Keeping a Cat that Just Shows Up

What Would You Do if a Cat Just Showed Up at Your House?

Maybe the cat was a gift.

Maybe it is a stray that is hungry.

Maybe it was dropped off because the previous owner knew it would receive the care it needed.

What should you do? Keep it? Look for the previous owner?

Maybe it got lost.

Maybe it was traveling with its owner and ran away from the rest stop when it was scared by a strange dog.

Maybe the previous owner had a new baby in the house and the cat no longer felt loved.

Maybe you will never know what happened.

What You Should Know

Cats are definitely low maintenance pets when compared to many other options for domestic pets. Some are attention seekers and demand a good amount of affection from their owners. Others tend to be loners and prefer to be alone most of the time.

If all your human family members are at work or in school full time, you may want to consider adding one more cat to the family so there is a companion for the first. This is especially true for kittens left alone for extended periods. Kittens are easily bored and will get into mischief if left to their own devices for too long at a time. For healthy  psychological development of your feline pets, they need companionship of another cat or frequent human interaction.

Kittens should have plenty of room to run and play. They need opportunities to explore and satisfy their natural curiosity. Investing in one or two cat trees or cat scratching posts will help to save your furniture as well as provide your kitties with a way to take proper care of their claws.

It is commonly believed that cats which live strictly indoors live longer lives than those which have access to the great outdoors.  The idea being that indoor kitties aren’t as likely to be exposed to unhealthy bacteria, dogs, cars, various other cats which increases the risk of injury, infection, and early death.

Cats should not be released to roam outdoors. They can be leash trained and should be taken on walks to relieve their boredom and satisfy their curious nature.  Many localities have leash laws — check your local laws so you will know for sure.

If your neighbors find your cat digging in their favorite flowerbed or chasing away the birds from the bird feeder, you may find yourself in court trying to explain why your cat was out alone and not on a leash.

If your cat does go outside, be sure to check at least once a day for scratches or any indication of injury or infection. Even a mild scratch can become infected and cause an abscess.  Just a short cat fight can inflict anything from a light scratch across the nose or ear to major slashes that require stitches. Sometimes a bite will not become visible until it swells as a result of a deep infection that causes an abscess. If you see something that was not there yesterday, it would probably be a good idea to have a veterinarian check it out.

If your cat has been declawed, it really should never go outside unattended. Cats’ claws are a primary form of self-protection. Without claws, if attacked, they are left with only their teeth for defense. Put them on a leash and take them for a walk. But NEVER let them out alone!

Cats are meat-eaters by nature. Some commercial cat food is healthier for your feline friend than other brands. It is best to avoid any cat food in which the first two or three ingredients include grain of any type. The first two or three ingredients should be meat, chicken, or turkey. Cats do not have a requirement for vegetables or grain. Talk with your pet’s veterinarian about any particular nutritional needs your cat may have.

Kittens needs kitten food until at least 12 months of age. From one year to seven years of age, most cats will do fine on adult/mature cat food. After the age of seven years, a cat is considered to be “elderly” or “senior” and should be changed to cat food designed for the older cat.  If your cat has renal (kidney) problems, she will need to be on a special diet.  If your cat has diabetes, you will need to control how much kitty eats at one time. Talk to your veterinarian about your kitty’s particular needs.

Your cat needs a good, clean  water supply available at all times. Most cats prefer to drink running water.  A good way to provide running water without running up your water bill is to get a water fountain starter kit.

Cats that have longer hair need to be groomed daily to avoid matted hair. Start this daily brushing in kitten-hood so the kitten will learn to love this daily routine. Even cats with short hair should be brushed at least once a week to help prevent “hair balls.”

If your cat arrives on your doorstep as either a gift or a stray looking for a hand out, you should immediately have the cat checked by a veterinarian and obtain  vaccinations at the appropriate age.  When old enough, the kitten/cat should be spayed/neutered to prevent many behavioral problems as well as unwanted litters of baby kittens for you to raise and find homes for.

If your newly acquired feline happens to be less than a month old, your kitten will need to be fed with a bottle every few hours and must be kept warm. They cannot fend for themselves until they are old enough to drink milk from a saucer and to eat kitten food. They will learn to use a kitten sized litter box very early — given the opportunity.

Most cats, if introduced correctly to a new household, will become loving members of the family. If they receive love, food, water, fresh litter, and gentle handling, they will likely return the love in their own feline way. If you learn their language, you will be able to differentiate the meanings of the various tones of their meow.

If you have other pets already in the house, introduce them gradually.  Here is a link to an excellent article on how to introduce a new cat to the other household pets.

This article has provided practical tips on what to do if you acquire a cat somewhat unexpectedly, how to provide good care, how to introduce the new feline to the rest of the household, and ways to make your new pet a good part of your life.

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