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Kitty questions

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hello all, My name is Corey and my wife and I have been talking about adding a cat to our household. We have 2 daughters ,6 & 3, who have been asking.

I have been looking for the gear that I will need. It's been quite a while since I worked for the local pet store. Can anybody tell me how well those auto-scoop litter boxes work? I don't mind scooping, but if it makes life a little easier, I will look at it. Also, what is a good litter? I want something that controls odor a little bit and clumps. Also, what kind of brush should I use, assuming cats like to be brushed?

We have been looking at cats at our local shelter. We think we know that we don't want a kitten and all the energy that comes with a youngster. How should be go about selecting a cat? I have read that the cat will actually pick you. Also I have read about introducing the cat to a new place by putting it in a room all alone and letting it come out when ready. Well in a house with 2 kids, we really don't have any rooms that are out of the way and that don't get used. Any suggestions?
post #2 of 15
There is an automatic litter box web site, believe it or not!

Automatic Litterbox Forum

There is a new automatic box available at Wal-Mart that seems to be working well, but none of them are perfect, and some are VERY pricey!

I volunteer at a shelter, and I try to help people pick out a cat by finding out what they need, what they know about cats, etc. We have a range of cats, from just barely tame kittens to declawed, neutered, furry furniture. Don't think you have to find one on your first try, but there is almost always a cat that will suit you.

A fairly calm, adult cat won't need to be isolated, but will investigate the whole house for several days. Be sure he/she can find the food, water, and litter box.
post #3 of 15
Hi! Welcome to TCS! I also work at a shelter and my job is to try to match up people and pets. Its a great job so keep up with the questions and we will be happy to help!

I have never used the automatic boxes but if you have just one cat I don't see there being any problems. Again since it will be the only cat, I would just let it pick you and you shouldn't really need to confine it for very long if at all. Only reason I would is if your house is really big and the cat might get lost and not find the litterbox. But a laundry room, bathroom or even a bedroom would work fine for this confinement.

The other reason for confining the cat at first is because cats base everything on smell. The new kitty will be stressed a bit at first because not only are you all new people and the house is new, but the smells are new, the way you treat the cat may be different then what it is used to, and even the food you feed might be different then what it is used to. Just remember that and remember that no matter what the shelter says about how great and wonderful the kitty is, don't expect it to be perfect and happy and social right at first. Be patient and give it time.

Lastly, please please PLEASE don't declaw the new kitty. If you HAVE to have one with no claws then adopt one who is already. I really don't think it is JUST a coincidence but the majority of cats returned to the shelters I have worked at because of litterbox issues, ironically are the cats who are also declawed. Remember too that if you take away the cats first line of defense (it's claws) then it will resort to its second line of defense (it's teeth). Guess which is much worse?? Plus an added fact, it is illegal in many, if not most, other major countries besides the US sadly.

Where are you from?
post #4 of 15
As to a litter box, you'll get as many anti and pro recommendations as there are litter boxes. We have 2 litter boxes (should have 3 with 2 cats - 2 with 1 cat) - both are covered litter boxes. Having said that, not all cats like covered boxes. We have a booda dome which has a side part with little steps that clean off their feet as they exit and another regular covered box. I like the booda dome but it's quite large. They have a smaller one I believe, but Bijou is a big boy (19 lbs) so the little one just didn't do the job. r

I've tried many litters over the years and find clay litter much too smelly. I tried Swheat Scoop for awhile but it was very dusty and left a film of dust on all my furniture. I changed to World's Best Cat Litter (multiple cats formula) and love it. When I take the lid off to scoop every evening, there is no bad odour. Part of that is their diet - since I changed to Orijen dry and Merricks wet their litter is only noticeable when they first go to the bathroom, much like my husband. Mine, of course, doesn't stink.

I would also suggest you not get a kitten with children so young. Naturally, I'm assuming you will teach them the correct way to treat a cat, i.e., being gentle and not squeezing, etc., etc.

A wet food diet is a healthier diet than dry food. However, some folks have a difficult time getting their cat to eat wet food. If your cat will only eat dry food, then feed them a good quality food. If you check out the health and nutrition thread you will find Sharky has listed numerous time about quality foods. Personally it took me trying about a dozen different wet foods before I found a brand our cats would actually not turn their nose up at. That is Merricks and even then they'll only eat 2 flavours. Our cats do not like fish which is just fine with me since fish can sometimes cause UTI's.

As for toys, just like children you can spend a fortune on toys and they'll end up loving to play with a wad of paper. I like the catnip or honeysuckle mice and the wands with the feathers - fortunately so do the cats.

I'd also recommend a water fountain. I have the CatIt but some folks find them too awkward to clean. I personally don't have an issue with it. I clean it every weekend and refresh it during the week if needed. Our cats drink a lot more water since I got it and that's a very good thing. Some folks recommend PetMate and one other that I cannot remember off the top of my head (I have senior moments).

Keep the food, water and litter in separate areas is another recommendation of mine.

For food dishes, most of us will recommend stainless steel as plastic gets scratched and holds bacteria which can cause acne on your kitty. Some folks use ceramic but that also can get fine cracks in the glaze and also hold bacteria. I just bought about 10 stainless steel bowls at the dollar store so after each meal the dirty one goes in the dishwasher, even the dry food bowls because dry food can go rancid.

When I buy a new bag of food, I empty it into one of those large popcorn cans to keep it fresh longer.

OK, now my fingers are tired. Hope you find the kitty of your dreams. I'll bet a cat will choose you and your family and you'll all enjoy the wonderful experience of being owned by a beautiful fur-baby.
post #5 of 15
First congrats on a possible new addition. I agree to go with an older cat (8 months to 2 yrs old) that is USED to smaller kids. IMO a laid back male would be better as they tend to be more outgoing and social then females are.

I use the normal litter pan so can't say if the auto one is good or bad - I have heard that many cats are afraid of them I used to use clumping litter; now we use wood stove pellets.

As far as picking them out first write a list of the type of cat you want. Keep in mind that long hair cats need daily combing and its more work to keep the cat from getting tangles or mats.

And please do not declaw the cat. Learn to trim nails or get the Soft Paws nail caps. Declawed cats can become biters in defense or hide a lot or not use the litter pans.

Some shelters don't like to adopt to homes with young children so if you run into that problem, check craigslist in your area for an older cat and take the family to meet the cat in person.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replys.

A couple of more questions. How does one keep cats from chewing on wires that can't be protected? Also, with Christmas coming rapidly (yea I said it) how do you deter kitty from climbing the tree?
post #7 of 15
No home should be without Bitter Apple spray. Its to stop kittens/puppies from chewing on wires, shoes, etc. I start using it on wires when the kittens are learning to explore. Great stuff and have not had a problem with it in preventing accidents.

Sometimes Charlie likes to chew on some of our ceremic stuff on the shelves (usually the eagle wings or unicorn horns) - so a spray of Bitter Apple will stop him every time.

For Christmas trees a spray bottle of water works pretty good. That cured my cats from messing with the tree. And do not hang any breakable stuff on the bottom half of the tree. Also NEVER use the string tinsel - it will get caught in the kitten's throat and wrap around the insides - causing surgery or death.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by c_lou View Post
Thanks for all the replys.

A couple of more questions. How does one keep cats from chewing on wires that can't be protected? Also, with Christmas coming rapidly (yea I said it) how do you deter kitty from climbing the tree?
Not all cats will chew on wires so don't automatically expect that will happen - at the ripe old age of 62 and having had many cats, I've never had one that chewed wires. I did have a rabbit that liked the wires though.

I also don't have an issue with the cats climbing the tree. They like to hang out under the tree on the treeskirt and I only put hand-crocheted ornaments on my tree so nothing is breakable so that's no problem for me.

You can run a fine wire from the top of the tree to 2 corners to keep the tree from falling should the cat decide to climb the tree but I think you'll find that not all cats climb Christmas trees.

GK is right about the tinsel - do not use the tinsel on your Christmas tree if you have a cat. I never use it anyway since I personally find it too gaudy for my taste.
post #9 of 15
I have a wire chewer - kittens are definitely prone to it, but most grow out of it, so if you're getting an older cat then it's unlikely to be a problem, but be aware that the occasional individual does still do it in adulthood - Bitter Apple spray is definitely the best product to use, as it's a liquid do not of course spray it direct onto wires plugged into anything, spray onto a cloth and wipe them down
post #10 of 15
Yeah! New cat on the horizon! I think it is great that you are preparing to help out an animal in need of a home and doing so much research to prepare. And it is great for your kids - I was raised in an animal-loving home and it is so good for children's development.

Anyway, for the questions....obviously there are a lot of people on here who have answered a lot of them, but I thought I would throw in my two cents. Firstly, wires. Our cats have never chewed wires and my husband's family cats never did either. Yours might not - but they might - so be prepared either way. Even if the cat doesn't, there will probably be tons of other things it will do, and TCS is a great place to learn tips and ideas on how to deal with strange cat behaviour. I can't answer questions on automatic litter boxes, but our cats love their covered ones. We use wood pellets litter - cheap, no smell, lasts ages and the cats like it. We have used clay and sand litter in the past, but I found it to be problematic.

Good luck - and once you find the cat (or it finds you!) make sure to post pictures....
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Allright I need to ask, is the wood pellet litter you all are talking about, the same wood pellets that get used in the pellet stoves? Does it clump? I was thinking of a clumping litter because I want our kids to have 1 day a week when they pick up the clumps. I am thinking that if they are helping, they will learn some sort of responsibility lesson.
post #12 of 15
Yes its the same thing you use in the stoves. It doesn't clump but the urine breaks it down to sawdust. I have not had any problem in tracking but my pans are on cement.

You kinda sift it to separate the two and dump the "sawdust" part with the poop.

However, cats/kittens don't know its litter and will not just automatically use it. I had clumping litter in the pans and started with cup of pellets mixed in - as I replaced the used litter, more pellets were put in instead of clumping litter. I guess it was about 2 weeks before it was totally wood pellets that they use now.

And you really should scoop out the pans once a day or a minimum of every other day - letting the pans go for a week before scooping will make most cats find another place to use as their bathroom is "dirty".
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
Yes its the same thing you use in the stoves. It doesn't clump but the urine breaks it down to sawdust. I have not had any problem in tracking but my pans are on cement.

You kinda sift it to separate the two and dump the "sawdust" part with the poop.

However, cats/kittens don't know its litter and will not just automatically use it. I had clumping litter in the pans and started with cup of pellets mixed in - as I replaced the used litter, more pellets were put in instead of clumping litter. I guess it was about 2 weeks before it was totally wood pellets that they use now.

And you really should scoop out the pans once a day or a minimum of every other day - letting the pans go for a week before scooping will make most cats find another place to use as their bathroom is "dirty".
I guess my statement was confusing, even after I read it. What I want is for my girls to each do a day and then I would take care of the rest. I hope that if they are involved in more than just playing and petting, that they will learn something about responsibility.
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by c_lou View Post
I guess my statement was confusing, even after I read it. What I want is for my girls to each do a day and then I would take care of the rest. I hope that if they are involved in more than just playing and petting, that they will learn something about responsibility.
I suppose it could have been confusing - I understood what you meant. If your girls are going to be doing litter duty, I would really recommend you get the clumping litter like World's Best - they are very easy to scoop and last a very long time. I only change out the whole litter box about every 6 weeks and that's with 2 cats. The litter is not smelly but I may just be lucky because I am cat-sitting my neighbours' 2 this week and one of them has extremely strong urine smell. They also use World's Best litter and I guarantee my boxes never smelled that strong.
post #15 of 15
We use wood pellet-like litter which does clump. Not World's Best (as I have had difficulty sourcing that here in Ireland) but a brand called Cat's Best Oka Plus (a German brand) which is very similar to World's Best. Like I said before, I have tried pretty much every litter available here in Ireland, and these clumping wood pellet type brands are the best for us. However, I have a friend who will only use the clumping sand stuff. The cats loved the clumping sand, but I wasn't happy with it (smell, mess, not so easy to scoop). However, our transition to our current stuff has solved all those problems - particularly the scooping part!

I think it is great you are going to get the girls involved. When I was growing up, we had pet related responsibilities as well, and it is a great way to connect children to the animals.
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