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Cat people, I need your advice and tips!

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Old 07-23-2013, 07:53 PM   #1
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Default Cat people, I need your advice and tips!

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
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Old 07-23-2013, 08:29 PM   #2
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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!
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Old 07-23-2013, 08:29 PM   #3
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Hi MedChick:

Congrats on the new addition to your family! 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!
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Old 07-23-2013, 08:47 PM   #4
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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
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Old 07-23-2013, 08:50 PM   #5
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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).
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Old 07-23-2013, 08:56 PM   #6
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@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
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:16 PM   #7
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@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!!
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:16 PM   #8
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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.
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MedChick87 View Post
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 ...).
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:24 PM   #10
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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!
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Old 07-23-2013, 10:34 PM   #11
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Default re:

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.
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Old 07-23-2013, 10:46 PM   #12
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Medchick.

My advice is: Litter boxes need to be scooped EVERY day. They need to be changed EVERY week.
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Old 07-24-2013, 02:26 PM   #13
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+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.
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Old 07-24-2013, 05:21 PM   #14
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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.
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Old 07-24-2013, 06:06 PM   #15
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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.
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