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Just Adopted a Stray Cat? Here are 8 Important Tips You Need to Know

Stray cats live on the streets or animal shelters with no place to call home or no one to call family. There are an estimated 480 million stray cats worldwide, and these cats are constantly exposed to dangers such as road accidents, abuse, and starvation. 

For these reasons, adopting a stray cat is a fantastic way to give them a better shot at life. You can either adopt a cat from an animal shelter in Malaysia, via a friend, or from the streets. No matter the mode of adoption you pick, there are some preparations you can make in advance.

In this article, we're covering everything you need to know about adopting a stray cat, especially if you’re in Malaysia, including home preparations, vet visits, microchipping, pet insurances, essential vaccinations,  tips on grooming, and the best cat food for your cats!  

Let’s get into it! 

1. Creating a cat-friendly environment.  

Finding out if pets are allowed 

First off, your location matters. Say you are currently located in a condominium or apartment in Malaysia. In that case, you will need to check with the local council or condo management to ascertain that your condo or apartment is pet-friendly. Plus, additional state or local rules and regulations may limit the number of pets or breed of pets allowed in the apartment. Hence, ensure you are well-aware of possible rules and regulations before bringing your new family member home!

Deciding on a suitable area to house your cat 

Additionally, rehoming a cat comes with the responsibility of making some home modifications to build a cat-friendly environment. Firstly, decide on an area for the cat to stay. It's recommended for you to choose a comfortable space that's away from disturbances like frequent human movements or a loud and noisy place. A personal spot for your cat helps it feel more secure at your home! 

Buying a litter box

Next, prepare a suitable and clean litter box for excretion. If you have more than one cat at home, it's better to use more than one litter tray. However, it's common for new untrained cats to litter at other places in the house as this is innate cat behaviour. Therefore, when you first bring your new fur baby home, it would be best to monitor it periodically and clean up after it when necessary. 

Catering to your furkid’s ‘scratching’ needs

Other than that, cats usually have the urge to scratch, as it keeps their claws sharp and helps stretch their muscles. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of accidentally scratching or tearing other surfaces, such as the sofa or table cloth. Thus, if you wish to avoid ruined curtains and cushions, it’s best to designate a "scratching place" or purchase a scratching post to keep your little baby entertained as it settles into your home! 

Minimizing the sources of danger 

Finally, look around your house and identify potentially harmful items that are within reach of your cat. For example, keep sharp objects such as knives in closed drawers, as cats may injure themselves while exploring their new home. Besides that, if you have any indoor plants, make sure they're safe and non-toxic for cats. 

Prevention is better than cure, so keeping your home as cat-friendly as possible ensures your new fur kid is well-protected from any potential dangers or threats!

2. Visiting a veterinarian clinic near you.

For the most part, animal shelters make sure their cats are vaccinated before being rehomed. If you have adopted your pet through a friend, you may request a vaccine card from its previous owner to ensure that its vaccinations are up-to-date. However, if you’ve decided to rehome a cat from the streets, it’s likely unvaccinated. 

Nevertheless, if you’re unsure of your cat’s vaccination history, it’s advisable for you to take your cat to a vet clinic and discuss necessary vaccinations for your cat. 

Here is a list of key vaccines your vet might recommend:

  • Cat flu vaccine 
  • Feline infectious enteritis
  • Feline leukaemia virus
  • Feline parvovirus 
  • Rabies vaccine 

Ensuring your cat receives all essential vaccinations as early on as possible will prevent it from contracting harmful diseases or infections that could be potentially life-threatening. 

For instance, the feline parvovirus is an extremely contagious disease that leads to a high mortality rate in unvaccinated kittens. As there is no cure for this disease, getting your new companion vaccinated is of paramount importance! Additionally, indoor cats should be given core vaccines as well, as this will keep them safe if they happen to escape or when you send them to the vet, groomer, or a boarding facility. 

Vaccinations cost around RM40 - RM80 for cats, but this is not the only cost to bear in mind when adopting a pet. Apart from vaccinations, you should also consult a veterinarian for a general check-up, as this would help guarantee your newly adopted cat is disease-free and healthy! 

3. Consider microchipping.

Microchipping is the process of embedding a tiny, grain-sized chip directly beneath the skin of your furry companion. This minuscule device allows identification of your pet where a serial number will be captured by a scanner and run through a database to retrieve the owner’s contact information. 

While many cat owners worry that this process might be painful, microchipping is, in fact, a low-risk procedure that requires no anaesthesia. Contrary to popular belief, your cat will breeze through this quick and painless process that would only take mere seconds! In Malaysia, microchipping costs around RM35 - RM100. 

4. Consider getting pet insurance.

Accidents, illnesses, and diseases are unpredictable, and when they strike, getting timely treatment and medical attention could mean the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for vet bills to cost thousands, further amplifying the importance of getting your precious companion insured. 

Oyen Pet Insurance offers the highest medical coverage in Malaysia, and you can claim up to Rm8,000 on surgery, follow-up treatment, medications, and blood tests. Pet insurance will reduce the financial and emotional burden following unexpected vet bills and ensure your darling pet gets the care, attention, and treatment it needs! 

Nevertheless, pet insurance does not cover existing illnesses, much like human insurance, as these are deemed pre-existing conditions. Hence, to maximise the benefits of your pet insurance, get your new fur kid insured as early on as possible while it’s healthy!

5. Consider spaying or neutering your feline friend.

Spaying and neutering are terms often used interchangeably. However, spaying generally refers to the removal of reproductive organs from female pets, while neutering involves the removal of testicles from male pets. 

Contrary to what people commonly believe, spaying comes with a host of benefits, including the prevention of stray overpopulation and a reduced risk of certain cancers and health problems. Cats can typically be spayed when they are between 2 to 5 months of age, but this is a general recommendation, and clarifying the suitable time frame with your vet is the best route to take! 

If you are worried about these procedures, rest assured that your fur kid will not feel any pain or discomfort during the surgery, and medications are provided to combat possible post-surgical pain. Currently, in Malaysia, spaying a cat costs around RM80 - RM300. 

6. Find the most suitable cat food. 

One man's meat (or should I say cat?) is another man's poison. This old English proverb means something that works well to one may be distasteful to another. True to these words, every cat has a different taste palette. Therefore, it helps to learn your cat's dietary likes and dislikes to ensure optimal health management. 

However, during the first few days of adoption, your cat may not eat as much as it should. So, it's best to provide your cat with familiar cat foods as it increases the chance of your cat eating it. For example, if you have adopted your cat from an animal shelter, inquire about the type of cat food that is provided there. Consequently, try to give the same kind of food to your adopted cat at home. 

But if you're unsure of your cat's past diet regimen, try giving it some common cat food from a brand you trust and monitor its response.

There are three main types of cat food: 

  • Dry cat food 
  • Semi-moist cat food 
  • Wet cat food

Dry cat food, or kibbles, is more budget-friendly and easier to store but not suitable for cats that have a low water intake. Semi-moist cat food contains a higher quantity of salt and sugar compared to dry or wet cat food, and hence, may not be suitable for every cat. On the flip side, wet cat food fetches a higher price tag but serves as a good source of nutrients and water for your cat! 

As time goes by, your cat should start eating well. If your cat has not been eating properly even after the adoption period has exceeded a month, you should consult a veterinarian to seek prompt medical advice for your cat. 

7. Get the basics of building rapport right.

Bonding plays a crucial role in making your newly adopted cat feel comfortable and at home. During the first few days, sit on the floor and allow your cat to come to you. Keep your arms outstretched to make your cat feel welcomed. However, if it doesn’t come near you, avoid forcing it. Instead, give it more time to get acquainted with its surroundings and new family members.   

Take note of these signs indicating that your cat is likely uncomfortable and not ready to interact:

  • Aggressive behaviours like grunting
  • Twitching or horizontal tail
  • Flattened ears
  • Hides or walks away from you. 
  • Staring with dilated pupils

You can also get your cat some toys to interest them. When choosing a cat toy at the store, try to find interactive toys. These types of toys will provide an opportunity for you to play together with your cat and consequently bond more effectively. 

8. Grooming your cat.

Grooming a cat includes bathing, brushing, paw, and nail trimming. Considering that your adopted cat may have been outdoors for a substantial amount of time, giving it a good grooming session is highly recommended. 

Not only will your cat be cleaner and neater, but this process may also help you detect wounds, injuries, fleas, ticks, or any other contagious diseases that are common amongst stray cats (i.e., ringworm or cat scratch disease). However, pet insurance does not cover the cost of treating conditions involving ticks, fleas, roundworm, or tapeworm, as these are considered routine and preventative treatments. 

If you're planning to groom your cat yourself, make sure to use cat-friendly shampoo for bathing, soft nylon for brushing at least once a week, and cat nail clippers. But admittedly, getting a cat to bathe can be a daunting task!  Hence, you may wish to source the help of a professional groomer as they’ll be well equipped to handle your fur baby with immense care and caution. 

Conclusion 

Imagine your first day in a new foreign country with no familiar faces— that's probably how your cat may feel at the start. While some cats may adjust themselves in a few weeks, others may take up to several months. As a new cat parent, you may face some difficulties learning the ropes at the start. Nevertheless, with some practice and experience, you’ll grow to enjoy and embrace the journey as you forge a lasting relationship with your new companion!