Here is everything you need to know about raising your new Scottish Fold or British Shorthair cat or kitten if you are a first-time pet parent!
Adopting Your First British Shorthair or Scottish Fold
If you are a new cat or kitten owner, you probably have a lot of questions about caring for your new friend. As you may already know or will soon find out, cats are so many things: fun, playful, independent, loving, curious, smart, and often very entertaining. Since you’re online seeking information about cat care, your pet is lucky to have a caring owner.
Cats are easy pets to care for and are relatively low maintenance. Once you’re familiar with the basics of feeding, litter boxes, grooming, general health, and safety, all you have to do is love and enjoy your cat.
15 Tips for First-Time Cat Owners
1. Feed your cat healthy food.
2. Food dishes and water bowls.
3. Have a litter box ready.
4. Brush your cat regularly.
5. Trimming your cat's claws.
6. Enjoy playtime!
7. Invest in a scratching post or scratcher.
8. A place to sleep & nap.
9. Have treats on hand.
10. Purchase a cat carrier.
11. Brush your cat's teeth.
12. Find a good veterinarian.
13. Teach children how to treat your cat.
14. Pet poison control hotline
15. Keep your cat enclosed.
1. FEED YOUR CAT HEALTHY FOOD
The food you choose has a big effect on your cat's overall health, so you’ll want to make sure you’re feeding him or her something nutritious.
If you know the brand of food your cat was eating prior to adopting it, it helps to get a small amount of the same food to keep him on a consistent diet and make a slow transition to whatever food you plan on feeding him. Changing to a new food takes a little adjustment and a slow transition can prevent stomach upset.
Cats should eat cat food to be healthy. Dog food or even a can of tuna doesn’t provide complete nutrition.
If you adopt a kitten or a cat with health issues or is overweight, underweight, or is a senior, it’s best to let your breeder or veterinarian help you select the right food.
For the average, healthy cat or kitten, here's a quick breakdown of the types of food you’ll find in the grocery store or pet store.
Most cats like canned food, also called ‘wet food’, once they get used to it. The high water content in this type of food provides additional hydration.
Canned food comes in a variety of textures, like chunks, slices, minced pieces, pâté, or chunks in gravy. Some cats will eat anything, and others have specific preferences. If you need to, try different types to see what your pet likes best.
There are big differences in the quality of foods, so be sure to read ingredient label before buying. Look for foods with meat as the first ingredient, rather than grains or fillers. Felines are carnivores by nature and have little need for grains in their diet.
Better quality and premium canned foods often have meat (poultry, beef, fish, etc.) as the first several ingredients and don’t contain by-products, artificial colors, flavors, or fillers.
You can find these foods at most pet food stores and online. Although they tend to be more expensive than grocery store foods, pure ingredients and less fillers means there’s more nutrition packed into one can. Feeding a high quality food can contribute to better health and fewer trips to the vet.
My suggestion is to buy the best quality canned food your budget allows. There are resources online to help you choose the best type of food.
An ingredient label can tell you a lot about the quality of the food. The first ingredient should be real meat and not 'by-products.'
An ingredient label can tell you a lot about the quality of the food. The first ingredient should be real meat and not 'by-products.'
Some people prefer feeding dry food or a combination of wet and dry. Dry is convenient if you're not home during the day because it can be left out without spoiling. However, it is not the healthiest choice, unless only used as a "supplement".
As with canned food, read the ingredient label and look for brands with meat in the first few ingredients. Try to avoid products with by-products, fillers, and artificial flavors.
Tip: Only buy a small bag of a new food until you're sure your cat likes it.
How Much Should I Feed My Cat?
This depends on his or her weight and activity level. Either follow the suggested portion size on the food packaging or get a recommendation from your breeder or vet.
If you’re feeding both dry and wet food, take that into account when figuring out how much to feed.
If you have an adult cat that seems to be gaining weight, reduce the portion size or switch to a reduced calorie or ‘indoor' formula.
RAW FOOD DIETS
Raw food diets are a field of expertise that you can research. Many find huge success in a "natural prey" diet. I have listed several sites for information on my RESOURCE PAGE.
2. FOOD & WATER DISHES
For food and water, stainless steel and ceramic dishes and bowls are ideal. Unlike plastic, they don't hold odors and are easy to thoroughly clean. It's a good idea to have more than one dish and bowl so you always have a clean one available.
I like DuraPet Cat Dishes for feeding because they're shallow, which makes them easy for cats to eat from. They have a rubber ring around the base, so the dishes don't get pushed around the floor as the cat eats.
Keep a bowl of water in a location your cat can access at all times. Cats love fresh water, so change it at least once a day and wash the bowl with warm, sudsy water at least a few times a week.
Make Sure Your Cat Stays Hydrated
To encourage more water consumption, keep a water bowl in two locations.
3. HAVE A LITTERBOX READY
Here are a few things to know about litter boxes and accessories.
You'll need at least one litter box for each cat you have. Mine like the standard open style boxes with high sides. Covered boxes can trap odors or make some cats feel confined.
Whatever type of box you choose, make sure it’s large enough. Smaller boxes are fine for kittens, but cats over 10 or 11 pounds may find a regular size box too small. Choose an extra large one if needed.
There are many types of litter to choose from: clay, clumping, pine pellets, corn and recycled newspaper litter, just to name a few.
If you're not sure what kind to ULTIMATE choose, it's vital to start with the same litter they were using when you adopted your new cat/kitten.
LITTER SCOOP & BUCKET
Choose a scoop that works with the type of litter you buy, and a small bucket to dispose of dirty litter as you scoop.
OPTIONAL: LITTER MAT
If you keep a mat under the box, it'll help catch litter before it gets tracked around the house.
SCOOPING THE BOX
Scoop once or twice a day to keep the box clean for your friend. About once a week, replace all the litter and wash the box with dish detergent and warm water.
It may be gross, but check for anything unusual in their stool or urine (such as worms, mucus, or blood). Also, notice if there is diarrhea, hard stools, or more or less than usual. If you see anything that doesn’t seem normal, call your vet to ask about it.
4. BRUSH YOUR CAT REGULARLY
Brushing is easy and doesn't take too much time. Most cats enjoy being brushed because it relaxes them. Regular brushing removes dead hair, dirt, and helps keep the skin healthy. Equally as important it is a bonding experience for both of you.
How Often to Brush?
Short or medium-haired breeds should be brushed about once a week. Those with longer hair, like a Persian or Ragdoll, should be brushed two or three times per week.
Type of Brush
A regular bristle brush works fine for most cats. You can also use a brush with metal bristles to remove more hair if your pet sheds a lot. If you’re in a pet store and not sure what type of brush to get, ask the staff to recommend one.
How to Prevent Mats
Mats are hard clumps of fur that form if the coat isn’t brushed often enough. Shedding increases as the weather warms up, so brushing is important to remove dead hair and prevent mats.
Mats can form on cats of any hair length, but are more common with medium and long-haired breeds.
Once they form, they’re difficult to comb out. You might need a professional groomer or vet to remove them or shave them off if they're severe enough.
To avoid this problem, use a brush regularly.
5. TRIMMING YOUR CAT'S CLAWS
You'll need a small pair of cat scissors to trim your cat’s claws. Trimming is important to keep claws from getting too long, sharp, broken or frayed. Long claws can cause your pet to accidentally scratch you when you’re holding him, or snag your clothing or furniture.
Trimming claws twice a month is usually enough.
The front claws usually grow faster than the back.
Be sure the scissors you use are sharp. Once they're dull, they tear the claw instead of cutting and this is painful for the cat.
Have a Vet or Groomer Demo How to Trim Your Cat's Claws
If you've never trimmed a cat's claws before, it's a good idea to have an experienced cat owner, a professional groomer, or your vet demonstrate how to do this properly until you're comfortable trying on your own.
How to Trim a Cat's Claws:
Choose a well-lit or sunny room.
Find someone to hold the cat still unless you can do it yourself.
Set your pet on a table, your lap, or the floor. Whatever works best for you.
For front paws, press gently on one toe until the claw extends out.
Locate the ‘quick’, which is the pinkish vein that extends down through the nail.
Trim only the tip of the claw. Do not get close to the quick.
Repeat this with each toe, including the ‘dew claws’, which are on the inner part of their front legs by their wrist.
Keep a small container of pet styptic powder on hand in case you accidentally cut the quick. If this happens, put styptic powder on the nail and put pressure on it with a paper towel to make sure the bleeding stops. As long as you’re very careful and do not get near the quick, this shouldn't happen.
Some cats are better about having their claws cut than others. My cats are much more accepting of having their front claws trimmed than their back.
If you start this habit early on, he or she will get used to it more easily. Use plenty of praise and a couple treats afterwards to make the experience positive.
6. ENJOY PLAYTIME!
Cats and kittens love their playtime, so get a few types of toys to keep them entertained. Cats can have specific toy preferences, so if you get one he doesn't like, keep trying until you find something he does.
If your cat is lazy and needs some encouragement to get moving, try a long wand with feathers or strings on the end of a string, which mimic a bird in flight when you swing it around. Even the laziest cat usually can’t resist taking some swats at it or chasing it around.
7. INVEST IN SCRATCHING POST
To prevent claw marks on your furniture, place a scratcher in a few places around the home. These could be scratching posts, scratching pads or a corrugated cardboard scratcher.
They don’t have to be fancy. Cats love scratching on anything made out of material that allows them to sharpen their nails. Even the corrugated cardboard scratcher is great and this type of scratcher is very inexpensive.
You can also buy a small container of dried catnip to sprinkle on the scratcher to attract your cat. Whenever he uses the scratcher, praise him so he learns to use the scratcher and not the corners of your couch. The more scratcher varieties the better!
8. A PLACE TO SLEEP & NAP
Most cats sleep a lot during the day, so give yours a comfortable place to rest. This could be a cozy cat bed or just a soft blanket of his own.
Some prefer sunny, warm spots to sleep; others want to hide away in someplace dark and private. Notice where your pet sleeps most often and put the bed in that area.
The BEST place is a cat tree, the taller, the better! Cats love to be up high and most cat trees come with sleeping platforms, hammocks and cubbies. They also serve as a scratching post!
10. Have Treats
Our furry friends love treats as much as we do. Here a few of their favorites:
9. CAT TREATS, GRASS, CATNIP
It’s good to keep a bag of treats around to reward your cat. Look for these wherever you buy cat food. There are many flavors to choose from: chicken, fish, beef, cheese, salmon, tartar control and even catnip.
Many cats love fresh cat grass. This can be found at some pet or health food stores, or you can purchase a kit and grow it yourself. It takes just a few days to grow, and it's fun watching your pet enjoy it.
Catnip comes dried in containers or bags. You can also buy a container of freshly grown organic catnip at some pet or heath food stores.
Not all cats react to this herb, but the ones who do will act strange when they eat it. Some will roll around in it. Others will act drunk and fall asleep. Sometimes they get hyper and more playful than usual.
Careful With the Catnip
Catnip can cause some cats to become aggressive or fight with another cat, so be cautious until you know how your pet reacts to it.
10. INVEST IN A CAT CARRIER
Carriers are essential for vet visits, travel, or in case you ever need to leave your home in an emergency. They come in many sizes and price ranges. Look for one that gives your cat enough room to fit comfortably with some room on each side to move around.
For large cats, find a large or extra-large carrier or a dog carrier.
12. BRUSH YOUR CAT'S TEETH
It may seem strange to brush a cat’s teeth, but it’s something you should do to prevent all sorts of health problems caused by poor dental health. This is primarily caused by the domestic cat diet. Bad teeth, plaque, and gingivitis can cause bacteria in the mouth that can affect major organs such as the liver, kidneys, and heart, causing serious health problems.
If you start brushing from the start, you can prevent these problems. All you need is a cat toothbrush kit, available in pet stores or your vet’s office. You can also ask your vet about a drinking water additive that helps prevent plaque formation.
Cat toothbrush kits usually include a rubber brush that looks like a thimble, a small toothbrush, and an enzymatic toothpaste.
It might take some time for both you and your cat to get used to teeth brushing, but after a little practice, it’ll get easier.
Toothpaste for humans is unsafe for cats. Be sure that you only brush your cat's teeth with toothpaste that is specially made for felines.
12. FIND A GOOD VETERINARIAN
If you don’t already have a veterinarian for other pets, talk with people you know for suggestions of good vets in your area.
You may want to meet the vet first to make sure they have good credentials, are competent, knowledgeable, and charge reasonable prices. Also, look for someone near your home and easy to get to in case of an emergency.
Your vet will advise you about how often your cat or kitten needs to be seen for check-ups and vaccinations. When you do go to the vet, bring a list of any questions you have about your pet and its health. Your vet is a valuable ally in keeping your new friend healthy.
As long as they're well cared for, felines can live long, healthy lives. A nutritious diet and regular veterinary care can prevent many health problems.
Monitor Your Cat Closely
Cats can be very good at hiding signs of illness, so watch for any changes in their eating, drinking, litter box habits, or activity level. Ask your vet about any concerns to be safe.
13. TEACH CHILDREN HOW TO TREAT YOUR CAT
If you have young children in the home, teach them how to treat your cat with care and respect. Some children may not know that they shouldn’t pull a cat’s tail or play with it too roughly.
Teach them how to gently pet the cat and to give it its space when it’s eating or resting.
14. PET POISON CONTROL HOTLINE
If your cat ever eats or drinks something that might be harmful, immediately contact your vet or the ASPCA’s 24-hour/365 day-a-year Pet Poison Control Hotline at 1-888-426-4435 (in the USA). There is a fee for this service, but if your vet isn’t available, this hotline could save your cat’s life.
16. KEEP YOUR CAT ENCLOSED
In general, indoor-only cats live longer and healthier lives. Cats that live primarily outdoors or both indoors and outdoors are subjected to risks like diseases from other cats or wild animals, vehicle traffic, dog or wild animal attacks, or getting lost or stolen.
Now you can purchase outdoor enclosures from small popup tents that could fit on a small deck, to elaborate setups with ramps allowing for sunshine access - some can even be attached to a window and allow your cat an amazing indoor/outdoor life that is rich AND very safe!