If you have any other questions or concerns, please call us on (04) 389 8044 to speak with someone from our Feline Team who will be happy to assist you.
Wellington SPCA highly recommends buying pet insurance to cover the costs of unexpected illnesses or pet emergencies. When your dog or cat is sick or injured, it’s a stressful time. Vet care can be expensive and you may face hard decisions about what treatment you can afford. SPCA New Zealand has partnered with Southern Cross Pet Insurance and encourages all owners to take out insurance to ensure you can cover unexpected costs and focus on what’s best for your pet. For more information visit southerncrosspet.co.nz.
Your new cat or kitten will need some basic supplies to make life in their new home more comfortable. All these items can be purchased in the Wellington SPCA shop.
When you buy direct from Wellington SPCA, you receive quality products, expert advice and are helping to support other animals in need as all revenue directly supports us.
Cat carrier box
Food and water bowls
Brush or comb
Litter tray and litter
Scoop for litter tray
Toys, e.g. fish pole toy, mouse, ball
Safety collar and bell
Flea and worm treatment
It is important to introduce your cat or kitten to their new home slowly. Here's some essential advice to ensure the wellbeing of your new pet.
Keep your cat in one room for 2-3 days – a tiled bathroom or laundry is ideal.
Ensure the room is secure and well ventilated.
Confining them to one room will help them feel safe and secure and lets them establish their own territory. It’s also easier for toilet training and cleaning.
Set up the room with water, food, toys, litter tray and scratching post.
Provide a bed or comfy blanket to snuggle in and help your cat settle.
Put the litter tray in a private area away from food and bedding.
Put the litter tray in a private area away from food and bedding.
Remove dangerous wires, curtain cords or items which your cat could chew on or get tangled in.
Remove breakable or scratchable items.
Keep your toilet lid closed.
Ask family members to try to keep quiet to avoid scaring your cat.
Don’t worry if your cat hides for a few days as this is quite normal behaviour. Cats find moving house and meeting new people stressful. Allow them time to settle in, and wait for them to come to you instead of forcing contact. Talk gently to them and sit nearby so they can relax. Let the cat approach you when they feel ready.
After 2-3 days in one room, slowly introduce your cat to the rest of the house.
Do this room by room to avoid overwhelming them.
Keep your cat or kitten inside so they don’t get lost or run away. If your cat goes outside too soon they may get lost or run away if scared. Older cats sometimes try to return to their old home. Keep them inside until they have learnt this is their new home.
Adult cats – minimum 2-3 weeks.
Kittens – 6 weeks and 10 days after all vaccinations.
Keep all doors and windows closed.
After the settling-in period, introduce your cat to the garden in short supervised stages. Gradually get them used to this bigger territory before giving them free range. Kittens should be supervised outside to protect them against other cats, dogs or potential threats. It’s best to keep cats inside at night to avoid injuries or fights.
Don’t force too much attention on the cat.
Avoid introducing the whole family at once.
Let the cat explore its new room and meet other family members gradually.
It’s okay to offer a gentle pat. Try not to overwhelm the cat with everyone offering attention and cuddling the cat.
Closely supervise children, especially young ones, with the cat.
Teach children to handle and pat the cat properly so it doesn’t get hurt or scared.
Always supervise young children with the cat.
Teach children to handle and pet the cat properly so they don’t get hurt or scared.
Keep all other pets away from your new cat initially.
Read the essential advice below about introducing other pets.
This helps them feel safe, secure and lets them establish their own territory. It’s easier for toilet training and cleaning.
Don’t be concerned. Cats find moving house and meeting new people stressful. Allow them time to settle in, and wait for them to come to you instead of forcing contact. Talk gently to them and sit nearby so they can relax. Let the cat approach you when they feel ready.
If your cat goes outside too soon they may get lost or run away if scared. Older cats sometimes try to return to their old home. Keep them inside until they have learnt this is their new home.
After 2-3 weeks for cats or 6 weeks for kittens (or once your cat has settled), introduce your cat to the garden in short supervised periods. Gradually get them used to this bigger territory before giving them free range. Kittens should be supervised outside to protect them against other cats, dogs or potential threats. It’s best to keep cats inside at night to avoid injuries or fights.
Cats like to go in and out of the house when they want. A lockable cat door is convenient and easy. Pull a string or toy through it, or place food through it to encourage them to use the door. Be patient and don’t force the cat to use it.
Cats and kittens adopted from Wellington SPCA will already be trained to use a litter tray.
Start the cat in one small room. Be prepared for one or two 'accidents'. Never punish a cat that has soiled outside its litter tray because this doesn’t work and will make things worse.
Cats like their litter tray to be in a quiet area away from their food and bed. Keep the tray in the same place so the cat knows where it is. You will need more than one tray if you have a large house. For multiple cats, you will need one tray per cat.
Line the litter tray with newspaper and a few cups of litter. Do not fill it up – provide just enough litter to scratch in, not to bury their waste.
It is better to use a small amount of litter and change it frequently. Cats do not like dirty litter trays so keep it clean to avoid problems.
Wash it in hot soapy water or 50:50 water and white vinegar. Avoid strong smelling detergents.
Place the cat or kitten in the tray after eating or drinking and randomly throughout the day. Give a gentle pat if it uses the tray and/or a little treat. Take care not to interrupt the cat though – wait until it has finished.
If you see your cat preparing to toilet elsewhere, distract it and quickly take it to its tray. If the cat has started toileting outside the tray, wait until it has finished and then take it to the tray, praising it if it makes any signs of scratching in there.
Do not pick up the cat yelling, or throw or push it into its tray, or it will associate the tray with punishment and avoid it.
Add a few handfuls of earth to the litter to get the cat used to the smells and textures. Make it easy for the cat by digging up a patch of earth close to your door. Praise your cat if it goes to the toilet there. Later you can provide different patches around your garden. Still keep a litter tray inside too.
Sometimes this can be a sign of an illness such as cystitis or bladder stones, especially if in bath tubs, sinks, laundry baskets or tiles, and there is blood in the urine. If a sudden change in toileting habits occurs, take your cat to your vet immediately.
Reasons cats may soil the house:
The litter tray is wrongly positioned.
The tray is dirty. Cats are very clean animals and may feel the tray is dirty after one use.
You have changed the litter type. Cats must be eased into any changes.
In a multi-cat household, one cat may be ambushing another, causing it to search for a safer spot.
Occasionally a cat may persistently toilet in places other than its litter tray. This may be where the smell of its owner is especially strong, such as on beds, when the owner is on holiday, or if a new person moves in and the cat is jealous.
After eliminating physical or psychological causes, prevent access to the favoured areas. Make them unattractive by covering with a plastic sheet or aluminium foil (cats don’t like the feel of these) or by placing food there.
If a cat squats repeatedly as if trying to urinate, but passes only a small amount or nothing at all, this can indicate a blockage. Take your cat to the vet urgently, particularly if it is a male.
Cats need a premium food for energy, health and happiness. Wellington SPCA recommends a premium quality dry biscuit, occasionally giving soft food as a treat. Biscuits clean the cat’s teeth and have higher nutrients than soft foods.
Do not give your cat milk as most cats are lactose intolerant and will get diarrhoea. Water is all they need.
Dog food is not suitable for cats.
Avoid human food – this usually has salt, spices or additives which can be harmful or fattening.
Bones and raw fish – bones can splinter and get stuck in their throat or gut. Only ever provide cooked fish and remove all bones.
Tuna – cats cannot survive on tuna alone.
Kittens need a special high energy kitten food for bone growth and a healthy immune system. After 12 months, change to an adult cat food. Cats over 7 years old need a senior cat diet with reduced calories, lower proteins and elements to support bone structure.
Introduce any new food gradually over 1-2 weeks to avoid stomach upsets. Mix in new biscuits with the old, slowly changing the proportions.
Kittens need to graze through the day and night. They need to ‘refuel’ often so always have food available. Some adult cats are grazers while others need to be limited with their feeding.
If your cat is slim, you can let it graze. If it starts gaining weight, limit it to two meals a day – see the daily feeding guide on the packet. Calculate this on the cat’s ideal weight, not the current weight. If the problem persists, put your cat on a 'light' formula and ensure your neighbours are not feeding your cat.
Overweight cats face the same health problems as humans. Please talk to your vet for assistance.
Provide your cat with a safe, familiar feeding location and give each cat its own bowl. Always have fresh clean water available inside and outside. Wash food and water bowls daily.
Be patient, as it may take a few weeks or months for them to settle in and get on.
Meeting a resident dog in your home takes time and extreme care. A dog can seriously injure or even kill a cat, even if only playing. Some dogs have such a high prey drive that they should never be left alone with a cat. Dogs usually want to chase and play with cats, and cats usually become afraid and defensive.
Teach your dog basic commands – ensure your dog knows and responds to the commands “sit”, “down”, “come” and “stay”.
Observe your dog around other cats Watch their reaction to cats when out on a walk.
Let your pets see each other through a glass door or a partially opened door before a face-to-face meeting. They can get used to each other while feeling safe.
Always finish meetings on a good note so that both pets remember it as a positive, not a negative, experience.
Teach your dog that chasing or rough play is unacceptable. Also teach and reward your dog for good behaviour such as sitting, coming when called, or lying down. Never allow the dog to chase as once this starts it can change from play to hunting.
Keep your dog at your side and on a loose leash during the introduction process.
Ensure your cat has an escape route and a place to hide. Until you’re certain your cat will be safe, be sure to keep them separated when you aren’t home.
Kittens are in more danger of being injured or killed and will need to be kept separate from an energetic dog until fully grown, except for periods of supervised interaction to enable the animals to get to know each other.
When introductions don’t go well seek professional advice immediately. Consult a vet or animal behaviour specialist. Animals can be severely injured in fights. The longer the problem continues, the harder it can be to resolve. Punishment won’t work and could make things worse. Most conflicts can be resolved with professional guidance and Wellington SPCA are always available for advice and assistance.
Cats cannot be physically forced or manipulated to do what you want. Cats are not pack animals and don’t respond to punishment.
Never smack or swat a cat, shake it or rub its nose in its urine or faeces if it toilets inappropriately. This is cruel, and will only teach it to avoid doing this around you. It will make it stressed and scared of you, which will make the problem worse.
Regularly talking to your cat helps to establish a bond and good behaviour. Teach your cat to do the right thing and reward the cat for good behaviour, e.g. for a scratching post, drag a string up the side for the kitten to follow. Reward and praise profusely.
It is best to confine your cat to one small room until trained. If you leave the cat alone to roam your house it may develop unwanted toilet and scratching habits.
You can teach your cat to respond to simple commands such as "No".
Cats rarely bite or get rough out of anger; it’s usually out of fear. You need to eliminate the cause of the fear. Be patient, and don’t force your cat into cuddles. Contact an animal behaviourist if the problem persists.
Kittens often bite out of sheer playfulness. Never use your hands for playing – use a toy or a piece of string. If your kitten gets rough, correct this the way its mother would. Utter a high pitched yelp, as this will make the kitten freeze, and then you can then pull your hand away and immediately stop playing.
Don’t resume play for at least 3 minutes. Sometimes cats gives warning signs before play biting such as a twitch of the tail, a look in their eye or the position of the head. Always try to end contact before the play bite.
Scratching is natural to sharpen their claws. It is also good for scent-marking and exercising. It’s easy to get a cat or kitten to use a scratch post / mat. Drag a piece of string to the scratch post and up the side or across the scratch mat. They will start playing with the string and start using the post / mat. Or, wait until your cat is close to the post / mat and scratch with your nails. The sound will encourage your cat.
Other behaviour such as chewing and digging up pot plants, or pushing objects off tables, is usually caused by boredom. It is common in indoor cats that don’t get a lot of stimulation or exercise and it is easier to prevent than to correct.
You can help by playing with your cat at least twice a day, using different toys to get it running, leaping and pouncing to the point of exhaustion.
Also leave some independent toys, such as table tennis balls, out for the cat to amuse itself during the day. Get two kittens instead of one, to keep each other company and provide play opportunities.
Spraying is usually done by non-desexed cats but sometimes desexed cats also spray to mark territory. The cat will direct a small amount of urine onto objects such as trees or walls.
A cat should have no need to spray indoors as the house is their accepted den. Spraying might happen if the cat feels insecure or threatened (e.g. arrival of a new pet, new human or in a multi-cat household). Sometimes an increased challenge from a cat outdoors can start the problem. Cats may spray door mats if your shoes have brought in the scent of a strange cat.
If spraying occurs, clean, eliminate causes and retrain your cat. If the cat sprays due to an outside threat, such as the neighbour’s cat, board up cat flaps to reassure the cat that the house is safe.
A repeat or problematic sprayer can be confined to one room, preferably a warm room where it can sleep next to a source of heat such as a radiator. The cat will probably feel secure in this room and so will not spray. If spraying ceases, the cat can be allowed into other rooms gradually and under supervision.
Vaccinations against disease are critical throughout your cat’s life. Wellington SPCA gives all initial vaccinations. Check your cat’s health card for the due date of future vaccinations and arrange an appointment with your vet.
Flea and worm prevention and treatment are essential. Fleas become worse in warm weather. Check your cat’s health card for when their next flea treatment is due or talk to your vet. Prevention is better than cure. If allowed to develop, fleas can spread to your home.
The cat may be itching and scratching a lot or grooming excessively. You may also see fleas or flea dirt in the cat’s coat. Flea dirt looks like regular dirt in amongst the cat's fur and will be left behind on the surface where it has been sleeping or sitting for a while.
You can get a quality product and advice from Wellington SPCA or your vet.
Cats can get intestinal worms, which live in the gut and feed off the cat’s food causing malnutrition. They make the animal tired, their coat is dull and it may be a pot-bellied appearance. Young kittens can die from a severe case.
Check your cat’s health card for when their next worm treatment is due or talk to your vet. You can get a quality product from Wellington SPCA or your vet.
Contact our veterinary hospital or your local vet if you are concerned about the health or wellbeing of your cat. You should take your cat for a check-up once a year. This can be done when they are getting vaccinations and allows early detection of health problems.
NEVER give a cat human medicine such as Panadol or Aspirin as these can be harmful or even fatal.
All Wellington SPCA cats are microchipped. It is ESSENTIAL to keep the microchip details up to date if you move house or your contact numbers change. The SPCA receives many lost cats where we cannot reunite them with their owner because the microchip details have not been updated.
Update your microchip details at: www.animalregister.co.nz.
If your cat is missing, visit our lost animal page for advice.
Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 you are legally required to provide:
Proper and sufficient food and water
The opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour
Protection from, and rapid diagnosis of, any significant injury or distress
Protection from distress and pain
It is an offence under the Act to abandon a cat. For detailed information on legal obligations please refer to the Code of Minimum Standards for Cats.