New to Cats - Advice Needed

IMPORTANT: If your cat is in any distress or discomfort, please consult your own vet as your first priority.
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Rubirabbit
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New to Cats - Advice Needed

Post by Rubirabbit » Sat Jul 15, 2017 6:16 am

Hi :D

We have recently rescued a cat. I am not really a cat person, my experiences of cats have previously been other people's pets who attack the wildlife and use my garden as a toilet. However, we both felt that to prevent the cat being put back into a bad situation after veterinary treatment it was in the best interests of the cat for us to take him.

He has settled in very well with us - although I'm not sure our rabbits, rats and guinea pig welcome him as much as we have :roll: :lol: My pets welfare comes first, so if they become unhappy with Dimitris being here then we will have to find another home for him.

I have a couple of questions that I am hoping people can help me with.

Is it normal for a cat to be moody? Dimitris is very affectionate, likes lots of attention, likes to sleep with us. I don't know if this is usual for a cat or if its just a result of his past experiences. But, he does get these mood swings, the last one being when I stopped him from trying to eat off a dinner plate. I did not shout at him, just gently pushed him away and said no. He had a major huff about it, ignored me for 2 and a 1/2 days and refused to sleep with us :shock: Is this something cats do when upset? It seems a bit of an extreme reaction.

I also need advice on feeding please. I am unsure if I am feeding him correctly. The vet said not to feed wet food only dry, grain free biscuits. I have read that this might be incorrect. There seems to be conflicting advice online about what is best. Thank you in advance :D

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Ruth B
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Re: New to Cats - Advice Needed

Post by Ruth B » Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:42 am

Congratulations on the new family member and thank you for taking him on rather than letting him go back to the bad area. I hope your other pets will accept him, but if they get too stressed with him around then I fully agree they have to come first and hopefully Dimitris can be found another loving new home. Make sure you monitor his interaction with them for quite a few months before letting him be around them without you there, while he might not be able to get into the cages he might cause them a lot of stress if he puts in a serious attempt to get at them. Never forget that he is a predator and they are his prey, or at the very least might be viewed as special squeaky cat toys. I don't want to put you off keeping him, i just want to make sure you never regret it, its surprising what pets can co habit if you are careful. People always seem rather bemused that I have 3 cats and a pond full of fish and until recently never lost a fish to a cat. The one I lost was due to the fact that as there is some major work going on in the garden the cats and the fish are confined to the house. The fish seem to have suffered a bit due to the vibrations of the plant being used in the garden, and my young male cat has been going stir crazy wanting to get out, a bad combination and now the fishes' holding tank is being kept permanently covered.

As to his moodiness, every cat is different, but everyone is manipulative, it is his way of seeing if you will give in first. Whatever you do, don't give in, once you do he will have you wrapped around his dew claw in no time. Lay down the rules and stick to them. You are right not to shout at him, but a good strong 'No' and pushing him away should get the message across, although you might have to increase the force of the push if he keeps on trying. Dogs can be trained fairly easily, with cats it is a battle of wills as to who ends up training whom.

Not sleeping with you. might not indicate him being in a huff, it might just be that he has decided to sleep somewhere else for a while, which isn't uncommon in cats.

The feeding question is a bit more of a puzzle. In general it is thought that cats are far better on wet food, or at the most wet supplemented with dried. You did mention that he had had to have some veterinary treatment, depending on what this was, and if the vet found any other underlying conditions, it might be that the vet has meant him to be on a special diet that is only available in the dried formula. Alternatively, a lot of vets get their information about an animal's diet from the reps selling the pet food, and this can be why they recommend a certain diet. With out more information on his medical history and condition it is hard to know the full reason behind the advice. If you do feed him just dried food make sure he has at least a couple of water bowls available, preferably away from both his litter tray and his food bowls, in the wild water found near dead animals could be contaminated and it is still hard wired into an indoor pet cat not to risk drinking water that might be contaminated.

Grain free food is preferable for any type of cat food, wheat free especially. Cats gain all they need from animal products and can't digest a lot of carbohydrate products well. They are obligate carnivores and there are vitamins and trace elements that they can't get from anything but animal products, a cat fed on a vegetarian diet will go blind and likely die. Grains and vegetables are only added to cat food as bulking agents and to make us humans feel we are giving them a 'balanced diet' like we need. If you are in the UK Felix As Good as it Looks is considered one of the best Supermarket cat foods and is what mine eat most of the time. It is grain free, using things like beans as its bulking agent. Others prefer to feed the more exclusive cat foods, and if you ask on here what is best to feed, you will likely get a different answer from everyone. Dried food often contains grains, but not always wheat, a lot seem to contain rice, which most cats don't have a problem with. Again depending on where you are based can make a difference into how good different brands are.

Sorry for the long reply, (I don't seem able to do short replies, i just waffle on), but hopefully there is some useful information tucked away in there for you.

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bobbys girl
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Re: New to Cats - Advice Needed

Post by bobbys girl » Sat Jul 15, 2017 11:48 am

Hi there, and welcome to CC. Good on you for taking in this kitty. A word of warning here - I started with just one rescue kitten and at one point we had 6! They get to know where they will be spoilt!

Ruth has covered much of the important things. Vets do like to push their expensive dry food. Unless there is a medical reason for a special diet, I feed mine on Felix AGAIL, Butcher's classic tins and James Wellbeloved dry food and they all seem to like the mix.

I too keep fish, my two beloved Koi carp and a blue orfe. The surface of their pond is a good 4-5" lower than the surrounding garden and has a lot of plants around it. Purdy does watch them ( with intent!) But I think she has figured it's not worth a ducking to get them.

My sister, who may be along in a little while, has a canary, Busby, whose cage hangs from a stand. He is moved into another room away from the cat overnight, but otherwise she has no problems with cat/canary mix.

When my OH first got Katie, his Lurcher (from working stock!) he also had an enormous lop-eared rabbit, Primrose. Their first, supervised, meeting was in the lounge. Katie jumped towards Primrose, Prim sat on her haunches and beat the living cxxp out of Kate! She must have been the only Lurcher to have never chased ANYTHING ever again.

I am not suggesting you try that with a cat, but anything is possible. :D

As for moodiness - cats wrote the book on the subject.

I hope everything works out for you.

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Re: New to Cats - Advice Needed

Post by willowdragon » Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:21 pm

Hi there, and congrats on the new fur baby! Once you go cat, you never go back!
Yes, moodiness is normal. Every cat has a different personality, just like humans, so how long and what form the moods take depends on the cat. I have two bengals, and my adult Scarlett throws a huff when she gets her monthly dose of flea prevention. My kitten, Wessex, takes it whilst being snuggled so he yowls but let's it pass cos he knows he gets extra scritches and a treat, but Scarlett has to get hers by surprise when eating, so she throws a huff and stomps off, refuses any sort of treat, play or affection for at least a day.i generally find like a moody child if I leave her alone, in fact if I stay pretty far away from her, for about a day eventually she seeks me out and gives Me extra affection when she's stopped huffing. Wessex throws a paddy when he doesn't get fish for supper (I feed them a raw diet) - which means I get a paddy from him most nights since he only gets fish once a week. He started flipping his food bowl when he turned his nose up, but those paddys soon stopped when he realised I just stopped putting food out until he was willing to eat it sensibly.
Scarlett also goes through daily phases of wanting loads of affection, then not wanting any at all. She'll slink away when we stroke her, then the minute we stop trying she pads back and yowls at us.
They're fussy creatures by nature, I think they're quite manipulative and controlling personally. In time you'll learn your cats tells, wants and needs, it's like learning a new body language.

As for the food, I found advice from online, over owners, and even vets to be very contradictory. In the end, the best advice I can give is that imagine your cat is literally your baby: someone might tell you MacDonalds as a weekly treat is fine, someone else will tell you it's so bad for them don't even touch it. At the end of the day, it's your baby, do what you feel is best, because as long as your trying your best, that's all anyone can ask. I personally turned to science when it came to food, and I plan my cats meals like a plan my own: well balanced. If they're not getting enough water, I sneak a tablespoon of water into their meals. They might turn their noses up for an hour or so, but eventually they'll eat when they realise they get what they're given. I don't preach about raw food, it's a lifestyle choice at the end of the day, but my personally bugbear when I first adopted my girl was that cats are carnivores, and their digestive systems haven't adapted to accommodate grain and vegetables like dogs have. I researched every possible food on the market, and found the standard shop food - dry or wet - was at most 14% meat. Brands like Natures menu are much better for meat content, but there's still supplements and veggies, plus it's very pricey for what you get. Of course the alternative - making your own from raw - takes time and effort, and not everyone likes their kitchen to smell like a butchers shop after a session of batch making!

Good luck!

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Re: New to Cats - Advice Needed

Post by Rubirabbit » Sun Jul 16, 2017 7:41 am

Thanks for the replies :D Lots of really helpful advice. I realise I have a lot to learn about cats. :oops: . As mentioned I have no experience with cats other than the negative side. I've always imagined cats to be disdainful and remote, so I've never understood why people would want them as pets. Since getting Dimitris I've seen a whole new aspect to cats, although I'm not sure I can handle his moodiness :lol: .

Dimitris came from Skopelos. He was living rough at the villa where we stayed and was very, very dirty and stick thin. He had huge ticks, ear mites and red ants living in his fur. A few days into the holiday he was attacked by another cat, which we witnessed. His eyes were gouged, two bite wounds on either side of his face and his paw bitten so badly he couldn't weight bear on it. We found a vet and took him there. The vet said Dimitris would not have survived much longer, wounds had become I infected and he was very weak. He had a toe amputated, his eyes and face wounds were sorted and he was neutered. The vet told us that strictly speaking the cat was a feral, so once healed he would be returned to the woods ( and no doubt would have been back in same condition within a short time ). Vet also agreed that Dimitris was likely a pet cat who had been abandoned as his behaviour was not that of a feral. The cat rescue on Skopelos has over 70 cats and several dogs, so could not help. We were given the option to have him PTS to prevent him going back into a bad situation or to bring him home to the uk. We chose the latter option :? I've got mixed feelings about bringing stray animals to the uk for a number of reasons, but that's a whole different discussion. Had there been a safe option for D to remain in Skopelos I would have taken it. But he's here now and even if he has to be rehomed I saved his life and got him out of a bad situation. Most of the time he seems happy to be here.

He has on going issue with ear mites and possible I infection lower down his ear canals. My vet couldn't see past all the wax and debris in his ears so we have a cleaner to use for a few weeks to try and shift it. He also has a cracked tooth, which might have occurred when he was attacked. Greek vet couldn't be sure. His injuries are healed now, just a couple of scars left.

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Re: New to Cats - Advice Needed

Post by bobbys girl » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:54 am

Wow, you're my hero! What a wonderful thing to do! Dimitris is a very lucky boy.

I never had a cat before I 'found' Willow. A neighbour's dog dropped her in front of my car. He was a Retriever and had a soft mouth, so she wasn't harmed. Just a week old, eyes not open, vet offered to pts! Complete novices, we took her on. She was 14 in May and, considering I'm her mum, she still treats me like staff. :roll:

You really don't know what you have started. :lol:

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Re: New to Cats - Advice Needed

Post by Ruth B » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:52 am

Wow, Dimitris certainly struck the jackpot when he found you, what a lucky lad. Like you i am in two minds about bringing animals back as there are so many needing help in this country, but I have to agree, after all you had done for him there was no other option. From what you have described it sound like he was dumped pet rather than a true feral.

Cats can be incredibly affectionate as much so as dogs in their own way, but they do try to be far more controlling of their owners than dogs are. To me it sounds like Dimitris is feeling better and is now trying to find out how far he can push you to get what he wants. Once the lines have been set and he knows the rules, I think his moodiness will settle down. He will always try it on now and then and I am sure you will just get used to him having the occasional temper tantrum.

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