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Author: Beejayw1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 12218  
Subject: Getting a New Kitten FAQ Date: 9/5/2005 2:40 PM
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I posted a slightly different version of this on PetLovers and thought we needed it here for our FAQ's.

Hi, and congratulations!

Food: Any good quality kitten chow works well. I'm biased toward Eukanuba or Science Diet, but the mainstream brands put out a balanced dieet.

Litter: (see below) A good clumping brand like Arm & Hammer does just fine. I use a pricey brand, but I have quite a few cats (7 in the household at current count) and odor control is important.

Carrier: You can get nice ones - I believe the brand is 'Pet Taxi' in the pet superstores. I happen to like soft-sided zip ones that you can sling over your shoulder and take with you to get your cat accustomed to noise and bustle: this one's nice: http://www.petedge.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=3898&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainCat=0&iSubCat=0&iSubSubCat=0&iProductID=3898&AS=1 (I am a bitter woman because I bought the exact same one for $70, and here it's about $50 less!) I also like this: http://www.petedge.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=3763&itemType=PRODUCT&iProductID=3763 Note: both are deeply discounted.

Here are some general links:
http://cats.about.com/od/kittencare/
http://www.catsinfo.com/kittens.html

My advice and list of things to get:
* Good quality kitten food. This is not something to skimp on.

* Water dishes. If possible, I'd get one of those water recycling fountains that they have at Petsmart for about $40 apiece. I just started using several a couple months ago and I'm impressed by the way the water is kept fresh. If you don't want to use one of them, then get several water dishes and keep them in places where you have a faucet. Whenever you think of it, wash them out. Once a week, at least, put them through the dishwasher.

* Food dishes - don't get plastic, which absorbs odor. Get metal or china

* A nice litter box. With two cats, you probably need two boxes. They should be accessible, so if you have a multi-level house, they should be on all levels (one per level, that is). If you hate the idea of an open litter box ('Ah feel yore pain') something like this is useful: http://www.catlitterfurniture.com/ (photo: http://www.cfainc.org/ezine/classified/jpgs/b6-1.jpg ) The price is not bad, considering the investment. I bought the unpainted version and stained it myself. It looks fine. For what it's worth, I do not like the Litter Maid automated thingummy. I had one and was not satisfied. Also, I think it's dangerous, especially for small kitties. If you have one cat, maybe it's OK. Otherwise, let me say that I got rid of mine.

* Going along with that, get GOOD cat litter and scoop it daily. Twice daily if you can (I have trouble with this because I tend to get busy. I will be better about it.) Get something that clumps (easy to remove) and that absorbs moisture quickly. I like Nature's Miracle; other folks like The World's Best Cat Litter. Other standard brands like Arm & Hammer do pretty well, too.

* A litter scoop. Put one alongside each box. They have ones that are 'hidden' - I'll find a photo: http://www.petsmart.com/media/ps/images/products/detail/standard/i/inp0/inP034396_14281.jpg . I discovered this item earlier this year (where has it BEEN?), and am in love. No yucky thing sitting around. (I have to pass on one gross story. Back in my early days of cat ownership, I used a slotted spoon - the normal cooking type - to scoop litter. My mother, visiting for dinner with the rest of my family, saw it beside the litter box and asked, faintly, how I cleaned it when it got dirty. I responded airily, “Oh, I just toss it in the dishwasher! It gets it spotless!” And then I had one of the heartiest laughs I've enjoyed in years. Oh: clean yours in the toilet with a toilet brush.)

* A scratching post. Get a lot of these. They have cheap ones that look like blocks of corrugated cardboard for about $5 apiece that you can scatter about. Get several. Also get a cat tree for them to climb and hide in. You can get different prices. I suggest you go to www.petedge.com , which has good ones at very steep discounts. http://www.petedge.com/jump.jsp?itemType=INDEX&itemID=469 If you get nothing else, an upright post, wrapped in sisal (coarse rope) that they can scratch on is an absolute must. You can get them at pet stores.

* Toenail clippers. Get the kind that look like pliers (here's a photo http://www.petedge.com/images/us/local/products/family_detail/tp617_f.jpg You can get them at any pet store. The ones that look like scissors are cheaper, but you can get hand fatigue. I like mine best.) Now get your kittens used to having their paws handled and their toenails clipped. Make it a play session, give them cuddles and loving. It will be worth hundreds of dollars over their (hopefully long) lives. My guys lie on my lap, purring with their eyes half shut, while I clip their toenails. Do it weekly.

* first aid supplies. Q-tips (don't leave them out or the cats will chew on them) triple antibiotic ointment, a styptic pencil. Gauze, blunt-ended scissors. Be careful with chemicals. Here's a good list I found online from the Humane Society of the U.S. (They ought to know):
http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_care/cat_care/keys_to_a_healthy_cat/your_cats_firstaid_kit.html

* Grooming supplies. Yes, you want to groom your cat. It's a wonderful time to bond with them, and mine just love it. Depending on the type of coat (longhair? shorthair?) you want at least a metal comb with widely spaced teeth and close-spaced teeth. I would also suggest what they call a 'slicker' brush - the one with thin wire bristles that bend downward. A natural bristle hairbrush for humans (don't use a round one) is a good idea. Soft bristles. These are kittens, so a cheap baby brush would be a good idea, too. Get them used to being brushed and combed. Also, use cotton pads moistened with water only to clean their faces, especially the eyes. Be gentle. Again, this is something you should get them used to.

* Washing supplies. You may never have to use these, but keep them on hand in case kitties get into yucky stuff: Baby shampoo (you can dilute it half and half for normal jobs, or use full strength). Dawn dishwashing liquid, in case they get into something greasy. Protein-based conditioner - Pantene Pro-V is what I'd recommend. Again, this is if your cat gets into something yucky and you have to wash it out. The conditioner will restore the moisture to its coat. Be EXTREMELY careful about using human products on cats. They metabolize things differently, and something benign for us could be deadly poison for them. See below. I don't suggest a blow-drier. They can freak out cats and they can dry out the skin. Wash kitty and dry it with a towel and then put it in a draft-free, warm room (think bathroom, maybe) where it can dry off. Pause to watch and laugh as it runs around shaking alternating feet with great disgust.) Note: I got into showing my cats, so I wash them on the Tuesday before a show. I've had some practice. CRosenfield, who is a breeder who shows, and a professional as well as a human-physician, has some excellent hints on bathing.

* Toys. I bet you thought I'd never get to this. Your kittens are babies. Don't get them toys with little parts that can fall off and get swallowed. I am specifically thinking of those fur mice with the cute glass eyes. The toys should be ping-pong ball size or larger. Ping pong balls make great toys, by the way. Windowseat found a ball with flat sides that bounces in the oddest directions that my cats love. Also, the rings that come around the lids to milk bottles seem to have universal appeal. A twist of paper works well, too. Toys that look like fishing rods with something on the end that you dangle before the cat are a lot of fun, BUT you MUST remember to put them away. Never - I'll repeat it: NEVER - leave string around, whether it's a ball of yarn, or whatever. Cats will get tangled in it and strangle; they'll swallow it and have a blockage. They'll unravel your knitting and you will have to kill them.

CAUTIONS FROM AUNT BEEJAYW1

As you already know, your kittens are babies. Imagine what you would do if you were going to have a long visit from two rather clumsy toddlers, then do it. Get poisons out of the way. Make sure cabinets can't be opened (Houdini had nothing on a smart cat). If you have anything valuable and fragile, get it out of the way. Puppies aren't the only things that chew: cats do, too. Look around and put things out of the way.

If you are taking them somewhere in the car, have them in a carrier in the back seat and buckle the seatbelt around the carrier.

Medicines: please, if you have Tylenol (acetaminophen) in your house, keep it tightly capped and keep it out of the way. It is horribly deadly poison for cats.

Never - I'll repeat it: NEVER - leave string around, whether it's a ball of yarn, or whatever. Cats will get tangled in it and strangle; they'll swallow it and have a blockage. They'll unravel your knitting and you will have to kill them.

Foods and plants: check out a list of poisonous foods and plants and keep them away from your cats. I do have roses in my house from time to time, and ditto pansies or violets. Just about every other type of flower or plant in my home is silk because most of them are poisonous. That includes babies' breath that they like to tuck in with roses. Lilies are especially poisonous.

Don't keep chocolate where your cat can get to it, the same goes for onions.

I apologize for the length of this list, and for the rather daunting nature of it. Owning a kitten or a full-grown cat is a responsibility, but it's one that can come easily, and it is well worth the effort. Do post photos.
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