A. B. C. OF CAT WELFARE 1961 & 2003

In 1961, Britain's Cats Protection League (see Links) presented basic cat care in the form of an A-B-C. It was an interesting and innovative approach at a time when cat care leaflets were wordy, not short and punchy as most are today. Most of their points remain valid today, but what items would go into a modern ABC now that 40 years have passed since the CPL version?



Always bear in mind that in accepting a kitten or cat you also accept responsibility for its welfare in the broadest sense of the word.

Accidents! They occur indoors and outdoors and owners should do their best to minimise the likelihood of accidents. Allergies is an "A" which causes misery for some cat lovers - either living with the symptoms or relinquishing their cats.

Burns, scalds and other serious injuries must be dealt with immediately by a Veterinary Surgeon or an Animal Welfare Clinic. In the absence of immediate professional attention the information given in a reliable First Aid for Animals book should be followed.

Behaviour - and how to modify bad behaviour.

Collars with name and address suitably attached can be the means of restoring a lost pet to its owner. Collars must be all elastic, adjustable, and if not obtainable from Pet Shops or stores where there is a Petsí Department, name and address of supplier can be obtained from the C.P.L..

Collars remain an important consideration, but elsewhere "C" might be Curfew. Children, particularly how to teach them to treat the cat properly, feature as "C" in the lives of many cat owners. A "C" which recently hit the headlines was Cloning and "CC" was the kitten in question.

Damp and draughts are dangerous. Keep your cat or kitten away from them. A bed off the floor and protected from open windows and doors is advisable.

We rarely think about damp and draughts in these days of central heating and double glazing! A modern "D" might be "diet", or even "diabetes", something increasingly common as cats become overweight.

Every day cats are killed on the road and particularly in busy towns. Keep your cat under control as far as possible and do keep your cat in at night.

Euthanasia, a decision faced by more and more owners because cats are living longer. Or even Environment - of particular concern where cats are accused of killing wildlife.

Fresh water and clean bowls are as essential as good food. Some cats prefer water.

Feeding - there are dozens of different foods available, including prescription diets and Fresh Foods. Or Fleas, Ferals or Fundraising are all important "F"s.

Give a thought to your catís appearance by daily combing and/or brushing. It will help keep the fur free from knots and dirt, particularly if the catís coat is long.

Grooming is an essential "G" whether your cat is longhaired, shorthaired or no-haired. Gardens are another "G" - how to make your garden cat-safe and how to keep you cat from damaging your neighbour's garden. For breeders, Genetics is another "G" to consider.

Hunting is a natural instinct with a cat, so donít expect it to discriminate between birds and mice or rats, but they must not be considered animated mouse traps. Well fed cats are the best hunters; if forced to hunt because they are hungry they will only kill to satisfy their immediate needs.

Hunting is something which must now be controlled in Australia, and perhaps in other countries in the future. So, the same "H" but the advice might be different today.

Illness in cats can be as common as it is with some humans and equally so needs expert attention. Do not under any circumstances attempt to diagnose and treat your catís complaint and only use textbook information as a first aid measure in an emergency.

Illness and Inoculation are both important "I"s these days. In areas with outdoor dangers, Indoors is an "I" worth considering. Identification is another essential "I".

Jokes about cats are not always as funny as they are intended to be and joking that leads to misuse or injury is dangerous.

Jokes such as the "Bonsai Kitten" page are not well received by most cat lovers, nor by cat welfare workers who worry that people might attempt such things for real.

Keeping a cat in good condition includes attention to teeth, ears and toilet and the presence of vermin (fleas or lice) should be dealt with carefully. Beware of any powder or liquid that does not guarantee it harmless to domestic pets. This information should be on the label.

An obvious "K" would be Kittens - how to care for them and how to keep down the numbers born each year. Also Kids, if they are taught how to handle cats properly.

Lost cats can often suffer considerably and especially if they are of a nervous temperament. They tend to hide in places that one can easily overlook.

Litter tray and the various types of Litter available to fill it! Legislation is another "L" and, in most countries, includes laws against animal cruelty.

Mother cats need extra care and attention both before and after the kittens arrive.

Missing cats and Microchips; the latter can help to reunite the former with its owner.

Neighbours may offer to look after your cat during your absence on holiday. In some cases this is satisfactory but the safety of a properly run Cattery is preferable (information on this is obtainable from C.P.L. Headquarters). If your cat is left in a neighbourís care be sure to leave your holiday address just in case it is needed.

The most obvious modern day "N" would have to be Neutering - it controls the population, prolongs life, prevents wandering and helps reduce the spread of disease.

Of all that has been said and written about cats nothing can be taken for granted. Cats differ as much if not more so as humans and what applies to one cat either as regards temperament, habits, likes and dislikes, dependability, etc. may not apply to your cat or your neighbourís cat or any other cat. They should be treated as individuals.

Obesity would be a very topical "O" for the modern day cat - better nutrition and more time indoors is leading to flabby felines. Others might argue that "Outdoors-is-dangerous" or "Overpopulation" would be a more important "O"

Poisoning is often suspected without reason, it should not be assumed that a cat has been poisoned because it vomits nor should any treatment be given that has not been prescribed by a Veterinary Surgeon. Poisons are not easily obtainable these days and if a cat has picked up something that has been deliberately put down it will most likely be beyond treatment.

Poisoning today is most likely to be accidental - slug pellets, human medications, using products intended for dogs on cats or overdoses of cat medication. Another "P" might be Population, but that is dealt with elsewhere. Pedigree cats and Purebreds - there are far more breeds seen today than in 1961.

Quality and not quantity could well apply to kittens and if only one or two out of each litter are kept they have a better chance of being healthier, sturdier and a better hope of a good home. We recommend this procedure as a realistic attempt to solve the stray and unwanted cat problem.

Quality and quantity are important in many other things too, for example in feeding. Quarantine is a "Q" to consider when moving from country to country.

Rough handling is seldom appreciated by a cat or kitten. With some exceptions they are highly sensitive and therefore apt to resent treatment of this nature. Bites and scratches are often inflicted on humans, particularly children, on account of the abuses to the catís dignity that dogs or puppies are unlikely to resent.

"R" also stands for Responsible. Responsible ownership would mean there was no need for much of this ABC. Cats Protection has several "R"s in its philosophy these days: Rescuing, Rehoming and Rehabilitating.

Sentimentality is often a mistaken attitude and not infrequently causes discomfort or even cruelty. Cats and kittens can suffer in consequence and harm is often done to animal causes through the hyper-sentimentality of well meaning cat owners.

Strays are an "S" which is often overlooked, many end up in another "S" - a Shelter. Spaying (another "S") helps reduce this problem.

Talking to your cat is by no means as silly as it sounds. You will get to know a great deal more about your pet and in a majority of cases, considerable response to your admonitions if or when they are necessary. Cat language is not only varied but educational. Try it.

Teeth might be a suitable "T" these days. Tinned foods are soft and contribute to Tartar. An enigmatic "T" for some is the Tortoiseshell cat, but only if it is male! TLC is another one. Tea Tree Oil - an untested "Natural remedy" in shampoos and antiseptics - is a Toxic "T" which has killed a number of cats.

Under no circumstances smack your cat (although some enjoy a gentle flank pat in fun), shut it out at night, leave it to fend for itself while you are away on holiday, feed it table scraps containing bones (whether fish, fowl or meat) shut it up indoors for any length of time without a sanitary tray.

"U" is for Ultrasound, a useful veterinary tool when trying to identify problems inside the cat.

Voracious eating causes sickness, indigestion, etc. Feed small meals to a hungry cat. Watch for vomiting, it may be unimportant because cats will vomit fairly easily. Excessive vomiting demands immediate attention.

Viruses and Vaccinations: many of the cat diseases which were once fatal can now be vaccinated against. Also Veterinarians, the people who help keep our cats healthy. Less fortunate cats are the unwilling subjects of Vivisection and other experiments.

Worming may become necessary if worms are either vomited or passed in the excreta. Do not use anything but a Veterinary Surgeonís prescription. Considerable harm can be done by drastic worming.

Worms remain an issue for owners, luckily there are many more wormers on the market and these are safer and easier to administer.

Xmas gifts to children should not be either kittens or puppies - they are not "Toys". If a child is to have a kitten it should be obtained for it at a time when it can understand the difference between it and its toys and should be presented as something special and not a Christmas or Birthday gift in the usual sense of the word.

"Xmas gifts" remains the most important "X" for cat rescuers. Another is X-Ray, known in the USA as a radiograph, another diagnostic tool in modern veterinary practice.

Your cat may be a target to thieves whose only interest is in the money they can obtain by stealing and selling cats for Vivisection and research. Keep your cat in at night and beware of cat thieves.

You! Your cat is your responsibility - its health and welfare are in your hands. You must also prevent it from being a nuisance to others.

Zero is the point at which we start again at the beginning of this alphabet just in case something has been missed that may be all important to your catís welfare.

Zoonoses - diseases which can be transmitted from cats to man.


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