General chatter - Cat people, I need your advice and tips!




MedChick87
07-23-2013, 07:53 PM
My boyfriend and I have just moved into a new apartment and we're finally living at a place that allows pets! We decided due to limited space and time that getting a cat would be a better choice than a dog. We are both "dog people" and have never owned a cat, but we do love them! We are planning on adopting a sweet little orange kitten from our local shelter and will probably go pick him up tomorrow. His name will be Weasley, like in Harry Potter (nerdy, I know lol).

My concern is that neither of us have ever owned a cat, much less a 2-month old kitten. Are there any crucial tips we need to know about bringing a kitten home? I've googled quite a bit and I have a pretty good idea of what we'll need to buy. Here are a few specific questions I have:

Is there anything special to know about litter training? How fast do they became trained to use a litter box? He will be a completely indoor cat.

Is there any human food that is toxic to cats? (i.e. chocolate to dogs) We won't be feeding him human food obviously, I just want to know what to watch out for.

How long can he be left alone without supervision? We are not planning on leaving him alone TOO much in the beginning, but there will be a few hours here and there where he will be alone. Any tips for this?

Any other advice would be greatly appreciated! I'm super excited to be a cat person now! lol


olehcat
07-23-2013, 08:29 PM
oh man, it's been YEARS since I had a baby kitten, but I've had cats all my life and now have two young adult males.

One thing I would make sure is to make sure that electric cords are not in a tempting place that makes them look like toys. Even my adult cats are still occasionally tempted by cords, although they've gotten better as they've gotten older.

Most kittens already are automatically litter trained. I would show him where the box is when you first bring him home (get a small one for his current size so he can easily climb in and out of it) and put him in it. That's usually all it takes because cats generally instinctively want to use their boxes unless there are other issues going on. You might just show it to him a few times. Even with my adult cats, I would keep bringing them to the box over and over the first day I had them home.

As for poison food, I would yes, stay away from chocolate or avocado (I think both are supposed to be toxic for animals in general) In general I try to keep people food away from my cats. One of my cats has no interest whatsoever in people food except for maybe tuna. The other cat goes wild over chicken. They don't seem to even want food that is bad for them (like chocolate).

When you leave the kitten alone at first, you might confine him to one room (make sure his litter box and food/water is there) at first. As he gets older, that won't matter.

I hope that helps a bit!

doingmybest
07-23-2013, 08:29 PM
Hi MedChick:

Congrats on the new addition to your family! :congrat: Cats are wonderful companions.

I have never had a small kitten so I may not be able to answer all of your questions but here are a few things I have learned -

1. My experience is that cats take naturally to the litter box. Just show him or her where it is by setting them on top of the litter and moving the litter around to signal to them to use it.

2. Be very careful to "kitten proof" your home. That should include keeping toilet lids down at all times. My cat came home from the shelter and immediately fell into the toilet bowl! We cover electrical outlets with a piece of plastic that plugs into the socket. Also, be aware that kittens sometimes chew, so try to keep them away from wires and other items you want to protect, especially when you are not home. Be careful of any window coverings that have fabric loop controls that hang down. Cats can play with them and get caught inside the loop. Keep your mattress close to your headboard; our cat got caught between them, was crushed and had to go to the emergency room. Do not leave your cat alone with burning candles; my cat singed her whiskers one Christmas. Try to be aware of any items around your home that your cat can get into and plan ahead.

3. My cats always benefit from playing. Buy some toys for them to chase around. They love the attention and they need the stimulation.

4. Cats are smart and generally learn from their mistakes. As they mature, most cats are more careful and understand what they can and cannot do. For a small kitten, the less time they are left alone, the better since they can get into mischief. What is comforting to them when you are gone is an article of clothing with your scent on it. Leave your robe on the bed and that will help to comfort him or her.

5. Always have fresh water and dry food available.

6. Annual physical exams and vaccinations of course are important. One other medical point: If cats sneeze repeatedly, that is a sign of a serious respiratory problem; he or she should go to the vet immediately.

I know all of this sounds like a lot to keep track of, but cats are worth it. Every morning, I wake up to the sound of my cats purring, and nudging me to get up and give them breakfast. I can't begin to describe the love I have for them.

Enjoy your new kitty!


CherryPie99
07-23-2013, 08:47 PM
I have owned cats my whole life and currently have 10.

Consider getting 2 - 2 cats are not really any more work then 1 and they really benefit from each others company.

I wouldn't worry about the litter box - cats are AMAZING in how they take to the box.

People food I also wouldn't worry a lot about. Plants, electrical wire and yarn is what usually threatens kitty lives.

Save your furniture and sanity by getting scratching posts. Some cats are vertical scratchers and some prefer horizontaal scratching, so get both.

Congrats on your new baby!!!!

Jen

MedChick87
07-23-2013, 08:50 PM
Thanks for the advice! We will definitely need to cat-proof the new apartment. I was a little worried about cords. The electrical outlets tend to be placed in odd positions so the cords are visible. They don't run across the room or anything, though. We will probably keep his litter box, bed, food, etc. in a bedroom and maybe confine him there while we're gone (while he's still a baby).

MedChick87
07-23-2013, 08:56 PM
@CherryPie99: I would LOVE to get 2 kittens. There's actually another kitten about the same age at the shelter that is adorable. My main concern is the cost, mostly having to pay a separate pet deposit at our apartment. They waived the first fee but we'd have to pay several hundred dollars for the second (plus all the vet bills, etc.). As much as I would love for them to grow up together, I'll probably have to wait on the second one :(

PUPMOM5
07-23-2013, 09:16 PM
@CherryPie, you have more than me! YAY! LOL. At 7, I very rarely get to say that.

@MedChick, I second the idea of two kittens. Have 1 more litter box than you have cats. Plenty of toys, good quality food, and yearly vet care. I currently work at a vet clinic and we offer free exams to pets adopted from animal shelters - your vet would be able to give you lots of information on kitten care. The ASPCA website also has a comprehensive list of food and plants which are dangerous to cats. Good luck!!

EatMoreCelery
07-23-2013, 09:16 PM
So much good advice already. :)

A few things...
Keep a stash of cat toys out of sight so that you can rotate your kitty's toys as needed to keep interest.

Toys can be made from household items ... My cat's favorite toy is a shortish leather shoestring and his second fave is an Easter egg that has a button inside (egg is glued to keep it together as it bounces off the baseboards)

Cats love boxes of all sizes to play and sleep in. :)

Umm, what else....

Oh yeah, cats prefer to have a good amount of space between their food area and their litter box.

Congratulations on the furry addition to your family. Shelter kitties make great pets! :)

We are a one cat family and it works for us. ;)

Lolo70
07-23-2013, 09:20 PM
My boyfriend and I have just moved into a new apartment and we're finally living at a place that allows pets! We decided due to limited space and time that getting a cat would be a better choice than a dog. We are both "dog people" and have never owned a cat, but we do love them! We are planning on adopting a sweet little orange kitten from our local shelter and will probably go pick him up tomorrow. His name will be Weasley, like in Harry Potter (nerdy, I know lol).

My concern is that neither of us have ever owned a cat, much less a 2-month old kitten. Are there any crucial tips we need to know about bringing a kitten home? I've googled quite a bit and I have a pretty good idea of what we'll need to buy. Here are a few specific questions I have:

Is there anything special to know about litter training? How fast do they became trained to use a litter box? He will be a completely indoor cat.

Is there any human food that is toxic to cats? (i.e. chocolate to dogs) We won't be feeding him human food obviously, I just want to know what to watch out for.

How long can he be left alone without supervision? We are not planning on leaving him alone TOO much in the beginning, but there will be a few hours here and there where he will be alone. Any tips for this?

Any other advice would be greatly appreciated! I'm super excited to be a cat person now! lol

I had to smile a bit after reading your (actually good) questions. You may not have fully realized it, but you just stopped being the boss at home. Cats are amazing communicators and know how to organize their household to their liking. You will speak perfect cat in a couple of weeks and instinctively know what your cats wants and likes. I know I did. Apart from that private litter box and scratching posts are a must. Mine is a bengal who likes to be high up and therefore appreciates a tall cat tree. Otherwise, most cats go crazy about the Go-Cat Da Bird feather toy. Treat hunting all around the house is another favorite thing that can keep a cat occupied when alone. Also, never ever start something you may be unwilling to do on a regular basis should your cat take a liking. Yours may be more flexible, but mine is a little Terminator (aka will not forget, will not stop ...).

Tuscany
07-23-2013, 09:24 PM
You have received excellent advice from everyone. I would add only two things. First, it's great to leave a few toys out, but don't leave any toys with string lying around (wand toys)...put those away until you're around to supervise. Second, if you have any plants, make sure they're not toxic to pets. Good luck with your new little one!

Vex
07-23-2013, 10:34 PM
couple other things...

the litter box should probably be in a rather quiet place where they aren't interrupted by what they are doing. just put him in it every now and then for the first few days and move his paw around to show him that he can dig. they usually catch on pretty quickly. patience though, some may take a little longer

if you're not planning on declawing you'll need a scratching post so he doesn't use your couch.

verify if the humane society is neutering and also if they are giving him a locator chip.

make sure you take him to the vet within the first couple of weeks, and bring a stool sample so they can check for parasites.

lastly, please make sure you REALLY want a cat. cats can live to up to 20 years so you'll have him for a long time.

NJChick78
07-23-2013, 10:46 PM
Medchick.

My advice is: Litter boxes need to be scooped EVERY day. They need to be changed EVERY week.

EagleRiverDee
07-24-2013, 02:26 PM
+1 on getting 2 cats.

+1 on toys, and yes they can be cheap. My cats play with socks, with the foam edges from my exercise matting in the exercise room, with wadded up paper, with bottle caps.

My advice- fix them as soon as they are old enough to be fixed. Male cats that are unfixed are likely to start spraying, and that is just about an unsolvable problem. Female cats are a pain in the rear when they go in heat.

PaleoPeanut
07-24-2013, 05:21 PM
As far as human foods and cats, my cats are curious and will usually try to smell whatever I'm eating, but they don't try and eat it themselves. Cats can't digest onions/garlic/chives, grapes, and chocolate.

Cats are mostly lactose intolerant, so no milk, but you can get the cat milk that's sold at pet stores. One of mine absolutely loves it.

If you do want to keep your kitten from climbing on the furniture or scratching at something, no need to yell or shoo him away. Cats strongly dislike the smell of oranges, so I've actually just left orange peels on the kitchen counter top to keep my trouble making cat from trying to jump up.

Matisse
07-24-2013, 06:06 PM
Hello MedChick -

Cats are awesome and communicate so much. They are usually so upbeat and generous. I have two cats and the best way I can describe it is that they melt like butter when I pet them.

If they chew electrical cords - mine used to do it - brush the electrical cords with a mixture of dry mustard and oil. Pet shops also have bitter lime sprays that works wonders.

Food is as important to cats as it is to us. I woud buy them good quality dry food as recommended by a good pet store. That's what I bought for mine and I never had to worry about them overeating. Lastly, my cats are sixteen years old and still in excellent shape, so good food adds longevity.

Lastly, declawing cats is cruel. It's like cutting one third of each of your fingers. It also leaves them defenseless outside. You can train your cats to scratch on a chosen post by putting catnip on it.

If you catch them in the act of scratching at a forbidden spot, spray kittie with a water bottle - they hate it - and say "no". Later on, you can spray the furniture with a cat deterrent or add a piece of fabric to protect it.

Slashnl
07-24-2013, 06:28 PM
Another thing to consider is if you have plants. I believe that geraniums are poisonous to cats... I think. But for a kitten, watch the vines hanging down, or potted plants on the floor. They will dig them up, chew on them, etc.

:) Good to hear of other multi cat owners. I'm not quite as embarrassed as I was before!! I have 6 now, down from 8. My husband has a soft heart for animals.

MedChick87
07-25-2013, 09:26 PM
Thanks everyone for the great advice! We ended up picking him up from the shelter yesterday morning and I am in love <3

We ended up naming him Leonardo (Leo) and he's seriously the sweetest cat ever. He doesn't stop purring...literally. He's super cuddly. We only want one cat for now just b/c of costs, but Im hoping maybe another one as a Christmas present might be in the stars for us.

We don't have any plants around the apartment so we're good on that front. He's such a tiny baby so we're not leaving him alone for too long. He seems to be sleeping and eating quite well, not to mention he picked up on the litter box within an hour of having him home! Cats are so smart! lol

amandie
07-25-2013, 09:32 PM
Awww!!!! So jealous of your kitty! I miss that kitty phase so much and it has been 8 years already for 3 of mine. Cherish every moment with Leo. :)

EatMoreCelery
07-25-2013, 09:47 PM
Aw, Leonardo is a great name for a kitty! :)
I hope you can post a photo at some point :)

Seashell84
07-26-2013, 09:22 AM
Congrats on what sounds like a beautiful new kitten! Most of all, have fun with and enjoy your new family member!

Make sure you play with him every day! Cats need exercise. They also need mental stimulation. Buy them food puzzles and other problem solving toys. We have a bird feeder outside a large window and our cats will sit there all day watching the birds and squirrels

One cool thing that most people don't realize is that cats are very easy to train if you start when they are small. I taught my cat basic commands like sit and stay and he learned better than any dog I have had. They love to learn and it stimulates their minds. Make sure you quit when your cat is getting bored, though, if they don't want to do it, they won't, so you have to make it fun. They don't respond to praise the way dogs do. You have to use treats/affection as a reward. You can also easily leash (harness) train your cat so you can take it on walks. Just don't take them outside until they are for sure ready, or you will never get the leash on them again. You could also look into toilet training your cat. Some people think it is weird, but I've heard most cats really like it. You don't have to mess with litter and they love not having to crawl into a smelly litter box. Just don't teach them to flush or you will have a crazy water bill! I would totally do this if my cats were still babies.

Make sure you regularly take your cat on car rides, at least once per week, starting now. My cat loved rides when he was a kitten, but when he was about 8 months old we waited a month before taking him again and now he hates it. Do not just put him in the carrier and go for rides when going to the vet. Make it fun and interesting.

Make sure you regularly have people over and let them pet and play with your cat. Keep them socialized just like you would a dog. Take your cat to friends/family members who have cats as well. Especially if you only have one. They need to interact and play with other cats. It prevents them from becoming aggressive towards other cats. If you can, do get a second cat. And if someone you know has a dog, take him over there to be around the dog, especially if you ever plan on getting a dog. If they regularly interact with dogs as babies, they don't mind them at all. We had a cat that even slept with our dog.

Discipline your cat. Don't let them get away with bad behavior or they will walk all over you.

Buy a variety of different toys and treats. Different cats like different toys and treats and it sometimes take a while to find one they love. Most cats love those milk carton rings, but only let them play with them supervised or they could choke on them. One of my cats loves q-tips, but once again, only supervised.

Do not overfeed your cat. House cats, especially if they are spayed/neutered, are prone to being overweight. Feed them twice a day. If you feed them once per day they tend to overeat and get sick. Limit treats to training/rewarding. Make sure they always have fresh water. Cats are prone to kidney/bladder/urinary tract infections. They need lots of water, and will only drink it if it is fresh. This means new water several times per day. If you can afford it, at least half of his food should be canned. It has a higher water content and helps prevent these problems. Do not change their food/litter suddenly. Cats hate change. Changing their food suddenly could make them sick.

I agree with the person who said do not declaw. It is majorly cruel. It is the equivalent of removing the last joint of your fingers. When I was a teenager before we knew better, we had two of our cats declawed. They were in so much pain/traumatized. I cried and cried for months in regret. They were never the same again. We all swore we would never ever put an animal through that again. Your furniture/carpet is not more important than your cat's health/happiness. Provide scratching posts, and if you can afford a cat condo/gym is great. You can also buy a special cat nail clipper. Just clip the very tip off. Do not get into the quick. Do this starting now. Regularly handle/touch their paws so they don't mind it when they are older. And never let them scratch/bite you even when they are playing. It might be cute now, but it won't be once they are big and it hurts!

Make sure you keep up with your cat's shots and get him "fixed." This is so important. Around 4.5-5 months he should be neutered. This is both to prevent him from impregnating a cat if he gets out, keeps him from becoming aggressive, and prevents spraying. Once he starts spraying he probably won't stop, so you need to do this before it starts. There are too many stray cats out there, if your cat gets out and he is not "fixed" that just adds to the problem.

Most houseplants are poisonous to cats. Keep them up high so they can't reach them. You can grow some “cat grass” for them. Greens are good for their digestion. Yarn/string, hair ties, rubber bands, etc, are a major problem. It can get wrapped up in their digestive tract and kill them. Do not let them play with your shoelaces. Essential oils are a big no-no for cats.

Seashell84
07-26-2013, 09:30 AM
Oh, and take lots of picture while they are babies! They grow up so fast! Just like kids.

Issaknits
07-26-2013, 10:09 AM
I second taking lots of pictures! I adopted my cat when she was 4 months old and it seemed like I blinked and BOOM, here's this long, leggy kitten stretched out across a whole sofa cushion where she used to only take up a teeny tiny section.

Midnight Crazies will happen. I found that to sleep through them, I put away all of Izzy's toys that made a lot noise for the night and brought them back out in the morning. She still runs through the house like crazy, but it's a lot less noisier.

Scratching posts are a must to save your furniture. Pet stores also carry a non-toxic spray you can use to spray your furniture or anywhere else you don't want Leo to scratch.

Start taking care of his teeth early. Dental issues can be nipped before they turn into $$$ later on at the vet. Get him used to you rubbing your finger against his teeth by wrapping a finger in some gauze and gently rubbing like you would brush your teeth. Pet stores sell actual finger brushes to do this, as well as flavored toothpaste. If you start this early and make it part of your grooming ritual, he won't freak out when out of the blue you decide to stick your fingers in his mouth and react by biting.

Introduce Leo to a vet ASAP. Most vets will do an introductory getting to know you type visit where they'll answer any questions you might have. They won't do an in-depth examination, but they will check to see if everything is ok. While you're at the office, ask for an emergency vet clinic number and the location of their preferred animal hospital should anything happen after hours when the vet's office is closed.

Cat trees and perches are awesome! Place them by windows so he can check out what's going on outside. It might be a good idea to invest in a bird feeder so he's sure to get some feathered traffic to look at.

Awww, have fun with your new addition! It's always neat to see them figure new things out, especially at that age. Kittens always grow into their own little personalities and quirks: mine loves to stick her head into my shoes as soon as I take them off from going to the gym and she gets into the clothes hamper to steal my socks. I find socks *everywhere* in the apartment, even stuffed in the couch cushions!

PaleoPeanut
07-26-2013, 04:42 PM
I second taking your kitten on car rides. They don't have to be long or anything, but doing it now will save your sanity later. One of my good friends used to live at school, but drive home (like an hour each way) on the weekends. She'd take her kittens with her. They loved it. Half the time they'd cat nap and just chill in the back seat. Now when it's time to go to the vet, they don't mind the car ride. When I have to take my cat to the vet, he cries in his carrier the whole time.

Unrelatedly, I'm not sure what your whole living situation is like, but I just this spring got a bird feeder and put it on our balcony. My cat doesn't go outside (ever), but he'll spend the whoooole day just watching the birds through the window. All of the balls and other toys that I got for him... totally forgotten.