Newbie cat owner, can I ask some questions please?

(46 Posts)
Thurlow Mon 18-Jan-16 09:51:15

Firstly, apologies if I end up on here loads for the next month grin

We just picked up our first cat yesterday evening, and while I thought I knew what we were doing, turns there's still a few questions!

Can anyone recommend what we're roughly looking for in cat insurance? I can see you can get some for as little as £4 a month but I assume that's not very good and it's better to pay slightly more?

Secondly, how do you know if you're feeding them enough? I mean, I'm sure it'll be obvious if you're feeding them too much, but how do you know if it's enough? Is two sachets a day (morning and evening) with dried left during the day roughly normal for a not very large cat?

Thirdly - night time! We shut the cat into the rear of the house last night, which is a dining room, kitchen and bathroom so quite a large space, with a choice of a few cushions and blankets for her to snuggle on, but she seems to have spent the whole night trying to get the door open! (No one got much sleep last night wink) Obviously she miaowed a lot last night but I assume part of that is confusion/nerves as she'd only been the house a few hours before we all went to bed.

Is it ok to persevere with trying to keep her in that space at night or should we let her roam free a few nights? We'd rather not be woken up loads by her coming into our room and asking for food, and I'm a bit concerned that if DD wakes up and comes to find us, the cat could nip in her room and then get shut in with her by accident. We do have an old childgate at the top of the stairs but I get the impression this cat could clear it in a second! Do most cats get shut in a part of the house, or do most have the whole house at night?

TheLovleyChebbyMcGee Mon 18-Jan-16 10:05:35

We used to shut our 3 cats in the living room and kitchen area with access to the catflap, and food water etc overnight.

Then we moved and had to take the kitchen door off for renovations, its not going back on anytime soon, and the cats have sort of gotten used to it, although they have wrecked the already manky carpet outside the bedroom door trying to get our attention to be let into the bedroom.

Mine were always fine before, never clawed at the living room door to get into the hallway, we've been moved 6 months now and it has settled now. Renovations still ongoing but when finished I'll be putting a door back up and shutting them in the kitchen/utility room. Its a large area, has all their food and water as well as cat beds, the cat tree and plenty of places for them to sleep.

One still prefers on top of the kitchen cupboards though!! Having only had her 1 night she will get used to it, its just all very new to her. What age is she?

Thurlow Mon 18-Jan-16 10:09:09

She's 2, so still a bit kittenish. I know last night she was probably just quite scared as she'd been collected from the foster home, put somewhere new and then a few hours later locked in sad But it's ok to persevere with it? The meowing!

gamerchick Mon 18-Jan-16 10:13:43

Cat insurance... We're with John Lewis, all bells and whistles which includes taking on pre existing conditions that crop up before renewal.

Food.. Unlimited dried and one pouch on an evening. Any more than that and she gains weight, which means a telling off at the vets. I won't feed in the mornings to ward off nagging.

Mine puts me to bed on an evening and sleeps on the bed with additional escorting to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I won't allow her in the living room on her own as she harasses the snake and tried to line herself up to jump on the extremely expensive telly.

Vets4pets do a one off 99 quid after first vaccinations for life which includes boosters and 2 health checks a year.

Advocate every 4 weeks spot on and another spot on for a different parasite every 3 months.

I also watched loads of cats from hell to learn how they communicate and how to keep them happy.

Good luck.

gamerchick Mon 18-Jan-16 10:15:08

And pets at home do microchipping if she isn't already.

Thurlow Mon 18-Jan-16 10:38:20

She's not microchipped or spayed yet, she was very malnourished so we're supposed to keep her in for a month or so before she's ready to have both done. Does spaying affect their behaviour at all?

This might be a really stupid question (turns out my parents seem to have always lucked out with calmer cats than I think our girl is going to be!) but do cats learn behaviours? As in, if we never go downstairs when she calls at night, will she eventually learn not to?

If it wasn't for the 4yo occasionally night waking I'd just shove the earplugs in and be fine grin

gamerchick Mon 18-Jan-16 10:49:40

Well mine was fine after spaying. The racket they make when in season is a pain in the bum.

Is there a reason you don't want her upstairs on an evening? I think they can learn but I've also learned that cats are very strong willed when it comes to something they want. You may cage before she does. It's only natural she wants company in a new place and bonding with her human.

gamerchick Mon 18-Jan-16 10:50:06

*cave

Thurlow Mon 18-Jan-16 11:21:52

We just thought it might be easier, as we have a young child who still sometimes gets out and wanders around and I don't want her treading on the cat or either of them getting spooked. Only from 10ish when we all go to bed.

Poledra Mon 18-Jan-16 11:31:14

We took on two older cats from a family who were emigrating. They were allowed the run of their old house at night, so we allowed them the same to start with. However, after a weeks of broken sleep as one of them would get up at 5am and wander around the house looking for attention, we kept them downstairs (access to living room, kitchen with catflap and utility room with boiler in it). They very quickly got used to it - a couple of nights calling at the door at the bottom of the stairs before they accepted their new routine.

Thurlow Mon 18-Jan-16 11:38:41

Thanks Poledra. We don't know much about her background so she might have had the run of the house before. She's certainly been through a lot recently (family before didn't get her spayed, let her out so she got pregnant, then gave her up when she had her second litter in a row and all the kittens died sad) so I can only imagine how much attention she wants, poor thing.

I've been doing some reading and it seems we need to feed her just before bed and then not feed her as soon as we wake up, so we'll start that. Plus some good playtime before we go to bed. And then I guess just ignoring her!

We hadn't bought a cat bed as the fosterer said she didn't use one, but I'm wondering if this means she didn't know what to do or where to lie down last night? Does catnip on a bed help them like it, or does it get them excited?

fresta Mon 18-Jan-16 11:40:18

I've never had any luck with trying to confine our cats to one room without either damage to the carpets or crying. We have two and because the Tom beats the female up in the middle of the night and wakes the whole house up charging round after her he now sleeps in a dog crate in the dining room which he fully seems to accept (think he needed the discipline) and the female gets the roam of the house She like to sleep on a cushion by the radiator in our room and is usually no trouble unless she decides she wants to go out early and wakes us up.

Female cats can put weight on if spayed but never had an unspayed one so wouldn't know if behaviour any different. I don't think you have a choice in the matter unless you are prepared for a litter of kittens every 6 months. Definitely spay!

I would say see how she goes with the food, buy the highest quality you can afford, especially if feeding biscuits, avoid anything with lots of grain (like go cat) and opt for high (80%) meat content biscuits. Encore are OK from the supermarket but look at specialist pet shops (I use zoo plus online and buy nutrivet biscuits) Wet food is best for cats though.

Cats are very trainable in most cases, and they calm down after they are about 4 years old in my experience, they will also learn better conversation skills and communicate with you as they take time to learn this. Mine are almost 4 now and especially the female loves to chat with me.

Enjoy your new kitty and give her time to settle in gently and quietly.

GingerNutRiskIt Mon 18-Jan-16 11:48:42

Mine follows us everywhere. He sleeps from the time we go to bed until 7am every morning when he scratches shit out of everything until hubby gets up and gives him food asks us for food. He either sleeps on the bottom of our bed or on one of the chairs in our room.

Hubby originally didn't want him upstairs when we got him. Then said, ok but not in the bedroom while we're sleeping, then ok but not on our bed...... But as everyone knows, the cat is the master and he pretty much dictates what he does and we work around him. grin

Thurlow Mon 18-Jan-16 11:53:48

Ginger grin I'd have absolutely no problem with her sleeping in our room if she did just sleep. It's a whole catch-22 though - if she does decide to get up and have a play for a while, with the doors open we'll hear it all! Plus DP does shift work so I don't know if that would be more unsettling for her, having someone wander in and out of the bedroom?

It's only day 1 though, I think we'll persevere with the closed door for a week or two and see if she settles down (as others say it can be done).

Thanks fresta. We'll definitely be getting her spayed as soon as we can, she just needs to put a bit of weight on first.

GingerNutRiskIt Mon 18-Jan-16 11:57:12

Yeah it can be annoying when you want to sleep and they have their "funny 5 minutes"
I'm quite lucky with mine though, he seems to have gotten into a routine where he sleeps when we do. He's a house cat though, so I do t know if that makes any difference.

varicoseveronica Mon 18-Jan-16 11:59:47

Our cats have always been locked downstairs at night. They were both rescue cats so we don't know what they were used to before.

Neither were/are happy at being turfed off the sofa or bed but the alternative is being woken at 5am.

Our current cat has a thermal blanket on the boiler.

It'll be much easier when the weather gets better and she's allowed out to go hunting.

Good luck OP, she'll soon be bossing you all about.

JapanNextYear Mon 18-Jan-16 12:01:17

We always used to lock our cat up in the kitchen at night - big space with a warm boiler he slept on and a catflap. He was fine, a very well adjusted cat.

Current cat roams the house at night, he's never allowed in the bedroom and doesn't try and get in - occasionally if we've slept in he'll hover outside the door, and very occasionally he'll meow quite loudly. Again he has a catflap. But we've had him since a kitten so he's been trained since then.

It can be done!

Thurlow Mon 18-Jan-16 12:05:39

Would a hot water bottle be nice for her? The house is warm enough but no boiler in there.

QforCucumber Mon 18-Jan-16 12:14:58

Our 2 are in the kitchen/diner on a night, put themselves to bed now but it's taken 3 years - if we put just one in there if the other is hiding somewhere then the howling is awful, they don't seem to like each other through the day but don't like to sleep without each other.
Once she has been spayed and can waste some energy running about she will be fine, it just takes time for them to settle in.

fresta Mon 18-Jan-16 12:16:30

I find that cats ajust to the sleep patterns of the family. A good tip is to make sure they are active in the evening before you go to bed, so let her out or if she's in play with her for half an hour and feed quite close to bed time. I feed mine at about 10pm and find they sleep all night most nights. It's not often that they get up to play in the night. Mine somtimes has a wander, looks out of the window, changes sleeping place but ultimately goes back to sleep until we get up. They don't understand weekend lie-ins though so be prepared grin

RoastChickenDinner Mon 18-Jan-16 12:18:50

When we first got PreciousPussGirl I shut her in the utility room with all her things at night and if we were out because I wasn't sure if she could be trusted with her toileting/damage as she is 7 and a rescue cat.

Clearly she wasn't keen on that because it quickly turned into a game of chase the cat round trying to get her in the utility.

So one night I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and let her up with me, and the rest is history! A couple of nights of a 4am wake up, but she quickly worked out that if she did that she would get put in her room so is fine now.

Dh also works shifts and it doesn't bother her. Although she is very much my cat, so she goes where I go.

TwigTheWonderKid Mon 18-Jan-16 12:19:31

Our cat has complete run of the house at night and rather sweetly sleeps on all our beds in rotation. She was a 1 year old rescue cat when we got her and in the first week or so she was quite vocal at night but it soon settled down. If you do want to keep her contained you might like to consider getting a Feliway diffuser The RPSCA recommends them for helping to settle a new cat in their new home.

MissBattleaxe Mon 18-Jan-16 12:21:14

Your cat will probably calm down as she gets older if she is young now. Our cats were nutters when they were young but now they are just lazy and sleep a lot. I think they are reserving their energy for when its warmer and they can bring us live mice again. Bless 'em.

Thurlow Mon 18-Jan-16 12:22:26

We have a 4yo so weekend lie ins are a thing of the past already grin

Roast, I can already foresee having the chase her around in a night or two's time! Luckily she seems ok with being picked up so I can at least do that, and I suppose if we put out wet food as we shut the door that might help reinforce it all.

I do feel a bit sorry for DP as the cat is much more my idea than his (not that he is against having one, just he wouldn't have got one if it was just him) and then he was kept awake half the night with the meowing and thumping at the door, when he had a 5am wake up. I'll just have to train him to use earplugs for the next week or two!

Thurlow Mon 18-Jan-16 12:25:22

We actually have a Feliway diffuser, Twig, as my parents got one for their rescue cat so we nicked it. Not 100% sure it's plugged in correctly (you can't smell it to see if it's on!) so will move it to another plug. But that's what I want to hear, hopefully once she gets to know us and trust us she'll feel calmer at night.

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