New Kitten - Your first week together
FRAGILE – HANDLE WITH CARE
The Trip Home & the Arrival
• Kittens should be confined in a carrier anytime they are taken in a car – a loose kitten in the car can be hazardous as they can panic or try to explore the vehicle.
• Since most cats hate to travel, after the ride home from the animal shelter, the cat will more than likely not be interested in playing. Put the kitten in its carrier into a quiet room, such as a small bedroom or bathroom. Set up clean bowls with food and water and prepare their litter box – but not too close to the food and water! Open the carrier and let the kitten exit on its own. You can decrease its stress level by leaving it alone to explore its new room for a few minutes.
• To make the kitten’s transition to your household as comfortable as possible, plan on leaving the kitten in this limited area for the next few days. This “safe place” will allow the kitten to become accustomed to the sounds and smells of its new home.
• Like a human toddler, a kitten toddler (5 months and younger) should always be supervised when left out to explore the household. If left alone with full access to your house without supervision, your kitten may develop unwanted toilet habits, bad scratching habits or be injured while exploring.
• When you can’t watch your kitten, confine them to a small bedroom or bathroom, or large dog crate within your house. Their “room” or “playpen” should always contain a clean litter box, bedding, water, food, toys and a scratching post. This means confining them when you are sleeping, going to work, or when running errands. If your kitten enjoys sleeping in your lap while you watch TV, or work on your computer, then that is a good time to bond with them. But, the minute you need to do something else and can’t watch them, your kitten needs to go back into its room.
• Bathing is not necessary. Also, NEVER give your kitten human medicine unless it is under the guidance of a veterinarian.
Diet & Bathroom Habits
• Feed your kitten a name brand dry KITTEN food. Cats are “grazers” and should always have a bowl of dry food available. Change water daily. Moist food is not necessary but can be used as an occasional treat. Don’t give your kitten people food or MILK!
• To help your kitten establish a lasting habit of using a litter box, start out right. Put the box in a quiet, accessible place, which at first will be in the kitten’s room/cage. If your kitten has an accident outside the box, do not punish the kitten, just clean it up. Do NOTuse scoopable kitty litter until your kitten is 5-6 months old!
• If your kitten is eliminating right in front of you in the wrong spot, just make a sudden loud noise (see below). Then, place them gently in their box and praise them if they finish their business. Do not rub their nose in it, swat them or shake them. Your kitten will learn nothing by using these methods except to fear you, and it may cause the problem to become worse.
• Cats are clean animals and prefer to have waste removed daily or several times a week from their litter boxes. Completely clean the box once a week.
• You never want your kitten to associate your voice or hands with pain, so, DO NOT HIT YOUR KITTEN OR YELL AT IT. Rather, use “remote discipline”. Make the kitten believe their behavior is what is scaring them. This can be done by shaking a can of coins to startle them when they are doing something inappropriate. (But don’t let them see you doing this!). Or you can use a small squirt gun filled with water – but don’t spray it in their eyes.
• Purchase a scratching post and show the kitten how to rub its paws on it, extending its claws out with gentle pressure on the pads. Praise the kitten when it works its claws on it.
• Provide your kitten with an interesting INDOOR environment. They love to play and appreciate simple toys such as ping-pong balls and paper bags. Put a perch in a window for them to look out.
• Kittens need plenty of play periods per day. This develops coordination and establishes the good habit of playing with toys. At least twice a day, entice your kitten to play, making it run, leap, and pounce to the point of exhaustion. Then put the toy away and allow it to rest. Always leave out several safe toys (nothing with string, buttons or other small pieces that can be pulled off).
• Wrestling with your kitten using your hands is not advised as this teaches the kitten to use you as a toy by biting and scratching you – a habit you will later come to regret and which will confuse the cat when disciplined later for it as they get bigger.
• Your new kitten should be handled (petted & brushed) a minimum of 15 minutes per day. Do not force your kitten to sit in your lap if it wants to get down. Practice calling it and rewarding it with a small treat when it comes and soon it will respond when you don’t have a treat.
• Introduce your kitten in a positive way to as many different people as possible so that your kitten will become a sociable, secure cat.
• Children need to be closely supervised when with your kitten. Teach your children to pet gently and hold the kitten only when sitting down. Kittens are fragile and cannot take rough handling so avoid fur, ear or whisker pulling.
• Kittens can often become overexcited during play even though you may not be trying to play with them at the moment. It is important they get their toy play periods. If your kitten bites you, YELP like you have been severely hurt and then stop all petting or playing for a minimum of 2 minutes. If your kitten was in your lap, put it down and walk away for a few minutes.
Be a Responsible Cat Owner
You’re probably thinking, “How hard can it be? Cats can take care of themselves.” Living with a cat may not involve much work but it doesn’t mean a total hands-off policy, either.
Being a responsible pet owner is as simple as keeping your cat indoors, providing them with companionship, having them spayed or neutered and meeting their basic needs of food, water, a clean litter box and veterinary care.
Keep your cat indoors! They have been domesticated for almost 4,000 years and have no need to be outside. There are many reasons to keep them in:
• Roaming cats are considered a nuisance as they can get into garbage cans, use flower beds and sandboxes for litter boxes, cause traffic accidents, and add to the pet overpopulation problem if not “fixed”. They also have a devastating effect on local wildlife, killing hundreds of small mammals and songbirds whether they are well fed or not because it is instinct.
• The most important reason to keep your cat inside is for its own safety. Outside they can face disease, cat fights, dog fights, poisons, parasites, cruel people, being trapped and taken to a shelter, and the biggest cat-killer of all, traffic.
If cats have their owner’s love and attention and lots to do inside, they won’t miss going outdoors.
A Lifetime of Commitment
Beyond these essentials, the rest should come naturally and you can look forward to 10 to 15 years, even more, of companionship from your new friend. Remember: a pet is your responsibility to love and care for from the day they arrive until the day they die. It’s up toYOU to provide them with a “lifetime guarantee.”
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