PDA

View Full Version : Kitty Question


Kheldarson
02-14-2011, 10:45 PM
My brother just told me that he's met a lady who has seven kittens up for adoption and wanted to know if I want one.

Well, the answer to wanting a kitten is yes, but my question is can I take care of a kitten?

So I know there's cat owners on here, so considering the fact that I live by myself and work regularly from 7:30-3:30, with Thursdays being spent in a town 30 minutes away for a class for 2 hours until April and plan to be married in June, would this be a good idea? And if so, what do I need to do to take care of a kitten?

Eireann
02-14-2011, 11:08 PM
If you can afford it, get two so they can keep each other company.

They'll need to be trained to use the box, of course. Buy lots of toys. Good-quality kitten food. Bring them home and then leave them alone, so they can decide when they want to approach you. And, of course, take them to the vet and get their shots taken care of, plus make an appointment for spaying/neutering in a few months.

I say, go for it!

Fire_on_High
02-15-2011, 12:34 AM
I second the get two thing. We have 4 cats...2 unrelated girls who've been together since the previous owner adopted them from the shelter (cagemates) and 2 brothers a few years younger. Each pair is pretty inseperable, always has someone to play with and curl up with.

Get them fixed as close to 6 months as the vet allows...if they get older they'll develop some of the undesirable behaviours of a sexually mature adult kitty.

Litterbox training is usually pretty easy for young kittens. They're not old enough to have a solid "outside" habit, and the box appeals to their natural instincts, so quite often all you have to do is put them in the box once, move their paws like they're burying, and they get it.

draggar
02-15-2011, 12:52 AM
I'm assuming the kittens are at the right age to be adopted out. I would recommend having a separate room for them (if you can) that you know is safe for them until they are about 6 months old. You don't want them getting into things that can hurt them.

But, cats are pretty independent. As long as they have cool / fresh water, food, and a litter box (as well as some toys) they should be fine during the day. When they want affection they'll come to you.

Fresh water is extremely important - here is a link to a water system we got, get the folters though Amazon, they're far cheaper than getting them at PetCo and if you clean it out once a week they should last 1-2 months:

http://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Clear-Drinking-Fountain-Puppies/dp/B0006L2LWS/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1297734615&sr=8-5

I'll agree with two cats as well as the spay / neuter.

Kheldarson
02-15-2011, 01:19 AM
I've got two rooms I use only as storage right now...so I can easily empty one room out. And put blankets under the door because all of the doors in this place are raised like three inches from the floor.

What kind of food would I feed them?

MoonCat
02-15-2011, 01:29 AM
I've got two rooms I use only as storage right now...so I can easily empty one room out. And put blankets under the door because all of the doors in this place are raised like three inches from the floor.

What kind of food would I feed them?

Ask the vet for a recommendation. It doesn't have to be prescription food but it should be as high quality as you can afford (don't buy off brands at the dollar store). Cats eat mostly meat. Cat food is formulated so they get all the nutritional stuff they need, so don't feed them on table scraps. Don't give them bones, especially chicken bones which are very brittle and could cause them to choke. And milk is not necessary, in fact some cats can't digest it properly (that's not to say they don't like it, but just as there are things humans like and shouldn't have, there are foods like milk that aren't really good for your cat). Always make sure they have clean water.

Kittens like to chew, so make sure they can't get stuff like rubber bands, and keep things like pills, screws, nails and other little odds & ends away from them.

MaggieTheCat
02-15-2011, 01:33 AM
Cats are really low maintenance, especially once they get older. Dogs need to be let outside and whatnot every day, but cats can easily be left for a weekend unattended if you're going out of town or something. (I don't recommend leaving young kittens along that long, just illustrating that yes, you can get a cat or cats and care for them with your schedule. If my husband and I are out of town for an anime convention, we can easily leave our three cats from Friday morning to Sunday evening with no problems.)

Getting two right away would be great so they can keep each other company, but it's also going to be a lot more work on your end. Kittens are very active and playful and as they get older and bigger, they will be able to get into EVERYTHING. There were days when our youngest boy was making me want to pull my hair out; he'd tip the garbage over, climb on the bookshelves where we have delicate figurines, jump up onto counters and tables where we don't allow cats, etc. Get a squirt bottle of some kind and fill it with plain ol' water; when they do something bad, give them a squirt and a firm "NO" to start training them early on.

Definitely keep them in a separate room when they're young while you're gone. If you have a spare bedroom, empty it out of anything fragile, stick their food/water/litterbox in there, and they should be okay. I would leave them in that room constantly for about a week or so after you get them, even when you are home, and after that you can gradually let them out to start exploring the house. When we got our baby, we left him in a spare bedroom for about 10 days, then would bring him out to the living room where we could watch him so he could explore and start getting used to the rest of the house. When they're little, you can use stuff like big boxes as barriers to keep them from going into rooms you don't want them in, but realize that by the time they're just a few months old, they'll be able to jump or climb over anything. I wouldn't bother investing in a baby gate or anything like that since it will become useless very quickly. If you don't have a spare bedroom, a bathroom or even your bedroom will work. Just remember that they will climb/jump wherever they can and knock stuff over, so if you put them in a bathroom, you might want to hide anything you normally keep on the counter if you don't want to find it on the floor when you get home.

It should be pretty easy to litterbox train them. Cats are pretty much born with the instinct to dig in sandy ground to do their business, and bury it when they're done. When we got our little boy, we immediately showed him where his litterbox was and put him in it a few times. He thought it was something to play in at first, and started pushing the litter everywhere, including outside the box (they will continue to do this as they get older, not play necessarily, but they will dig and push dirt around a lot, so be prepared for that. Either put the litterbox in an area that's easy to clean or get one with a dome to help minimize the mess.) He's never had an accident to date, though, so he figured out pretty quick what the litterbox was actually for.

Shots, spay/neutering, wellness exams, etc. have already been gone over pretty thoroughly, I think. As far as food goes, don't let the vet try to convince or bribe you into buying Science Diet; that stuff is absolute junk for any animal. There are lots of articles floating around on the web about what kind of food is good/bad for pets, but the basic rules are: The first two to three ingredients on the ingredient list should be some kind of meat or meat meal; there should be no by-products; little to no salt or yeast; no big words that you can't pronounce; fillers should be high quality grains like oatmeal, brown rice, etc. as opposed to corn or wheat. This goes for canned and dry food. My personal opinion (and that of my vet as well) is that about 75% of a cat's diet should be dry food, supplemented with some canned food. Kittens should generally be on canned food for the first few months, but they can start dry food pretty early on. I think we had Pluto on dry food by the time he was 8 or 10 weeks old.

I'll probably think of more stuff to post later on.

crazyofficeclerk
02-15-2011, 02:24 AM
I didn't have an extra room so when my middle cat came here to live, I went to a second hand baby shop and got an old play pen. I would move it from room to room depending on where I went and for how long. This way she could see out and my older cats could see in. She was only about a pound when she came and the other two were about 20 lbs or so. I knew they wouldn't intentionally hurt her but I didn't want them to hurt her while they were playing. If I knew I was going to be home for a while and in the house, I would let block off the kitchen and bedroom and let her run around. At night, in the playpen she would go and I would cover three sides of it with a blanket. I used an old piece of wall board to cover the top. It had plenty of room for a litter box, food dish and toys.

Plaidman
02-15-2011, 03:55 AM
Get a laser pointer and I forget the name of it, but it's basically a piece of wire with little bits of tube-shaped cardboard on the end. Both of these are super cheap, and your kittens well enjoy them for hours. Best three bucks I've ever spent, as even years later they still play with them then any of the other more expensive toys I've gotten.

Also try out a tunnel type. You can get open ended ones for like, five bucks, and they'll also enjoy that.

Seshat
02-15-2011, 04:49 AM
I haven't seen anyone mention a scratching post, or nail clippers.

DO NOT 'declaw' your kittens. It's actually an amputation of the end joint of the fingers and toes, and has lifelong repercussions for their health, not to mention their comfort.

Every day, when playing with your kittens, get them used to you handling their paws, looking at their butt, examining their eyes and ears and cleaning their teeth. This lets you give the kitties a daily health check, and will make your vet LOVE you - because that's what he needs to do.

Once they're happy with you handling their paws, start trimming just the very tip off with the nail clippers. This blunts the claws so they won't scratch you (or not as badly), and may protect your more delicate furniture. Get your vet to show you where the 'quick' is, so you can avoid cutting that - it's the nail's blood vessel!
Take your time about it - you want the kittens to perceive it as part of happyfunwithtime.

Get or make a scratching post. It must be stable even if your cat is pushing against it hard, taller than your cat at full stretch, and covered in a substance the cat wants to claw. Sisal rope, jute rope, or even carpet can be good. We actually got one of our heavier bits of furniture that's in the living room, and nailed carpet onto the side of it. I'm thinking of replacing the carpet with sisal rope when it gets too worn out.
Be aware that the scratching post (or wall or whatever) should be near YOU. The cats will want to be wherever you are, so have one in their room, and one in wherever-you-frequent.
Cats love their scratching post most when it is, to human eyes, a shaggy ugly-looking mess. Only replace it once the cats have stopped using it.

To discourage cats from scratching on something you DON'T want them to scratch, cover it in alfoil or tinfoil, or in double-sided tape, or plastic. The purpose is to make their scratching post fabulous, and the rest of it not.

Because you're starting out with them in a single room, you can ensure the only suitable scratching surface IS their scratching post, and that the scratching post(s) in the rest of the house are identical or nearly so.

Cats love to climb and jump. Even in their own little room, they'll be happiest if you give them things to climb on. These can be cardboard boxes!
BTW: Cats ADORE cardboard boxes. And paper bags.

Because cats love to climb, plan the rest of your household furniture around it. Store anything delicate and on-display behind glass (or acrylic). Make sure your TV is stable (also computer monitors). Expect other things to be knocked down.

For kitchen benches, you can use the double-sided tape trick again, or you can put pans of water on the benches so they get wet feet when they jump up, or you can use clean (and not sharp!) tins arranged to fall down and make an unholy noise when disturbed...
... basically, anything which teaches the cats that the kitchen benches are undesirable places to be, even if you're not there to squirt them with a water pistol.

As you can see, my training principle is make it desirable to do what's 'good', make it undesirable to be 'bad'. Let kitty think SHE is training YOU.
So if kitty begs for food while you're eating, put her down. When she stays down on her own, even just for a few seconds, give her a treat from the cache of kitty treats you prepared earlier.
Repeat until she stays down on her own for a whole meal, then give her her evening meal after you've had yours. (Include kitty treats at first, but eventually it'll just be her normal evening meal.)

Note: while using kitty treats as training aids, plan that into their daily food.



Summary:
* Food
* water
* same living temperature range as humans
* something reasonably comfy and draft-free to sleep on
* clean litter (if YOU wouldn't use it, don't expect THEM to)
* scratching post
* veterinary care

For your house & sanity:
* claw clippers
* scratching posts
* protect furniture until they've learned to love their scratching posts
* arrange delicate items with cats in mind
* arrange valuable items with cats in mind.
* live with other things being knocked down.
* kitty treats (planned as part of their diet) can help you teach them good behaviours.

fireheart
02-15-2011, 07:36 AM
I've seen food designed just for kittens-mainly Whiskas Kitten, otherwise ask what the lady who's adopting them out has been feeding them. Water will do them fine, but if you really do want to give them milk, you can buy special pets milk.

Plaidman
02-15-2011, 07:49 AM
Yeah, don't give them normal milk. Not very good for them.

Kheldarson
02-15-2011, 11:08 AM
I'll remember that one. Think I might go for it. Assuming I can get my brother to pick up the phone again >.<

Eireann
02-15-2011, 11:58 AM
I give my kitties a Canadian food, Acana. There are no grains in it, so when kitties, well, take a dump, the smell isn't NEARLY as bad as when they've been eating something with corn or wheat or another grain. Another bonus for those of us who have to live with it.

Cat
02-15-2011, 01:11 PM
Get a laser pointer and I forget the name of it, but it's basically a piece of wire with little bits of tube-shaped cardboard on the end. Both of these are super cheap, and your kittens well enjoy them for hours. Best three bucks I've ever spent, as even years later they still play with them then any of the other more expensive toys I've gotten.

Also try out a tunnel type. You can get open ended ones for like, five bucks, and they'll also enjoy that.

Are you thinking of the Cat Dancer? It is the best cat toy! Just wire and cardboard, and Ri drags it around to get me to play :). And laser pointers are much fun.

All great advice here so far! Best of luck with your new addition(s)

fireheart
02-15-2011, 01:15 PM
Kheldarson, I don't know if it's Australian only or not, but try Whiskas Kitten and Whiskas Kitten milk if you want to give them milk. Water will do them fine if you're going to be out the house for long periods. We tend to give our two ratbags two wet food meals in a day: one morning, one night, and leave out the dry food for them to nibble on during the day.

As far as litter tray stuff goes, I'd suggest something that isn't perfumed but still does the trick. The one we use resembles rabbit pellets and is made from recycled stuff. I don't think the brand we use is available in the US. Definitely recommend buying in bulk however as it'll last you ages.

As far as scratching posts go....try and get something with a perch on it as our oldest one LOVES to perch on top of the perch on their current scratching post. Boxes are also a good toy, as are empty kitty litter bags (my mum would open up the paper bag after it had been used and our cats would go bonkers inside of it).

Oh and even if it will be exclusively an indoor kitty, I would STRONGLY recommend getting it desexed unless you plan on breeding it. For males, it will take them a couple of days to fully recover, while it will take a female cat about a week total, since I believe she needs stitches taken out (not 100% sure on this one).
.

Seshat
02-15-2011, 02:49 PM
I think you use the same one we do. Recycled paper! Perfect cat litter! It also makes good garden mulch.

Yes, female cats will need stitches taken out after the spaying.

jedimaster91
02-15-2011, 04:42 PM
Yes, female cats will need stitches taken out after the spaying.

Depends on how the vet does the surgery. In my area, the vet sutures internally with disolvable thread and then uses a glue to close the skin. Recovery time is 7-10 days.

Frantic Freddie
02-15-2011, 05:23 PM
Yeah, don't give them normal milk. Not very good for them.

If you want to give your cat milk then goat's milk is fine for them,it won't cause the reaction that cow's milk does,any decent sized grocery store should have it.

Here's a tip I like to pass on to other cat owners: To keep little Fluffy from digging in your plants & using them as a bathroom or to keep him from shredding the furniture get some Bitter Apple from the pet store.People can't smell it but cats (dogs too) hate it.

Here's something interesting: when we got Nova from Animal Control she had absolutely the worst farts,she'd stink up the entire room.So Mrs Frantic,who's a pharmacist,figured that they'd probably given her antibiotics & killed off some of her intestinal flora.So she gave Nova a teaspoon of yoghurt & 2 days later,no more smelly farts!

Geek King
02-15-2011, 06:35 PM
Another quick tip for keeping cats off certain surfaces: Most cats hate the smell of citrus, especially oranges and grapefruit. Leave some peels with rind along the edge of counters to keep them off. You may need to repeat occasionally to reinforce the lesson.

Fire_on_High
02-16-2011, 03:00 AM
Every day, when playing with your kittens, get them used to you handling their paws, looking at their butt, examining their eyes and ears and cleaning their teeth. This lets you give the kitties a daily health check, and will make your vet LOVE you - because that's what he needs to do.


Seconded. If you start teaching a kitten something consistently and early, even if "cats don't like that" you absolutely can train them to accept it.

If you can believe it, all of ours happily allow their *tails* to be handled. Cute kitten tails were irresistible to stroke and play with, and now as grown adults they maneuver to shove their tails into hands for attention same as head, sides, and back. Same with being touched on the tummy...all four are very accepting, to the point you can lay your head on their side or kiss their tummy without a single bit of worry.

Come to think of it, they more or less don't have any aggressive or defensive behaviours where humans are concerned...if they don't like something they wiggle, roll, or walk away, rather than scratch or nip. Might just be that we have very easygoing kittehs, tho.

Kheldarson
02-16-2011, 04:54 AM
Well, it seems that the couple with the kittens gave my brother more backstory.

Kittens are newborn, so not even ready to be away from mom. To top it off, the whole family was found by the couple in an alley, so mommy is being really protective. So...no kittens.

But! After reading all the advice and stuff on here, I think I still want a kitten or cat. So I'm looking at going to one of the animal shelters nearby and asking about how to adopt.

draggar
02-16-2011, 10:28 AM
A lot of great advice in this thread so far.

Food - YMWV with everything. Some swear by high end foods (Eukanuba, Royal Canin, Merrick, etc..) while others swear they do find with lower end foods (Wiskats, Alpo, Purina, etc..). Personally I'd recommend higher end foods, it can reduce your chances of issues down the road (kidney etc..). Wet vs. dry - YMWV.

I can't reiterate enough how important fresh water is.

An alternative to declawing - Soft Paws (http://www.softpaws.com/). The only issue with these is that the cat can pull them off. Trimming them is a good defense but will never be 100%.

Scratching post, those cardboard thingamajigs can help.

If you see the cat pulling it's claws out where she shouldn't, put double-sided sticky tape where they claw, they hate the feel of the tape and won't claw there.

Toys - every cat is different, some will love some toys other will only love certain ones. Catnip toys are usually good and maybe one on a stick (for you to pull and taunt).

As for the mommy cat - she'll loosen up with them. Trust me, there will be a time she can't wait to get rid of them (like our human parents). I don't know what adoption age is (8 weeks?) but I'd hold off on the shelter trip for now to see how they do - that is unless they plan on keeping all the kittens.

MaggieTheCat
02-16-2011, 12:57 PM
Kittens can be adopted as early as 6 weeks if they're properly weened, but I think 8 weeks is the standard.

I assume the mama cat is feral? If so and your friends wait until the kittens are 6-8 weeks old before even handling them, they will probably be somewhat aggressive and much harder to bond to humans. It is absolutely vital for kittens to have human interaction as soon as possible in order to develop desired housecat qualities (liking to be held and petted, not running away or getting defensive when humans approach, etc.) Some friends of ours regularly foster animals and they found a tiny baby kitten in their yard one day. They knew what litter he was from -- one of their local ferals had kittens -- but they took him in anyway so they could try to find a proper home for him. He was probably about 3-4 weeks old when they got him and already showing feral behaviors. He did not like to be held, was aggressive, etc. Part of this was just that he was a kitten, but part of it was also that he had had no human interaction for the first several weeks of his life. They were able to mellow him out with LOTS of interaction on their part -- playing, cuddling, holding constantly, etc -- but I think they kept him till he was about 16 weeks old before they felt that he was truly comfortable around people.

fireheart
02-16-2011, 02:04 PM
I think you use the same one we do. Recycled paper! Perfect cat litter! It also makes good garden mulch.

Yes, female cats will need stitches taken out after the spaying.

Breeders Choice is the brand we use. We used to use Dr. Harry's as well.

noone
02-16-2011, 02:37 PM
I'd go for it, if you can afford vaccinations and all. Then post pictures so we can see them!

Also, I didn't read the entire post about the declawing, but I have a vet friend who declaws hers, but she does it with the laser, which causes less pain, and faster recovery.

But of course, there are easier, cheaper options you can also consider.

On a side note, these are my opinions, please don't yell at me for them.

Frantic Freddie
02-16-2011, 03:12 PM
I would NEVER de-claw a cat,if they somehow get outside then they have no defenses or the ability to climb a tree to get away from danger.

MaggieTheCat
02-16-2011, 05:07 PM
Cats are quite capable of defending themselves and climbing trees without claws (in both cases, not as effectively as a cat with claws, but they're not completely defenseless.) I don't advocate declawing cats since I find it unnecessary, plus cats that get declawed can get infections in their paws while using the litterbox while the wounds are still healing.