Having a pet cat is such a rewarding experience. They are really cute, cuddly and lovable. I find them fairly easy to care for as they are independent and not as high maintenance as dogs. I left my cat alone indoors for three days whilst I went on vacation and he was okay as my in-laws changed his water etc. Some people think that cats are dirty animals that shouldn’t be indoors but they are so clean! My cat smells great all the time and always looks spotless and groomed. I was very apprehensive about getting a pet cat and put it off for a long time because I was not familiar with them. Also, I did not know how to care for them and I had to ask the caregiver everything about taking care of him. I do a lot of research so I’m doing this blog post for first-time cat owners like myself in Trinidad.
1. Looking for a pet cat
I firmly believe it adopting pets instead of buying. There are many animals that need homes and buying a pet contributes to the demand to breed them. I adopted my fur baby on a local Facebook group, Feline Adoption Networking Group (F.A.N.G.) of Trinidad and Tobago. There are kittens that are in need of homes daily so you can look up the group if you are interested. Also, decide if you want to keep him indoor or indoor/outdoor. I prefer to have my cat indoor and outdoor because I like him to run about and get his exercise. Also, with an indoor cat you have to keep them entertained with toys or they will get bored. I strongly suggest not leaving them out all the time and at nights because they can get run over by a car or attacked by dogs.
Indoor cats need toys: Felix playing wit his catnip pepper and enjoying his Cat apps on my phone.
2. Choosing litter/litter box
When I adopted Felix he was litter box trained. Most of the kittens on the group are trained to use a litter box. When I brought him home I placed his paws in the litter and scratched it so that he would know where it is. He did not have any trouble finding it afterwards. Fill the box about three inches deep with litter. Don’t put it near his food or in an area that has high foot traffic. I bought two solid plastic trays and one tray with holes. It is so easy to clean the litter box with these trays. You place the tray with holes in the empty clean litter tray and pour all the contents of the litter box in it. Then you sift the soiled litter so it separates from the unsoiled. If there are any clumps stuck to the box, take a scoop and take it out. Clean the litter box every day. I bought the Febreze Fresh Step clumping litter for about TT$120. I know that people have reservations about indoor cats and the smell of the litter box but I don’t think that it smells bad at all. In fact the Febreze cat litter smells nice.
3. Buying kitten/cat food
There is a difference between kitten and cat food. Kitten food has special nutrients to promote growth, somewhat close to their mother’s milk. I buy kitten chow for TT$80 per bag for him. I’ve only ever seen two brands of kitten chow in popular supermarkets: Purina and Friskies. Read the labels to make sure it is right for your pet’s age. To supplement a dry food diet your kitten also needs wet food. Felix likes his kibble dry and I don’t buy wet food. Instead I make wet food for him. I give him sardines in water almost every day and steamed or raw chicken breast. Occasionally, he has tuna. You can leave the dry food out all the time so he can nibble when he wants and feed some wet food in the morning and evening. I don’t let Felix eat human food or leftovers at all as everything I cook has garlic and onions in it. I don’t give him anything with bones in it either because I’m afraid that it will damage his jaw. Also, please don’t give your kitten milk! It upsets their digestive system. If you are vegan you need to source meat for your cat. They need taurine and other nutrients from meat in order to flourish and be healthy.
4. Providing water
Put drinking water out for your kitten and change it daily. Felix is a diva and refuses to drink water more than a day old. He prefers to drink water from an old Flora kit more than his water bowl. So he has two water bowls: one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen. They don’t drink as much water as they should so you need to give them wet food to increase their water intake. If not they can get urinary tract infections.
5. Preparing for medical bills
If you take care of your pet they will take care of you with lots of love. Pets need vaccines just like we need our immunizations. There are a lot of cat diseases out there that are preventable with vaccines. I paid TT$180 for one of his injections. He got one at four months and then another at five months. The next shot is in twelve months. I vaccinated him late so you can take your kitten much sooner if you like but consult your vet for more information. When you decide to have a pet you should be financially capable to support him in sickness and in health. If he is an indoor/outdoor cat he will need flea treatments. I don’t bathe my cat because he will rip my arms to shreds but I know some people buy normal or dry shampoo to bathe them.
A pet’s function is to give and receive love and companionship. Not to procreate. Hence, you should seek to spay/neuter your cat as soon as possible. They don’t long for offspring as some humans do and I’m sure given their personalities they much rather relax and be a pet than expend energy being a mummy or a playboy. Spaying/Neutering although expensive (TT$350-$650) is a one-time cost. If you want to save money do some research as Animal Welfare Network or Animals 360 Foundation as they have low-cost surgeries at certain times. I saw a press release recently for a $100 registration fee and a free spay/neuter. Kittens make a lot of babies regularly and there are not enough homes for them to be cared for adequately. Felix had the same personality and behavior after he was neutered that he had before his surgery.
7. Tagging your pet
Wicked people can poison your fur baby if they think he is a stray which I why I wanted to put tags on my cat. He has an ID collar with his name and my phone number on it. Also, he has an ID tag with our address and our names on it in case he gets lost and someone finds him. There is microchipping technology available in Trinidad if your cat refuses to wear a collar. Make sure the collar is a breakaway collar. Cats like to go in all kinds of places and their collar can get hooked and strangle them. With the breakaway clasp, it opens as soon it tugs on something. At first Felix used to claw at his collar and remove it for himself but he got used to it and it stays on now.
8. Cleaning supplies
Having a cat means that you will have to clean a little more than usual. I was worried about Felix ruining my furniture and curtains etc. but he doesn’t damage them at all. I bought a cheap vacuum to take up all the cat hair from on the couch because he loves lounging on the sofas and it works well. You may need a vacuum as a brush and scoop might not be able to uptake the stubborn cat hair. I also bought some pesticide ointment to dilute in water to mop the house in case any fleas get inside.
If you have any questions, leave a comment or contact me using the contact buttons below. Don’t be afraid to do a good deed and adopt a cat. You will not regret it!
Felix in our DIY house-shaped carrier