Bringing Your Cat Home
Congratulations on your decision to adopt a rescued animal! You have made a great choice and will be rewarded with a loyal and loving companion.
Make sure you have a litter tray, litter, food bowl, and cat food all set up us as soon as you bring your new cat home.
Make a note of when your cats worming, flea treatments and vaccinations are next due, you will have been told this at the time you adopted but you can find this information on your Bill Of Sale or on their vaccination certificate, these are now your responsibility, included in this pack is all the information you will need for the ongoing good health of your cat.
You will have been informed if your new cat has any pre-existing health concerns at the time of adoption, but if you have any other concerns within the first 10 day period of the cat being with you please contact YAPS. You may be authorized, by member of YAPS staff or our Management Committee to see our nominated vet at our expense, but only if you have been issued with a Vet Approval Number. Any other vet bills that you incur will be at your own expense.
It is recommended that for the first few nights you keep your cat confined to a single room. Find a quiet and comfortable location (a bedroom or an internal laundry is ideal) and set up their litter tray, bed, food and water dishes. Make sure this area is well secured, and that there is nowhere for them to escape. Close all windows (cats can easily tear through fly screens) and keep any doors closed.
What to Expect the First Night
The first night is always exciting as you welcome your new companion home, however do not be worried if your cat responds differently and is frightened by the experience. Cats are territorial animals and therefore sensitive to any changes in their environment, so expect them to want to hide and not interact with you. They may disappear under your bed and not venture out until you are asleep, and it is normal for them to have no interest in food or toileting. Depending on how confident your cat is, this behaviour may continue for a period of days.
Minimising this stress is the primary reason for limiting their space to a single room. It is less threatening and overwhelming, especially if you have a large house or other animals. Try to limit noise and sudden movements in this space, and do not force your cat to spend time with you or other pets until they feel more comfortable and settled.
When bringing your cat home the main point to remember is to take things slowly. Don’t rush things and try to be sensitive to your cat’s needs and the pace that they feel comfortable with.
For the first few days post adoption you may notice that he/she isn’t really eating much but this should settle down and their appetite should return once they are feeling more settled.
YAPS recommends that you feed your cat the best quality food you can afford, if your cat is under 12 months old you should be feeding it kitten food as this has the right balance of all your cats nutritional needs while it is growing and developing. Food and water should be freely available to your cat at all times.
Cats are naturally clean animals are very easy to litter train. Place them into a litter tray when you first bring them home so they are aware of its location, repeat this immediately after your cat has finished feeding, when you first wake up, and before you go to bed. Your new cat will learn very quickly where the appropriate place is to toilet, and you may only need to do this for the first night.
Litter tray placement is also very important, and it is best to have more than one during the first few weeks, especially if you have a large home. An easy to reach but discreet corner is the best option. Keeping the litter tray clean is essential for hygiene reasons, and cats tend to avoid using them when they are dirty. The tray should be scooped at least once a day and completely emptied of litter and thoroughly washed with disinfectant on a regular basis.
It is important to have at least one litter tray per cat or kitten to avoid toileting problems.
There are only three reasons why a cat or kitten will toilet outside of the litter tray. The first is placement, meaning the litter tray was difficult to find or reach. The second reason is the litter tray is not clean enough. Cats are very clean, fastidious animals and like their litter tray to be clean. Some cats will be more particular than others in this respect. The final reason is that your cat or kitten is sick. They may not yet show any other signs of illness. If your cat or kitten is toileting outside of the litter tray and you are sure that the first and second reasons are not the case, you should take your cat to your vet for a checkup.
Please be aware that once your cat has toileted outside of the litter tray they may continue to toilet in the same spot even once you have rectified the cause. So it is always much better to avoid it from happening in the first instance, by ensuring there is always a close by, clean litter tray at all times.
Introducing Your New Cat to other Animals
Most animals benefit from companionship, but there will usually be some difficulties when you first introduce your new cat to an existing animal. Hissing, tension, and fighting is normal, and should be expected during the first couple of weeks as they become familiar with each other and realise that there is no threat. Kittens on the other hand, usually make friends after only an hour or two and will become inseparable.
If you have an existing cat, it is very important to make the introduction as slow and gentle as possible. The main reason why your cat will not accept the new addition is if they feel threatened. Looking at it from their perspective they will view the newcomer as an intruder in their territory and will try to intimidate and scare them away, or if they have a timid personality, they may hide and exhibit a fear response. This is another reason why keeping your new cat in a single room is essential when you first bring them home.
On the first night your cat will be able to smell the new cat and will naturally be on edge. You should spend extra time comforting your cat and reassuring them that they are not at risk or being rejected. Scent plays a crucial part in a cat’s vocabulary, and your cat will be very sensitive to the smells on your clothes and hands. Allow them to sniff you while gently stroking them so they become familiar with the new cat’s presence in a non-threatening way. It is also a good idea to place an item of bedding which smells like the new cat into your cat’s living area and vice versa, so they can begin accepting each other.
On the next night (or when both cats seem more relaxed), you might like to wrap the new cat in a towel and while holding them supervise a brief introduction. Depending on your cat’s reaction, you may like to let the two cats spend some more time together. If there is tension between the two, have a break and resume the following day. It is important never to rush things, and be sensitive to their responses.
During the next introduction, try to get the cats to engage in a positive activity together, such as sharing a treat (roast chicken is perfect for this) or playing a game. Don’t be discouraged if this does not work the first attempt, things will continue to improve each day.
After a few days of limiting and supervising their time together, make sure the house is secure (close all windows and doors leading outside) and simply leave the door open to the room where your new cat has been staying so they can explore. It is probably best to do this at a time when you are home so you can make sure that there are no serious fights.
It may take many weeks for your cats to form a friendship, so don’t worry if it takes longer than you expected for this to happen. It is definitely worth the wait as all animals benefit from having companionship with other members of their species. Prior to adoption we are more than happy to spend extensive time with you to find the most suitable match based on the age and temperament of your existing animals. As long as there are no serious fights and your animals are still eating and not displaying symptoms of stress, it is always worth pursuing.
When is it Safe to go Outside?
When making your decision to allow your cat to go outside you should consider whether you live in an area with large populations of birds and possums, whether you live close to a national park, or if there are any busy roads near your house. Your cat should not be allowed outside until they are a minimum of 6 months of age. At YAPS we recommend that all cats should be indoor cats, however if you do decide to allow your cat outside you should read the information below.
Cats are very territorial animals and as a consequence it is vital that you wait at least three weeks before introducing them to your garden, and only once you feel they know the layout of and feel completely comfortable in your house. Otherwise they risk not be able to find their way back, or recognising your home as their home. Like everything else, this step must be taken slowly and carefully. You can purchase a small harness and lead and use those to let your cat go outside without the fear of them running away.
Firstly, make sure your cat is wearing a collar with a name tag containing your contact details, and that their microchip details are up to date. There is a chance that your cat may get lost on these initial excursions and if found by a neighbour or animal control, it is crucial you can be contacted or your cat will be taken to a pound. You must register your cat Cairns Regional Council, it is currently free of charge and you will be provided with a tag which can be attached to their collar.
Choose a day you will be staying at home when you first decide to take your cat outside. Simply leave the front door open and let them gradually take the first steps when they feel comfortable. You may find that they boldly walk outside, or just sit and watch at the entrance. Either way, they need to make the first move and it’s important that they recognise how to get back inside.
Once in your garden you should observe what they do and the direction they take in case you need to rescue them. Remember this may be the first time they have been outside for months, or it may be the first time they have ever been outdoors, and will have little or no street sense. Occasionally call their name so they know you are there, and after a while rattle a bag of food to attract them home again. You should not let them wander too far and limit their time outside to an hour or so to reinforce where their home is and that they’re expected back.
Do not let your cat out at night time or after dinner as there are populations of nocturnal wildlife vulnerable to attack, such as possums, and there is an increased danger of cars not seeing cats crossing roads. After a couple of weeks of supervised excursions into your garden your cat should feel that it is a part of their territory and confident exploring it on their own.
Your kitten should receive its first vaccination at 6 – 8 weeks, and its second vaccination at 12 – 14 weeks.
Cat Flu: (vaccine available)
Cat flu is very common. There are several viruses that can cause cat flu and this vaccination protects against the most common of these. These viruses cause severe flu symptoms of coughing, sneezing, general malaise, loss of appetite and dehydration. There is no direct treatment for the virus, and treatment normally consists of supportive care, often requiring hospitalisation.
Many cats will be left with permanent sniffles; some are left with recurring severe mouth ulcerations and some cases can be fatal. Some cats can also become carriers of the disease and may spread it when their immune system is depressed.
Feline Enteritis: (vaccine available)
This viral disease is rarely seen now due to vaccination but causes severe and frequently fatal gastroenteritis in cats of kittens born with neurological conditions.
Feline Leukaemia: (vaccine available)
This is a viral disease that is common overseas but fairly rare in Australia. It is hard to detect and does not always cause illness. However, if it does, it can cause certain types of cancers and blood disorders. Cats are not routinely vaccinated against Feline Leukaemia due to its low incidence but you can request vaccination.
Feline Immunodieficiency Virus (vaccine available)
This virus destroys the body’s immune system making your cat susceptible to any number of infections that they would normally be able to resist, so it can appear as any number of clinical syndromes. There is no cure. Infected cats do not necessarily go on to have a suppressed immune system and may live for years before succumbing. The disease is spread most commonly through bite wounds between cats and is therefore seen most often in entire males. This is a very good reason to sterilise your cat and keep indoors at night. A vaccine is available but not routinely given as its effectiveness is not proven and there is no test to distinguish vaccinated cats from those with the virus.
Worms kill kittens quickly!!
Worms can have a serious health effect on kittens, so intestinal worming should never be overlooked. Kittens should be wormed fortnightly with a broad spectrum wormer from 2 weeks old until 3 months old. Between 3 and 6 months of age kittens should be wormed monthly. From then on cats should be wormed every three months.
Hunting cats can become infected with a tape worm that is harder to control than other worms. The worm is called Spirometra or ‘zipper’ worm due to its appearance. A high dose of tapeworm tablets is given to control this.
Heartworm is far more common in dogs, but can affect cats as well. The heartworm lives in the heart and is transmitted by a mosquito. As few as one or two worms can cause a serious and often fatal syndrome in cats. It is particularly hard to diagnose in cats and is, sadly, usually diagnosed post mortem.
There are tablets and spot-ons available to treat your cat for heartworm.
If the kitten you are adopting is not already sterilised, and appointment will have been made for you at either Marlin Coast or Earlville Veterinary practices. Should you need to reschedule this appointment closer to the time, please contact the YAPS office (40576373) and we will arrange a new appointment.
As the sterilisation procedure requires fasting, do not feed your kitten after 7pm the evening before, or any food in the morning. At this appointment a microchip will also be inserted with your contact details recorded.
If you are taking home a kitten or cat who has recently been sterilised and still has stitches, you will need to check the stitches daily to ensure they remain clean, dry and free from infection. If there is any sign of redness, swelling or discharge, contact YAPS immediately.
You are welcome to bring your cat back to YAPS after seven days and we will remove the stitches for you; alternatively you can take him/her to a vet.
TICKS AND FLEAS
WARNING: Many insecticidal preparations for dogs are highly toxic to cats.
There are many products available for cats:
- Frontline (spray or spot-on)
- Revolution tablets
Frontline spray must be used every three weeks at the high does rate for tick control. Frontline Plus and Revolution must be used every fortnight.
Paralysis ticks live on the east coast from North Queensland to Northern Victoria. In northern parts of Australia ticks can be found all year round, and are most prevalent from July to September. In the cooler southern areas, tick season is generally from Spring through to late Autumn.
Signs of tick poisoning in cats include:
- Weakness of paralysis in the back legs, progressing to the front legs
- Wobbling and lack of co-ordination
- Coughing or gagging
- A grunt on breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Regurgitating or vomiting
- Inability to stand
- Facial paralysis
Even after a tick has been removed, signs can develop for up to a week.
Only the female paralysis tick causes paralysis. It is blue/grey in colour and all the legs are bunched up at the front of the body. The middle two pairs of legs are lighter in colour, they have a long mouth part which is called the ‘snout’ and they attach firmly, unlike other ticks.
In tick-prone areas, it is essential that your pets are searched daily for ticks. If this is done routinely, you can then eliminate tick paralysis because the tick usually has to be on the animal’s body for more than two days to cause paralysis.
Don’t try to look for ticks, try to feel for them instead. Ticks are a lot easier to find if you rub your fingertips through your pet’s coat rather than looking. In 70% of cases ticks are found in the head and neck region but it is important to search the entire cat (including inside ears, around eyes, under the collar, under lips, between toes, under the tail, chest, belly etc.)
Frontline spray should be used every three weeks
Tick collars can be used in addition to some sprays. Check with your vet as to which can be used together.
Warning: Advantix must NOT be used on cats.
Frontline Plus Top Spot is effective for ticks on cats if used every two weeks. Frontline Spray is effective for ticks on both dogs and cats if used every three weeks at the rate of 6mls per kg of weight and Revolution can also be used fortnightly on cats.
At the first sign of symptoms:
- Contact your vet
- Remove the tick:
Using tweezers or a tick remover (you can purchase these at a minimal cost from your veterinarian) firmly grasp the tick’s head, as close to the cats’ skin as possible. Be extremely careful not to squeeze the bod of the tick as this will inject more poison and pathogens into the cat’s system. If it’s hard to remove you can put some tick prevention product or insect spray on the tick with a cotton bud.
- Treatment – Your veterinarian will commence treatment as soon as your cat arrives at their practice. Once your cat arrives back home you must follow all the instructions given to you by your vet for your pet to have a good chance of full recovery.