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Paw prints: Cat care 101

Community Columnist

June is Adopt-a-Cat Month. Each year around this time kittens are joining the millions of cats that are already in shelters across the country.

If you are planning to bring home a new kitten or adult cat, the following tips should help get you and your new companion off to a good start.

Before selecting a new cat, decide on what age will best fit your lifestyle. A kitten will be much more active and require more individual attention. An adult cat usually requires less supervision.

If you already have a cat, a kitten may be more readily accepted than an adult. If you don’t have any other pets consider getting two kittens, especially if you are away from home for long periods during the day. Cats crave companionship and can become quite lonely in an empty house or apartment.

As you begin the selection process, observing the overall health and temperament is important. The coat should be glossy without any bald spots. The eyes, ears and nose should be clear of discharge. Look at the teeth and gums. Serious dental disease is common in cats as young as two years of age. Inquire about the cat’s digestive and urinary health. In a kitten, a pot-bellied appearance can be a sign of parasites or a more serious medical condition. Finally, the cat should be bright, friendly and accepting of you. Avoid a cat that hides, resists being pet or acts lethargic.

Your home should be prepared for your new cat before he arrives. The basics include cat food, a litter box and a scratching post.

Diet choices for cats are numerous. Initially, feed whatever the cat was already eating. If you plan to change the diet do so gradually, and make sure the food is approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AFFCO), which can be found on the label.

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