1. Alesia
    Offline

    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    998
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN

    How do I take care of a cat???

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Alesia, Nov 17, 2013.

    As part of moving some furniture out of a friends basement, I suddenly found myself the owner of a just weaned kitten. Only, the thing is, besides food/water I have no idea what to do with a cat. How do I litter box train it? What does their body language mean? Do I have to get shots for it? Do I have to feed it anything special? What toys do they like? Insert question about just about everything else here!

    Also, I thought cats were supposed to be cold and distant, but this one won't leave me alone. It sits in my lap asleep all day when I'm at home, and cries like a little baby anytime I'm out of eye shot in addition to following me around like a little puppy dog. And it's just me. The cat goes to my G/F, but it only seems to be as attached the way I described to me. Is that weird for only having it for 24hrs? Do they really bond that fast?
     
  2. Patra Felino
    Offline

    Patra Felino Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    126
    Location:
    Colombia
    Cats are often cold and distant, but kittens are playful and energetic. It will be scampering around after you for about the first year. This is probably a good time to give it lots of love and maybe get it used to a few visitors so that it won't be afraid of strangers as an adult. It should pick up the idea of a litter tray as its instincts will tell it to bury its, um, business, but it will likely make a few mistakes along the way. I've always found a water pistol (used sparingly!) as the best way to provide negative feedback when cats do things they shouldn't as they hate water but it doesn't do them any harm.

    It will need shots at some point but I can't remember at what age, and don't forget to get it neutered at around six months. Kittens should eat three times a day, I believe. Mostly cat biscuits should be OK, but some real food (chicken, beef, fish) works as a treat and as a way to give it something with a higher water content. My cat is spoiled rotten with salmon and nice steak, partly to give me an excuse to eat lots of salmon and nice steak myself.

    I'm sure I've forgotten masses.
     
    jannert likes this.
  3. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    Are you sure its mom isn't around? And does it have fleas? Those are the first two things I would check for.

    For litter, I would use non-clumping litter. Training the kitten to use the litter box basically involves showing it how to scratch the litter. Cats are actually pretty good about this. I believe it's instinctive. I would place the kitten in the litter box after it wakes up and after a meal. You can tell if a kitten needs to go if it starts scratching the floor. You do need to watch the kitten, though, because sometimes they don't use the litter box. Oh, and prepare yourself for the smell of cat urine. It's not pleasant at all.

    Feed the kitten 3-4 times a day, but make sure you don't overfeed it. You don't want a Garfield on your hands. ;) The labels on pet foods specify the age the food is meant for, so that should help. I would look up dry food vs. canned food on Google because both has advantages and disadvantages.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Definitely it needs vaccinations, ASAP. Cats can get rabies.

    Where did it come from? It's not clear from your post. It had to have come from a human contact home, feral kittens are not friendly.

    If it's weaned you can give it milk from a bowl plus canned kitty food. Cats can eat dry food but probably not kittens.

    If a cat has access to a litter box they tend to use it naturally as they are hard wired to bury their waste. If you see the kitty pawing at the carpet or floor, take it to the box. As a kitten, having it confined to one room with the litter box in it when you aren't home is a good idea. As it gets older it will learn where the litter box is and find it when needed. The best kind are the ones that have high enough sides the dug dirt doesn't end up on the floor.
     
  5. Alesia
    Offline

    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    998
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    The parents were her two established cats who had a litter of eight in the corner of the basement. No fleas, and she and her brothers and sisters ere all well cared for. As for food, I just grabbed a bag of dry food at the Dollar General on my way home. It was late, and hell if I knew what I was doing lol. I just grabbed the first cheap bag that said "cat food."
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    First step: Understand the relationship. You don't own a cat, the cat has adopted you.

    And definitely make an appointment with a veterinarian.
     
    Love to Write likes this.
  7. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Web MD has a cat feeding page: http://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/cat-food-101-what-you-need-to-know-about-feeding-your-cat

    But they cop out saying let your vet recommend food.

    Dry food has the advantage in that you can leave it out, but cats are prone to kidney infections so I'd be sure the cat has plenty of liquids to go with it. And watch out for pet food from China. Not only was there melamine in cat and dog food a couple years ago that killed a number of cats and a few dogs, more recently a product called turkey jerky had the same problem and killed more pets.
     
  8. Alesia
    Offline

    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    998
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    I remember that. A friend of mine lost his dog in that epidemic.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    I was feeding my dogs Royal Canin, supposedly a premium dog food. Turned out it was on the recall list. I'm just lucky most dogs tolerated the melamine better than cats or I would have lost my dogs as well.

    I don't buy anything now that isn't clearly marked, all ingredients are from the US. It's not a guarantee, but it's the best I can do.
     
  10. TessaT
    Offline

    TessaT Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2013
    Messages:
    357
    Likes Received:
    127
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    Cats can be relatively picky. Some like beds, some don't. You can try buying a cheap one from Petco or a local pet store, and see if the kitten likes it. Mine wouldn't use his at all. I would highly recommend getting a cat tree, or at least a scratching post, so your furniture doesn't get ruined.

    I don't feed my cat human food, as then begging and stealing can become a serious problem. I feed my cat dry cat food. You can wet the dry food if its too hard for the kitten with some water, but they do make food especially for 'kittens' that contain the properly needed nutrients. Also, don't buy Purina Indoor Cat Chow. It can cause stomach issues in kitties, and then tend to barf it up a lot. Other than that, a laser pointer and some feathers tied to a string are perfect toys for any cat. Just make sure that you pick up any plastic that's crinkly.

    Just make sure that you love it, and give it lots of attention. :) Good luck!
     
  11. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,936
    Likes Received:
    5,473
    Cats aren't obedient or eager to please, and they don't respect a pack hierarchy, but in my experience they're not usually cold and distant. They're social, it's just not a society where you're in charge. :)

    I would, yes, haul him to a vet promptly for his first shots and for feeding recommendations. I don't remember if it's important, or optional, to feed them special kitten food instead of cat food.

    The traditional recommendation for keeping a puppy happy when you can't be with him is a hot water bottle and a ticking alarm clock. It's pretty old-fashioned advice (how many houses still own a ticking alarm clock?) but seeking a source of warmth and a source of gentle sound might be worthwhile.

    Cats naturally want to bury their leavings. I remember receiving the advice to plop the cat gently into a litterbox and use his paws to dig in the litter. It magically worked for me, so I never had to try any more advanced strategies for litter training.
     
  12. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Cats are awesome. And they're not all aloof -- they just have their own minds. But some of them are real cuddle-bugs. They will naturally seek out a litter box -- just put him in it so he knows where it is. Cats like to bury their excrement, and as long as the litterbox is the best or only option, that is where he will go.

    Yes, take your cat to the vet. He or she will give your kitty all the necessary shots.

    Please, though, don't feed her food from the dollar store. That is the worst of the worst. There are a lot of great pet stores that carry holistic foods that are much better for cats. (And stick with the dry food -- if you start with wet, you might not ever be able to get him to go back. The dry food can sit out all day or days, and it's less expensive.) You can also find good food at websites like Drs. Foster and Smith.

    As far as toys, even a place like Petsmart will have a big selection. Usually cats' favorite toys are these things that look like a fishing pole with a string on one end and a ball or some toy that you can toss toward them and they'll attack it, and then you move it, he'll attack it again, etc.

    (BTW: Your kitty isn't, by any chance, orange, is he? They tend to be especially social.)
     
  13. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Also, please keep kitty indoors. When the cats are allowed to roam outside, they can become a neighborhood menace, and they're a threat to songbirds. They also have much higher rates of diseases and injuries, from fights, or cars, or simply getting into thorny bushes or things that can scratch them. They also might crawl into a car engine or into a car wheel and someone who doesn't realize the cat is there could start the car and drive away. (And they can become victims of sadistic people who abuse animals for fun.)
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  14. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Around here it's the circle of life, cats eat birds, coyotes eat cats. Indoor cats do just fine.
     
  15. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Oh, and also to show you how much they love you, outdoor cats sometimes bring you what they've caught as a special present. You probably prefer not to receive a half-dead rodent or bird as a gift.
     
  16. EllBeEss
    Offline

    EllBeEss Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2013
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Perth
    I second not feeding your cat from your plate. My dogs taught ours to beg, someone gave it something once and it took us months to stop it from jumping onto our shoulders to steal our food.
    Other than food and water you only really need a litter-box, a scratching post and something to entertain it. You don't need to buy fancy toys for it, you can make them of scrunch up a sheet of paper and hit it across the floor. When you take the kitty to the vet for injections, the vet should be careful of the age & size of the cat, my cat almost died from her kitten injections because she wasn't old/big enough to handle them.

    Congrats and good luck
     
  17. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Can't emphasize this enough! Our cat was a feral kitten we found out in the garden and even so, now she's a house cat, period. (And she definitely sought us out, feral or not.) I feed her dry food only (the only people food she gets is an occasional morsel of pork steak) and regular cat treats. Litter training took about five minutes - long enough for me to pour the litter and plunk her down in the box. I've never had to train any of my cats how to scratch and bury. But decide right away where your cat will be allowed and what's off limits, and enforce it gently but firmly at first (ie I saved the spray bottle until the third "no" was ignored). But most cats want food, water, and a lap to be happy.
     
  18. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,837
    Likes Received:
    10,015
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    As @shadowwalker mentions, the rules must be set early and with consistency. I've had several cats and have personally found (your experience may vary) that the relationship you have with a cat is not very adjustable later on like it is with a dog. All mine were gotten as babies. One was born right in front of me. I tend to treat my cats like dogs. I'm very hands-on from the start. I hold them a good bit and even rough-house with them at a level appropriate for their size and temperament.* I know they don't acknowledge pack behavior the way a dog or a human does, but I have found this makes them easier to handle and and less finicky when the food-giver (me) feels like holding kitty. Also, I have personally found that toms, once neutered, tend to make friendlier pets than mollies. Opposite for dogs. ;)

    * Please don't read that as abuse. I just play with them the way you would play with a puppy. That kind of rough-housing. No hitting, just physical play.
     
  19. Robert_S
    Offline

    Robert_S Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    163
    Litter training a cat is rather easy. Have two boxes, put him/her down in it. They tend to instinctively know its purpose.

    yes, you should get shots for it. Research when, but you'll need rabies and distemper as a minimum. Parvo and leukemia if they are going to be boarded.

    feed it kitten food until it is a grown cat.

    Toys are simple. Mine plays with milk jug rings, clothes pins, paper, etc. Just make sure your toilet paper is not hanging down or you'll find our bathroom TPd.

    Body language is not that difficult. They purr when content. If they are excited, the tail flicks side to side in a whip like fashion.

    Cats may be cold and distant, but the last three I had were very affectionate. One would automatically lay in my lap when I was at the computer. Another would head butt me. And all three would follow me around.

    Cats are awesome.
     
  20. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,936
    Likes Received:
    5,473
    And leukemia if they will ever go out or ever interact with cats that go out. (I think?) I figure that any cat can escape at any tie, so unless there's some risk associated with the shot that I'm not aware of, I'd suggest just getting it.
     
  21. Robert_S
    Offline

    Robert_S Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    163
    True. We tend to be careful with our cats. This current one will run out, but stop on the porch and awe at the world outside.
     
  22. Patra Felino
    Offline

    Patra Felino Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    126
    Location:
    Colombia
    Cats are happier if they are allowed to go outside, in my opinion. Sure, there's a chance of an accident and they do like to hunt (although putting a bell on their collar makes it much harder for them to do so), but they love climbing trees and walking on fences and having a decent territory to rule over.
     
  23. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Why would they be happier outside than in? My current cat climbs chairs and stairs, runs along window sills, and rules the entire house. She was a feral kitten when she claimed us, and lived outside for the first 5 months of her life - after she'd been inside a month, she didn't even try to get back out. I have had several cats and I have never allowed them to run loose. I want them alive and healthy for as long as possible. Not to mention that I love birds and other wildlife in my yard, and I'm sick of chasing roving cats out (not to mention cleaning their crap out of my gardens). You're not doing anyone (including the cat) a favor by letting them roam. That's just irresponsible.
     
  24. Komposten
    Offline

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    1,579
    Likes Received:
    666
    Location:
    Sweden
    I've had like 10 or so cats in my life so far (we currently have 4), and all have been outdoor cats. Maybe we've been lucky (or Sweden is a really calm place...), but we've never had any problems related to sickness or injuries except for a few scratches after a fight with a neighbour's cat.

    I do, however, suggest to keep that cat indoors if you live in a bigger city (where there is a lot of cars or big roads nearby).
    In case you want your cat to be an outdoor cat you should still keep him/her inside for the first one or two weeks so he/she learns where home is. It might as well be a good idea to inform neighbours of the new family member and ask them if they would mind your letting the kitty out.

    As for social behaviour I am quite sure it is as varied as it is for us humans. Some cats we've had have been extremely cuddlesome while others are more content with just getting their food and the occasional short moment of cuddling.

    Other than that I think most important parts have been covered.


    PS. Do NOT feed your cat food from your plates, it will make them irritating beggars...
    PPS. Give your kitty love, and you will never regret it! Cats are the best! :p


    Edit: shadowwalker, wouldn't it be equally irresponsible to keep the cats locked away inside a house? They are after all born hunters, supposed to live their entire lives in the wilderness (yes, I know a cat might not survive if not cared for, but that doesn't change this fact). The taking of the occasional bird or mouse is just the way life works.
    Cats deserve freedom just as much as you and I.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
  25. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
    Offline

    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2013
    Messages:
    2,319
    Likes Received:
    743
    Location:
    Music Room #3
    Buy TOYS. Scratching post, catnip mice, little balls, and sticks with feathers on them are great.
     

Share This Page