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Guide

Kitten Care Guide

INTRODUCTION

A SMOOTH LANDING

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PRODUCTS

CREATURE COMFORTS

HOUSEBREAKING

SAFETY FIRST

PLAYTIME & EXERCISE

CAT TALK

NUTRITION

SWITCHING YOUR PET’S FOOD

KEEPING YOUR PET HYDRATED

DOCTOR’S ORDERS

DENTAL CARE, GROOMING & FURBALLS

INTRODUCTION

CONGRATULATIONS ON BECOMING A PET PARENT

CHARLES DICKENS, THE WELL-LOVED AUTHOR OF NUMEROUS CLASSICS ONCE WROTE,

“WHAT GREATER GIFT THAN THE LOVE OF A CAT.”

 

A new cat is tons of fun. But, while most people regard cats as independent creatures requiring minimal attention, we can guarantee you that for the first couple of weeks, your new cat, whether a kitten or full grown adult, will need a lot of gentle guidance and attention to get fully settled into their new home. Although we don’t claim to know it all, we do have a few tricks up our sleeve that may help you get a head start.

First things first – if you have any questions or concerns regarding the health or development of your new cat, contact a trained professional (e.g. a veterinarian or certified feline behaviorist) right away. While independent research can certainly be helpful, they are the only people who are qualified to give you accurate and current advice regarding the physical and mental health of your new pet.

We sincerely hope that the days to come are as fun and exciting for you as it is for your newly adopted family member. By taking good care of your new friend, their unconditional love and affection will be your reward!

A SMOOTH LANDING

Transitioning from one home to another can be confusing and stressful, especially for a cat – they are creatures of habit and can become upset when their routine changes. What we call the “smooth landing” factor is all about making your pet feel at home in their new surroundings as quickly as possible. Ensuring a “smooth landing” can be fairly easy:

DO

  • Ask for a toy or blanket you can take home with you so your new friend has some familiar objects and smells to comfort them as they get used to their new surroundings.

 

  • Create a safe, secure area  in your home for them to stay in when you aren’t around. If your cat is still a kitten, putting up a barrier such as a baby gate may be enough; if they are older, you may want to segregate them in a room until they are used to their new home.

 

  • Set aside a few days after the adoption to bond with your new cat. Your presence will be comforting to them.

 

  • Make sure hazardous items and keepsakes are kept out of reach.

 

  • Let your existing pets get used to your new family member as gradually as possible –first from afar and then in close proximity when they are comfortable with each other.

 

  • Pick up a few treats and new toys from your local pet store.

 

  • Ensure that the litter box is placed in a quiet area, and not too close to their food.

 

  • Provide appropriate scratching options to stop inappropriate scratching behaviors before they start.

 

  • Give them lots of affection for “good” behaviors, but be aware of any signs that they would prefer to be left alone (a swishing tail, flattened ears).

DON’T

  • Leave your new cat unsupervised with young children and other pets.

 

  • Overwhelm them by introducing them to too many new people or things at once.

 

  • Punish them or yell when they do something wrong. Cats can sometimes be very skittish – loud voices and noises can often make undesirable behaviors worse.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PRODUCTS

Of course, having the right feeding and grooming tools, as well as toys on hand will make this transitional period much more enjoyable for everybody.

There are literally thousands of pet products available on the market today for cats of all personalities and breeds – but don’t let the vast array of choices overwhelm you; just ask a sales associate at your local pet store for help. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

ESSENTIALS

• Breakaway collar
with identification

• Food and water bowls
• Litter box and litter
• A bed or a box with soft blankets
• Cat food, treats and catnip
• A variety of toys – choose a
few to find out what your new friend likes best. Often, cats enjoy toys that mimic their natural hunting and stalking behaviors
• Scratching post, stand or block
• Kitty first aid kit (ask your vet for a list of essential items)

USEFUL ADDITIONS

• A harness and tie-out to allow your cat to enjoy the outdoors without wandering
• Grooming tools: brushes,
nail scissors, etc.
• Kitty toothpaste and toothbrush (or tooth cleaning finger mitt)
• An “accident” kit – enzymatic cleaners, extra litter
• A carrier (useful for vet visits)
• Window perch or cat
tree/furniture

CREATURE COMFORTS

One of the first things you’ll want to do is ensure that your new cat has a place to relax and sleep. This will mean choosing amongst a wide array of cat beds. They can be as simple as a cardboard box with a soft blanket inside (after all, as proven by endless youtube videos – cats love boxes!), or you can purchase one from a pet store in an array of shapes and sizes.

Although pricier than a regular bed, you can also purchase a cat tree or “kitty condo” that often has hammocks, beds or caves built into them – if you have more than one cat, or simply wish to spoil your new friend, it can be a great option that can also provide your cat with a place to sleep, a playground, and a perch to observe their surroundings.

HOUSEBREAKING

The golden rule is to never give your new cat the chance to have an accident in the house. Easier said than done, we know, but if you follow these guidelines, you’re more likely to prevent any mishaps.

Make sure the litter box is in a quiet part of the house, and not too close to your cat’s food and water. Also ensure that there’s a clear “escape route” from the litter box area – cats feel vulnerable when they are eliminating and will often eliminate elsewhere if they don’t like where it is placed.

ensure that the litter box is scooped daily, that there is enough litter, and that the litter is fresh; it’s a sure way to prevent any unwanted accidents. Nonetheless, if your cat happens to have an accident, having an enzymatic cleaner can help make sure that they are not tempted to “return to the scene of the crime.”

PLACE YOUR CAT IN THEIR DESIGNATED LITTER BOX:

• FIRST THING IN THE MORNING & LAST THING BEFORE YOU GO TO BED

• 10 MINUTES AFTER EACH MEAL

• RIGHT AFTER ACTIVE PLAY

SAFETY FIRST

Curiosity killed the cat – as an inquisitive, independent creature, your new kitty is likely very curious and eager to explore their new home. While you want them to explore and get to know their surroundings, you also want to make sure that they don’t get into any dangerous situations.

Here are some things you can do around the house to make sure they don’t get into any trouble:

Make sure any dangerous household objects, such as curtains, electrical cords or sharp tools, are placed out of reach of a curious cat; same goes for any fragile keepsakes you want to make sure are protected. A good rule of thumb is to get on your hands and knees
(literally!) and look at your house from the viewpoint of a cat. Anything that could be potentially dangerous or tempting should be kept well out of reach.

• Do some research on common household plants and substances that might be dangerous to your cat, and ensure that they are locked away.

• Make sure the collar you purchase for them has identification, and is the correct weight and width for their size – it should be loose enough to fit two fingers underneath, but not so loose that it can get caught or come off easily. It should also have a breakaway option so that if your cat is caught by the collar high off the ground, it will release and prevent choking.

• Consider microchipping your cat if you plan on letting them roam around.

PLAYTIME & EXERCISE

Because cats are active, curious creatures, they need plenty of mental and physical stimulation.

The amount of play & exercise your cat needs will depend on the age, breed, and personality of your cat. Giving them the proper amount of physical and mental stimulation will ensure that your cat is fit and stays out of trouble.

Playtime is all about stimulating your cat’s natural predatory instincts.

Chasing

Chasing a toy such as a cat teaser or laser pointer stimulates their need
to hunt and stalk small prey by mimicking the erratic movements of natural prey animals. Other toys, such as stuffed mice, also stimulate this instinct by allowing your cat to “hunt” them as if they were the real thing.

Scratching

Scratching stimulates the natural urge to keep claws sharp; also serves to mark territory. Provide a variety of attractive surfaces for your cat to scratch on, in a variety of configurations. Having plenty of designated scratching surfaces can prevent them from destroying your furniture.

Solving “puzzles”

Helps improve mental acuity and relieve boredom. For example, a hollow ball filled with treats that has to be moved a certain way to release the treats can keep them entertained for hours on end. By incorporating food, you ensure your cat stays interested, as hunting and eating are closely linked behaviors in the wild.

Stalking games

Are games that allow your cat to hide and pounce on things, for example, by allowing them to play in paper grocery bags (avoid the plastic ones!), boxes, or cat towers with multiple levels and hideout spots stimulates your cat’s natural stalking instincts.

During play, your cat may become overly excited, and can cause minor injuries. For this reason, make sure that there is plenty of distance between you and your cat to avoid any accidental injuries. Once in a while, you might still get scratched – make sure to clean the wound thoroughly and consult a medical professional if it appears to be infected or not healing.

CAT TALK

Cats are opinionated, expressive companions who are not shy to let you know how they feel in a given moment. Contrary to popular belief, cats will let you know how they feel by using a combination of various vocalizations and body language.

Did you know?

While a dog can only make around 10 types of vocalizations, cats can make over 100 different types of sounds – for example, research shows that they meow at a pitch that imitates human infants to tell their owners they want something.

 

Happy

Happy cats are generally relaxed, without any signs of tension. They might hold their tail still, or with a slight curl at the top if they’re greeting you. They’ll often purr or look as if they’re daydreaming. They might also give you “head bumps,” or rub against your ankles. A cat blinking their eyes languidly at you is a very happy cat (it’s the feline equivalent of kissing and letting their guard down).

Neutral

This is how most cats spend their waking day. There is no tension in the body, and they appear to be content to watch what’s happening in the environment. Depending on the cat, they may appear to be almost smiling or simply indifferent.

Anxious or Annoyed

When cats are anxious, their eyes will be open and unblinking. Their pupils may dilate. Sometimes, cats may tense up, and get ready to run. When they are annoyed, they may pull their whiskers back and start swishing their tail.

Scared or Angry

If you see the “Halloween cat” posture – flattened ears, tensed body, puffed up tail & fur, whilst hissing, spitting and growling – your cat is letting you know they’re scared. When this happens, it is wise not to pet your cat, even if your first instinct is to physically comfort them. Avoid staring at the cat and any sudden movements to avoid injury.

Focused

When cats are interested in something, they may make small chirping or chattering sounds, stare intently, and point their body towards the object of attention. They might get ready to pounce, or start stalking the object. Their head and tail will often be held low, and swish slowly from side to side to enhance their sense of balance.

Often, while cats rely on body language and subtle vocalizations to communicate amongst each other, they will use less subtle vocalizations (a variety of meows) to get your attention instead. As time goes by, you may recognize various types of meows – they may use a different one to let you know they want food, and another one to let you know they want to play.

If some of these signals are unfamiliar to you at first, don’t worry – with time, you’ll become more and more comfortable with the way your cat expresses themself.

NUTRITION

ver hear the saying, “great abs are made in the kitchen?” Well, even for your pet, a healthy lifestyle begins with what you put in the bowl™. Don’t underestimate the importance of choosing a quality food. Reading the labels on pet food is just as important as reading the labels on human food – if you wouldn’t eat it yourself, chances are you probably shouldn’t give it to them either.

SELECTING A FOOD FOR YOUR NEW PET
When choosing a high quality food for your pet, here’s a handy checklist that will help you make the right choice:

SAY YES TO:

ANIMAL PROTEIN:

Cats are obligate carnivores first and foremost, so look for quality animal protein as the first ingredient. The more varied the protein, the better the amino acid profile.

QUALITY CARBOHYDRATES:

Commercial cat food formulas will contain carbohydrates such as grains, legumes or starchy tubers. While they are all good sources of dietary fiber, for a more premium-quality food, look for one made with low-glycemic carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, chickpeas or oats.

HEALTHY FATS:

There are two key things you’ll want to look for when it comes to fats – first, a rich source of omega fatty acids such as flaxseed or salmon oil; second, a fat whose source is named and familiar, such as “chicken” fat or “duck” fat.

FRUITS, VEGETABLES & BOTANICALS:

Rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, the addition of these will help boost the immune system.

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS:

While these are not essential to your as glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health, and prebiotics and probiotics to improve digestion.

 

SAY NO TO:

BY-PRODUCTS:

Quality food will include recognizable proteins sourced from reliable, safe suppliers. Avoid “mystery” proteins (e.g. “meat meal”) and by-products.

GLUTEN MEALS:

Plant glutens (often listed as wheat gluten meal or corn gluten meal) are not easily digestible or bioavailable to your pet, and provide little nutritional benefit beyond spiking the protein content of a food.

CHEAP, HIGH-GLYCEMIC GRAINS:

Avoid foods made with wheat or corn, especially if they’re high on the ingredient panel.

INGREDIENT SPLITTING:

Some companies often split unwanted ingredients and fillers into different components, so they appear further down the list. For example, they might split “whole corn” and “ground corn…” either way, its still corn, which provides little nutritional benefit.

ARTIFICIAL COLOURS AND FLAVOURS:

These are added to poor quality foods with low natural meat content to improve the look and taste of the food, which your pet may find offensive otherwise.

SWITCHING YOUR PET’S FOOD

f you’re planning to switch your pet’s food, you should avoid switching it abruptly, as this can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Coming into a new home is quite enough change for them as is; aim to introduce the new food of your choice gradually:

Start with 25% new food and 75% old food; slowly change the proportion over the next 5 to 7 days by gradually increasing the amount of new food while decreasing the old.

Ideally, try and keep your cat on a feeding schedule – you can usually find the feeding instructions on your bag of pet food. If you’re unsure about the frequency or portion size, your veterinarian should be able to help you out.

KEEPING YOUR PET HYDRATED

It’s important to have fresh, clean water available at all times. In addition, canned food is another way to help keep your pet hydrated – while it doesn’t replace drinking water, it’s high in moisture (about 75-80% as opposed to about 10% in dry food) and can be a tasty option for pets that have a low thirst drive.

DOCTOR’S ORDERS

No matter the age of your cat, it’s important that you make your first appointment with the vet as soon as possible. To help ensure that your cat enjoys a long and healthy life, they need regular checkups, scheduled vaccinations, and parasite medication appropriate for their age and size. If you are unsure of which vet to go to, a good place to start would be to ask friends and family who have cats for referrals to a reliable veterinarian with solid references and credentials. Don’t worry if you have a lot of questions for the vet in the beginning – we’ve all been there!

THE IMPORTANCE OF SPAYING/NEUTERING YOUR PET

Having your cat neutered is a simple surgical procedure that prevents them from having unwanted litters and helps alleviate pet overpopulation. Often, if you adopt an adult cat from a rescue, the procedure will be included in the adoption fee; if you are adopting a kitten and have no plans to breed, you should talk to your vet about the timing of the spay or neuter to ensure they get the care they need.

PARASITE PREVENTION

Parasites, such as fleas, ticks and worms can harm a cat, and can harbor communicable diseases such as Lyme disease. Therefore, you should pay special attention during high risk seasons, and administer preventative medications according to your vet’s recommendations. If you want more information on common parasites, your vet should be able to provide you with all the information you need.

DENTAL CARE, GROOMING & FURBALLS

While regular veterinary care is certainly important, regular care at home is also important for the health of your pet.

DENTAL CARE

Tooth decay is a major problem for cats, and oral disease is a frequently diagnosed health problem. Be sure to include regular dental care throughout their life so that they get used to having their teeth cleaned on a regular basis. Your vet should be able to give you tips on how best to clean your cat’s teeth.

GROOMING & HAIRBALL PREVENTION

Whether you D.I.Y. or have a professional do it, regular grooming helps your cat stay clean and feeling their best. It’s also a great way to have them become comfortable to the human touch, while allowing you to check their skin and coat for any unusual bumps or spots.

Although cats are very fastidious creatures and will groom themselves often, be sure to include regular brushing in your grooming routine. Regular brushing will help remove dead hair, dirt and debris, and reduce shedding for a healthier looking coat, while helping you bond with your cat.