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Moscow Animals Advice Center


 
Advice for Cat Owners

Please ask your vet for individual advice on caring for your cat - they will be happy to help!
But here is some basic information to answer some of your questions.

Index

Kitten


Letting your cat go outside
Cats should never be let outside in Moscow. There are too many stray dogs and aggressive dogs that go after cats. Rat poison is also deadly for cats and of course traffic poses a huge danger to cats (and dogs). Keep your cat safe inside, even if it used to spend time outside in your previous country of residence.

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Bedding
Deep-sided cardboard boxes lined with soft towels or a cuddly blanekt make good cat beds. You can also buy a plastic or wicker purpose-made cat bed at good pet stores. Cats very often choose their own spot, however! Keep the location warm, and if the cat is very young make sure the bad isn't in a draft or the animal will get a cold and that could be very bad.

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House training
For the first few weeks, kittens and cats will need to be kept inside, so you'll need a leak-proof litter tray of at least 45 x 25 cm (many people use a washing-up bowl!). Place it in a convenient corner and fill with sand, peat, dry earth or cat litter. Make sure it is cleaned regularly - cats are naturally very fastidious animals.

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Water
All cats and kittens need constant access to fresh water. Milk is not necessary for cats and may give kittens diarrhea. Cats who eat lots of dry, crunchy food need plenty of water; in its absence they may be susceptible to bladder disease.

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Food
Kittens need four or five small meals a day (approx. one tablespoonful) until 12 weeks - use tinned kitten food, or make your own from finely ground fresh meat, rabbit or fish. Ask your vet for nutritional advice to make sure your kitten is getting the correct nutrients. After 12 weeks, reduce the frequency to four meals (and increase the quantity of food). At 6 or 7 months the kitten should eat twice a day.   Ensure the ratio between wet and dry food is initially 70-30 and gradually increase the ration to 50-50 as the kitten grows older.

Always make sure the food is at room temperature.

Cats should be given two meals a day - tinned cat food or fresh meat, rabbit or fish - make sure all bones are removed as these can get caught in a cat's throat and cause death. Don't feed your cat dog food - it doesn't contain all the ingredients your cat needs. Make sure all dishes are cleaned regularly.

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Grooming
Cat Being Washed

Grooming prevents cats from swallowing too much hair which can form a ball in the stomach and cause serious illness. Long-haired cats will need regular grooming to avoid tangled and matted fur and skin problems. Use a comb, followed by a brush. Short-haired cats will need to be groomed occasionally - especially when moulting. You can use a soft brush, or a damp wash leather works well to remove loose hairs - hold it in both hands and draw over the cat from head to tail.

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Fleas, ringworms, mites, worming and vaccination
If your cat has fleas buy "Advantage" drops, also freely available in Moscow. Usually one tube of "Advantage" is meant for one adult cat with a weight of 4 kg. When treating kittens a lot less liquid must be used. Again consult your vet if you are in doubt about how much liquid to apply.

Ringworm disease (called "leeshay" in Russian) is a fungal infection and pretty common in Moscow, particularly among cats. Dogs can catch the disease from infected cats (and so can people). Patchy hair loss, particularly apparent on the animal's head, can be a sign of ringworm disease (although other problems such as vitamin-deficiencies and ear mites cause hair loss as well). If you take in a stray cat or dog from the street call your vet as soon as possible to have the animal checked for ringworm. The disease is NOT life threatening or dangerous and can be easily treated and cured within a matter of weeks. The treatment of choice consists of antibiotic shots combined with antifungal creams or sprays, followed by a ringworm vaccination. You may also choose to have your pets (cats in particular) vaccinated against ringworm as a matter of precaution. Ringworm in people is usually treated by applying antifungal cream.

Ear mites are also a problem, particularly in stray cats. They can easily be treated by applying special ear drops, which are available from veterinary pharmacies. Look at your cats or dogs ears - if you see a lot of dark brown or black patches inside, they are most likely ear mites. Ear mites itch and can cause the animal to scratch their ears intensively, resulting in hair loss and wounds around the ears and eyes. If left untreated, ear mites can cause more serious infections and can even lead to hearing loss.

All cats should be de-wormed twice a year, preferably at the end of March and the end of October. The medicine of choice is "Drontal" for cats. They are freely available at Moscow's pet food & supplies stores. The tablets should be administered on an empty stomach about 30-40 minutes before the animal's first meal of the day. If in doubt about dosages or if you have problems giving the tablet to cat, please contact your vet.

Remember to keep your cat's vaccinations up-to-date. Adult cats must be vaccinated against rabies and canine/feline infectious diseases once a year and the vaccinations should be documented in your cat's health documents. You can carry canine/feline infectious disease into your house on the soles of your shoes, on gardening equipment and other items that have been in contact with soil (e.g. bicycles, skis, sleighs); therefore it is imperative that your animal is vaccinated REGULARLY.

Kittens are usually vaccinated only once at the age of 3 months. If your kitten will go outside, a second vaccination must be administered three weeks after the first vaccination. Thereafter the cat must to be vaccinated regularly once a year.

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Holidays
If you can take your cat with you, make sure they have a safe, comfortable carrier and are used to it before the day of the journey. Unconfined cats should not be taken in a car.

If you are leaving your cat behind, visit recommended boarding catteries in advance to make sure that you are happy with the facilities and care offered. Alternatively, if the cat is staying at home, arrange for a responsible person to visit twice a day - or better till, stay in your home with the cat while you're away.

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Identification
Ask your vet to microchip your cat - this is a painless procedure which puts a tiny microchip under your cat's skin. If your cat strays, the information on the chip can be read and matched against a central database (note: such databases currently do not exist in Russia, but you will need an ISO Standard microchip for your cat if you plan to travel with it.

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Neutering/Spaying
We strongly suggest that your cat should be neutered - due to the overwhelming population of unwanted cats! But more substantially here are a few more reasons why the snip is a good idea.
  • Spaying a female before her first heat protects her from risks of uterine, ovarian, and mammary cancers.
  • Spaying also protects her from the stresses of pregnancy.
  • Spaying reduces her frantic interest in the outdoors and reduces the chances that she'll wander far.
  • Spaying reduces the chances she'll mark your home with urine when she's in heat.
  • Unaltered cats have urges that make them irritable and anxious. They yowl or whine frequently, fight with other cats, and/or destroy objects in the house.
  • Neutering a male reduces his risk from numerous health problems.
  • Neutering lowers his urge to roam and to fight, and thus lowers chances of disease transmission and woundings.
  • Neutering also reduces his tendency to spray in the home. And neutering eliminates the powerful odor of adult male cat urine.

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