You and your new Kitten
- Choosing your new friend. Choosing a new kitten is enjoyable but don’t underestimate the importance of the right choice. Cats can live for 20 years and will therefore be part of your household for a very long time. Choose with your heart but don’t forget the mind! …more
Make sure that your living arrangements will accommodate a cat. Do you move often or live in apartments where cats may not be welcome? Do you have a roommate or spouse that dislikes cats or is allergic to them? Do you know someone who can care for your cat when you are out of town?
Do you have time? This is much less of an issue for cats than for dogs, but cats still require attention and love.
Do you love your house? A cat will leave hair on your clothes, furniture and carpets, and scratching is normal behaviour, although can be directed to a scratching post.
The first thing to consider when choosing your kitten is if you are looking for a family companion or a cat that you intend to show or breed in future. If you are looking for a family pet, the most important consideration will be temperament and health.
There are over 70 cat breeds and they have a wide range of specific characteristics. In order to find out what best suits your expectations it is worthwhile to invest time in studying the different breeds. Try visiting a cat show to get a good impression!
The greatest advantage of buying a pedigree kitten or cat is that you know fairly well what you're getting, although breed temperament is far less predictable than in pedigree dogs.
Mixed cat breeds come from an entirely non-pedigree background. Their only, minor, disadvantage is that you just don't know what such a kitten will grow into as far as adult size, coat and character are concerned. Having said that, cats are not that significantly different in size or shape, so you are not in for big surprises.
Type of cat
Size does not really mater since most cats have more or less the same size. Males are slightly bigger than females.
• .. Provided they are neutered, there are actually very few behavioural differences between a male and a female cat For every person who says females are more loving and males are more independent, there will be someone saying exactly the opposite. • Un-neutered males can present various difficulties, such as wandering, urine spraying and fighting. Un-neutered females can be very vocal and difficult to keep indoors when they come into season. If you already have a (neutered) male cat, a young (neutered) female may be the best choice for him and you.
Longhair cats are beautiful but high maintenance. They need to be combed out often, especially those with dense undercoats that can mat easily.
Once you have a breed in mind, talk to people who already own the breed and ask them about their experiences, specifically in the areas of training, aggression and health. Your veterinarian will be able to give you advice and let you know which breeds have a tendency to inherit certain health-related conditions.
Where to find your kitten?
There are lots of places where you can acquire your kitten. Registered breeders, local shelters, rescue organisations, adverts or simply from friends or family. When you find your kitten at the shelter don’t be surprised if you get a visit from them. They want to make sure their kitten has found a good new home.
- Welcoming your new pet in the home. The moment when the kitten arrives in her new home must be as quiet as possible. A big and noisy welcoming committee would frighten her. Let her accommodate in a small area, such as a bedroom, where the doors can be closed. …more
The first day
That will enable her to slowly get used to other inhabitants of the home, noises and smells. Water and food must be put at her disposal in the room, each in a different container. Whatever the chosen location, the litter box must always be placed as far away as possible from the feeding area.
Bring your new kitten home in a cat carrier. Cat carriers are a safe and familiar place for your kitten when you visit the veterinarian or travel, and can keep your curious kitten out of trouble when need be.
The days after
Avoid any drastic changes in the first days. Whether it is food or the litter box, the best is to continue for some time with what she had in the previous home. Anything new has to be introduced gradually.
A scratching post is an excellent investment for your new kitten. It will allow her to scratch, stretch and exercise all at once.
The kitten has an enormous energy and will want to play a lot. A few simple games, a ball, a cork, are all that’s needed but they won’t satisfy her constant need for discovery and play. Make sure that you and family members set aside enough time to play with the new kitten.
Introduction to the other animals in the home
The kitten must be introduced to the pets of the home. The best way is to keep your kitten confined to one room of the house for the first few days, giving your other pet(s) a chance to grow accustomed to her smell. Make the first introduction short and always supervised, removing the kitten after a few minutes. Most pets will work things out in their own way, which may take about a week. If your pets are having more difficulty adjusting, supervise their time together and be patient. Offer both pets a place to go when they want to be alone.
Introducing a new kitten to an older animal can be very stressful on the older animal. The older animal might prove to be less tolerant, but a slight scratch by the kitten will lessen their aggressiveness, and integration generally occurs rapidly and without problems. With another cat, the task may prove to be much more difficult. An adult cat is not too happy with the arrival of a kitten on her territory. She will show her displeasure with an intimidating attitude for she does not accept that her world and habits have to change. Full acceptation may take up to several months.
There are many potential dangers for a kitten. Even when sleeping a lot, you are well advised to keep an eye on her. When you have to leave the house for a while, place her in the room where she was welcomed in the beginning.
Learning how to cope with potential dangers is a part of the kitten’s education but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect her at first. A household is full of dangers to a nosy kitten so it will help to go through your home and look at everything from your kitten’s perspective.
• .. Put away (valuable) breakable objects. • Keep doors to the oven, fridge, microwave, dishwasher, tumble-dryer and washing machine closed. • The toilet lid should always be kept down. Kittens can drown or get poisoned by drinking water that may contain cleaning chemicals. • Keep doors and windows closed. Even if your cat will eventually be allowed outside, she needs time to settle and to get to know her home first. • Plastic bags must be kept safely out of reach. • Food scraps must always be cleared away promptly. Chicken bones can be very dangerous, as they splinter when chewed and the string that can be found on joints is also irresistible and potentially deadly. • Hide all electrical cables securely under carpets or tape them to the floor or wall. You can also use a cable protector. • Remove or shorten hanging tablecloths. • Be careful with medication, pill bottles, dental floss and razors. • Put household chemicals out of reach. • Get rid of toxic houseplants, including philodendron, mistletoe and poinsettia.
- Eating area. When your kitten arrives in its new home it might be a little disoriented and confused because it just left the world she knew and shared with her mother and siblings. The arrival in an unknown environment is a major step and the integration must be carried out gradually and smoothly. …more
For the kitten and your comfort it is very important that you think beforehand on where to feed it.
Select a good eating area in your home that is going to allow her to enjoy her meals in a calm atmosphere and which will also encourage her to drink plenty of water. If you put her food and water in a busy area of your home that always has a lot of activity, noise and traffic, she may not feel comfortable or safe and therefore might not take in enough nutrition and water.
Cats are creatures of habit, so it is best to feed your kitten each day in the same place and at the same time. Choose a surface that can be easily cleaned, such as a tiled floor, or use a feeding mat. Always serve the food in a clean bowl; ceramic or metal bowls are preferable and some cats prefer a saucer or flat bowl.
If you have more than one cat or kitten, put feeding bowls at a reasonable distance apart to avoid confrontations. If the cats do not get along, completely separating feeding locations may be required. If there is a dog in the house, it is better to place the containers for the kitten out of the dog’s reach, at some height for instance.
The feeding area must be as far away as possible from the litter box. The natural instinct for cats is to eliminate far away from their nest, to keep predators away from their babies and from themselves when they are vulnerable.
- Sleeping area. Kittens, being full of boundless energy, aren't always willing to sleep eight hours, according to your schedule. Although it may be tempting to let the little kitten sleep in your room, as he grows older, and more playful, you may regret it. So better think twice! …more
Accustom the kitten from the start to sleeping in its own bed in another area of the house. You must provide the kitten with warmth, after all it was used to snuggling up to its mother until recently. There are many different cat beds available in all forms and sizes and in a huge range of prices. Price and quality do not really matter as long as the bed is warm, comfortable and allows the kitten to curl up comfortably.
The position of the rest area changes depending on where the best heat sources are and your kitten will probably choose to rest near a radiator or in the sun. If you have a sleeping basket, position it in a warm place close to you, as your kitten will also enjoy being with you.
Make sure its litter box is convenient and accessible but not too close.
Be prepared to make her tired with play before going to bed. This may eliminate the "night terrors" with a kitten wildly racing around the house.