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Bringing Kitty Home
You have now chosen your new kitten and it is almost time to bring your baby home. Below are a list of things you will need to make the kitten more comfortable in your home.
Carry Cage - To transport your new kitten safely home in. Buy one that is large enough so that it can be used throughout the cat's life, eg; for visits to the vet, cat shows or just to be safely transported. Carry cages are readily available from most pet stores, RSPCA or vet clinics. Buy one that is washable.
Cat Bed - There are many available on the market, from soft padded ovals with high sides to cat houses that are enclosed on all sides with an opening in front. A cardboard box filled with soft bedding is also adequate but more often than not when your kitten is older you may find it sleeping on your bed, but who am I fooling, they normally like to sleep in the bed.
Litter Tray - A first kitten tray with lower sides for the kitten to get easily in and out of, but can then be upgraded to a more substantial tray with higher sides to prevent the spread of kitty litter. There are also some available that are enclosed. Don't forget to buy a scoop to easily remove cat pooh and wet litter from the trays daily.
Kitty Litter - Initially it is best to use the same litter as the kitten has been used to. This can gradually be changed over time to the litter you prefer. There are many kitty litters available. Some breeders and owners prefer chicken pellets or kangaroo pellets. After use these can be spread over the garden after the cat pooh and clumps have been removed. There are many brands of commercial kitty litter available from supermarkets, but please be aware of the clumping brands. There have been some reports of cats and kittens dying after they have ingested some of the litter. There is also an excellent recycled paper kitty litter available.
Bowls - Have at least 2 bowls for fresh water and food. These should have fairly low sides so the kitten can easily eat and drink from them.
Cat Food - Initially it is best to use the same food as the breeder has been feeding the kitten. You can then change foods gradually. A sudden change in food may cause diarrhoea, which can be life-threatening. Also have fresh clean water available at all times.
Cat Toys - There are many, many excellent cat toys on the market. My cats favourites are small furry mice, soft glitter pom-pom balls that are available from most good haberdashery stores, scrunched up paper bags, pipe-cleaner "spiders" and "fish or butterfly's" on a string.
Grass- Cats and kittens love chewing on grass, so pick some fresh grass every couple of days. You can also plant bird seed in pots, this will only take a few days to sprout. You can also buy pots of cat grass. Look for this at your local plant nursery, normally in the herb section. Chewing grass is good for their digestion and health. But watch out for the inevitable small amount of grass vomit. It's not pleasant to step in with bare feet!
Scratching Post - To save your furniture from being ruined supply your kitten with a scratching pole. This can be a simple pole covered with sisal rope or carpet to elaborate poles with shelves, holes and crannies. Scratching poles can be home-made or bought from pet shops or some cat shows.
Scratching is normal cat behaviour. Having a scratching post is important, but it has to be covered with a suitable material such as carpet or sisal rope. Some cats like to scratch on vertical surfaces, others on flat surfaces, but the kitten has to be able to rip and shred the material. Don't replace the material when it's all torn and worn - this means the most to the cat! The scratching post should be stable, and should be tall enough for the cat to stretch.
You can discourage scratching by:
- covering other areas with thick plastic
- squirting them with a water pistol in mid scratch
- providing a scratching post
- providing suitable toys to relieve cats boredom
Brush & comb - Regular grooming of your cats coat is beneficial for the cat as is provides closeness with you, helps to limit fur-balls and helps to control moulting.
Nail Clippers - Guillotine type nail clippers especially designed for pets are the best. Avoid using human nail clippers or scissors as they can split the nail. See grooming page for directions on clipping your cat's nails.
Cattery - Nowadays it is not a good idea to let your cat roam free. Many Councils (Shires) have bylaws allowing anyone to catch a roaming cat, that does not have a collar or tag, and have it legally put down. But you say, my cat always wears a collar and tag. Collars get caught in things and then the cat pulls it off, especially the collars with elastic inserts. If you don't have an elastic insert your cat could accidentally hang itself. Also sad to say there are many cat haters out there who might have malicious feelings towards your cat. So the safest thing is to keep the cat inside or in a cattery. Don't worry, cats are very happy and contented if they are kept inside, just make sure they have some toys to play with.
The photo of the cattery is the one we built for our cats and faces north. They go outside for some fresh air when it's not cold or too hot. The area to the right is their day time sleeping quarters where they can snuggle up together. We have tried to make the cattery an exercise area where the cats can climb, jump and scratch in the dirt.
Worming - Always worm your cats every three months and take them to the vet at least once a year for an annual check-up and vaccination. Your cats should be at least vaccinated against Feline Enteritis and against Feline Respiratory Disease. There are many other diseases that we can protect our cats from, please speak to your Vet about what other vaccinations are available.
Fleas - Fleas can also be a problem at certain times of the year. These can be removed easily from your cats with a little work with a nit comb and a cat safe flea powder.
Desexing - If you will not be a registered breeder, please have your cat desexed. This can be done at around 5-9 months, but again please check with your vet. Most breeders now sell their kittens desexed, which is done when the kitten is between 10-12 weeks old.
Remember, vets are the experts. They have spent many years in study to be able to advise and treat your cats. So please take the time to listen to them.
Some cat tips:
- To stop your cat from digging in the pot plant when you are not at home place a plastic plate, slippery side up at the base of the plant.
- Cats love to jump onto benches - but in the kitchen it can seem unhygienic. You can try to stop this by putting sticky paper on the bench, or try spraying with a water pistol every time it looks like your cat is going to jump.
- Giving a cat a tablet can be an experience - your arms may never be the same. You can buy Pill Poppers which mean no fingers near their mouths. I find the method that works for me is to sit on the floor, place the cat between my legs, gently lift the cat's head back and drop the tablet into the cat's mouth. Then gently rub the cat's throat. This encourages the cat to swallow. But act calm and precise no matter what method you choose to use.
- Cat climbing the curtains? Again a sharp, loud NO or a squirt with the water pistol works well but you must be consistent.
- Cats can be taught to come and sit, be trained to walk on a lead and even use the human toilet - lots of positive reinforcement and delicious treats are the go here.
- Cats can be washed, but use a non toxic shampoo as the cat will groom itself after washing.
- Cats can be taught to stay inside. Start the moment you bring the kitten home and you will find that they will not want to leave! If you buy a kitten that has been bought up inside the home this will make the job easier.
- If you are moving and you want your cat to adjust to her new environment you should use a product called Feliway, which contains cat facial pheromones. These facial pheromones have been proven to contain certain pacifying properties and will reassure anxious and nervous cats.
If you find your cat is spraying urine or has had an accident, clean the soiled area thoroughly using the below methods:
- On non absorbent surfaces such as floor tiles, linoleum etc., wash with a solution of bicarbonate of soda (1 dessertspoon per litre of warm water)
- On absorbent surfaces such as carpet and lounge suites, wash with an odour neutralising agent such as an enzymatic washing agent such as BioZet. Rinse 4-6 times with warm water. Dab dry. You should always spot test an area first.
- I also prefer to use a product called Spagnum Moss from Tri-Nature. This is a natural disinfectant and is pleasant smelling.
- NEVER use ammonia based products as this will smell like urine to your cat and will only encourage them.
- Spraying the cleaned area with Feliway can prevent the cat marking the area again in the future.