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Cat Advice

Princess_Piggie

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Basically, my mum has decided to become a foster home for cats from the local rescue, and while I don't live with her, I have more experience with animals in general than she does, so I'm going to be helping out a lot. Obviously the rescue can tell us the basics like food, portions, litter training etc but I want some advice/info off people who have/had cats. Any tips or tricks you have, lay 'em on me!

Oh, and PS, the guinea pigs are at my house, not my mums, so there's no worry of pig-cat issues.
 

Starthecavy123

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Cats are pretty good at litter training themselves. Just make sure when you bring them home you show them where the litter box is. Of course it also depends on the cat some you may have to show them more than once.
 

MrsGuineaPig

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Cats will litter train themselves. Just show them the litter box and place them inside it and wait. It's just like a little kid who is potty training, you have to place them on the toilet and wait.
 

sallyvh

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In my opinion cats are the absolute easiest pet to own! I currently have 3 cats and they are all awesome and were once strays. I have a 16 year old, a 4 year old and a one year old :).

Your mom should find out what the rescue supplies for the cats. All rescues are different, some only cover vet care and the foster is responsible for food and litter or there are rescues who cover all vet, food and litter costs. She should also find out if she is responsible for transporting the cat/s to their vet appointments or if the rescue has someone who does this. One thing that is good for fosters to have is a quiet room or space for the cats. That way they can get acclimated to their surroundings and have a specific place to feel like home. It's also good to have a room like this for recovery or quarantine. The cat/s will probably be spayed or neutered while under your mothers care and will need a space to heal. The rescue should inform you of all of their protocols though and they should be able to answer any questions you may have and offer ongoing support!

With regards to litter training, as people have mention above there really isn't any training to do. Cats just know to use their litter box. We rescued a 5 week old kitten last year and even as a baby he never once had an accident. Just show them the litter box and you should be set! If your cat does have an accident its important to clean it up (if its poop just put it in the litter box or if its pee use a papertowel to wipe some of it up before proper cleaning) and then put the poop/urine papertowel in the litter box and then show the cat the litter box with the mess in it. They then associate those scents with their litter box and are more likely to go to the bathroom there next time!

With feeding, the rescue may have requirements with what (wet or dry). If you are given your own choice though i recommend feeding wet and dry. My cats have unlimited dry food and get fed wet food twice a day. Chances are the rescue will give you instructions though.

The best toys that all my cats love are the long plastic sticks with feathers on the end! These make for great interactive play but keeps your hands far away from their claws! My cats also love just the small simple mice, we frequently get them those, their only negative is my cats are constantly batting them under the couches or bookshelves:p

Have fun fostering though, it is one of the most rewarding experiences. My house has been a foster home to a few litters of mama and kittens over the past couple of years and its absolutely awesome to know you're saving their lives! Not to mention, tiny kittens are precious! GOODLUCK!!
 

Princess_Piggie

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@sallyvh brilliant information! We already know that all vet costs are covered, we can either take them to the on-site vet, or to any of their approved vets in the area, just need to find out who the approved vets are first. If it's the vets I take my girls too, I'll be made up, because I know she's a brilliant vet. If the cat requires a special diet then the food is covered, if not it's our responsibility.

The rescue is in particular looking for people to foster old cats, and then if it seems a good fit, they may make it a permanent foster plan, meaning we keep the cat but have everything covered for the rest of it's life. We had the same situation with our dog, a permanent foster, it worked very well. If we get a say in which cat we can foster, I have a specific one in mind. Her name's Princess, she's apparently got excellent manners and is very quiet and cuddly, and she's 10. She has a special diet and doesn't like sudden movements or loud noises. She's black and white, and really does look like a princess from her pictures! I also have my eye on a black and white boy called Jerry who's 11, a 'purr monster' and loves to snooze. I really hope my mum gets cleared for fostering, she could use an animal in her life for company :)

I have a couple of questions if you don't mind?
1. How likely is it that a cat could handle going on public transport (in a carrier, of course) to get to the vets? My mum doesn't have her own transport, or anyone who could drive her, so while she'd always have cashed stashed away to get a taxi in an emergency, if it was a routine trip, would a bus be okay?
2. How well do cats handle being home alone? Provided they have entertainment, like a scratching post or something, do they usually handle it okay? My mum works in the day, and while I'll go down most days to check on it and spend time with it, I'd like to know it will be okay if I can't manage to get there for some reason.
3. This might be an ignorant question, but I've always wondered if having a house cat is...mean? A couple of my mums friends have house cats that don't go outside, and while I'm no expert, I just wonder if the cats are happy being indoors always. My mum's scared that if she lets it out, it'll run away, but I'm scared that if she doesn't let it out, it'll get really sad! Would taking it for a walk on a lead be a compromise so it gets outside time without the worry of it getting lost? I should note she also lives in an area where cats and dogs are frequently stolen by people when left unattended outside.

Sorry for my big rant, I just want to make sure we can provide the best home possible for an old kittie to retire in to!
 

GeekPrincess

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Most cats hate being their carriers, but will survive. And public transport should be fine, just make sure the cat doesn't get jostled too much.
Cats do fine home alone. Make sure there is nothing they can easily knock over/spill (like a water cup on a coffee table for example) because cats are jerks sometimes. Also, make sure they have toys and food and water down and that they aren't accidentally locked away from their litter box.
Cats are fine being indoor only cats - they live longer, have less injuries, are not exposed to diseases like rabies. Fiv, and feline leukemia. Also, there are no predators inside. Outside the cat could get carried away by a hawk (happened to my aunt's cat), attacked by a dog, sprayed by a skunk ect. Or hit by a car.

I have 4 cats, ages 16, 13, 10, and 6. The 16 year old used to be an outdoor cat and because we know he won't roam far is allowed in the yard if and only if we are out there with him. The other cats stay inside. Sometime I'll bring the 13 and 10 year olds on our balcony. They just lay in sun and sleep, and again I'm out there the whole time.
Most cats don't like the harness and leashes.

Also - certain plants are poisonous to cats. The ones I can think of are lilies and pointsettias. So Keep that in mind as well .
 

sallyvh

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@Princess_Piggie It is so amazing to hear that you guys are opening your home up to an older long term foster! They are the hardest to place but are just as deserving as the younger cats! It's awesome to be able to provide a loving home to any animal and make the senior years of it's life comfortable:) Not to mention cats that are 10 or 11 probably have a ton more life in them! My family had 2 males who made it to 15 and our 16 year old is going strong, other than going deaf, shes perfectly heathly!

1) A bus would be perfectly fine to transport the kitty. In all honesty, the cat will probably hate it, but you know that it's for the best. the cat definitely will not be permanently traumatized in any way! 2 of mine absolutely hate the car but when they need to go to the vet, they need to go. My youngest cat however loves the car and the bus. I work at my local SPCA and during the summer they offer an educational summer camp for kids and last summer was when I got my kitten who is crazy friendly so I brought him on the bus 3 times a week to work to see and interact with the kids. Being exposed to the bus at such a young age made him comfortable with all kinds of situations.

2) Cats are fine to be home alone! This is why they are one of the easiest pets. Cat generally are more active at dawn and dusk but sleep during the day (they sleep approx. 16 hours a day). As long as they access to their litter box and water they are set for the day. In my house right now it's about 4pm and all the cats are just laying around sleeping:) It's easier too with an older cat, they are much less likely to do crazy things like climbing the blinds! I definitely wouldn't worry about leaving the cat home alone while your mom is at work.

3) Don't worry this is a fairly common question and in my opinion there are pro's and con's. To start off, cats can live perfectly happy lives 100% indoors. All of my cats since I was 3 (I'm 20 now) have been indoor cats. A couple of them have shown absolutely zero interest in going outside while a couple love to try to escape. I would not and will never have an outdoor cat, there are just too many risks to it. As long as you provide the cat with stimulation in the house it will be fine. I do agree that free outdoors time offers a certain kind of stimulation but I feel that out duties as pet owners is to number 1 keep them safe.

All these points made I bring 2 of my cats outside for very supervised time. Our 16 year old loves to go out in the summer and just lay in the grass in the sun so we bring her out every few days and she goes no where and just relaxes! We only bring her in the backyard which is completely fenced with 6 foot fencing and she is declawed so she is not going anywhere. We also bring out our 1 year old but on his own harness and retractable leash. I don't feel confident that he would stay if off the leash so he enjoys the backyard on his harness. I will say, you can't walk a cat, you can take them out on a harness but they will not follow you like a dog and if you try and direct them they will usually just go floppy:p So he goes out on his harness and leads the way where we explore!

Then on the other hand our 4 year old girl has no interest in going outside so we don't bring her. I would suggest if the cat doesn't have an interest, to not bring them out because if you bring them out once and they enjoy it they are more likely to try and escape.

WOW this turned out long! If you have any other questions feel free to ask away, I love answering stuff like this! I do consider myself fairly knowledgeable about cats! I have owned them my entire life and have tons of experience. I work at the SPCA, have volunteered at a few different vet clinics and will be starting my first year of veterinary college this fall:)
 

Princess_Piggie

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Given that we're in England, skunks aren't really an issue :p But we do have a lot of birds of prey round here, though I don't think they're big enough to carry a cat off. My mum's house is plant free thankfully, and she doesn't lock her doors anyway :) She actually has a flat, but it has it's own stairway, so the cat would have free reign to go up and down as it pleased since she has her own front door too.
 

Princess_Piggie

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@sallyvh We have a soft spot for old animals, we adopted our dog when he was 10 and had already been at the shelter for 5 years! We had an amazing three years with him before he had to be PTS. We tried every medication imaginable to make life good again for him, but nothing worked and it was at the point were keeping him alive would have just been cruel. He had severe muscle wastage to the point the poor guy couldn't even stand up on his own anymore. I got a serious work out every night helping him up the stairs, then helping him down in the morning was even harder. Bear in mind this was a 35kg dog and I'm no weight lifter!

I'm glad that keeping the cat indoors is a viable option and wouldn't be unfair on the cat. My mum's fallen in love with a 12 year old tabby called Cattie (imaginative, huh) so I really hope she gets approved! I'm feeling really positive about it now that I know the way the cat would be kept would be appropriate and suitable.
 

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In my future I would love to foster/ rescue a kitty a couple yrs down the road. But how do we train the kitty to not get on the counters? If I provide him with something to climb on would that be enough like several cat trees? And how do pick which rescue, besides the which has the cuter kitty?
 

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As others have said, cats are relatively easy to own. They tend to be instinctually litter trained although I will say that some cats will pee outside the box but there are always extenuating circumstances. For instance, I adopted my cat from the rescue I volunteer with. She used the litterbox 100% of the time. I noticed that litter was being kicked out onto the floor and creating quite a mess so I decided to get her a covered box. She quickly let me know that she DID NOT like the covered box when she started to pee on my bed, on my comforter, on my chairs and on ME. The only thing that changed was the covered box. So I took the cover off and she immediately started to use the box again and has ever since.

Make sure you get a variety of toys. Some jingle balls, some wand toys, some catnip toys, etc. They need to get that mental stimulation or they will be bored.

Also, make sure you have scratching posts and/or a cat tree. If you have areas that you don't want a cat to scratch on (like a couch), you need to give it an appropriate place TO scratch nearby. Declaw is never an option. Most people don't realize that a declaw is an amputation of the cat's bone up to the first knuckle. So imagine losing the tips of your fingers up to the first knuckle. That's what you are doing to a cat when you declaw. Also, for many cats their paws hurt after. It hurts for them to use the litterbox so many times they won't. Cats also walk on their toes but without the toes, they have to learn to walk again which can lead to painful arthritis and other issues.
 

sallyvh

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@piggi_zone you should NOT be choosing a rescue based on cuteness. Many times you do not get to decide what cat you're fostering and a reputable rescue should not be giving the cat to you JUST because you think its cute.

In order to select a rescue you wish to foster for you need to see what rescues in your area provide and decide which is best for you. All of them will cover vet expenses but only some will provide food, litter and toys. You also need to apply to foster and many rescues will do home checks before they approve you.

In regards to the counter surfing there isn't a way to 100% to prevent a cat from going up there. Most cats like high places. Having a cat tree or 2 would give a cat somewhere high to go. If you catch the cat on the counter usually making a loud noise, like saying no and putting them on the floor will help and the cat would gradually learn not to go on the counter.
 

sallyvh

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@CavyMama brings up a very important point with the litterboxes! Cats should never have covered litterboxes. Their urine has a high content of ammonia which we all know is quite smelly. Cats have a very sensitive sense of smell so having their litterbox covered is extremely smelly to them and they will go elsewhere.

Also as cavymama mentioned declawing is quite cruel. I do own a declawed cat, my parents made the decision many years ago (I think I was 5) and they definitely were not informed on what the procedure actually is.
 

piggi_zone

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I am sorry, I don't know much about rescues besides what I read on here
I know they do checks. Cant wait to have my cats. Question is possible to foster the kitties without getting attached?
 

Princess_Piggie

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@CavyMama, my boyfriend(s family) has three cats and they all love those wand toys. Marley, the most aloof and un-cudddly of the three, took to me like a duck to water when he met me. He rubs himself round my legs purring as soon as he sees me, and follows me around the house. He climbs up on my lap and does the paw-stretchy thing cats do when they purr? Where they sort of get their claws in and out a bit? I'm sure it has a proper name, I just don't know it. And Rosie, their rescue cat from an abusive home, who won't even sit on the knees of any of the family, regularly curls up on me and falls asleep. I think I have some kind of cat magnet in me somewhere.

Either way, the point of that all was, that I'm used to playing with cats (and getting scratched when they get a bit too enthusiastic!)
In regards to furniture scratching, I know there are products out there you can stick to furniture so as if the cat scratches, it scratches the protective layer, not the furniture. Are those any good, or a waste of money?
[MENTION=31353]sallyvh[/MENTION], that counter advice definitely helped because my mum would freak if the cat got up on the kitchen counter.
 

Princess_Piggie

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I am sorry, I don't know much about rescues besides what I read on here
I know they do checks. Cant wait to have my cats. Question is possible to foster the kitties without getting attached?

Personally, I think you have to be prepared for a forever home to arise and you have to say goodbye to the cat. Me and my mum have thought long and hard, and decided we can cope with the pain of them going to a forever home as long as we know we took good care of them, and saved them from being PTS. Besides, the rescue we're using says that if you're fostering an older cat, and the match is a good one, they'll sometimes ask if you can take them on permanently with all the financial support of a foster still in place. I assume some shelters/rescues must do the same thing.
 

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To keep my cats off the counters I put cookie sheets with water on them, so when they jumped up
they landed in water (not much, but my kitties hate water). It was messy but effective.
 

Princess_Piggie

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@GeekPrincess that must've been so funny to watch! Marley loves playing the tap game, I turn the tap on and off suddenly and he tries to 'catch' the water with his paw. He follows me in to the bathroom and rubs himself on me until I play it with him. He just loves running water, he has a special bowl thingy that constantly circulates the water so it's moving, it's the only way he'll drink it lol
 

sallyvh

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@piggi_zone just as [MENTION=29900]Princess_Piggie[/MENTION] said, you have to be emotionally prepared for the cats to go to new homes. It can be extremely difficult to give them up after you've had them. I find one thing that helps is to think of how many animals you could be saving if you don't decide to keep that one cat but keep fostering. I know my family once considered keeping 2 kittens from a litter, we didn't though and because of this we still had space to foster and ended up saving probably 20 more cats. It is so hard though and it is not uncommon for people to become a "foster failure"! (when a foster home adopts an animal instead). Some good tips are if you are getting to choose who you are fostering, try not to pick a cat that you really like the appearance of, it will just make it more difficult to see them go. Also asking the rescue to name them instead of you picking the names helps immensely. I find that as soon as you pick a name for an animal you form a certain bond. The main idea of fostering is to provide a temporary home until a forever home is found so you need to always remember that your purpose is not to keep the cat!

As I said though there are plenty of foster failures. My family is guilty of it. Last summer a friend of a friend came home to kitten in her mailbox. My friend knows that I love cats and had the resources to help so he was given to me. I talked to my SPCA and they agreed to take him but asked that I keep him for 3 weeks as he was only 5-6 weeks old. Anyways after having him for 24 hours my family just decided to keep him because he was hilarious and awesome:) I am proud to be a foster failure though because he's a great cat!

Here are some pictures of Felix when we first got him, he was only about 5.5 weeks old!

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Here he is beside a basic water bottle just so you can get an idea of how small he was, he was exactly a pound!

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And here he is today! Almost one year old and 15lbs :)

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CavyMama

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Question is possible to foster the kitties without getting attached?

I know many fosters who became attached to their foster kitties and occasionally they find that they cannot part with them and end up adopting them. We call that a "foster failure". Not my favorite name but in the end the kitty gets a home and that was the goal, after all.

As for getting attached, I used to feel the same about fostering "It would be too difficult to let them go" but think of it this way, would you rather the cat be in your home while waiting to be adopted or stuck in a cage at the rescue? Wouldn't it be better for the cat's well being to be in a home environment than in a stressful situation like at a shelter or rescue? And yes it is hard to give them up but you just have to keep in mind that the reason they are leaving you is because they have a new home to go to.
 
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