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Animals

How to buy a cat as a pet

Before buying or adopting a cat, examine its general health and disposition. Its coat should be sleek, with no bare patches, and completely clean on the hind legs and under the tail. Observe how the cat responds to your holding and petting. Invite it to play by trailing a piece of string. Lack of alertness and playfulness may indicate poor health or former neglect.

Housebreaking

Allow the new cat to explore your home freely, but keep it indoors for 10 days. Provide a litter box, partially filled with an even layer of commercial kitty litter. Remove soiled litter daily with a slotted spatula; the box should be emptied and scrubbed with a disinfectant twice a week. If you have doubts about your new cat’s house training, restrict it to an area near the litter box for several days. Even if you plan to allow your cat outside eventually, you will need a litter box during the first 10 days while your cat is adjusting to its new home. Diet Cat food, whether canned, moist (in packets), or dry, will provide your cat with well-balanced nutrition. To keep a cat from becoming a finicky eater, remove any declined meal, refrigerate it, then present it, returned to room temperature and freshly stirred, at the next feeding.

An occasional table scrap is a treat, but don’t feed your cat pork, very fatty meats, poultry skin, or bones of fish or fowl. Fish should be on its menu only once or twice a week. Most cats enjoy looking for additional treats from food left on the table. It’s best to remove the temptation.

Some cats eat too fast, causing vomiting. To slow a fast eater, spread its food thinly over a large container such as a roasting pan. You may be able to discourage your cat from hunting birds, rodents, or other small creatures by tossing a few pebbles at it (while you are out of sight) whenever it stalks one. If your cat hunts, it may pick up diseases from its prey.

Grooming

Groom your cat with a brush or a comb with rounded tips; this stimulates the skin and removes loose fur. Long-haired cats, especially when shedding, need daily grooming; other cats need brushing every few days.

Even regularly groomed cats swallow fur while cleaning themselves. This can lead to hair balls in the stomach, causing retching and occasionally a blockage in the intestine. If your cat has this problem, add a teaspoon of petroleum jelly to its food twice a week; groom it more often.

When grooming your cat, check for fleas; they may be apparent only from tiny black specks (their droppings). Some cats are allergic to fleas and develop eczema after a few flea bites. To rid your cat of fleas, use only those flea products marked safe for cats. Health

Have a new cat or kitten examined by a veterinarian. Shots against panleucopenia (distemper) and rhinotracheitis and calici (serious respiratory infections) are musts. Rabies shots are advisable, too. Checkups should be done annually, at which time booster shots can be given.

Have a kitten checked for worms. Worming medicine is a mild poison; don’t give it to a sick cat, young or old, without the advice of a veterinarian.

Any cat not intended for breeding should be spayed or neutered as soon as it matures sexually (around 6 months for a female and 8 to 9 months for a male). Contrary to popular belief, this will not cause obesity, and it makes a tom cat less likely to wander.

If your cat is off its feed, sneezes often, or seems lethargic, check its temperature with a rectal thermometer that has been lubricated with petroleum jelly. Raise the tail and hold the cat firmly while slipping the thermometer 1 inch into the anus. Read after 3 minutes. A cat’s normal temperature ranges between 100F and 103F Report a temperature above 103F to your veterinarian. Never give a cat any drug without checking with a veterinarian. Cats are very sensitive to many drugs, prescription and over-the-counter.