New kitten, inexperienced owner

(10 Posts)
KWB1 Mon 15-Oct-12 14:14:18

I am intending to get a kitten and wondered if anyone had any tips? My house is open plan downstairs, so I cannot confine it to one room for any period after it arrives (my living room has a door, but I don't really want to shut it in there because of the potential for things to get broken), or at night time. Is a cage a good idea for night time or when I have visitors who might spook the little thing? My friend has a cage, it's quite a big one. She was worried about the kitten getting stuck in funny places, she has a huge house and 3 noisy children, and another cat. She has a blanket draped over the cage, with the litter tray and food inside, and a toy hanging from the top, so it is quite dark and peaceful. The cage does seem to give the cat somewhere safe to be put or go when it's had enough. I have four noisy children so am thinking how to keep the kitten calm. I work but have an au pair, so there will usually be someone in during the day to keep it company. We don't have any other pets so there are no issues there.
A friend told me boy cats are more friendly, is this true?
Anything I need apart from carry box, litter tray, food tray and toys? If I don't get a cage, where will it sleep? Is it better for it to find its own "place" or to get it a bed or box?
Help!

bonzo77 Mon 15-Oct-12 14:39:49

My experience is that males are easier going than females, but that might not be the norm.

In addition to what you have mentioned you'll need a poo scooper, something to clean up accidents with, may be a cat flap eventually, insurance from the day you get her, something for her to scratch: mine have always liked old fashioned door mats more than proper scratching posts. A water pistol is also a useful deterrent if you need to discipline her ( eg from claiming curtains, jumping on work tops, attacking furniture), collar, bell and tag if she goes outdoors.

I'm not sure about the cage thing, though my Mum's cat used to use the cat carrier as a sort of den. I wouldn't agree with actually locking the kitten in the cage. TBH I've had kittens and new adult cats and I've never confined them to one room. They usually start out nervous and hide in stupid places (current kitten spent several days in our piano). But they do seem to come round eventually, whether its on your terms on theirs.

I wouldn't bother with a bed, they'll ignore the lovely wicker basket or cosy felt thing in favour of something inconvenient or inappropriate. Like the baby's car seat or the plastic bag with ironing in.

Are you sure you want a kitten? Adult rescue cats can be far more predictable, just as much fun and less prone to bizarre hiding/ climbing antics. Though they can come with baggage.

naturalbaby Mon 15-Oct-12 14:45:00

I have an open plan house and the only place the kittens get locked up is in ds3's bedroom when I say goodnight (by accident!). They do bounce all over the bed every night but it's finally closer to 6am rather than 5am when we first got them.

We've never needed or thought about a cage - for a puppy maybe but not a kitten/cat. They have been very good with our 3 very noisy boys and even tolerate my 20month old carrying them around them by the neck blush.

My main bit of advice is to be very careful about where they come from - ours came from a farmhouse and we met the mum and another couple of cats that are related. The whole family were lovely and the kittens have been perfect. We got a 6 week old rescue cat 8 years ago and he spends all day hiding under the bed high on feliway.

chinley Mon 15-Oct-12 14:50:10

I wouldn't lock it up in a cage, that might freak it out more than comfort it. My kitties feed a lot more often than I'd have thought as well, around every 3-4 hours. They have tiny little stomachs so can only fit in so much at one time. I've learnt through my own mistake and also by reading up on it that you shouldn't mix wet & dry food. They digest it at different rates so it can upset their bellies and cause smelly, sloppy poops, which aren't very nice to clear up.

My kitties love their bed, they're always sprawled out in it. If you're going to get them one I'd suggest going for one that feels really soft and comfy, rather than a nice looking, expensive one that they won't use.

Don't worry about them getting stuck anywhere, they are so curious they'll be in everything but as long as you make sure there's nothing dangerous within reach, like a glass they can knock over and smash, they'll be fine.

KWB1 Mon 15-Oct-12 15:04:08

Thanks for the tips, it's making me feel less nervous!
I've been offered a kitten by a friend, so I know where he/she will come from and that the mum is a nice cat. It's just a tabby/white moggy rather than anything "special". My friend is handling the kittens to make sure they are socialised and used to handling. I will get a cat flap, and I suppose the best is one that's operated by a thing on a collar (I've read about ones operated by a microchip, but then what happens if something happens to the cat and I get another?). What happens the first time you put them out, do you go with them and keep it short, and build it up? How old should I wait until letting it outside?
I love the idea of a kitten hiding in a piano, and it's spot on that whatever bed I buy it will be ignored in favour of something else. I don't really want to buy another cage, it's just another piece of kit and another expense, I just wondered if it would be a good thing. But I think not, based on what you are telling me.
Talking of carrying it round by its neck, when I had my twins, my DS1, aged 20 months at the time, appeared at the top of our steep stairs carrying one of them by the neck - he'd helped himself from the Moses basket! The babies were about a month old, they were tiny. I had to put a high-up lock on the outside of the bedroom door after that. I obviously hadn't closed the stair gate (bad mother).

Flippityjig Mon 15-Oct-12 15:04:53

I wouldn't lock a kitten in a cage either. I think it would be scared at being so confined.

I've had cats all my life, only one was a female and she was much more aloof. My tom cats have all been friendly and loving. Obviously have them neutered at six months to avoid spraying and wandering though.

My cats have beds and a scratching post but they sleep where they want to! Which is usually on my lap or on the sofa or on our beds. The only bed they do use is one that hangs on the radiator (a radiator cradle? or something) which cost me £15 online from amazon or somewhere, Danish Design Kumfy Kradle - some of the others are a bit flimsy I think.

I've never had a cat knock anything over and they don't really get stuck anywhere - the only time my siamese got stuck (and they are really nosy!) is walking along the double radiator in the kitchen and he slipped and his leg got stuck. Luckily I was there to free him and he's never done it since.

YOu'll definitely need a scooper for the litter tray. I also use liners for the litter tray to make cleaning easier. I buy "Oko Best" cat litter which is a bit more but you only take the lumps out and just keep topping up the litter that is left, it doesn't get smelly and saves cleaning the whole thing all the time. And you can flush the lumps down the loo.

Also feeding bowls and water bowl, toys (little mice and small cat balls to chase, dangly things for him to jump at). Definitely agree re insurance. Our latest kitten has chronic gingivitis and it is costing a fortune to treat, approx. £700 so far at least, the insurance is only £4.50 per month, definitely worth it.

Good luck.

KWB1 Mon 15-Oct-12 15:17:56

I am risk averse, so will definitely get insurance. Did you do a lot of shopping around or are they all similar?

Flippityjig Mon 15-Oct-12 20:03:52

I went on compare the market and money supermarket but also check direct line. I insured the kitten with the pdsa. There are different sorts of insurance so check carefully before you commit. Some only cover an illness for a year or up to a set amount, the more expensive ones cover unlimited time and amounts. I went for unlimited time but up to £2000 as I thought that was quite a lot. Animal Friends are good too.

bonzo77 Mon 15-Oct-12 21:14:24

lots of variation in insurance: different types of cover etc. Animal friends are very reasonable but are renowned for not paying up the full amount: they query the cost of any drugs and refuse to pay out for them.

With a female cat I wouldn't let it out till it is spayed, or you will get kittens. When my kitten discovered the cat flap I had her spayed at the next available opportunity. The vet said the fact that she was desperate to get outside meant she was reaching sexual maturity. So she was done at about 5 months. Ditto males cats really, except it won't be you left with the kittens.

KWB1 Tue 16-Oct-12 12:36:17

Thanks for the advice everyone, you've been really helpful smile

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