One rather chastened looking cat with its inquisitive companion,
after an accident with a pot plant. Although cats look graceful, they can be surprisingly clumsy when running about the house.
Living with a cat is like living with
a toddler or small child. Both are extremely inquisitive by nature and seem to know no fear. In either case, you need to keep
your wits about you and protect them from the hazards lurking in the average home. In the feline world, kittens are especially
at risk because their small size means they can slip through tiny gaps and easily remain out of sight. However, adult cats
can be equally heart-stopping in their dare-devil way.
The kitchen is an especially dangerous part of the home for cats.
They are good jumpers, so they can easily leap on to work surfaces. This means they can burn or scald their paws by walking
across a hob, or by touching hot appliances and pulling flexes.
The cat's desire to find a snug, warm spot to sleep can attract
it to the inside of a tumble drier, with a potentially fatal outcome, so always check inside before closing the door and switching
on the machine. Chewing can be equally hazardous for young cats which are teething. They may decide to use a live piece of
electrical cable as a teething-ring. The outer coating og flex is generally no match for the dagger-like points of their canine
teeth. Houseplants are another hazard. Some have serrated edges which may hurt the cats mouth, other plants are potentially
toxic. Cats find plants satisfying and it is best to provide your cat with a box of fresh grass.
There is a potential hazard to this
cat from the hot cooker. At a very early age, it is best to actively discourage a cat from jumping onto work surfaces.
It is a good idea to keep upstairs windows closed, especially if
you live in a high-rise flat. Kittens, in particular, may not appreciate the danger, or fall or be blown off a balcony. If
a kitten is close to the edge, try to persuade it to venture back indoors of its own accord, by rolling a toy just out of
its reach. If you do decide to try to grab it , take particular care, as it may slip from your grasp. Placing wire mesh around
the balcony balustade should reduce the likelihood of a kitten slipping between the gabs.
Alway be very careful when disposing of rubbish, because this can
be a serious hazard to cats. Both in the home and outside, cats will scavenge for tasty left-over food, even if these comprise
little more than bones. They use their keen sence of smell to find food in rubbish sacks and then rip the bag apart with ease.
There is then a real risk that your cat will consume bones, which are hazardous, and could become stuck in its throat. There
is also a danger that your cat could slice its feet or even its tongue on cans or can lids, if it paws at , or licks them.
DID YOU KNOW ?
?If your cat is chewing at electric cabling,
switch off the plug and disconnect it, rather than trying to take the cable out of the cat's mouth. You could both be electrocuted.
?Cats have been know to fall from heights of
as much as 60m/200ft and survive, thanks to the ability of their feet to act as shock absorbers.
?Aspirin is deadly to cats, so never be tempted
to treat your cat with your own medicine.
?Cacti are a possible hazard if your cat bruches
past their spines, which can stick in its fur.
MOVING TO A NEW HOME
This cat's body language signals that something has made it fearful.
It is standing high on its legs with its back in a high arch and its fur fluffed out to maximise the image it is presenting.
Cats are creatures of habit, and nothing
is guaranteed to make your cat more nervous than a change in circumstances. Such a situation can occur when you first bring
a pet home, if you are moving to a new area yourself or if you are introducing tha cat to other cats or children. Cats quickly
pick up the signals that change is in the air and can react adversely. There are ways, however, to minimise a stressful situation
and to calm a nervous animal. At some ponit in your cats life it will need to be transported away from its usual environment
to a new home ot to the vets. Cats hate to be forced to go anywhere, and they often become highly agitated. However, there
are ways to keep the adverse effects of the experience to a minimum.
Nervous cats prefer a quiet, out-of-the
way spot where they can be left undisturbed.
It is helpful to acclimatise your cat to a travel carrier in advance
of the journey. Leaving it open at home, putting soft bedding and cat treats inside. On the day of the journey, confine your
cat inside and then gently but firmly put it in the basket. On the journey, sit the cat in its basket next to you. Talk to
your pet in low, reassuring tones throughout . If you know from experience that your cat becomes very distressed, consider
giving it cat sedatives, prescribed by your vet. In the case of moving house, when you arrive at your new home, take the cat
still in its basket to a chosen room where its food water and litter tray have already been set out. Open the basket and leave
your cat for a few minutes to adjust to its new environment. If its first encounter with its new home is food, it will find
this reassuring. If your cat is so frightened that it leaps to the top of the wardrobe, you will need to encourage it to come
down. Try leaving its favourite food. Talk to it in a low, friendly voice. Your familiar scent may also calm it down so try
extending your hand slowly under the cat's nose and then stroke it.
TAKE IT SLOWLY
If your cat is joining an animal household, be aware that the current
tenants will have marked out their territory. Keep the new arrival in a separate room for a few days and introduce them gradually.
The cats will soon come to identify with each other, although they rarely become as close as kittens that were raised together.
An apprehensive cat, weighing up a situation
before making a move
ON THE MOVE
On essential item all cat owners need is a travel caraier. There
are a number of types available, from wicker baskets and cardboard boxes to moulded plastic containers. Whatever you choose,
it needs to be secure, roomy, well-ventilated and easy to clean Anervous cat may soil itself on a long journey so always put
lots of newspaper in the base of the carrier. If it is cold, put a blanket over the top of the carrier to keep the cat warm;
if it is hot, cover it with a damp cloth to keep the carrier cool. Make sure you do not block the ventilation.
DID YOU KNOW
?Unhappy cats have been known to make their
way back to their old homes. One cat travelled 1530km(950 miles).
?The first sign that a cat is no longer feeling
nervous in its new surroundings is when it starts to groom itself.
CHILDREN AND CATS
When choosing a kitten, select one that has been raised in a domestic
environment and is used to family life. A kitten brought up in a cattery will have had less human contact and may take a while
to adapt. but saying this they do adapt and make far more loving cats then domestic ones.
Many people believe that cats and children
aew like chalk and cheese. Cats like peace and quiet, children like rough and tumble. While cats doze most of the day, children
are active all the time. But even though children and cats have different likes and dislikes, they can learn to live happily
together so long as the child is taught to respect the cat's feelings. Older children and cats can be best friends, and even
babies and toddlers can get along with a cat.Some people add a child to a family that has previously consisted of a couple
and a cat. Others add a cat to a family that already includes children. The two situations can both be happy ones, but they
need different strategies.
THE NEW BABY
Despite old wives tails of cats smothering babies, cat generally
pose no danger to newborns. Cats however, like warm soft places, so baby's crib is a tempting spot for a nap. To keep your
cat out, shut the door or cover the crip with a net. Adding a cat to the family is a step to be undertaken with caution. You
may be left caring for your cat long after the child who begged for a kitten has left home. When introducing your child to
a cat, you need to make the ground rules clear before the two meet. Explain to your child that a cat is a living creature,
not a stuffed toy. By speaking softly to the cat, not moving suddenly, making loud noises or grabbing the cat, a child and
a cat can become friends.
Tails are tempting to toddlers, but
this cat may soon tire of the game. In the interests of both children and cats, teach children to treat cats with respect.
BEST OF FRIENDS
Once a cat and a child have got to know one another, the fun can
begin. Cats love to play and children can be great playmates. Show your child how to play ball and string games with your
cat. Until the pair are used to each other, always supervise their play. Never leave a toddler alone with a cat. If the cat
does get cross, it is likely to use its claws and injure the child. To avoid eye injuries, teach your child not to put its
face close to that of the cats. With common sense and time for your cat and child to get to know each other, you should have
a happy and sociable pet for all the family.
Some cats carry a parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, that can be dangerous
to humans, particularly children and babies. The parasite can be picked up by touching dirty cat litter, so children should
not play near the tray or touch the litter. Older children may be sensible, but toddlers ofyen think it is a new kind of sand
pit. The infection can pass to an unborn child during preganancy. It is best that pregnant women do not clean litter trays.
If they must, they should wear gloves.
DID YOU KNOW
?A young kitten is very fragile, with delicate
bones that can easily be broken it should always be handled carefully.
?You should never disturb a cat when it is
eating, sleeping or using the litter tray. Make this the first rule of cat etiquette you teach your children.
?The family cat can be jealous of a new baby.
Be sure to make time to pet and play with your cat after baby is born.