Laura Nativo’s Cat Prep 101
- A bed
- Scratching post
- Litter box
- Treats which you can use right away to correct or modify behavior
• HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU FEED A CAT?
LAURA: From age six months to maturity, most cats will do well when fed two times a day. Once the cat becomes an adult, at about one year, feeding once or twice a day is appropriate in most cases. Senior cats, age seven and above, should maintain the same feeding regimen.
• HOW DO YOU KEEP THEM FROM RUNNING UNDER THE BED AND DISAPPEARING?
LAURA: Good point! Block off any areas you don't want to be your cat’s new clubhouse. Like under the bed or behind a dresser. Instead create for them a place that feels comfy and secure but one that is still easy for you to access. By helping to create a space that is both hidden and accessible you will have a more social cat.
• WHAT ABOUT MEOWING… WHAT IS YOUR CAT TRYING TO TELL YOU?
LAURA: The average cat has a vocabulary of more than 16 different sounds, including purring, howling, hissing and meowing—not to mention a wide-range of playful and serious body language. The ASPCA has a great page on cat behaviors that will help you understand your cat's behavior. The cat’s meow is her way of communicating with people. Cats meow for many reasons—to say hello, to ask for things, and to tell us when something’s wrong. Meowing is an interesting vocalization in that adult cats don’t actually meow at each other, just at people. Cats also yowl—a sound similar to the meow but more drawn out and melodic. Unlike meowing, adult cats do yowl at one another, specifically during breeding season.
• WHEN SHOULD YOU TAKE YOUR NEW CAT TO THE VET?
LAURA: Bring your new feline to a caring veterinarian for a wellness exam within one week after adoption. Make this appointment even before you bring your kitty home. And while you’re there, get an ID tag or implanted microchip will help ensure she'll be returned to you if she gets out and can't find her way home. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. We caution against letting cats outdoors, but if you do—or if a window or door is left open—a safety collar and an ID tag may be what will bring your missing cat home.
• IS IT OKAY TO LET THE KIDS PLAY WITH THE NEW CAT RIGHT AWAY?
LAURA: Go slow at first. A cat may need seven to fourteen days to relax into her new environment. If you have kids, let them introduce themselves one at a time. Hold up on the meet-and-greets with friends, neighbors and relatives until your kitty is eating and eliminating on a normal schedule. If you have other pets, don't let your new addition have free run of the house. This is the territory of the animals who have lived with you already. Allow all of your pets to meet in the new cat's territory—and make sure you're there to supervise.
• HOW DO YOU CAT-PROOF YOUR HOME?
LAURA: When your cat is ready to explore the rest of her new home (for short excursions at first), be sure to get rid of stray items she might chew on or swallow, like toilet paper, tissues and paper towels. Pens and pencils may need to be kept in drawers. You may also have to tape wires to baseboards and put caps on outlets. Put away harsh cleaning products, human medications and household poisons, and any houseplants that might be toxic to her. Make sure foods that aren't healthy for a cat's tummy are placed securely out of reach.
• DO CATS RESPOND TO TRAINING WITH TREATS LIKE DOGS?
LAURA: Yes but they’re different, it takes more patience and creativity… they’re not as social as dogs. Most people believe that cats can’t be trained because cats don’t seem to respond to many of the methods used to train dogs. But cats do respond to training! In fact one of the first scientific studies highlighting the importance of reinforcement in animal behavior was done with cats. Like dogs, the first step is to find a treat that your cat goes crazy for.
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