Kitten Pamphlet

 

 

Your Kitten Pamphlet


Before You
Pick Up Your Kitten

Getting Ready

Before you pick up your kitten, there are several things you need to do:

  1. Study the Kitten Handbook and make a list of any questions you might have regarding the care of your Kitten.
  2. Check your Kitten's Shopping List and make sure you have everything you will need for your kitten.
  3. Prepare a "room" where your kitten will stay when you first bring him home. Preferably the master bathroom where there are no beds or chairs to hide underneath.

Bringing Your
Kitten Home

Bringing Your Kitten Home

Be sure to bring a hard sided carrier in which to take your kitten home. Place a towel or small blanket in the bottom for the kitten to snuggle on.

Your Kitten is still just a baby. So when you first bring him home, after his two week isloation, introduce him to one room at a time or he may get "lost". Often the best choice is to keep him in the bedroom of "his" person. Have the litter box where he can find it easily, put his food and water in a corner (but within sight), and have some toys (teasers, crumpled paper ball, crinkle balls) available.

Never "grab" your kitten. Sit on the floor with a little teaser or toy and entice him to come up into your lap to play. Then when he's in your lap, start to pet him. Slowly he will decide you are "his" person. Once he seems comfortable in your bedroom, you can open the door and allow him to explore further, but leave the door open to "his" safe room. If you have more than one level or a very big house, he will need a litter box on each level or close by until he "knows" where to find it.

I have no steps in my home, so if you have steps in your house, you will need to teach your kitten how to go up an down them. Use a toy and entice him"up" the stairs first... because it is easier to climb up then to climb down things... Once he has the going up stairs figured out, it won't be long before he figures out how to go down again. In fact, most kittens don't take very long to become a mountain climber. If you have several levels in your home, be sure to have a litter box on each level at first so your kitten can reach a box quickly if need be.

If your family is large, active and noisy, your kitten may be intimidated at first by the increased noise level and activity. Introduce him to each family member one at a time. Wait until he seems settled in and comfortable with his "people" family before introducing him to any four-footed family members of your household.

The key is to go slowly and not overwhelm your new baby with too many new things all at once.

Introducing Your
Kitten To Other Pets

Other Cats

Keep your kitten separate from other family pets at first.

Your kitten is accustomed to other cats. Just the same, he may be feeling insecure since everything is so "new" to him and he may feel threatened by a strange cat.

Let them first sniff one another under the door. First bring new kitten out in the house in a carrier and set it down on the floor letting resident cat sniff and see new kitten. Do this for about 15 minutes or so at a time many times during the day for a couple of days. Eventually neither cat will care very much about the other one. At this point put resident cat in bathroom where new cat has been isolated for last two weeks and let new cat out in house while resident cat is in the bathroom. This allows new cat to feel comfortable in house without the threat of the resident cat. This also allows both cats to smell each others litterboxes too and get comfortable with the strange new smells. Once your kitten seems comfortable, you can let them meet one another with a human in attendance, of course. Don't force it. If either cat hisses at the other just reassure both of them that everything is okay. Do not punish either cat if they reject the other. Just give them time to become accustomed to one another.

Dogs

Your kitten has never seen a dog. Dogs are bigger and noisier than cats, so introduce them to one another slowly. You will want to protect the kitten from the dog's exuberance at first. Most cats and dogs become good friends once they get to know one another.

Feeding

Feeding

Dry Kibble

We don't like any kibble at all as the risks are many and the health of the cats will become compromised with this poor diet. We do not recommend feeding a dry kibble. You can find a great deal of information about feline nutrition here. Please take the time to read through all of those pages for a deep education regarding your kittens nutritional needs.

Canned Food

If someone insists on feeding a commercial food diet even after a complete understanding of a felines unique nutritional needs, then at least feed a high quality canned food.

Vitamins

We suggest you feed Kitty Bloom vitamin powder at least once a day to ensure your kitten gets all its dietary needs met.

Treats

As a special treat, I also keep a tube of Nutrical handy. This is simply a thick gel-like product that comes in a tube, and is a vitamin/mineral supplement. You can find it at any of the pet supply stores, or at your vets, or through the mail order catalogs. Most cats love the taste, and it makes a good reward for after bath times, or claw clipping, or the vet's office.

I also use chicken baby food as a training treat with all my cats. They'll actually eat it off a small baby spoon. I use it as a reward when they do something right. I use it as a treat for no reason at all. I use it if they are not feeling well and are off their food. I have fed a lot of it over the years -

MILK is NOT GOOD for your kitten.

Do not feed your kitten milk. Fresh, clean water is all he needs. A sudden change in water can upset your kitten's digestive tract and cause him to have diarrhea so I recommend that you give him only bottled water at first and gradually change over to your own tap water. This lessens the shock to the digestive system of the change from the breeders local water to your local water.

Bowls

Bowls

Your kitten should have his own bowls. The bowls should be glass, ceramic or stainless steel. Do not use plastic bowls as they can harbor bacteria and hold oils which can cause feline acne or allergic skin reactions.

Always use a clean bowl for each meal, and put fresh water down at least once a day. The bowls should be as clean as those you would use for yourself. Dirt, dust, and hair will collect in the bowls during the day - you wouldn't want to eat or drink dirty food or water, and you shouldn't expect your kitten to either.

Litter Boxes

and

Litter

The Litter and Litter Box

I recommend the scoopable clay litter, but any good, dust-free clay litter is acceptable.

The odor is virtually nonexistent if you feed a species appropriate diet and if the box is cleaned regularly - every morning and evening.

The directions on the litter will say to keep the litter at least 2 inches deep - I have found that 3 to 4 inches works much better.

It is also advisable to clean the box itself every week. I suggest having at least two litter boxes that you rotate week to week. Dispose of the litter if you are planning a complete change of litter. If you want to save the litter, clean out the waste, then place it in the clean litter box.

Wash the dirty litter box box using Clorox, Parvocide, Nolvasan, or any other disinfectant cleaning agent. Chlorine bleach works very well in about a 20:1 dilution (20 parts water and 1 part bleach), since it kills bacteria, viruses, and fungus, and is inexpensive to use. Rinse well and let dry completely.

I like a large litter box with sides about 24 " high. The higher sides lessen the chances of litter scatter.

The use of automatic litter boxes is a personal choice that needs to fit the needs of both the owner and the kitten. Cats and kittens are individuals - and some may prefer an open litter box while some prefer more privacy. If you choose to use an automatic box, the only one I have found that truly works well is The Litter Robot. It is expensive but works as advertized and so far I have never heard a negative review.

Poopies
Bowel Movements

Kittens, like all babies, have an occasional soft bowl movement. Especially when excited (like coming to a new home for the first time), a kitten my have diarrhea from the stress and change. It should resolve itself within a day or two. If your kitten has diarrhea over an extended period or you see blood, please take him to a veterinarian for a checkup.

Scratching Posts

Scratching Posts

Your kitten has been trained to use a scratching post while still at the breeders home. If you do not provide him with a scratching post, however, it would not take long at all him to start to use your furniture to sharpen his claws. It's important for you to think ahead and make it easy for the kitten to continue to have good manners. The easier you make it for him to be a good pet, the better pet he will be. If the kitten shows any interest in using a piece of furniture instead of a scratching post, there are steps you can take to change that behavior:

  1. Put a scratching post right next to the target piece of furniture, gradually moving it to its permanent location.
  2. If you see the cat looking like he is going to scratch on the furniture, you must, in a loud and firm voice, say "NO!". Don't overly frighten the cat, just make your point.
  3. Squirt the cat with water from a small spray bottle or water pistol when you see the behavior begin. Squirt guns or spray bottles are great discipline tools for cats - more about discipline later…

Do not go buy some cheesy small scratching post. Get or make one that is substantial in weight. If they try to use it and dig in and it tips over or is unstable, they will use something that is more sturdy, like your couch.

Sometimes it's helpful to rub catnip all over the scratching post to attract the kitten's interest, or you can try fastening a dangling toy from the top of the post (a shoe lace works well, and is quite durable) to encourage the kitten to use it. It takes patience and consistence on your part to keep/instill good habits in your companion, but it is worth the effort! (note: catnip is only effective in about 50% of cats and only after around 6-8 months)

***TIP*** Purchase a cone-like scratching post covered in rope (sisal) for your your kitten before he comes home. Place it in his room where he can see it right away. Most kittens would also love a large carpeted cat tree to play on.

Nail Clipping

Nail Clipping

Nail clipping is something that should be done once every week or two. It is desirable from both the standpoint of avoiding possible damage to furniture, and from accidental scratches on you.

Clippers specifically designed for clipping claws do work the best - a human nail clipper can cause the nail to splinter and break, rather than make a nice even cut. You can find nail clippers at all pet stores, and through the mail-order catalogs. The best type of clipper is pictured on your Kitten Shopping List.

The kitten is accustomed to having his nails clipped. Take the toe in your hand, and gently put just enough pressure on the base of the toe to expose the nail. If the nails are white you can actually hold it up to the light and see where the "quick" or blood vessel comes down to in the nail. Clip just beyond the quick. You don't want to cut up into the quick, as it will bleed. If it does bleed, you can stop it with a product called "Quick Stop", or by holding an ice cube against the tip or packing it with flour.

Remember, cats cover their waste in the litter box, and you don't want any open wounds on their feet! Frequent claw clipping will cause the quick to recede naturally, which makes the whole process easier. Not to mention that the cat knows the procedure is just part of the routine, and will accept the process with little objection.

***TIP*** If your the kitten objects to nail clipping - try doing it in his bath. Most cats are more placid when they are dripping wet :-)!

I do not recommend declawing and our contract specifically forbids this barbaric amputation.

Scratching is a natural behavior of cats and that cats may be defenseless without full use of their claws if, either intentionally or unintentionally, they go outdoors. Scratching damage to household furnishings can be minimized or avoided by routine clipping of the claws, the use of claw covers, and by redirecting the cat's activity to acceptable surfaces. The declawing of cats and the severing of digital tendons (tendonectomy) are without benefit to the cat and considered a barbaric practice in most industrialized nations of the world.

Our Kitten Contract specifies that the kitten may not be declawed without our written permission.

TOYS

TOYS

Kittens love ALL toys, but here are some of favorites:

  1. 1) TEASERS: feathers, fur, ribbons, streamers, rattle, clapper, or anything on a long slender stick
  2. 2) BALLS: golf, plastic, crumpled paper, crinkle balls, rattle balls, smooshy balls. Always be sure a ball is not so small that a might be able to swallow it.
  3. 3) FLYERS: A toy on a baby (fishing rod-like) pole and line
  4. 4) LASERS: Often available at an office supply store (laser pointer for presentations) Be careful not to point directly in the eye. Great for exercise, run the light under the couch, up the wall, across the ceiling. Lasers are not a great choice as the kitten never gets to capture its prey. It can be very bad for a show cat as they dont learn to look up at judges toys.
  5. 5) Cat Track - available at pet stores its a big round plastic "track" with a ball inside!

The more variety you have of toys in your kitten's life, the more he will make you laugh. Don't forget the homemade favorites:

Vet Care and Vaccinations

Vet Care and Vaccinations

A good vet is just as important to your cat as a good doctor is to you. Finding a good vet is just like looking for a doctor or dentist - some are worthy of patient referrals, and some are not!

You can find out a lot by talking to other people about their experiences with a certain vet.

Vaccinations

Your kitten has received a 3 way vaccine (Merial) at 8 Weeks and a booster injection at 12 Weeks It is very important to keep these current.

Your kitten has received vaccinations for:

  • Feline Distemper
  • Panleukopenia
  • Calici Virus

I DO NOT recommend that your kitten be vaccinated for:

  • Chlamydia: I do NOT recommend this vaccination as it not particularly effective.
  • FeLV: Our cats are routinely tested negative for FeLV,.
  • FIP: I strongly do NOT recommend this vaccination. In studies, the FIP vaccination has not proven to be effective, and in many case has made the cat more susceptible to the disease. Our health guarantee is void if this vaccine is given.
  • Rabies: I do NOT recommend this vaccination unless compelled by law due to the increased risk of vaccination site sarcoma from this vaccine. However if you must give rabies, please only use Merial Pure Vax as it is a Recombinate DNA vaccine and does not use an adjuvant and therfore the risk of injection site sarcoma's is dramatically reduced.

Annual boosters

Annual boosters have been the norm in veterinary medicine, but new studies suggest that a 3-year interval may be just as effective. And actually there is evidence to suggest that vaccines effecivness lasts for the life of the cat. This is something to discuss with your vet. It is important to your cats health to keep your cat's vaccinations current.

I highly recommend the use of MODIFIED LIVE Vaccines due to them not using adjuvants which is an irritant in the vaccine that is believed to be the cause of injection site sarcoma's..

There is some variation in each vet's recommended vaccination schedule. Discuss the options with your vet and make informed decisions.

Neutering/Spaying

Your pet kitten will be neutered or spayed before going to its new home.

Bathing Your Kitten

Bathing

Bathing the kitten on a regular basis helps keep his coat clean, shiny, and healthy, and also helps to reduce shedding. I recommend that you bath your kitten once a month (or more often if you wish). Always blow dry the kitten until it is completely dry to avoid a chill. Your kitten has been accustomed to being bathed weekly in the kitchen sink.

How To Bath Your Cat:

Before bathing your cat, gather all the supplies you need:

SUPPLIES

Dawn dish detergent (blue)
Good human texturizing shampoo
face clothrinse
2 big towels
nail clippers
carrier with towel in the bottom

OPTIONAL

whiskey (to steady your nerves)
an additional pair of hands

Even though your kitten will have had baths by the time he comes to live with you, he may decide to "test" your authority by behaving badly during his first bath. Simply grip him lightly but firmly by the back of his neck until he calms down. This is called "scruffing" your cat and is what a mother cat does to discipline her kittens. This is a good technique to use whenever you need to control your kitty.

Before starting, gather all your supplies and have them handy. I find that the kitchen sink is the easiest place to bathe my kitties, as it eliminates the constant bending over that happens using the bathtub. Clear anything near the sink out of the way just in case your kitten scrambles out of the sink and sends everything flying.

I start on the face, and simply use a washcloth to clean it, especially under the eyes and the inside "flap" of the ears.

For the rest of the body, wet the coat down, and then for the first soaping, use Dawn dishwashing liquid, mixed 50/50 with water. Dawn cuts through the grease in the kitten's coat and gets it squeaky clean. Work it into a good lather (not hard to do with Dawn), and massage it into the coat, paying special attention to behind the ears, the belly, the chest, and the base of the tail. Then, rinse it out thoroughly. A good rinsing will take several minutes.

For a final soaping, you can use any brand of human shampoo you like. Wash & rinse using the same procedure. Fill the sink up and let the water swirl around the kitten to make sure the water gets right to the roots of the hair. While the sink is filling the kitten will often rest its chin on the edge of the sink. The kitten's face may have a rather disgusted look on it.

As a final step to make sure all the soap is out of the coat, add several of tablespoons of white vinegar in a pitcher of water, and pour this mixture over the cat. The vinegar will remove any soap residue from the coat. Then, rinse thoroughly again to remove the vinegar.

***TIP*** In the Spring your kitten may shed more than usual. The best way to control the hair loss is by more frequent bathing as it loosens the hair and washes it down the drain (rather than the hair being left on your clothes or all over the house).

Once the bath is finished, you can wrap your cat up in a towel, and hold him for a few minutes - this will help to absorb some of the excess water.

I find that while the cat is wrapped in the towel is a also a really good time to clip claws if you haven't already. You can pull one leg at a time out from the towel to work on it. Clipping the claws at this point has two advantages: one - the cat is wrapped up and can't struggle too much; and two - the hair is wet, and it's much easier to see the claw to do the cutting. This is also a good time to clean your cats ears with a Q-tip. The same rules that apply to cleaning your own ears apply here - don't go too deeply into the ear. Dry the external ear gently as well. If you notice anything other than normal ear wax - anything foul-smelling, wet, or icky - consult your veterinarian.

Safety

Safety

KEEP YOUR CAT INDOORS!

The most important thing you can do to insure you and your cat will have a long life together is to KEEP YOUR CAT INSIDE.

There are many diseases in the outside environment, many of them becoming a problem in just the past decade. Parasites abound in the outdoors - fleas, tapeworms, lice. There are irresponsible pet owners who allow their animals outside even if they know they're ill. Cars kill cats. Dogs kill cats. Raccoons, possums, coyotes all kill cats … the list goes on.

THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR CAT IS KEEP IT INSIDE, away from the hazards and diseases outside. Your kitten has never been outside, and is content to stay warm and safe inside.

CAT PROOFING YOUR HOME

The inside of your home can also be a danger to your new kitten. Think of a your kitten as a human toddler. That's just about the level of "child proofing" that is appropriate. Think like a cat. Look around for things that could trap him - small spaces that he could get his head stuck in, exposed electrical outlets, open windows, loose screens, uncovered heat vents, rubber bands laying on the floor, etc.

Kittens just love to chew and will be teething at about four to five months of age. Chewing can be easily dealt with by putting Grannick's Bitter Apple on whatever the kitten chews. Available at pet stores, or through supply catalogs, it is a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and bitter essentials. It tastes really nasty, and your cat will hate it! There are different formulations depending on what you're trying to protect - wood, plants, etc. Choose the one that is appropriate, and the chewing should stop quickly.

Many kittens like to chew on electric cords - Bitter Apple is a very effective way to stop this very dangerous behavior. Or an even better solution is to wrap your electrical cords in plastic tubing available at hardware or computer stores for securing multiple electrical cords together.

It's also a good idea to put away anything that is very delicate and breakable, at least during a kitten's early months. You want to keep your breakables safe, too! You'll be able to bring them back out when the kitten matures into a cat.

POISONS

Many common plants are HIGHLY toxic to cats. If you have always enjoyed poinsettias at Christmas, you should know these beautiful plants are toxic to cats, as are philodendrons and ivy. You may want to remove some plants from your home, or change to some nontoxic plants, for the safety of your new cat .

Cats have a very different physiology than humans; some things are harmless to humans, but toxic to cats, such as aspirin. Food can also be a problem - for instance, chocolate, if ingested in sufficient quantities, can cause cardiac arrest. For a comprehensive list read the article Plant, Poisons & Other Dangers To Your Cat.

SWALLOWING FOREIGN OBJECTS

Toys should have any parts or decorations removed from them that a kitten might swallow - plastic eyes, ears, noses on a toy mouse, for instance can be pulled off in play and ingested. Examine all toys for possible danger in the same way you would do for a human baby.

Never give a kitten a toy that is small enough to swallow. This can include such things as pennies, caps to small bottles, Q-tips, thread…

Be sure to dispose of dental floss where the kitten cannot get into it (and all cats eventually tip over a waste paper basket to investigate, so if it doesn't have a lid, please don't put used floss in your bathroom basket.

MACHINES & THINGS

Kittens love to sleep in a warm clothes dryer, so always shut the door when not in use and always check inside the dryer before turning it on.

If a kitten falls in a toilet, it may drown, so always take care to put down the lid (see guys, there are OTHER reasons to do this besides your wife complaining!).

If you have a reclining chair, NEVER operate is quickly - a kitten may be caught in the action.

Travel

Travel

Cats generally travel well. However, there are a few considerations regarding both the safety and the comfort of your cat when traveling with you.

If you are traveling by car, be sure you take some water and food with you, and some non-breakable dishes. Also, think about what you will do for a litter box - A rectangular plastic box, filled with some litter and then sealed with the lid, is quite handy to take along in the car.

Never, ever travel with your cat, unless it is in a carrier.

If you are involved in an automobile accident, and your cat is not in a carrier, it can become a projectile that could go through a window. If you are unconscious, and someone opens your car door, your cat would almost certainly be gone before anyone could react fast enough to catch it. As long as you have to have a carrier, consider getting one that is airline approved.

If you are traveling by air, airlines will want advance notice that you plan to bring your cat with you. Each airline has their own requirements, so be sure to check with them, but generally all airlines will require a health certificate with rabies information. Regulations vary from airline to airline, so be sure you contact the specific airline and your vet ahead of time! Do not sedate your cats for travel! Tranquilizers depress the respiratory system which is not a good thing for a cat traveling on an airplane.

Discipline

Discipline

The one absolute rule in disciplining a cat is: NEVER HIT A CAT! It will make them fear and hate you, and will not correct the undesirable behavior.

You don't want a cat to associate a punishment with you, so you must find a way to associate a punishment with the undesirable behavior, instead of you. This is where behavior modification works best.

The best way to accomplish this is with a squirt of water from a gun or bottle.

If you don't want the cat to get on the counters, squirt him when you see him there, while you loudly and firmly say "NO!".

If you don't want them scratching the oriental carpet, squirt them and say "NO!" if you see them do it.

Soon, they will associate the place or the behavior with the unpleasant sensation of being pelted with a stream of water. They may in time figure out where the water is coming from, but you should soon be able to firmly say "NO!" at the mere onset of the behavior, and have the same result as with the squirt gun.

There are also some other "tricks" to use to correct some behavior :

  1. A good technique to use whenever you need to control a kitty who is being difficult is to simply grip it lightly but firmly by the back of the neck until the kitty calms down. This is called "scruffing" your cat and is what a mother cat does to discipline her kittens. This comes in handy when bathing, medicating, clipping nails etc.
  2. Kitty comes and purrs in your face and you can't get to sleep at night? Blow a puff of air in his face. He should go lay down a bit further away.
  3. Kitty plays in the bath tub or thinks its a litter box? Leave an inch of water in the bottom of the tub.
  4. Kitty jumps up on counter or table? Buy a plastic carpet runner with the little spikes on the back side. Turn it upside down and line the counter with it. When kitty jumps up, he won't like the feel of the prickles on his feet.

Another thing to remember - decide ahead of time what "rules" you want your kitten to follow, and start with those rules right from the beginning. Don't let the the kitten sleep on your bed at night unless you are okay with having a 15 pound adult cat taking up a corner of the bed.

Keeping
In
Touch

Keeping In Touch

Make your kitten a part of your family. Please let me know how he is doing from time to time. I do ask that you send me a card and a photo of the kitten every Christmas so that I know all is well . I am always available for advice if you have any concerns.

Mark Pennington
mrmystre@gmail.com
832-340-5349

No question is a stupid question. I often tell people their cat is free... they are paying for having me available to give them advice whenever they need it... so please do not hesitate to contact me if you have a question. I am always here to help you

 

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