We all understand the challenges of finding the right new cat – and of deciding how you’re going to look after them! So we asked a selection of our vet bloggers where their cats came from, and how they live with them…
Table of contents
- Where did you get your cats from?
- Are your cats indoor or outdoor? Why?
- What’s your biggest concern about any of your cats’ health right now?
- You might also be interested in:
Where did you get your cats from?
Cats seem to arrive in my life at exactly the time I need one. There has never been a period in my life when I have actively looked for a cat. When there is a space in my life for a cat I can always rely on a new feline friend to appear. All my cats have either been adult strays who cried at my door or unwanted kittens which I have got through my work as a vet.
They came from Lothian Cat Rescue just outside Edinburgh. I was volunteering there at the time and fell in love with the two feisty tortoiseshell sisters.
It was rescued as a stray kitten brought into one of the vet clinics I was working at.
My first cat, Pi, was a stray left on the doorstep of a practice I worked for in 2012. She was a little tortoiseshell kitten, super cute but feisty! No one came forward to claim her, and when we reached Friday evening I took her home with me, rather than pop into work multiple times over the weekend to look after her. Nine years, four house moves and two children later, she’s still here! My second cat, Jazzy, ended up with me when his previous owner’s son became allergic to him and she came to me at work in tears because she needed to re-home him but didn’t know how. We were on the look-out for a second cat, so that was that!
I have always rehomed strays, a hazard of the job when you work in a vet clinic. There are always unwanted kittens around, especially in kitten season. At the very least, I would say that sadly there never seems to be a shortage of applications when the resident feline vacancy arises in our home. Take Kitty for example. She just wandered in at the right time and, after checking that she didn’t already have an owner, she quickly got her paws under the table. If I ever need to be more proactive about getting a cat, I will always go to the local cat rescue. After 10 years of working at Battersea Dogs and Cats home I know there are always lovely strays and relinquished pets needing homes.
Our cats are rescues from our local Blue Cross centre. When we lost our previous elderly cat I was keen to use a rescue setting as there are always lots of cats needing homes. It took quite a bit of searching and a couple of false starts but we ended up with the perfect pair.
My cat Tiffin’s pregnant mum Mouse was found as a stray and brought to the practice where I worked. One of the nurses gave Mouse a home and helped to raise the kittens, the rest of us gave the kittens homes when they were ready to be weaned.
Are your cats indoor or outdoor? Why?
My cat is an outdoor cat. I am lucky enough to live in the countryside with large areas of woodland around me. My cat can have the best of both worlds as a cosseted pet and a wild and free hunter. He can express all of his natural behaviours and enjoy life to the full.
They have free access to both. Come and go as they please through the cat flap. Mostly indoors in winter because they don’t like getting wet and cold!
My cats currently have access outdoors as where I live there is less risk of them getting into trouble with other cats or getting hit by traffic. I appreciate cats can live happily inside all the time and I have done that with cats in the past.
Both of mine are outdoor, in that they have a cat-flap with free access to the outside, although they both spend a large portion of their time snoozing on the sofa. They were both used to being outdoors when we got them, and they both get very cross if kept in. We kept them in for two weeks when we moved house recently and Pi coped surprisingly well but Jazzy sprayed urine everywhere, scratched our doors and windows to bits and vocalised continuously (or it certainly felt continuous!).
As a vet, I do know the risks of cats being allowed to roam, but we live in a rural area on a very quiet lane. I feel the benefit they gain from the mental and physical stimulation of being outdoors makes it well worthwhile. I think some cats can live happily indoors, dependent on personality and with enough owner-led mental and physical play, but mine certainly enjoy the outdoors life.
I have always had cats that can go outdoors. The main reason for this is I feel that cats cannot express their full range of natural behaviours if kept indoors all the time. Also, we are lucky enough to live in the country, so it’s not practicable to keep a cat indoors. I guess it depends a little bit on circumstances, though. If I was back in my flat in London, then I would be looking for a cat that would be happier with an indoor lifestyle. Perhaps one that needed to be kept indoors for health reasons, such as being FIV positive.
My cats are allowed outdoors during the day but have a teatime curfew so they are in before it gets too dark. We are lucky to live in quite a rural area, away from busy roads, and they really enjoy the stimulation that they get from being outside. Keeping them indoors overnight reduces many of the risks they might be exposed to.
Tiffin is an indoor/outdoor cat, she comes in every night then goes out during the day. In our old house, she seemed scared of the neighbourhood and stayed inside a lot but we recently moved house and she’s starting to explore the area a bit more, staying outside for longer each day.
What’s your biggest concern about any of your cats’ health right now?
My cat has recently developed a small cyst on his chest. Although it is not painful for him, I do want it to be removed and sent away for histology to check that it is nothing more serious. At the time I am writing he is actually booked in for surgery next week. Hopefully his surgery will go well!
They are 9 so heading into older cat territory. One might have become partially deaf but doesn’t seem to bother her too much. They are healthy and mostly happy if we manage stressful situations.
Now that my cat is getting older I am on the alert for any sign of weight loss or increased drinking. These are common signs associated with problems such as renal disease, thyroid problems and diabetes that are more likely to occur in cats once they pass 10 years of age.
They are both middle-aged now, and I constantly worry about all those old cat things: hypertension, kidney problems, thyroid problems, arthritis etc, but both are currently doing well. Pi had a cancerous lump removed a while ago, so I keep a close eye on her for any recurrence. She is also on the chubby side which isn’t ideal and can predispose to many issues, so that is something to work on.
At the moment Kitty seems to be in good shape for whatever her age is. Although I am aware that she is getting older so my special vet senses are always twitching for signs of diseases common in older cats, like weight loss (hyperthyroidism, diabetes) or increased drinking (diabetes again, or renal failure). But moggies commonly live to 15-20 years, so hopefully she has got a bit more time yet.
My main concern with my cats is that they both suffer from an issue with their hindlegs. Over time I know they will probably develop arthritis. We try to manage their condition as best we can by feeding a joint supplement, trying to keep their weight stable and making sure they stay active.
Tiffin is very healthy but she’s starting to get older now and I worry about the diseases that older cats get. I would like to try and catch any problems early on so that she can have a good quality of life for as long as possible, therefore I’ll probably start taking urine and blood samples from her next birthday.