Adopting a new kitten is a big decision, and requires more preparation and responsibility than you may think. Potential owners may find themselves overwhelmed with all kinds of questions: Should my cat live indoors or outdoors? What should their diet consist of? These are both great questions, that can be answered right here, in part two of the kitten behaviour series!
Should my cat live indoors or outdoors?
The debate over what is a better lifestyle for a cat–to live outside, or remain inside–is one with great opposition. Many cat owners firmly believe that cats should remain outside, and forcing them to stay in the house is wrong. Others will point out that living outside unsupervised is a dangerous lifestyle for a domestic pet. Which is the right answer?
Well, there is no real right answer, but it can be said that outdoor cats are far more likely to end up in devastating, painful, or fatal experiences. In fact, statistically, indoor cats are likely to outlive free-roaming cats by about a decade! The life of an indoor cat is relatively risk-free.
That said, having an indoor cat requires a few more challenges, mainly in making sure the cat is mentally and physically sensitized and content. Ensuring that there are plenty of toys and scratching posts is necessary to engage all of your cat’s senses. You can even consider building a kitty door leading to a screened-in porch! This way, the cat has some exposure to the outdoors without having to be put in danger. Above all, whatever works for you, while keeping the cat happy, will always be a worthwhile choice.
What should my kitten’s diet consist of?
Not all kitten’s diets are created equal. Sometimes it will depend on their physical traits and their bodies’ respective needs. Other times, it will be a matter of personal choice or preference of the kitten. Picking the right diet for your kitten can be confusing, especially now with so many different brands and types to choose from! The ultimate recommendation is to ask for advice from your veterinarian at the first check-up. They will know which brands/types of foods have reaped benefits historically with other patients.
More often than not, a new kitten will be finicky (which most cats are). This may make it difficult to change diets in the future. To help avoid this, try feeding your new kitten a variety of foods at a young age so if dietary changes need to be made, the transition will be easier and less stressful for them.
Pet food isn’t always cheap, and during rough financial dry spells, we may be tempted to opt for the no-name cat foods–try to avoid doing this. The bigger brand names tend to be more reliable because there is a good chance they have gone through actual feeding trials.
One cost effective strategy that many people consider is to buy kibble instead of canned food. You may be surprised to know that cats descend from desert animals that depended on their food to provide needed water. Their kidneys are adapted to this desert environment to conserve water and rid the body of wastes. When cats don’t get enough water from food or additional water intake, they spend much of their lives dehydrated, which is not good for those kidneys or the rest of the body.
Dry diets are not that helpful in preventing dental disease as it was believed years ago. Feeding dry diets alone is also a risk factor for developing bladder stones and crystals in the urine which can be life threatening, especially for males. To help with this, try feeding some kibble with a helping of canned food at each meal. Another trick for a healthy appetite is to warm your cat’s canned food to room temperature!
Always provide water for your kitten in a large whisker width shallow bowl, or purchase a cat water fountain. Make sure to change the water often! Cats and kittens will not search out water on their own, so you must make the water attractive to them.
Fun fact: Cats actually SHOULDN’T drink milk beyond their infancy, as most cats are lactose-intolerant!
Spadafori, G. (2002, June 12). Good nutrition for healthy growth for kittens. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1138
Spadafori, G. (2004, November 15). Behind closed doors. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1756
Content Contributor: Dr. Sandy Drury