to decide whether your cat should wear a collar. A collar sends a signal that the cat has an owner, which may be a good idea. However, it is very important to choose a collar with an elastic or safety buckle that pops open if the cat gets stuck in something. Otherwise, it can strangle itself. Expect the cat to lose several collars in its lifetime; yet that is preferable to suffocation.
THE LITTER BOX
There are many different kinds of litter boxes; some are open, some are closed and may have an entry hatch, and the shapes and sizes are varied. Your cat may prefer one specific type. Don’t pick a litter box with a hatch for a new kitten, as it should as easy as possible for the kitten to get to the toilet.
If you live in a large house, it may also be advantageous to have two litter boxes while the kitten is small to make it easy to find a litter box when it needs the toilet. There are also many different kinds of cat sand; clumping, non-clumping, fine granules, coarse granules, with and without perfume. No matter which you choose, the litter box should be kept clean and “clumps” should be removed daily. If the cat thinks the box is to full of waste, it will quit using it.
Do not place the cat’s water and food bowl in the immediate vicinity of the litter box, as the cat will largely ignore it.
Cats need to sharpen their claws. A cat sharpens its claws to remove the outermost, crescent-shaped layer of the claw, and this is necessary to prevent thickened, overgrown claws. Cats that go outside will typically sharpen its claws against a tree, but they may also be happy to have a scratching post indoors. It’s a good idea to place the scratching post in one of the rooms where the cat likes to hang out. Sharpening its claws has a territorial marking function, and therefore it can also be smart to put the scratching post near the home’s exterior doors, or where the cat generally likes to scratch, such as near the couch. If the cat does not show any interest in the scratching post, try sprinkling the post with catnip or valerian drops. Remember that the scratching post should be high enough that the cat can stretch out completely when sharpening its claws.
LOCATION OF THE WATER AND FOOD BOWL
When preparing your home for the arrival of your new cat, remember that it is not appropriate to put all the cat’s things together in one place. Preferably, the water and food bowls should not be placed in the immediate vicinity of the litter box, as it may increase the risk that the cat will not use the litter box.
SEVERAL CATS AT HOME
If you already have an adult cat, be prepared that it may take a long time for the adult cat to get used to a new kitten in the home. This is true even for adult cats accustomed to other cats in the past. It is far easier to put two young cats together, so if you want to give your new kitten a little friend, get two at the same time, or introduce the second before the older one is one year old.
If you are in the situation where you want to add a new kitten in the same home as an adult cat, make sure to have more than one litter box, food and water bowl, so they don’t have to use the same ones.
THE STRESSED-OUT CAT
Some cats are very sensitive to changes. If you have such a cat, it is important to take that into account. The stressed-out cat will typically hide, such as when there are fireworks, or if you have refurbished your home, have guests, or get a new dog or baby. You can help your cat by giving it a quiet place to hide. Many cats prefer to hide high up, for example on top of or inside a closet, where you can arrange a shelf for it. Make sure that it has food, water and a litter box nearby.
Cats may also be stressed by events outside the home, such as a new cat in the neighborhood. One may notice that the cat is reacting to something like this by marking its territory more intensively. The cat does this by scratching near the home’s outer doors, and possibly by spraying (urinating on vertical surfaces). Urine spraying is completely normal cat behavior, but one which we humans don’t much like when it happens indoors. Non-castrated males are most likely to spray, but both castrated males and female cats can spray in rare cases.
If your cat is sensitive and is experiencing changes in his daily life, one option is to give it Zylkène food supplements or pheromones in order to reduce the cat’s anxiety. Ask the staff at your animal clinic.