Getting a Kitten101
Miss Sadie has gone on a boat ride and she has asked me to pinch hit for her and so my Mom and I came up with this article on getting a new kitten. It is mainly written for those of you that have not ever had a kitten, but it is a good review for those of you that have had a kitten some time ago. I hope you enjoy it.
If you are a “first time” cat/kitten caregiver there are many things you need to know plus there will be many problems you might have to face in this long-term relationship. My objective in writing this is to make the journey a safe and happy one for you and your cat.
As a “newbie” you may not realize all the things you will need for your kitty and you may not realize the importance of some things. This is where I come in. So grab your hat and let’s begin.
The first thing you need to know about cats is that you never really own one. Cats allow you to take care of them and they reward you with love when they feel you deserve it. A cat’s independent nature actually makes having a cat an enjoyable experience. They are not too demanding and you do not need to walk them every day. Once you have a cat in our life, you will wonder how you ever lived without one; they are very special gifts.
You already know that your home is now “home” for your kitten/cat, but kitty at this point does not. Territory is of prime importance to a cat, just like your space is important to you. You have taken kitty away from a place it knew and now have placed the cat in alien territory. Your cat/kitten is going to need some time to get accustomed to its new surroundings.
Hopefully you have set up a room for the new arrival with all the kitty essentials (if not keep reading.)
Keep in mind your cat may hide for a day or two – let it – depending on the degree of socialization every cat will have a need to hide for a while. It is up to you to provide a safe hiding place (under the bed is fine.) Allow your cat to get used to one room at a time, remove any breakable objects at this time and let kitty explore. If your new pet is a kitten keep electrical and telephone cords out of reach. If your new pet is older provide some “high places” for kitty to sit and observe.
Make certain that litter box or litter boxes are available at all times and that kitty knows where they are.
Litter boxes: After food, a litter box is one of the most important things in a cat’s life especially if it is a “house cat.” So before we get into a serious discussion of the types of litter boxes there are and the kinds of litter. Let’s learn a little history behind these “boxes.”
In days of old, when civilization was less crowded and kitties were allowed outside they used their bathroom habits to establish their territories. The reason they covered their feces and urine up was to avoid predators. Cats of yesteryear and cats of today still prefer sand and soft soil for bathroom purposes.
Litter boxes came about as a human convenience for cat owners. Increased traffic and apartment living has made litter boxes a permanent fixture in our lives.
If you are a new cat caregiver there are some things you need to know in order to keep your kitty happy and your house from becoming a large toilet bowl. Cats need and expect a clean litter box. They will not use one that they feel is “dirty.” What might seem clean to you may not pass your cat’s nose inspection.
Do not put the litter box anywhere near your cat’s food supply. They will either not eat the food or they won’t use the litter box. Would you eat in the bathroom? In order to have a happy life with kitty and to avoid situations that could cause problems in the future, please remember what I am going to reveal to you now: 1. Find a place to put the litter box that is quiet and away from household traffic. 2. Do not put the litter box in an area where a sudden noise could occur. Like a washing machine or dryer buzzer going off. Any sudden noise will scare the cat and it will not use the litter box again, as it will associate the noise with the box. 3. Do not use any type of citrus cleaner, ammonia or pine scented cleaner to wash out the box. Cats do not like those smells. Plain unscented dish soap will do the job. 4.If you use inexpensive clay litter, the box will need to be cleaned twice a day and emptied each week and washed out. If you use “clumping” litter that too needs to be cleaned twice a day, however you can just add a bit of fresh litter each time and the box will stay fresh for several weeks. 5. If using clay litter, do not spread the urine soaked pieces through the box to dry out, as kitty will smell it and not use the box. 6. Make certain the box is large enough for kitty. A kitten size box is too small for a grown cat to use. The box should be at least 24 inches wide or 24 inches long. 7. Do not flush litter down the toilet. You will soon have to call a plumber. 8. Do not use a bathroom rug or a piece of carpet under the litter box to catch the litter. The soft fuzzy surfaces will be more inviting than the litter box. You can reverse the carpet so the underside is showing or find a piece of commercial carpet, anything that is not soft and fuzzy will do. 9. Two litter boxes are better than one especially if you have a 2-story home or large house.
The kind of litter box you use is entirely up to you. Most are made of a type of plastic for easy cleaning. You can pick from uncovered boxes, covered boxes; decorator designed boxes and automatic boxes. Prices range from a few dollars to several hundred.
If you are considering an automatic box and you have a multiple cat household that will be using it, keep in mind the noise factor. Automatic boxes work on a system that once the cat leaves the box, it will start to clean itself. However, if another cat decides to use it right after the first cat, the movement and noise might scare the wits out of the poor cat and it will not go back to the box again.
In many small apartments and homes finding an appropriate place for a litter box is a challenge. The box needs to be easily accessible for the cat to use and still not present an unsightly appearance mess for visitors.
Now that we have the serious business out of the way some of the other things you need to consider for kitty are food and water dishes. Glass is the first choice, as glass will not absorb odor, as plastic will. Cats eat by smell and not taste as a rule.
Did you know that humans have over 9,000 taste buds, cats have only 473 taste buds, that is why smell plays such an important part in a cat’s life.
A cat carrier is necessary to transport kitty to the vet and any other place you might have to take your pet. Most catsdo not travel well and need to be confined in a small safe place. Carriers range in price from under ten dollars to as high a price you care to pay. Just make certain kitty has room to move around in it. Pet carriers can be found almost anywhere from grocery stores, discount stores, pet stores and of course, the Internet.
Every kitty needs toys, the more the merrier. Toys need not be expensive and you can really make your own. Something to use as a wand, some string and a few old feathers or a scrap of material tied to the end and you have a “toy.” Toys of this type are a great hit with the cats. They love to stalk and chase things and it gives you a chance to bond with your cat.
My Miss Tiger is 8 years old and she has a love affair going on with furry gray mouse that she has had since she was a kitten. As my cats are “indoor/outdoor” cats, I find “mousy” in some very strange places as she carries it around to play with.
Cats spend a great deal of time “napping” and therefore need a place to call their own for naps. A cut down cardboard box with a few clean towels inside would make a fine place to nap or you can buy kitty a bed. The market place seems to know kitty’s needs and you can find anything from inexpensive beds to beds that use power or batteries to keep kitty warm.
Indoor cats have a definite need for scratching posts. It is very important that you teach kitty to scratch on a post beginning on the first day of its arrival at your home. If you keep this in mind and you have several scratching posts around your home, you will more than likely escape the “cat scratched couch’ syndrome.
Kittens will take to a scratching post fairly easily. I found a really neat scratching ramp that is perfect for kittens and cats. It is called “SmartCat Scratching Ramp” and is sold on the Internet; a kitten will have fun climbing on it. It is inexpensive and refills can be bought for it.
The neat thing about it is that it is flat and can be attached to a wall, put on the floor or leaned against a piece of furniture. You will need several and should kitty start a bad habit of scratching on the couch, you can place it in front of her favorite scratching place.
A vertical scratching post should be at least 30 inches tall and on a very sturdy base, you do not want the post to fall over and scare kitty. If it does, kitty will not use it again.
Scratching is a natural and necessary behavior for a cat. Scratching allows your cat to shed it claw covers, mark its territory, and to stretch its leg muscles.
If the cat of your choice is a kitten be certain to feed the kitten only food made for a kitten. Kittens need extra vitamins and minerals to help them grow. You do not feed a kitten, adult cat food just as you would not feed a new baby a steak.
As you adjust to the “world of the cat” and kitty adjusts to your world you will find that life will never be dull.
It is important that you realize that punishing your cat for a bad behavior will not accomplish anything. Your cat will not understand why you are yelling and screaming and definitely do not hit your cat. Physical punishment will only cause your cat to fear you and do the misdeed behind your back. A sharp “NO” works well and re-directing your cat into doing a more acceptable behavior is best.
Enjoy your cat, do not expect your cat to behave like a dog and do not expect your cat to listen to you (maybe once in awhile it will.)
Dogs have masters and cats have staff, so put on your apron and “smile.”
Well, Mom and I hope this article helped you in understanding your kitten and its needs, Miss Sadie will be back next time, so until we meet again, I too, will remain
Your Miss Tiger