Microchips are used as a form of identification. A chip is inserted under the skin of the cat. When the cat is found, he/she can be scanned and the person scanning can find out the owner’s contact details from a central on-line registry.
Kittens should not be left outside without supervision. Cats 4 months or older may have a leather or material collar with a tag (contact phone number on it).
Ask the nurses for any advice you need on cat collars. It should be noted that regular climbers of trees or fences could get their collars caught. For this reason either an elasticized collar, or preferably a safety collar with a breakable section is recommended.
The litter tray
(a) Number of litter trays
One tray per cat is a good rough guide, as many cats do not like to share trays. Having tray in geographically separate areas, e.g. kitchen and laundry also helps.
(b) Type of litter
Several types of cat litter can be offered, such as Fuller’s Earth granule types, wood chip pellet, recycled newspaper, re-usable waxed granule varieties or finer grained litters. Cats often prefer finely grained substrates such as sand or a proprietary brand with sand-like texture. If the cat is to be allowed outdoors the litter can be mixed with soil from the garden to help transfer toileting behaviour completely to the outdoors later (ensure vaccinations are up to date).
The litter tray should neither be allowed to get too dirty as this will discourage most cats, nor should it be cleaned too often as the presence of the cat’s own smell on the litter will help to develop the idea of a latrine. Solids can be removed regularly but the more cats use a tray, the more often it will need to be cleaned, but one per day per cat is recommended. (Cats don’t like litter that reeks of ammonia!)
(d) Security and position
An open litter tray in a busy part of the room will make most cats feel very vulnerable and they may prefer to eliminate (urine or faeces) behind the furniture or in a quite corner. Place the tray in a secure quiet place. Sometimes adding a cover with an inverted cardboard box with a hole cut in it for entry and exit can be helpful; you may wish to buy a proprietary covered litter box for those that seem anxious, although some prefer an open tray. Cats will usually be most unwilling to use a litter tray placed too close to a feeding area.
If inappropriate urination is an issue for your cat, talk to your vet or nurse to ensure there are no medical problems. There are some excellent products which help to reduce feline stress in a household, which is often one of the factors involved in a cat toileting in the wrong place.