Guide to getting a cat

Please note that these guides do not constitute legal advice and any information provided in the guides should not be construed as legal advice or legal interpretation. We do not accept any liability for any loss caused by your reliance on this guide.

Guide to getting a cat

Getting your cat

  • Cats tend to be acquired from shelters, such as the local ISPCA, from vet clinics or from families where there's been a kitten birth.
  • If the cat or kitten you get is a stray, ask your vet to check for cat flu.
  • If you're buying a cat or kitten from an independent source or trader, make sure and ask to see the place where the animal has been rather than meeting the seller/donator at an outside location.
  • If you have suspicions of animal cruelty or neglect at a location, contact the authorities.
  • Make sure no one in your home has an allergy to cats, which is quite common.

Preparing the home

  • The good news is, cats are easy creatures to keep and are pretty self-sufficient around the house.
  • You can set up a bed but don't be surprised if your cat finds her own favourite place to sleep or hide out, usually behind a curtain or hidden behind clothes in a wardrobe.
  • Be prepared to 'lose' your kitten a lot – they will find the darkest cubby holes to hide when they are little – expect to see them when you open presses.
  • Have a litter tray ready for your cat. They are very clever, clean animals and she should take to it straight away, once she feels the rough surface under her paws. It's rare a cat will go to the toilet anywhere only in her litter tray, after the first time she uses it.
  • Keep the litter tray away from where the cat (or anyone else) eats.
  • Kittens are extremely playful so have a few toys ready, even a ball of wool or anything with a string will keep her happy.

Hygiene

  • If you opt for a house cat, litter tray hygiene is of paramount importance for the entire household.
  • The tray will need to cleaned out every day, with soiled litter carefully disposed of.
  • Wash your hands before and after you clean the litter tray and avoid touching cat faeces.
  • If there is a child in the house, or a dog, make sure they cannot access the litter tray.
  • Pregnant women or anyone with a weakened immune system should avoid any contact with cat faeces, or close proximity to it.
  • Otherwise cats are self-cleaning and will preen themselves regularly. However if you have a longhaired cat you will need to groom her.
  • Longhaired cats will also shed quite a bit so be prepared to clean it up a lot.

Medicine and care

  • Like dogs, cats will require a number of shots from the vet, so be prepared to have between €50 and €70 euro aside for these.
  • Cats that were born with cat flu will require antibiotics which will also fight secondary infections.
  • Vets recommend neutering cats, unless you want to breed them. A female cat will cost up to €80 to spay, while castrating a Tom cat will cost up to €50. Be warned that a Tom cat will spray your home if he's not neutered from a certain age.
  • While cats don't really need to be exercised, they do require more love and attention than people may realise. They are loyal creatures who will show love back once you gain their trust.

Feeding

  • Make sure and give the cat good quality cat food from a reliable brand. It's vital to give tailormade kitten food to kittens.
  • Kittens require milk until they are eight weeks old, but not after that.
  • Most kittens will have their mother's milk before eight weeks, but there is formula milk available in pet stores or vet clinics for hand-reared kittens.

We chatted to Dan O'Neill, Veterinary Surgeon with Abbeyside Veterinary Hospital Kilkenny.