Caring and providing for an animal brings a whole new set of responsibilities, such as thinking ahead with regard to danger areas in your home, as well as ensuring that the new member of your family is groomed regularly, fed, sheltered, watered, identified, vaccinated and dewormed.
Cats or kittens will usually find their own preferred area to sleep. Providing them with a soft blanket or towel should be sufficient.
Be careful when starting up the washing machine or tumble drier. If the door has been left open, ensure that your kitten is not sleeping inside before switching on.
Provide your cat with his own food bowl.
Put them on a diet which has the correct balance of minerals, vitamins and protein. It can be more cost-effective to feed a cat with a premium well-balanced product from your vet than with cheaper products.
Your cat must have access to fresh water at all times.
Cats and kittens enjoy games, so play with your cat (but do not tease it) whenever you can. Ensure that toys are animal friendly and cannot be ripped apart too easily.
Spoil your cat
Most cats really love catnip from time to time, which seems to put them on a bit of a “high”. It can be grown in your garden or in a planter inside the house or flat.
When giving treats, ensure that they are specifically formulated for cats.
Introducing your cat to its new home
When you get your new companion home, check that all windows and doors are securely closed.
Have a room set aside where the cat will be kept initially. Ensure that there is a litter tray (use cat litter rather than sand from the garden), a bowl of fresh water and food.
Close the room door and let the cat out of the carrier. Reassure the cat quietly while it investigates the room.
If there are no other animals to be introduced to in the household, allow the cat to investigate the rest of the house.
It is recommended to keep newly adopted cats indoors for the first five to seven days to prevent the animal from wandering off and getting lost.
This time, spent inside your home, is to allow the cat to develop a homing instinct to where it now resides.
Once the cat has settled inside, it should be introduced to its new territory outside for a short while over the next few days, under your direct supervision.
After this, the first time that the cat is let out on its own should be during the day just before it is fed so as to encourage them to return.
Bear in mind that cats have not read the human rule books, so teach children that animals must be treated responsibly and that they are real live creatures that feel emotions such as affection and fear.
Children should also know that cats are not toys and that they can be hurt easily. Teach your children how to pick up and hold a cat correctly.
Health and veterinary care
Cats should be dewormed and vaccinated on a regular basis and have health checks annually.
Kittens cannot be fully vaccinated before 12 weeks, and should not go out of your property until this has been undertaken.
It is your responsibility to ensure that the second and third vaccinations are given to your new kitten. Without these vaccinations, your kitten is very susceptible to diseases such as snuffles.
It is highly recommended that your pets be identified with a proper elasticised cat collar and ID tag; if you can afford it, with a microchip as well.
An additional precaution is to write your telephone number on the inside of the collar with a permanent marker.
• Information obtained from the NSPCA.