NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

November 9, 2012

Paw Prints: Take care when welcoming a new cat

(Continued)

Outdoor cats can have a blast with their hunting games. But the tables can turn, and kitty may become prey for a coyote. Other constant risks are cars, fleas, cat fights and infections such as feline AIDS and feline leukemia.

Decide which environment is best for your new pet. Once a cat becomes accustomed to the great outdoors, it can be difficult to teach him to stay inside.

Do you have other cats at home? You may think Miss Whiskers would like a buddy, but predicting which cats are going to get along can be difficult. Some cats prefer to be loners or may like one cat but not another. Forcing a relationship can lead to long-term behavioral problems.

Other pets, such as dogs, can create a different dynamic. Some cats get along with dogs but not cats or vice versa. These preferences are usually shaped early in their lives.

Shortly after adoption, it’s time to take your new cat to meet your veterinarian. Bring any medical history, so that Fluffy’s doctor can make sure that everything is up-to-date. Vaccines should be current, feline AIDS and leukemia statuses known and a parasite prevention program started.

Some cat worms can also spread to people, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends regular deworming to help protect the humans in the house.

Ask your veterinarian to recommend an appropriate diet for your cat. There is a lot of information available on the Internet and from pet stores, some of which may be more marketing hype than beneficial for your animal. Your veterinarian is trained in pet nutrition and should be able to guide you to sensible food choices for your cat.

Cats are easy to litter train, but may have potty preferences. Some prefer one kind of litter over another. In general, clumping and unscented litter is most readily accepted. Have the box in a handy location. The basement might be convenient for you, but Fluffy may not want to go into the scary basement with the noisy furnace. Think about it from the cat’s perspective. Make the litter fun and easy to use in order to minimize accidents.

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