Shorthair or Siamese? Find the perfect pet with this go-to guide
Top tips for your tabby
Whether you’re adopting an adult cat or buying a new kitten, it’s important that you’re fully prepared and ready to welcome your new feline friend into your world.
Our comprehensive checklist and handy hints and tips will help towards making sure you’ve got yourself one content cat.
Are you ready to get a cat?
Before you choose to bring a new cat into your home, you need to decide if you’re really ready to become a cat parent. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Will a cat fit into your lifestyle?
Cats may be lower maintenance than dogs, but you still need to have the time to regularly feed, play and socialise with your new pet
- Is your home suitable for a cat?
Do you live away from a busy main road and have safe access to a garden? If you rent, have you checked your tenancy agreement to see if you’re allowed pets?
- Can you afford it?
A cat needs regular visits to the vet for vaccinations – and you should consider cat insurance costs too
- Is anyone in your family allergic?
Introducing children to other cats before getting one of your own might tell you if they’re allergic
What type of cat should you get?
The choice is yours – but we’ve got some info that could help you make up your mind.
The majority of cats are non-pedigree or crossbreeds, affectionately known as moggies. Non-pedigree cats often live longer than pedigrees, as crossbreeding can reduce genetic health problems.
Pedigree (or purebred) cats are bred especially to retain certain characteristics such as colours or patterns. And the pedigree breed can have an influence on personality too.
Laid-back, affectionate and good with children. Big in size – males can grow up to 17 pounds.
Bred to be a short-haired version of a Persian – no more daily grooming. Lively and playful.
The largest of all the domestic cat breeds. Like to ‘talk’ and have a large range of noisy yowls and chirps.
Extremely affectionate – ragdolls will greet you at the door. Great with children and usually don’t mind living with friendly dogs either.
Highly intelligent and like to be involved with family activities. Get stressed if left alone for long periods – so should live in pairs if possible.
Also know as a domestic shorthair, this non-pedigree cat is the perfect companion.
So, you’re ready to get a cat and you’ve chosen the perfect pedigree or model moggie. Our cat checklist will help you make sure you’re getting a happy and healthy new pet.
Kittens are bundles of energy – but they also need a lot of time and effort to make sure they develop into a happy and social cat.
So before you choose that cute-as-a-button kitten, here are some top tips to bear in mind:
- Make sure your new kitten is at least eight weeks old before taking them home – if a kitten has bright blue eyes, it usually means they’re still too young to leave their mother
- If you choose to have a pedigree breed, make sure it’s from a reputable breeder
- Ask to see the kitten’s mother – kittens can take their temperament from them and copy their basic behaviours, including how to use a litter box and how to hunt
- Check the kitten has been socialised – they should be handled regularly
There’s no doubt about it – kittens are super cute. But they can take up a lot of your time. Adult cats can sometimes be an easier option.
Before you choose your adult cat, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:
- Where has the cat lived before? Is it used to other cats, animals or children?
- How is the cat’s health? Has it been neutered and vaccinated? Does it have any illnesses you need to be prepared for?
- What does it eat? Is it on wet or dry food? Does it need a special diet?
- Is it an indoor or outdoor cat? If the cat has previously been allowed outdoors, you should continue to let it out
Bringing your cat home
Once you’ve chosen your perfect cat, it’s time to get your house cat-ready and bring your feline friend home.
Whether you’ve bought a kitten from a breeder or adopted a cat from an animal charity, this cat and kitten checklist will help you bring your new cat comfortably into your home.
Here’s what you’ll need for starters:
So before you choose that cute-as-a-button kitten, here are some top tips to bear in mind:
- A secure cat carrier to bring your cat home and to take it to the vets
- Cat food and bowls for food and water
- A litter tray – put this in a private place like a quiet corner or cupboard
- A cat scratcher – this will help reduce damage to curtains and furniture
- Catnip, a natural herb which cats love. This can help persuade your cat to use a scratcher by increasing its desire to scratch
- A collar and ID tag – you may want to microchip your cat too
- A cat flap – so your cat can come and go as it pleases
- A cat bed and blanket
- Some toys to keep them entertained
When the day comes to finally bring your new cat home, the first thing to do is place it in a ‘safe room’. It’s important to set up a safe room in your home, as cats are territorial and need to feel like they have their own safe and defensible space.
Wait for your cat to come out of its secure carrier on its own, then leave it alone to explore the safe room. As a rule of thumb the carrier should stay in there for the first two to three days.
To avoid added stress, bring your cat home when the house is quiet and keep small children and other animals out of the safe room.
If you don’t have any other pets, you can open the door to the safe room and let your new cat come out in its own time. You should do this when it’s quiet – and make sure you leave the door open so they can quickly run back in.
Got other pets in the house? Introduce them slowly and try not to leave them alone until they’re comfortable with each other.
Letting your cat outside
Before you let your cat out, make sure it’s up to date with its vaccinations and has been neutered. Female kittens can become pregnant as early as 16 weeks old, so neutering is usually carried out at around four months of age.
Your cat should also have identification (either a collar or microchip) in case it gets lost.
If you’ve rescued an adult cat, it’s recommended that it stays indoors for the first few weeks so it can get used to its new environment.
Unsure about letting your cat outside? Here are some tips you can take to encourage your cat to come back:
- Try a cat harness (although your cat may not like it)
- Let your cat out before dinner – a hungry cat is more likely to come home
- Use treats to call your cat to you
Play and discipline
No matter their age, all cats love to play. It keeps them active and healthy and is great for their mobility – it can help create a bond with you too.
Play is particularly important for kittens, as you’re continuing to teach them hunting instincts just like their mother started.
If your cat gets too excited though, play can easily turn into aggression. So here are some top tips to help you both enjoy it:
- Don’t allow your cat to chase your fingers or toes
- Limit time with any toys that encourage over-excitement
- Try cat trees, novelty cat boxes and activity centres, but ensure your cat can’t get trapped
- Let them have the thrill of pounce, but not too easily or they’ll get bored
- If your cat does scratch you, immediately stop the play and leave the room – don’t shout at them as they won’t know what they’ve done wrong
Protecting and looking after your cat
Now that your new cat is part of the family, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep it happy, healthy and safe.
Research vets in your local area
Kittens usually have their first vet’s visit at 13 weeks old and cats need regular vaccinations against diseases such as feline flu, so it’s important to find a local vet you can rely on.
Getting your cat microchipped is a safe and simple procedure that can help get your feline friend back if they’re ever lost or stolen. Ask your vet for more advice or find out more in our guide to microchipping.
If you want to protect against future illnesses or accidents, you can take out pet insurance. Policies and levels of cover vary across companies and products, so make sure you do your research.
Helpful guides for your pet
Our handy pet guides could help your four-legged friend be on its best behaviour.
We’ve got the answers to some of the most common questions we hear from cat lovers like you.See all FAQs
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