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Category Cats

Getting the House Ready

Everybody’s heard that curiosity killed the cat, and rightly so. Your home can be dangerous to a new cat, with hazards lurking in almost every room.

Preparing for a New Cat

To safeguard your home, take the following precautions:

  • Keep oven, washers, and dryer doors closed.
  • Heavy and sharp objects on shelves where your cat may climb pose a threat to both you and your cat. Avoid falling objects by placing them where Tabby can’t wander.
  • Install safety locks on cupboards where cleaning supplies are kept.
  • Line the access route to unsafe places with double-sided tape. This safe, non-toxic deterrent will help to keep your cat off stoves and shelves. Once the cat loses interest, you can remove the tape.
  • Install safety screens on open windows and maintain a consistent vigil, as you would for a toddler.
  • Keep wiring tacked to furniture so your teething kitten can’t chew. Supervise her at all times when she’s roaming free.
  • Put away string, wool, and other items that cats could chew and ingest. A string is a particular hazard when it is caught in the cat’s intestinal tract. Make sure toys are safe and free of loose string.

Plants and Your Cat

Three KittensCats may also chew on plants that you have in your home. To be on the safe side, before bringing a cat into your household ensure that all of your houseplants are not poisonous and that they are well out of reach. Try using hanging plants to prevent accidental poisoning. For more information on which plants are safe and which are toxic see the Plants and Cats article.

The Truth About Cats and Dogs

Cats and dogs compliment each other well as pets, but families should take action to ensure smooth cohabitation.

  • Supervise cats and dogs until you know they will get along. Some adult dogs will carry kittens around, and young kittens will accept this attention, but it’s probably best to gently take the kitten away from the dog to avoid injury.
  • If you have more than one dog, don’t allow them to gang up on the cat. Introduce the cat to one dog at a time so that each dog understands that the cat is part of the family, not an object of play or prey.
  • Make sure the dog does not have access to the cat’s litter box. Sooner or later, the dog may attempt to eat its contents.
  • Separate cats and dogs at mealtime. As complete carnivores, cats need a diet that includes the amino acid taurine. If the dog eats the cat’s food, the cat might develop a dietary deficiency. In addition, a dog that guards his food could attack the cat or gulp his meals too quickly and develop digestive problems.
  • Don’t leave food or scraps where a cat can get them. Not only will the cat jump on the table or counter to investigate, but she may drop food onto the floor for the waiting dog.
  • If your dog has a high prey drive, make sure to teach the command “leave it” so you can control his chase impulse. Better yet, prevent the pursuit, for once the chase sequence starts, the dog will likely be deaf to instructions.
  • Make sure the cat gets plenty of opportunities to stalk and pounce on things other than the dog’s tail.
  • Pay attention to both pets as often as possible. Often the attitude and attention of the owner are enough to prevent serious rivalries or hostilities from developing.

Cats and People

Stubbornly independent, your cat needs her own space to be herself. Allow new cats to become accustomed to your home on their own before you introduce them to the rest of your family. Respect the time it takes a cat to become familiar with you. Your cat will form a closer bond with you if you take the time to earn her trust.

Bonds between kids and cats develop faster than you could imagine, but adults must establish boundaries for both the children and the cat and limit their time together. Too much time could suffocate your cat’s need to be alone, causing your cat to separate herself from your family with every opportunity.

Teach children and visitors who are unaccustomed to cats that they have limited tolerance for petting and will soon want to scamper away. Holding the cat against her will is likely to result in scratches and a cat in hiding. Never allow children to tease their pets or compromise their freedom with force.

Relationships with cats are much like they are with people: Time and patience are important catalysts.

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