FAQ’s for adopted cats

Q: Can I change the name of the cat?

A: Absolutely – even if the cat “knows” their name, they will learn the new one, or you can make it close if you want to alter it.  Cats do seem to respond better to something with an “eee” sound at the end – Misty, Baby, Smokie, Charlie etc.    We will likely remember the original if only because we attempt to not reuse names.  Paperwork for the vet will have the original, but your vet can change their records and you can continue from there.

Q: Cats are meant to be outside right?

A: Check out our “95 good reasons to leave cats inside!”.

Q: Should my cat wear a tag?

A: All our cats are microchipped, and if your cat is lost and the finder checks for the chip that is enough (provided you have kept contact information up to date), but the best thing could be for your cat to be wearing a License.  A license may mean that your pet would be driven home if found by animal control, or if taken to the shelter.

Q: What should my cat eat?

A: We leave dry food out all the time, and give wet food optionally.   Cat preference would be many times a day (they naturally eat small meals frequently – think hunting for mice etc), but just remember that if you feed them when you wake on weekdays, you won’t sleep past that time on weekends.

Q: How much should my cat eat each day?

A: A seven pound cat needs 200 calories a day to maintain that weight, and you feed for the weight you want the cat to be.  If you want your cat to weigh less than it does, feed fewer calories or play more.  Read the food label to see how many calories is in how much of the food you feed.  And treats should be no more than 10% of their daily calories.

Q: Do I really need a carrier to take my cat home?  Can’t I just carry it in my arms?

A: Think of a carrier like a car seat – just as a hospital won’t send new parents home with their baby without making sure they have them secured and safe, we want to make sure everyone stays safe – the cat, as well as your whole family.  Unsecured items can be a danger in an accident, and cats can get in front of the driver or under pedals if loose, causing an accident.

Q: What is catnip and does my cat need it?

A: Catnip is a plant in the mint family.  It contains an oil that affects a part of the cats brain that we don’t have, so no comparison can be made.  Cats who are affected (approximately 70% of cats are, once they reach sexual maturity) will react for about 15 minutes, then their brain will need about 2 hours to “recharge” before it will affect them again.  Some cats are affected in positive ways, rubbing or nuzzling, eating catnip leaves and otherwise enjoying themselves.  Some cats get aggressive, not playful, so use caution when learning how your cat reacts.

Q: I should give my cat a bath right?

A: The only reasons I bathe a cat is if they get into something I’d rather they not lick off themselves.  Paint, paint thinner, skunk spray, someone else’s diarrhea.  Basically something hazardous to their health.   Otherwise, cats are self cleaning, and feel better when they smell like themselves.

Q: How do I know if my cat is sick?

A: Sometimes cats just “aren’t themselves” with no obvious symptoms.  That can be an indicator of a problem, but some symptoms in general to watch for (and visit the vet with) are: breathing changes, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, not peeing (might be blocked), not using the litter box, sneezing, eye issues, obviously favouring or scratching some part of their body, hair loss, lumps or wounds.  Each of these could be an emergency or simply a concern depending on severity and frequency.

Q: Can I feed my cat “people” food?

A: Some foods yes, some no.  Things to avoid include (but are not limited to): anything cooked with onion or garlic, avacado, grapes (and raisins), alcohol, caffeine.  Xylitol (sweetener) is a huge no right up there with chocolate.  Look up a comprehensive list if you want to try different foods.  In general, cats are carnivores and need to eat meat.  Cat food (all cat foods sold commercially with an AAFCO statement on them) are “balanced” to have everything a cat “needs” to survive.  If you upset that balance by giving them chicken or fish or some other food in quantity exclusively (and not knowing what else might be needed to balance it), you can cause them damage.

Q: How old is my cat in human years?

A: A rough age chart works where the first 2 years of a cat life is about like 24 of ours, then 4 years for every year after.  So a 5 year old is about 36 or a 10 year old 56.

Q: My cat is hiding [in the basement, under the bed, behind a shelf], how do I get it out?

A: Do you need to get it out?  Is it in danger?  Are you going to the vet or moving?  A new cat needs time to adjust to a new territory and will want to hide during that adjustment time.  If you leave food and water in the area and that and the litterbox are disturbed then the cat is fine and will come out when they get acclimatized.  If you *need* the cat to come out right now, you might need heavy gloves or a net depending on your relationship with the cat.

Q: My cat scratches the couch, how do I get it to stop?

A: Cat furniture is cheaper than our furniture typically – buy them their own scratching boards, posts and cat trees.  If you want them to stop scratching something they currently do, place their furniture near it and deter them from the old obsession with double sided medical grade adhesive – they won’t like their hair getting caught in it and are less likely to reach out and touch it.  Cats like to leave their scent so they want it to be somewhere that is the center of attention.

Q: What cleaning products are not safe to use around cats?

A:  For the most part cleaning products when properly dried and not used while the cat is in the area can be fine, but realize that cats walk on surfaces and then lick their paws after.  Lysol for instance contains Phenol (anything with an -ol in the name does) and cats can be allergic to it or it is toxic to them.  Bleach and water is an effective disinfectant after cleaning with a pet safe soap.  Don’t spray cleaning products into the air near cats.

Q: My cat jumps on the counter [couch] and I don’t want them to – how do I stop them?

A: You can use a water spray, or a sound, but if it only happens when you are there to see, it will likely continue when you are not.  If you deter them with foil (on a soft surface) sticky tape, or aluminum cans lined up (out of sight from the floor), the deterrent will happen when you are not there and discourage them from future jumping.

Q: What do you mean by “cat proofing”?

A: Look at the room (and the whole house) with cat eyes – watching for loose string, wires, plastic bags, rubber bands.  Knick knacks on the shelf you don’t want knocked off, human medications that might be ingested, essential oil diffusers, plants or flowers.  Toilet bowl cleaner is fine if the lid is always down, but if it might be left up (or the door open) don’t use an automatic cleaner.  

Q: What plants are bad for cats?

A: This is a many page answer – the list is huge – the big danger is Lilies – even tiny bits of the pollen or chewing on the leaves can cause kidney failure.

Q: How do I know if my cat has fleas?

A: Part the fur and look at the skin in various places – looking for small black flecks – if you find any place them on a damp paper towel and try to smear them.  If they smear red your cat likely has fleas.  See the vet for flea control and prevention.  DO NOT USE flea meds that are for a dog or have tick control – they are not safe for cats.

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