How to Take Care of a Kitten

Whether you are contemplating getting a cat, given a cat or gifting a cat, it is best to consider a few important ‘cat-scratch’ points ahead.  Whatever you have decided on, be sure to take lots of pictures with your cat as they literally grew up in a brink of an eye.

Adopt is Better than Buying

There are countless homeless pets, needless to say it is a good thing to adopt your cat from an animal shelter or a rescue group: You save a life while saving money.
If you do decide to get the cat through pet stores or breeders, be sure to do a little research to ensure the kitten does not originate from a kitty mill. This is to discourage indiscriminate breeding solely for profit.

Get Two Only If You Can Afford It

For certain breeds who crave companionship such as Siamese, it is recommended to keep more than one cat so that they can keep each other company. However, owning a cat is a long term commitment; owning two means double the commitment but double the enjoyment too! If time, space, and money are not constrained,  by all means get more.

If you are limited in resources, it is better to consider just keeping a cat that is more independent inclined.

Prepare Ahead

Bringing home a kitten is sort of like bringing home a newborn baby, except the kitten will take no time to get into everything.
Be sure to prepare ahead a cat carrier, cat pen, kitten food, food and water bowls, litter box and litter sand, a collar and tag, cat scratch post, and cat toys.

Don’t forget to cat-proof the house to protect the kitten from harms way but also to protect the furniture and soft furnishes from cat-scratches.

Indoor or Outdoor

Indoor-only cats usually live longer, healthier lives because they won’t get into fights with cats in the neighbourhood, or caught diseases from them. It also means your cat won’t prey on wild birds and other small creatures. They are hunter by nature after all!
If you choose to keep your kitten indoors, make sure he can’t get out and also he has window perches and sufficient toys to keep him stimulated.

Kitten Food

Kittens below one year old need up to three times the calories as adult cats. So look for cat food made specifically for kittens and follow the recommended feeding amount. Canned food and dry kibbles are available. Discuss with your vet about using them.

Fresh Water

Cats need to stay hydrated. Put a few plates of clean water around the house where they roam. Most kittens prefer shallower bowls. Some like to drink moving water; if that’s the case, a water fountain may encourage the kitty to drink more.

Litter Boxes

Litter box caters to cat instinct to excrete in sand or grainy soil. Choose a litter box with low opening so that the kitten can easily get into it. Put it in a quiet spot close by and show her where it is.
There are different choices of kitty litter. You may need to experiment a little to find which work best for your kitten. Choices include crystal litter, regular and clumping clay litter, as well as litter made from wood chips, grains, and newspapers.

Cat Bed

Cats spent almost 2/3 of their day sleeping, kittens even more. Even though cats seem to sleep wherever they want, it is best to have a safe and private place for the kitten to sleep. It can be a window perch, a comfy pad, or even just a carton box.

Play and Socialize

Wish for a healthy and well-adjusted feline companion? Start playing gently with the kitten from day 1. Playing develop her motor coordination, keep her fit and provide an outlet for her energy.
At the same time, gently discourage her from using her teeth and claws on people or other pets. Remember not to use your hand and fingers as toys! She is likely to sink her teeth or claws into anything she consider as toy and accidentally hurt someone.

Keep Kitty Safe

Kittens are extremely curious creatures and before you know it, they are into everything and everything seems to be perfectly chewable. Make sure to put away paper clips, plastic milk jug rings, pins, dental floss, string, yarn, ribbon, rubber bands and other temptations away from your curious cat. Also, securely store cleaning supplies, pills, drugs, as well as antifreeze and motor oil.

Teach Your Kitten the House Rules

Show her where she can stick her claws in — not on the couch but on the well-secured scratching posts.
Curtains are not meant to be climb on but the tree house and sisal-covered pole are.
Begging for table food is not going to get her anywhere.
Getting into the cat carrier and seeing the vet are rituals before getting a nice treat; and so is having the nails clipped.

Some Human Foods Don’t Go Well with Felines

Needless to say, alcohol, cigarette smoke, and carbonated soft drinks are bad for your kittens, but do you know the Thanksgiving turkey slathered with gravy may be just as bad? While the meat by itself is harmless, the gravy is likely heavily infused with garlic and onion, and perhaps chocolate as well?

Garlic, onion, and other bulbs from the Allium genus contain a substance that destroy red blood cells in cats, causing anaemia.
Chocolate contains Theobromine which is toxic to cats and dogs.
Cow’s milk can lead to diarrhea, stomach upset, and induced vomit.
It is recommended to feed your kitten only with quality kitten food. Ask your vet what food is suitable as cat treats.

Some Plants Don’t Go Well with Felines

A pot of catnip or oat grass are heaven sent to kittens and cats. The same can’t be say about azalea, chrysanthemum, tulip bulbs, nightshades, and oleander. Lilies are especially toxic to cats, a small quantity can be lethal. Call your vet or the local SPCA if you suspect your kitten has eaten something poisonous.

Spay or Neuter Early

In America, estimated six million cats and dogs are given up to shelters every year. Spaying or neutering your cat helps to keep the number down. The procedure can be done on kittens as young as eight weeks.

Flea Control

When it comes to flea, it is better to take precautionary approach before the cat is infested. If your kitten is scratching a lot, or chewing and licking often, has irritated skin, or bald spots, he may have fleas. Ask your vet which flea control is suitable for kittens, and then treat all the pets in the house. Some flea treatments used in dogs can be very toxic to cats, so always read the package carefully. Don’t forget to vacuum the carpets and sofa.

Protect Against Intestinal Parasites

You can’t really dodge these parasitic worms completely, but you can decrease likelihood of infestation with scheduled medication. Indoor cats generally have lower rate of infestation.
Roundworms (diarrhea and vomiting), hookworms (kitten anemia) and tapeworms are the most common parasites your kitten will face.
‘Rice grains’ in your kitten’s stool or around her bottom are sign of infestation, see your vet for medication immediately. Many heartworm medications come with monthly dewormers.

Vaccinate Your Kitten

Common illnesses such as feline distemper, feline leukemia, rabies, and upper respiratory infections can be prevented with vaccinations. Talk to your vet on which vaccines are suitable for your kitten.

How to Tell When Kitty Is Sick

Your kitten may be under the water if they are coughing, sneezing, refusing food or water, sleeping much more than usual, hiding, vomiting, panting, poor coordination, or losing weight. If your kitten display any of these symptoms, bring the kitty to the veterinarian. Never attempt to cure your kitty with something from your own medicine cabinet.

Be Selective with the Vet

Choose your vet as you would choose your own doctor. A clean and orderly clinic is always a good indication.
Does the vet attentive to your pet? Listen to you? Answer your questions clearly? Are the staff members calm and caring? It is alright to change clinics if necessary!

How to Stop a Cat from Biting or Scratching

House cats by nature are calm and loving beings. They are also pretty smart, they will go to great length to avoid hurting their humans. However, it wouldn’t be too difficult to imagine a cat taking a swipe at a cheeky kid that is pulling its tail or a cat engaging in an energetic play forget itself and take a nip. A cat scratch or bite can be infectious and develop into annoying diseases such as cat-scratch disease and is best to avoid it. It is handy to know ways to prevent scratching and biting, and how to response when the cat is on the war path.

If You Have Been Bitten or Scratched:

  • Retain your composure. Never yell, hit, or chase after your cat. These actions are counterproductive in the long run.
  • Instead, use your voice and body to signal a disapproval by saying “NO” immediately firmly and authoritatively. Stare at the cat to signal your annoyance as well as dominance. For cheekier or aggressive cat, you may need to clap your hands loudly once or twice while simultaneously saying “NO” to further emphasize your dominance.
  • Disengage yourself from the cat as soon as possible. Stop touching the cat immediately, move your limbs under attack well out of its striking range. Walk away dismissively and leave the room until the cat has calmed down. The signal of disapproval must be consistent, cuddling, petting, or soothing must be denied temporarily for at least 20 – 30 minutes.
  • A way out for the cat. If a snarling, hissing cat is blocking the way, preventing you from leaving the room, it is likely it feels trapped and interprets your walking towards him as trouble, defense by attacking is on the radar. The best thing to do in this situation is simply to step aside and let the cat pass first before going your way.
  • Refrain from giving treats or food to the cat for 20 – 30 minutes following a scratching or biting incident. You would not want the cat to have the misconception of scratching or biting is rewarding.

Curtail Scratching and Biting Behavior:

  • Start young or as soon as possible to teach your cat acceptable limits. When your kitty nips you while playing, say “NO” firmly and move your limp away, disengage yourself and walk away to signal the game is done. Done consistently, the kitten will soon associate biting or scratching as dismissal and will refrain from doing so.
  • If you want to discourage love bites, pressing back steadily but gently against the bite will make it unpleasant for the cat and prevent further chomp down. Pulling away too fast from a play grab or bite is likely to get yourself clawed or bitten accidentally
  • Invest in a cat scratching pole or two will keep the cat’s claw short and also provide a good workout session for your cat. A contented and tired cat is less likely to cause any harm than one that is bored with excess energy.
  • Engage your cat in multiple 5-minute play sessions with laser light or LED pointer, string toys, a roll of yarn or other suitable toys that do not include your fingers or toes will keep your cat stimulated, energy well spent, and all your digits safe.
  • If a cat is particularly problematic and does not react to normal technique, neutering is an option. A neutered cat is known to be more sociable and easier to get along with.

Learn to read aggression behavior:

  • A displeasure cat may hiss, growl, or ululating, or tipping back his ears flat against his head.
  • A cat ready for preemptive strike likely to arch his back with skin rippling, and growl aggressively. His whiskers may point forward and mouth draws back. Ears flat and point backward.
  • A cornered cat likely to crouch and look nervously from side to side, looking for an escape path. Failure to do so will likely see him strike out defensively.

Possible reasons why cats scratch or bite:

  • The cat may be anxious or stressed. A change in people, environment, and abusive toddler may cause the cat to feel cornered and strike out. The best option is to restore the ambiance as much as possible, and as soon as possible. Tune down the volume on TV, separates the crying or noisy kids from the cat. Teach the kids not to chase the cat around or pull its tail. No hitting or shouting at the cat. Learn how to pet the cat the correct way.
  • The cat may be in pain or not well. A cat in pain or unwell may become defensive and lash out. A trip to a veterinarian clinic may determine the health issue and proper treatment can be prescribed. Once the underlying health issue is treated, the cat temperament is likely to improve as well.
  • An older cat may not welcome being cuddled or picked up. They just want to be left alone in peace.
  • The cat may merely too excited in play. To curtail over play, please refer to earlier sections of this article.

Cats react best to positive reinforcement and consistency in treatments, praising and treat rewarding for appropriate behavior will mold your cat to be well behaved and well loved. Scolding, hitting, chasing and other negative gestures likely to turn your cat into a scared confused cat ready to defense itself at any possible perceived threat.

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Cleaning Out Cat Litter Box

Every sane person loves to cuddle a cat, but I doubt the equally sane person would actually willingly, happily, voluntarily loves to clean out a cat litter box. But clean we must, for the health of our beloved cats as well as for the health of the cohabiting humans.

Cat feces are known to contain numerous pathogens that are harmful to humans. Among them, Bartonella henselae bacteria which causes cat-scratch disease and Toxoplasma gondii parasite which causes toxoplasmosis. Pregnant women are advised not to handle cat waste if possible as these pathogens may harm the development of fetuses and the health of the mothers.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) 2012 pet ownership statistic, thirty percent of American households own cats, averaging 2.1 cats per household, translating to more than 74 million cats living closely with us. That also means there are lots of cat litter to clear every single day across America.

In fact, cat litter clearing is such a headache to some cat owners that a wide range of litter box designs has sprung out, ranging from the old fashion open tray, disposable, to a self-cleaning litter box and everything in between. Some clever owners have even taught their equally clever cats to use the toilet and flushing after use.

Our feline friends are fastidious in nature. Each cat prefers its own litter box and the litter box cleaned and changed on regular basis. Failure to do so, the cat will likely choose to do its business where you do not want them to be. You have been warned, so don’t get mad.

 

If you have a basic tray type litter box, use a scooper to gather the waste and remove them from the litter at least once a day. Once a week, throw out the soiled litter, thoroughly wash the box with detergent and water, dried, and refill with fresh litter to about 2-3 inches high. Waste and soiled litter need to go into a wide-mouth trash bag immediately and into the outdoor waste receptacle when removing from tray to minimize flying litter dust. Avoid cleaning the kitty’s litter box in the kitchen at all cost, instead, do it either outdoor, in the bathtub, or in the laundry room. You might want to consider wearing mask and gloves if you are unwell or prone to catching whatever flu bugs flying around. Don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly after handling the raking or cleaning.

If you are allergic to litter box cleaning or simply too occupied with other things in life, there are various self-cleaning litter box designs that you may consider investing. The well-designed litter boxes allow you weeks of litter-free experience. One of the better designs I have seen is a self cleaning litter box with disposable box, prefilled with crystalline material. When your cat uses the litter box, the crystals immediately absorb moisture and odor and begin to dehydrate solids. Some minutes later, a rake automatically sweeps the waste into a covered compartment, leaving the litter near soiled-less and fresh. You may not even need to replace the disposable litter tray for half a month or so. Nearly hands-off convenience and excellent odor control. I want one too.

The ultimate bliss is probably when your cat uses the toilet just as you do. It is possible to train your cat to use the toilet seat. Yes, it requires time, patience and the correct tools but think about the time and cost saving a couple of months down the road!

During the toilet training period, you will be shaping your cat behavior and slowly progressing it to use the toilet. Training starts by placing a training seat on your toilet bowl filled with a sufficient amount of litter. After your cat has adapted, you will cut a small hole in the center of the training seat and slowly make the hole larger and larger until it’s completely open. When this is complete your cat will have completely adapted to using the toilet and you will no longer need the training seat. You may even train your cat to flush after use. Based on your toilet flushing mechanism, you can put a toy or catnip on a flat top press button to encourage them to press on the button. If you have a lever type of flushing mechanism, you may need to tie a string between the lever to something nearby so that your cat can pull on the string to trigger flushing.

When all done and successful, you can really sit back with a cuppa with your cat on your lap and a book in your hands. What a bliss! It may take months before your cat is totally adjusted to using the toilet, but the reward will soon get you to forget about the pain and the numerous accidents. Just be patient and back off a little if your cat becomes reluctant or confused.

We love our kitties, don’t we?

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