Taking on an abandoned kitten - first time cat owner.

(97 Posts)

I've been asked by a friend of a friend if we can home a kitten which she found abandoned on her doorstep. I haven't seen the kitten yet, have no idea how old it is, what sex, etc., only that it is ginger!

We've wanted a cat for a while, but expected that we'd probably adopt an older cat from a home. I've never owned a cat before (DP has), & know virtually nothing about kittens.

What do we need to buy? I've read about needing a room to keep the cat in, away from the bustle of the rest of the house - we have a utility room which should be good for that. We don't have a cat flap, but I think you're supposed to keep cats inside for a while when they move in anyway?

How do you choose a vet? & when should I take the kitten for vaccinations?

Argh! I'm panicking, but so excited. I mostly wanted to ask questions, but partly wanted to be openly excited about the new addition to the family grin

Viewofthehills Thu 20-Dec-12 10:07:30

How old is the kitten? Then we can give you better advice!
Ask around for a good vet- but don't worry too much-we have moved around a fair bit so we've had a few and all good.
You definitely need food, litter tray and bed (cardboard box lined with old towels, fleece or a jumper is fine)

Viewofthehills Thu 20-Dec-12 10:10:00

Sorry just re-read and you don't know how old. You need to know as below 6 weeks you need to give kitten formula which is fairly hard work, but gives you a lovely close bond with the kitten.

I have no idea! I am assuming that as it has recently been abandoned with its sibling (who has already been adopted) that it must be quite young, but that's a pure guess. I'm not really sure of the logic of someone who abandons kittens on a doorstep, but I imagine that you'd do it ASAP? confused

How do you 'train' a kitten? For example to use the litter tray, or not climb on the kitchen work surfaces? I've had dogs before, but I gather they're rather different wink

Sorry, cross posted. I will try to find out. I am waiting for direct contact from the woman who has the kitten at the moment - so far it's all been through our mutual friend. I don't think she knows anything for certain though, as they were only abandoned on Monday night, as I understand it.

Thank you for replying - I'm more anxious about getting this right than I was when I was pregnant! grin

cozietoesie Thu 20-Dec-12 10:19:57

The litter tray is pretty easy - they're desperately clean by nature so often take to it without being shown how but to assist, put him in the tray, hold his paws and scrabble just a little to give him the idea. Then keep your fingers crossed! (First Use Of Litter Tray is a big moment for any owner, no matter how old the cat.) Be prepared for little accidents at the beginning of course.

A little safe place for him to go is an excellent idea. He doesn't need to be shut in there but if you leave his tray and bed in there and keep the door of the - say - utility room ajar, he can retreat in there if he wants time out.

Much depends on how old he is for other advice and you'll only be able to judge that when he arrives. You could post a photo on your profile so that we could make an additional judgement to assist.

Do you have DCs who might need to be kept under control with the new arrival?

Viewofthehills Thu 20-Dec-12 10:21:12

Kittens are naturally clean. They can be fussy about having a clean litter tray to the point of not using it if they feel it's dirty and going somewhere else.
Our tiny 3-4 week old kitten was abandoned, but already litter trained when we got her, by her mum I guess.
How do you train a cat not to jump on the worktop? Hmm. I have never had much luck with that. Most of them learn if you spray them with water every time, but the latest one loves water and will even jump into a full bath!

cozietoesie Thu 20-Dec-12 10:21:27

PS - if he's really dreadfully young (and anything's possible if he was dumped on a doorstep) then it's a whole different ballgame with feeding, toileting etc.

cozietoesie Thu 20-Dec-12 10:24:31

I've mostly had Siamese who are incredibly easy to train away from surfaces and any other bad habits. A firm NO! and occasional exclusion from humans will do it every time.

Even The Lodger, though, learned the rules for when he is here. You have to really mean that NO! - Don't shout or scream but a good loud firm voice coupled with (at the beginning) a bodily hauling off and then ignoring for 20 minutes should help.

cozietoesie Thu 20-Dec-12 10:26:34

And well done you for giving him a home!

smile

Haha, I love the idea of the water-loving cat grin

It hasn't been mentioned that (s)he's particularly young, but I don't know. We'll be collecting him tonight, so I will post a photograph then. I will be going shopping this afternoon for bits & pieces. I'll try not to buy too much all at once, & stick to the basics until we know more!

The litter tray thing sounds quite easy, which is good, thanks smile

We have DS, who is 3.8. I know that we'll need to keep a close eye on him, but he is generally good with animals. I've not mentioned the kitten to him yet, but he will be thrilled. I think we'll say that when the kitten is in the utility room that he isn't allowed to go in & bother it.

Is there anything basic that I might not have thought of? When are you supposed to do microchipping & things? Will it be obvious if it's a boy or a girl? Obviously I will take it to the vet ASAP for a general check up.

That sounds not dissimilar to 'training' DS, to be honest wink

FreckledLeopard Thu 20-Dec-12 10:33:57

Depending on how old the kitten is, they usually go to the vet for their first vaccinations around 8 weeks. I kept our kittens indoors until they'd had all vaccinations, microchips and had been neutered. Only then were they allowed access to the cat flap (which they mastered in about 2 minutes - they now 'dive' through gracefully and bring live worms back as gifts that they drop on my feet )

Litter tray - our kittens used it absolutely fine from day one and never (touch wood) went anywhere else. They now go outside.

In terms of kitchen surfaces etc - this one is a bit more tricky. Cat we already have and girl kitten - absolutely fine. Never even try to get up. Boy kitten on the other hand will go anywhere. Jumps onto surfaces, into the bath, down the loo. I'm trying to be consistent - 'no' in a firm voice followed by immediately taking him off kitchen counter. Again. And again. He may possibly be getting better (now aged eight months) but if I'm out, he'll definitely try his luck (and eat two salmon fillets and a pack of sausages that had been foolishly left out to defrost).

Ginger cats are lovely! So bold and cuddly. Come back with lots of details please!

cozietoesie Thu 20-Dec-12 10:35:27

Keeping the utility room out of bounds to DS is indeed the best thing. It will give the kitten peace and quiet if he wants it.

Probably best not to buy too much extra at the start. There's a tendency to see all these kitten toys and go overboard when often enough they're entirely happy with scrunched up bits of paper and old cardboard boxes.

The vet ASAP is probably a good idea for a general checkup at least, depending on age and what sort of shape he's in. Let's see how old he is.

smile

cozietoesie Thu 20-Dec-12 10:38:20

Some cats are just natural thieves hunters FreckledLeopard. The Lodger obeys the rules religiously when I'm around but I still wouldn't like to leave him alone in the house with fresh meat on the kitchen worktop.

Thank you for all the advice. I'm so excited! Normally I read these little stories about cats & their mischief, & feel a bit jealous. Now I'm just impatient to be able to fetch ours later! Yay!

Do we have to 'cat proof' anything? I've already come to the conclusion that the open basket of clean, unsorted laundry may have to stop living on the utility room floor(!) but is there anything I need to think of for the cat's own good?

Viewofthehills Thu 20-Dec-12 10:55:50

Lilies and Dettol are toxic to cats. Dettol is the one to watch as you need something safe to clean the litter tray etc.
Also paracetemol can kill them- we only found that out when our cat was in terrible pain and we were tempted to find something to give him as we couldn't get hold of a vet. Thankfully we didn't.

cozietoesie Thu 20-Dec-12 10:57:09

Well - he'll be everywhere (sideways, sometimes!) when he gains confidence so just view the place as you would when DS started toddling. Fragile ornaments etc in a cupboard for a few weeks, trailing wires out of sight, Xmas tree baubles and lights (if you have one) well........ Problem with getting a new kitten at this time of year. I'd guess just never leave him alone in the room with the tree and put anything dangly or trailing as high as you can reasonably do.

Pot plants, flowers and any chemicals out of reach etc.

And so on.

smile

PS - get rid of any lilies you might have around. A poster recently alerted us to how deadly they can be to cats.

We don't have any lilies. Thank you for telling me about the Dettol though - I wouldn't have thought of that. The Christmas tree may be a problem, but they're all shatterproof baubles anyway, so it shouldn't be too dramatic.

About getting him home - I'll need to buy a cat carrier this afternoon, won't I? Is there anything in particular I should consider, or will anything do?

cozietoesie Thu 20-Dec-12 11:07:54

I'd get one that has a plastic bottom - the wicker ones can look very fetching but pee can seep through them onto car seats (transporting him in the future) and sometimes have jaggedy edges inside which aren't too good if the cat is being a flibbertigibbet.

Get one that will fit him as a grown cat with plenty of room to move around - and remember that if they get decent nutrition, ginger toms can be big cats when mature. He may look like he's drowning in it temporarily but that won't last.

You just need to put a large towel scrunched up or folded in the bottom - to cater for any accidents and provide comfort.

Viewofthehills Thu 20-Dec-12 11:07:55

You can just use a smallish cardboard box to get him home. Main thing for cat carriers ime is that the catches are easy to do up when you're wrestling them back in at the vets and it helps if they're easy to clean.

aufaniae Thu 20-Dec-12 11:11:20

Hold on, are you thinking of keeping the cat in the utility room? Please, please don't!

The kitten will want company and love much more than a lonely room on its own.

I've no idea where you got that idea from, but I feel sorry for any cat shut in a small room all on its own! It will be most likely be miserable.

Fair enough if it has that room to retreat into, but not where it actually lives.

We've always had our cats in the house with us. They are a pet which is part of the family, not a one to be kept in a cage (even a large, utility room sized one!)

Your DS is roughly the same age as mine. If I had a kitten (lodger has a rabbit sadly so can't right now sad) I would introduce the kitten and DS to each other, and carefully supervise. When DS meets cats, I teach him that cats are scared of you if you look too big to them. So, to say hello to a cat, I've taught him to crouch down to make himself look small, and to let the cat come to him, rather than chasing the cat, and then to offer him the back of his hand to sniff before trying to stroke them.

DS is 3.11 and very boisterous, but he's managed to learn this with practice, and it is a great way for anyone to gain the trust of a cat.

cozietoesie Thu 20-Dec-12 11:12:42

That's true, viewofthehills. A box is fine for temporary transport - as long as he's not antsy and into everything. (I remember a memorable journey on which a Siamese kitten totally destroyed a soft plastic cat carrier and we just made it to the destination.)

cozietoesie Thu 20-Dec-12 11:14:52

My very first boy ignored all of our plans, aufaniae and decided that his 'safe place' was behind the piano.

That had some merit actually. No-one could move the darned thing if he decided to go there and wouldn't come out. Didn't last long, though.

smile

aufaniae Thu 20-Dec-12 11:21:21

"Do we have to 'cat proof' anything?"

Really depends on the cat. Some cats are very civilised, others love to scratch your favourite furniture!

Your kitten will need to scratch her claws somewhere. You could buy a scratching post, and you may have some success (some cats use them, many turn their noses up at them!)

But trying to train her to use a scratching post might be a good idea, just in case she takes to it.

Kittens are very playful too. It might be an idea to get a couple of toys. I've never known a cat not to be interested in a playing rod They're cheap too.

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