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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
You can discourage furniture scratching by:
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
If you find your cat is spraying urine or has had an accident, clean the soiled area thoroughly using the following methods:
Never use ammonia-based products as this will smell like urine to your cat and will only encourage him to use the spot again.