Article
Taking your new
kitten home

Taking your new kitten home...

You have now chosen your new kitten and it is 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

Used to transport your new kitten safely home.   Buy one that is large enough so that it can be used throughout the cat's life, e.g. for visits to the vet, cat shows or just to be safely transported in your car. Carry cages are readily available from most pet stores, RSPCA or vet clinics.   Preferably, buy one that is washable, and make sure the door closes securely.

Cat Bed

There are many available on the market, from soft padded oval ones with high sides to cat Ďigloosí that are enclosed on all sides with an opening in front. A cardboard box filled with soft bedding is also quite adequate, but more often than not when your kitten is older youíll probably find it wants to sleep on or in your bed! This is because your cat likes to be with you and enjoys snuggling up to you for warmth. Beware of this if you have a small baby. Also, keep your anti-flea preparations up to date if a child insists on taking the cat to bed.

Litter Tray

A kitten tray with lower sides for kittens to get easily in and out is best at first, but can later 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 and these often have charcoal filters to help prevent odours. Buy a plastic scoop to easily remove cat faeces and wet litter from the tray at least once daily.

Cat 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 cat litters available. Some breeders and owners prefer chicken pellets or woodchips. After use these can be spread over the garden after the cat clumps have been removed. There are many brands of commercial kitty litter available from supermarkets, but please be aware of the clumping brands as there have been reports of kittens dying after they have ingested some of the litter and it swells up inside. 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. Some people will tell you to avoid plastic as this can be hard to thoroughly disinfect and some cats donít like the smell of plastic.

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 in a young kitten. You should also have fresh clean water available at all times, but in a bowl not so deep that a young kitten could fall into it and be unable to get out.

Cat Toys

There are many, many excellent cat toys on the market. Cats enjoy small furry mice, soft glitter pompom balls available from most good haberdashery stores, scrunched up paper bags, pipe-cleaner "spiders" and "fish or butterflies" on a string. Be careful that the cat/kitten canít break the string and ingest it.

Grass

Cats and kittens love chewing on grass as it aids their digestion, 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 digestion and health.   But watch out for the inevitable small amount of vomit as it's not pleasant to step in with bare feet!

Scratching Post

To save your furniture from being damaged, supply your kitten with at least one scratching pole in each room to which it has access.   This can be anything from a simple pole covered with sisal rope or carpet to elaborate poles with shelves, holes, hammocks and toys.   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 a little 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 furniture scratching by:

  • ∑ covering other areas with thick plastic

  • ∑ squirting them with a water pistol in mid scratch

  • ∑ shouting and clapping, but NEVER hitting your cat

  • ∑ providing a scratching post 

  • ∑ providing suitable toys to relieve your catís boredom

Brush & comb

Regular grooming of your catís coat is beneficial for the cat, 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 have bylaws allowing anyone to catch a roaming cat that does not have a collar or tag, and even have it legally put down.   But 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 intentions towards cats.   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 plenty of toys to play with and company to keep them occupied and amused.

If you get an outdoors enclosed run constructed for your cat, he or she can go outside for some fresh air when it's not cold or hot.   The run can be an exercise area where your cat can climb, jump and scratch, or just watch the birds out of their reach!

Worming and Vaccination

Worm your cat every three months and take him 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 Feline Respiratory Disease.   There are many other diseases that we can protect our cats from, so 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.   Otherwise, purchase a special cat-related preparation, such as Revolution, Advantage or Frontline, which can be applied topically on your catís skin to prevent fleas and, in some cases, even worms and ear mites.

Desexing

If you are not a registered breeder, please have your cat desexed.   This can be done at around 5-6 months, but again please check with your vet.   Most breeders now sell their kittens desexed, which is done when the kitten is around 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.

Useful 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 be unhygienic.   You can try to stop this by putting sticky paper on the bench, or try spraying the cat with a water pistol every time it looks like he is going to jump up. 

  • 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 best for me is to quietly sit on the floor, place the cat between my legs, gently lift the cat's head back and drop the tablet into his/her mouth.   Then gently rub the cat's throat as this encourages the cat to swallow.   But act calmly and precisely no matter what method you choose to use.

  • Cat climbing the curtains or walking the mantelpiece?   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 essential 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 the comfort of your home!    If you buy a kitten that has been bought up inside the home, this will make the job easier.

If you find your cat is spraying urine or has had an accident, clean the soiled area thoroughly using the following 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 with an enzymatic washing agent, such as BioZet. Rinse 4-6 times with warm water. Pat dry. You should always spot test an area first.

Never use ammonia-based products as this will smell like urine to your cat and will only encourage him to use the spot again.

  • Spray the cleaned area with ĎFeliwayí, a feline hormone spray available from your vet, to prevent the cat marking the area again in the future. 

  • Make sure the litter tray is kept as clean as possible as cats can be very fastidious, and if you have more than one cat, provide a tray each.

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