Shall we get a kitten?
Kittens are cute. Dangerously cute. Once you see one you immediately want to take care of it, to cuddle it, and to play with him/her. But it’s important to look past that cute playful expression and realize what you may be getting into if you decide to bring home a young kitten. Kittens are a little like young children; they require much more attention and more patience than an adult cat. You should only get a kitten if you’re prepared for the good and the sometimes hard periods that are part of living with a baby kitten. Getting a kitten is a lifetime (15-20 years) commitment and it entails certain responsibilities that should be taken seriously. Before you bring that cute little kitten into your house, it might be a good idea to ask yourself the following questions to avoid disillusionment on your part and on your kitten’s part. But if you are prepared it can be an incredibly fun and rewarding journey.
Things to consider before you get a kitten
- The average lifespan of an indoor cat is 15 to 18 years. Are you willing to commit for such a long period?
- Raising a cat requires financial input. Cat food, veterinary visits, pet accessories, etc. together could put a considerable hole in your wallet.
- Cats need your time, attention, and patience. Litter boxes need to be scooped out and cleaned regularly, your cat needs to be fed, groomed and housetrained. But most importantly, your cat needs your love and attention. Can you allocate the time to do this?
- If you are not living alone, you might want to consider how your housemates would react to having a pet. Housemates with allergies to animals may be a potential problem. Small children in the house may be another problem as they sometimes manhandle cats as if they were toys.
- Check if you are allowed to keep a cat in your house/apartment
What breed suits you?
The choice of breed is extremely important. Different cat breeds have different characteristics and personalities. Choose well and you and Kitty stand the best chance of developing a long and happy relationship. Do not only go for looks but consider especially personality, contact us for more information and an overview of most popular cat breeds with their characteristics and personalities.
Things to buy before your kitten arrives
- Kitten food
It is best to start with the food the kitten was used to eat before he came to you.
You can gradually change to the food of your choice. Please do this gradually because your kitten’s intestines are very sensitive and an abrupt food change can cause kitty to be sick and leave you with a lot of vomit and/or diarrhea to be cleaned up. There is a choice for wet- or dry food. Both are good just bear in mind that wet food is more smelly and is much more expensive and does not always help prevent tooth decay!
- Food- and water bowl
There is an enormous choice out there and some are designed to make your life easy. There are water bowls with a water reservoir, which you do not have to fill to often, check that the water in the reservoir can not be contaminated so you secure clean healthy drinking water. The food and water bowls should be wide- and flat enough for your cat to easily reach the food, some cats get scared away if the whiskers touch the sides of the bowl. The material should be easily cleaned and not of porous substance. Special feeding trays have a clock work in them so if you have a greedy cat or are away over a weekend the cat can be fed at set times.
- Litter box and cat litter
Various types of litter are available, but initially, try using the type that the kitten has been used to. Some litters are designed to clump in order to be economically removed without having to change all the litter content, some take odor away better than others. The cheapest, in this case, is not always the best! Litter boxes come open or covered and some have even a filter in it. The latest is a fully automatic self cleaning litter box. Golden rule in every multiple cat household is that for each cat you should have 1 litter box +1 (2 cats = 3 boxes) in order to prevent stressing out resulting in all sorts of physical problems. Place the boxes in several places throughout the house so the cats can freely move around them.
- Transport Box
Big accidents happen regularly when people take a cat/kitten into their car without a proper carrier so please always remember to bring your cat in a proper carrier whenever you need to travel with him/her. When buying a carrier it is important to directly pay attention to Airline requirements since it would be a shame if you have to buy a different box at the time of traveling out of the country. There are special IATA approved carriers which have a different locking system, special ventilation systems, handles which accommodate handling, sturdy material and approved sizes. Also remember that your kitten will grow into an adult cat size so buy a box for an adult cat.
- Scratching post
Many types, colors and designs and so necessary! Make sure you always have one around and try the ones with build in “cat nip” since this attracts each cat mysteriously! It could be the difference to having a presentable couch or not!
- Cat bed
Very nice models, colors and inviting designs are available, bear in mind that cats like covered, high resting places when you choose one. Don’t spend too much money however so you can regularly change them. But be aware, cats have a mind of their own and might still prefer your office paper tray, the cupboard with your nice silk dresses, your bed, or any other strategically positioned soft spot!
- Grooming materials
Many brushes and combs are available and all will suit the job, however we have noticed that the closely positioned teeth of the flea comb help enormously with removal of undercoat and knots in longhaired cats, so get one of those for sure! There are different designs nail cutters, so before buying one ask your vet clinic to show you how to use them and then decide with which one you are comfortable. Dental care in cats is also needed but most cats will find this unacceptable, therefore try at an early age with a small tooth brush & paste specifically designed for cats. Special food has been designed to delay tartar build up and therefore tooth decay. Ask for food advice at your vet clinic since most commercially available brands do not really prevent tooth decay.
Due to their climbing on top of things interest and curious minds (sticking their necks into everything) cats tend to easily get trapped by a collar and could choke when this happens. Therefore special collars have been designed for cats which break open easily or widen when trapped. Always check this before you buy. If you have an outdoor cat it is wise to consider buying a reflecting collar so the cat is more visible at night. Some people buy a collar with a bell attached. This helps prevent your cat from catching mice, birds or other but is also extremely annoying when he walks through your house and must be the same annoying to your cat.
Each cat loves to play and the most fantastic toys have been designed and are out there to lure you to spend money! Remember if you can smack it, it makes a nice sound and you can bite in it and throw it in the air it is a toy! Cats can be easily amused with little paper buds or a crispy peach of plastic! Just make sure they can not ingest it, and it does not contain toxic material or can entangle them. Some toys contain cat nip to lure and excite them. Cat grass is available for you to grow in a pot in your house or in the garden and most cats love to nip from it, it helps them clear hairballs.
Things to do before your kitten arrives
- Make an appointment with your veterinarian in advance. It is advisable to have a health check within 72 hours of his arrival at your place in order to check for obvious health problems and possible inborn defects that might have been not apparent to you. This is also the time to discuss if the kitten is vaccinated & de-wormed properly.
- Just before picking up your kitten make sure that all doors and windows are closed and stay closed when your kitten has arrived. Be careful no door can slam closed in a draft.
- Prepare a room with a cat bed, litter box, food and fresh water. Make sure there is no draught and the AC is off. Cats are reluctant to use a litter tray that is too close to the cat’s food (logic) so have some distance between them.
When your kitten is home
- On arrival home with your new kitten, place the kitten while still in the carrier in the prepared room where the kitten can be safely kept for a few days. Let the kitten come out to explore in his own time. Keep the carrier around since the kitten might use it as safe haven (remove the door from the carrier).
- It can take days or even weeks to establish a relationship with your kitten so please be patient. Kittens need time to bond with you but if given time will become your best friend.
- For the first few weeks, your kitten shouldn’t be allowed to roam your home unsupervised when you are not there. Therefore you should put your kitten back in its own room/bed with a litter tray, food, toys and water.
- It may be worth considering obtaining two kittens, especially if you will be out of the home for most of the day. This way they will always have a constant playmate and two cats can exercise each other far more effectively than you can.
- It is advisable to keep your kitten indoors until it is old enough to cope and preventative measures have been taken to prevent reproduction.
How to introduce your kitten to other pets already in your house;
It’s important to have realistic expectations when introducing a new kitten to a resident pet. Some cats are more social than other cats. Cats are territorial and need to be introduced to other animals gradually in order to give them time to get used to each other before there is a face-to-face confrontation. Slow introductions help prevent fearful and aggressive problems from developing.
Confine the new kitten in his room. Feed your resident pets and the newcomer on each side of the door to this room. This will help all of them to associate something enjoyable (eating!) with each other’s smells. Don’t put the food so close to the door that the animals are too upset by each other’s presence to eat. Gradually move the dishes closer to the door until your pets can eat calmly, directly on either side of the door. Next, use two doorstops to prop open the door just enough to allow the animals to see each other, and repeat the whole process.
- Switch Living Areas
Once your new cat is using its litter box and eating regularly while confined, let it have free time in the house while confining your other animals to the new cat’s room. This switch provides another way for the animals to experience each
other’s scents without a face-to-face meeting. It also allows the newcomer to become familiar with her new surroundings without being frightened by the other animals.
- Avoid Fearful and Aggressive Meetings
Avoid any interactions between your pets that result in either fearful or aggressive behavior. If these responses are allowed to become a habit, they can be difficult to change. It’s better to introduce your pets to each other so gradually that neither animal becomes afraid or aggressive. You can expect mild forms of these behaviors, but don’t give them the opportunity to intensify. If either animal becomes fearful or aggressive, separate them, and start over with the introduction process in a series of very small, gradual steps, as outlined above.
– Have at least one litter box per cat + one extra, positioned at strategic places throughout the house, and you’ll probably need to clean all of the litter boxes more frequently. Make sure that none of the cats are being “ambushed” by another while trying to use the litter box.
– Try to keep your resident pets’ schedule as close as possible to what it was before the newcomer’s appearance.
– Be sure each cat has a safe hiding place and always a free escape route.
Don’t interfere directly if a confrontation takes place, the kitten has to learn its place in the household.
A lot to take in, indeed but it does make life with a cat so much more fun if you come prepared. Please enjoy and do not hesitate to ask, we are here to help you become the best Cat Parent in the world! Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions you might still have or use our live chat on this side