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Suggestions/Tips for Newbies?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
First off let me say hello to you all. I've been browsing this forum for a few days now ever since my folks and I decided we'd be interested in either adopting a kitten or a puppy. We decided to go with the former and, well, here I am!

Now, I've never had a pet before besides a hamster and a gecko. So needless to say I'm not 100% prepared yet for any sort of kitten adoption. Are there any important pieces of information I should know about before going ahead and bringing one home? For example, what should I pick up from the pet store right off the bat? ie. What sort of food? Any sort of toys or scratching posts? A crate? etc.

post #2 of 22
First do NOT adopt a kitten (or puppy) from the pet store!

As far as supplies:

1. Litter pan - medium size. You might need to get a bigger one if your cat winds up to be a big boy or girl

2. Litter pan scoop (slotted)

3. Litter. That's up to you. Most people use the scoopable verses the clay as it doesn't hold the smell. I use pellets and you might eventually go to that.

4. Food bowl and water bowl. Separate dishes (not the combined ones) and made of ceramic or stainless steel. Do not get plastic ones. They are not as sanitary and many cats develop feline acne on their chins from eating out of plastic bowls.

5. Cat food. IMO I'd feed a combo of dry and canned. Start with good quality kitten food. Free feed kittens up to about 5-6 months old, then start them on a 2 meal a day routine. I feed Royal Canin dry and Max Cat, Natural Balance and Iams canned. Other good dry foods are Wellness, Nutro, and Natural Balance.

6. Scratching posts. Don't bother with the little ones. Get yourself a good sturdy one minimum of 4 feet tall. You can get the flat cardboard ones too as some cats will use them.

7. Nail clippers and/or SoftPaws nail caps. Get the scissor kind - works better.

8. Carrier. Can be the soft sided ones or a medium size hard carrier.

Toys - make sure there are no small pieces the can be torn off and swallowed. Small ping pong balls, rabbit furred mice, or the fishing rod toys are some of the toys your kitten will play with.
post #3 of 22
When you say "kitten," it depends a lot on what age you're talking about. Very small kittens (8-12 weeks) can be a handful, and are subject to sudden health reversals. They can hide almost anywhere, and seem to be beneath your feet all the time. On the flip side, they are painfully cute and cuddly, if they've been properly socialized.

A slightly older kitten can be much more independent. It won't be quite as rambunctious, although it should be plenty playful enough.

Slighltly older kittens are available at your local animal shelter all the time. They get to a certain age, and people just dump them, on the street or at the shelter.

You should have a litter box and ceramic/glass water and a food bowls. Plastic bowls can cause feline acne. If you get a very small kitten, you should have a low-sided litter pan; we've used a large cake pan.

When you bring the kitten home, you should plan on keeping it restricted to a fairly small area of the house for a while, say a bathroom or some other small room. This will reduce the likelihood of litter accidents. Like any baby, a kitten does not have full control of its bodily functions, and you don't want to let it develop any bad habits.

You will want to feed the kitten a good quality kitten food, probably until it is nearly 1 year old. Check through the messages here for recommendations on brands and feeding schedules.

And feel free to ask any questions.

Keep in mind that in getting a kitten, you are taking on a responsibility similar to a child. You are getting a friend that may be with you for as much as 20 years. This is a little person in a furry suit who will depend on you for everything.

Oh, and since you haven't said where you live, you'll find most people recommend you keep your kitten indoors. An indoor cat has an average live span of 16 years; an outdoor cat has an average life of 6 months. The indoor cat is safe from many outdoor dangers, including diseases, parasites, predators, and cars.
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you both for the information!

I doubt we'll have problems finding a kitten to adopt. We've been looking through Kijiji for the most part, finding people in our area who are either giving kittens away or at least asking for a very small price ($15-$30). And no, I never had any intention of buying one from a pet store.

mrblanche, by kitten I mean still very young. Roughly 1-2 months old. And it's a good thing you brought up bad habits because I forgot to ask about an important subject: litter training. I've heard that a lot of cats will automatically start using the litter box once they figure out it's location. Is this just a rumour? If I need to train him/her to poop in the litter box only then what are some good ways of doing that?
post #5 of 22
Older kittens are better trained, that's why I suggest not to adopt a kitten younger then 10-12 weeks old. You confine the kitten to one room with food, water and litter pan and only allow out supervised for a few weeks.

Young kittens don't always remember where the pan is, so controlled supervision is a good idea. Or you can get an extra pan or two for awhile.

Also you want to check and clip the claws every week. Please do NOT declaw - many cats have physical or psychological problems after a declaw; such as peeing in other places, on clothes, beds - anywhere but the litter pan. Or they will hide in fear or they will be more likely to bite.

If you don't know how to clip nails, take the kitten to the vet and have them show you how to do it.
post #6 of 22
Easy litter training is not a rumor.

If you restrict the kitten to a small room and put his food and litter there (not next to each other), he will almost certainly begin using it with no problem. This is instinct. Don't make it hard for him to find by hiding it or putting a cover over it.

There is a kitten-friendly cat litter called Kitten Attract that may help even those kittens who are a little "slow." Also, some advise non-clumping litter for kittens, because they may try eating it. I've never had that problem. However, remember that kittens have very small paws, and a very coarse litter can feel to them just like walking on sharp gravel in our bare feet would to us. I always try to find a fairly fine litter, the closer to sand, the better. If you're with the kitten, put him in the litter box soon after he eats; he may get inspired.

However, compared to puppies, litter-training a kitten is a breeze.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Are there special cat/kitten nail clippers I should pick up?
post #8 of 22
For smaller kittens, regular human nail clippers will work (small one) till the cat's nails are bigger. I like the scissor kind better for adults.
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Ooh, I just saw a video about those Soft Paws nail caps. Is it a good investment?
post #10 of 22
hi there,
you have come to a great place. We are new kitten owners too We've had our two for almost 2 months now. You will get a lot of help here!!! One thing that I wasted money on right off the bat was on "kitten toys". I thought that everything had to have a bell or be able to jingle somehow. The two favorite toys for mine are balled up socks and a cloth belt. Next in line would be an empty medicine bottle that rolls all over the place. Everything else is pretty much ignored
I got Tacoma and Tundra at 12 weeks old. They were abandoned by owners and left on their own for a couple weeks when found. They had also left their mom very early.
I am now on Nutro natural wet pouch and canned food and Authority dry. There will be a slew of opinions for food given, just have to weed through it all and do the best you can.
welcome and although I do not know a whole lot, I am a newbie learning like you and I can share what I've done so far. My kittens seem to be very happy and healthy.
post #11 of 22
I don't personally use the SoftPaws on mine cause I show cats (and they are not allowed) and I've been clipping nails for years.

But many people on here use them and have positive results. Its might be a little hard to first put them one. Hopefully someone that uses them will help you out in tips to put them on
post #12 of 22
You can get the SoftPaws at PetSmart for about $20 for what would be a couple months' supply, maybe more. But with kittens, clipping their claws would be almost as effective, and their claws might be too small for the smallest size, anyway. Check for instructions on how to clip claws; most cats do not like having their paws handled at first, and you want to take off just the tip, not cutting into the quick.

It has been said that the most common and appreciated cat toy in the world is the ring off the top of a milk jug. An empty paper bag runs a close second, and a box with holes cut in it would be right in there, too. An empty spool, a ping-pong ball, even a wadded up piece of paper is all it takes to entertain a kitten.

You can play with the kittens with strings, etc., but don't leave anything like that around that they could swallow when they are unsupervised.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you all! Some very informative information here.

I swung by the local humane society and filled out an application for a 10 week old black female kitten. I'll be going in again on saturday with everybody else in the house to finalize the adoption.

Wish me luck! I'm sure I'll be throwing more questions at you all within the first few days of adoption.
post #14 of 22
That's what we are here for

Now you just have to start the list of names for her. If you are into horses, I have a great name (one I was gonna use for a black rex female, but never had).

Ruffian (after the great black filly).
post #15 of 22
My advice -

1) A kitten of 1-2 months old is way too young, they need to stay with mum longer than that and separating them early can result in behavioural problems. A 1 month old kitten is still a long way from being weaned! Around 12 weeks old is the best time to get a kitten, 10 weeks old is not too bad. Obviously orphans can be rehomed once weaned and at a good weight.

2) Get 2! Kittens are extremely hard work, they want to play constantly and will be far happier with a playmate (preferably from the same litter). Having more than 1 will take so much pressure off you to provide entertainment.

I give these 2 pieces of advice because I did it wrong. I got 1 kitten when he was 8 weeks old and although I love him dearly and wouldn't part with him for the world he is the most difficult cat and has behavioural problems that are still evident (and all the more painful) now he is 2 1/2 years old. One of my others that stayed with his mum until 13 weeks is the most perfect companion you could wish for - the difference is astounding and I wish I could go back and do it right with my lovely but painful Radar. I have scars from him, he doesn't mean to hurt me, but he never learned from his mum to retract his claws during play, an essential learning phase that takes place between 8 and 10 to 12 weeks which only mum and siblings can teach properly.

3) and just a last piece of advice - have patience! Kittens chew things and pounce on things and never seem to sleep, most of them go through a stage where they will pounce on you trying to play - but a well adjusted kitten will grow out of it.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
The kitty has entered the household! Zoe, 10 weeks old adopted her from the local Humane Society, spent all afternoon playing with her. Even had to sneak in a nap for the both of us.


She's eating and drinking lots, and I keep taking her to the litter box every 30 minutes or so (especially after eating) so she knows where it is but she hasn't gone to the bathroom yet since I brought her home, and that was about 5 hours ago
About the food though: She doesn't seem to be eating a whole lot in one sitting. She'll run back to the dish and munch down a bit of food then continue running around. How long before I should replace that unfinished food with a new bowlful? Once a day? I sprinkled a bit of water on it because I thought it might be a little too hard for her to chew. It's Royal Canin kitty food (very small kibble).
post #17 of 22
With dry kibble, kittens are "nibblers," eating a little at a time. If you read the threads around here, you'll find all sorts of opinions about whether to feed mostly dry or wet, etc. Kittens need a good high-fat kitten food, which is what you have, I believe.

As long as she knows where the litter box is, she'll use it when she needs it...probably. Being in a cage at the shelter usually helps train kittens to use the litter.

She's black. Does she have an "angel's touch?" Those are the few white hairs most black cats have. The belief was at one time that only an all-black cat could be a witch's familiar. Any white hairs would protect it from being "possessed." Some believed that an angel would touch the black kittens to give them those few precious white hairs.
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
Aye, they told me at the humane society that she is in fact house-trained, so I'm hoping she'll run down to the litter box herself when she needs to go.

Angel's Touch, eh? That's a pretty interesting tale. She does actually have what looks like a scar on the side of her head. I can't really tell what that is: whether it's an actual scar or whiter hairs, who knows.

She is soo freaking adorable though. She has barely left my side all day. Cuddling in my lap as we speak.

Oh, I've been giving her bottled water to drink in her bowl. Is tap water okay?
post #19 of 22
Tap water is fine. It's better than the muddy water she'd get in the wild, right? The one exception would be, I suspect, if you have a very high mineral content (not likely).
post #20 of 22
Kittens under 4 months of age should really have more then one litter pan. Charlie was not allowed free run in the house till 5 months old.

Do NOT trust a young kitten to know where the litter box is and to run there when needed (especially on another floor). At least give her one litter pan on each floor for a few months.
post #21 of 22
Oh, she's beautiful!!! If you wet down the dry food, don't leave it out forever - I'd honestly pick it up after 30 minutes or so (just like with wet food - you don't want it to spoil). I feed my adult cats both wet and dry - I put a measured amount of dry down in the morning and toss out whatever's left over the next morning. I think that you always want to have some food available for a kitten, so I think supplementing the wet food with dry kitten kibble is fine. Unless you're home all day long and can keep putting down small portions of wet.

There are also lots of books out there for novice cat owners (I was there myself a few years back) - I believe there's even a 'Dummies' book for kittens. And, I found that librarians can be hugely helpful in tracking down 'cat' books -I'll bet your local library has at least one 'cat person' on staff who would be thrilled to help you out.

re water - I started using distilled water for mine, becuase I got them a Drinkwell fountain, and it seems the weekly cleaning is easier. But, I just use a gallon a week, and it's around 99 cents. Mine were happy, I think, with either tap or distilled - but if your water is heavily mineralized, you might see if they have a preference for distilled. You will find very shortly that nothing is too good for our babies - even if we're down to eating macaroni and cheese, they will get the best food available!

Again, congratulations and best wishes - you'll be surprised how soon you will not be able to imagine life without your gorgeous little girl.
post #22 of 22
Congratulations on being a new kitten owner! She looks adorable, very sweet.

One thing about the water, I'd go with bottled. We've been giving our cats bottled water mostly since they were kittens and our vet has commented on how our cats have never had any urinary infections so far. (knock on wood!) Considering our two older cats, who have since past on from other things after living to a ripe old age, never had any infections of that sort either when it's a pretty common illness in cats, makes me think that bottled water was one of the best things to do to keep the cats healthy. Some people may have cleaner water than others, but just to be on the safe side, you might want to try bottled.
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