New Kitten or Cat? What you need to know

Congratulations on taking the leap and becoming a servant to one of the finest creatures in the world

This is a really exciting time and we appreciate it can be a little bit nerve-wracking as well. We know you want to do the very best for your new addition and all of us at The London Cat Clinic are here to help you do just that. Our ethos is 'birth to retirement care and beyond'. We’re here when you need us every step of the way.

There’s an enormous amount of information out there about cats and it can be hard to know where to start and what to trust.  At The London Cat Clinic, cats are what we are about and we think that this list of key questions will be a helpful place to start. It is based on our practical experience and what we get asked about the most. We have tried to condense this down for you but there is still a bit, we suggest you grab a coffee or tea and meander your way through this methodically as you have time!

When does my cat need to make its first visit to the vet?

Your kitten’s first visit to us is a complimentary 20 minute-long consultation with one of our nurses. We can’t wait to meet them and recommend coming in to see us within 2-3 days of getting your kitten home. Your new cat will get a basic examination and we’ll have a discussion on vaccination, microchipping, worm and flea control, neutering and feeding.

How do I prepare my cat for their first visit to the vet?

Some cats are very relaxed when it comes to travelling in a carrier but for others (and their owners!) it can be more than a little anxiety-inducing.  Don’t worry though, it doesn’t have to be and we give lots of tips to help, which can be found by clicking here.

When do I need to get my kitten vaccinated?

The first vaccination is recommended from 9 weeks of age, following an additional examination by our vet. More on vaccinations can be found here

What about worming and flea treatment?

Every kitten should be treated from birth and continuously throughout their life. The frequency and type of treatment depends on whether they will be indoor or outdoor cats. We will advise you on this and provide you with a written plan. You can find more information here.

When do I need to get my cat microchipped?

Microchipping can be done from any age. We recommend scheduling this to be done when they come in to be castrated or spayed, normally from 4 months old.

How do I stop my cat scratching all my furniture?

Cats use special glands located in their forehead, cheeks, tail base and paws to 'mark' objects and other animals. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be our favourite furniture! The best way to avoid this is to buy a couple of scratching posts.  Try to get one that is around 1.5x their body length.  It’s well worth the investment.

How do I help my cat settle in?

Remember that cats love to climb and climb!  This is a natural protective instinct.  They love to observe you from up high.  This instinct can mean that they’ll climb up your treasured curtains or on top of your favourite wardrobe. If this worries you (and even if it doesn’t!), we recommend getting a cat-tree for them to scale up and hide in. They don’t have to be expensive and can be used as feeding stations as well. Make sure they are nice and tall, about 1.5x your cat’s adult length for a good stretch. Your curtains will certainly thank you for it! Also make sure you buy a nice array of toys.  Cats are natural hunters and are inquisitive, smart creatures that like to have things to do.   The very best toys you can have are those that have fur and feathers attached!

It’s really important that you schedule at least two sessions of organised fun a day with your cats, particularly indoor cats.   

Can I let my kitten outside?

We recommend your kitten only goes outside after they have had their full vaccination course, are microchipped, neutered and are mature enough to deal with ‘street cats’.

How do I “litter train” my new cat?

This probably won’t be too difficult and it’s far easier than potty training a human!  Using the litter tray is normally second nature to kittens and often they will head there after waking up or after a meal.  If not, you can always gently place them in the litter tray and they’ll soon get the idea. Make sure that the litter tray is easy for them to get into and the type of litter is one that they’re used to. The most important rule of all is to keep the tray clean. In the wild, cats wee in new clean spots all the time. So if you want them to use the tray and not the carpet, we suggest you get into a regular routine of litter tray cleaning.

What happens if my kitten goes walkabout?

Cats are inquisitive and adventurous so it just takes a door or window to be left open for them to go for a wander.  The most important thing is not to panic.  Cats have an incredible homing instinct so 9 times out of 10 you’ll see them soon enough.  If you’ve lost your cat, remember that many times owners who think their cat has gone outside actually find them two hours later sleeping soundly in a cupboard!  So thoroughly check out the house first.  If you’re sure they’ve gone outside, while shaking a pack of their favourite food, wander round nearby gently calling their name.  Look under cars and in nooks and crannies.  Let the neighbours know too and ask if you can check out back yards and sheds. If you have a cat flap, leave it open with a bowl of food inside or leave a door ajar if it’s safe. If they have been gone for more than 12 hours, contact your local vet or cat protection charity.   It always helps to have a good recent photo of your cat just in case. Remember to get your cat microchipped.

Avoid having plants that are poisonous to cats in the house or garden.

Keep garden chemicals stored safely and take care if using slug bait or chemicals on the garden itself – some types can be very toxic to animals

What plants and flowers should I avoid having in the house?

Unfortunately a lot of the most beautiful bouquets are potentially lethal for our cats. Lilies (all types) are incredibly toxic. Amaryllis, Poinsettia, Cyclamen, Crocus and Azalea’s and Baby’s Breath are also all toxic to our cats. If you have plants in the house and garden, it is better to assume they are toxic and check with us or visit here before allowing your cat or kitten access to them.  Click here for an article written by Dr Jeremy for Katzenworld

What kind of food is recommended for a new kitten?

Some of this will come down the cat’s natural preferences but we recommend a 2/3rd high quality wet food and 1/3rd dry food. This topic is covered in much greater detail here.

How do I introduce my cat to other animals?

Slowly and with care is the short answer.  At first, keep your new arrival in a separate room, taking special care to keep the door shut.  Then introduce your current pets in a controlled way under close supervision where you are holding one of them.  Move them away if things get a bit heated.   Give them time to get used to their smells and presence.  Make sure you show equal affection to all pets. Take as long as this process needs. Don’t rush it and the minute you sense one of your pets is tense, take them to a safe place.

Should I take out insurance?

This is obviously your personal choice but it’s one we would strongly recommend.  We give all of our new kittens 4 weeks of complimentary insurance with PetPlan.

Advances in veterinary medicine have given vets access to new diagnostic procedures and techniques. This is good news for the welfare of our much-loved kittens and cats but the costs of diagnosis alone can be expensive. It can be very stressful for owners having to weigh up treating their cat versus the money this will cost.  Insurance will take this worry away offering peace of mind for just a few small pounds a month.

When choosing an insurance policy, don’t opt for the cheapest, read the fine print, be clear on what is covered and for how long. A large number of the conditions we treat are chronic and require ongoing treatment and monitoring which will become expensive over successive years. We would only recommend you take out a policy where your cat is covered for long-term illness or conditions or ‘covered for life’.

The London Cat Clinic recommends Petplan as an insurance provider. We’ve chosen Petplan based on personal experience as they have a proven track record of meeting the specific needs of our patients where other insurance companies have fallen short.

What happens if it turns out that one of my family is allergic to the cat?

All breeds of cats produce potential allergens, some produce fewer than others. Only your doctor is able to diagnose whether you are allergic to cats and this should be the first port of call. The best option if you’re considering getting a cat is for you and your family to spend some time with one before making the final decision.

However, if once you’ve got a cat and you find out that you’re mildly allergic to it, the team at International Cat Care have come up with a number of useful steps that may help reduce your exposure sufficiently for you and your cat to live together in harmony. With severe cat allergies, sadly, the only solution may be to avoid having a cat in the house at all. For most people though, a combination of different strategies to try to reduce the amount of antigen in the environment will help to successfully control the clinical signs of cat allergy to an acceptable level.

Can I spread the cost of my care over the year?

We offer our Feline Fine Health Club, which means you can spread the cost of your cat’s preventative health care treatments over the year, paying monthly by direct debit. If you become a member of our club, you are entitled to significant discounts on a number of clinic products and services. We also offer Carefree Credit which if you qualify means you can spread the cost of larger bills (minimum £250) over a year without paying any interest. Great for dentistry!

To find out more

A great source of information is International Cat Care, a wonderful charity whose sole purpose is improving the care of all cats, everywhere.

We will cover these topics in more detail at your consultations at The London Cat Clinic. If you would like to know more or have a specific question, we’re here to help. Please give us a call on 0203 740 1112 we’ll be happy to chat.