Another novice cat owner here. Getting new kitten on Sunday. Advice please!

(286 Posts)
ToffeeWhirl Fri 19-Apr-13 14:20:31

I have been looking at old threads here and it's been really helpful, but still have a couple of questions. Firstly, am I meant to put newspaper down under the cat litter or just sprinkle the cat litter straight into the litter tray? Am not sure what newspaper will achieve, but have this odd feeling I should! confused

The other thing I'm troubled about is that we are bringing the kitten back in the car with us and it will be a four-hour journey. I have borrowed a cat carrier and bought some Feliway to spray in it. Am just looking out old fleeces and towels to make it snuggly. What I'm worried about is what to do about food, water and the kitten's need to wee/poo. It is toilet trained already (it's 14 weeks' old), but will it just do that in the carrier if it needs to? Could I bring the litter tray and offer that or is that a mad idea? I do have an absorbant disposable mat to place under the towels in case of sickness or anything else.

And I don't know what to do about food because some advice says don't feed your cat before a journey in case it makes it travel sick. But surely it's cruel not to offer the kitten some food on the journey? I will obviously be offering water anyway.

Also, a friend told me to bring ear plugs for the journey because the cat might be noisy. It's a Balinese (like a Siamese). I have visions of a four-hour journey from hell, with yowling travel-sick kitten and two wailing, travel-sick children.

cozietoesie Fri 19-Apr-13 14:34:25

I don't put any newspaper or other liner actually in the litter tray. I've found that a decent depth of litter poured straight in is just fine.

On the journey, I'd take some food and water with you to offer if you wish but don't be surprised if the don't take any at all. I've not found that my cats liked food or water during journeys. You could also take a litter tray with you but maybe offer it at rest stops - with the car windows closed! (Don't let the cat out of the carrier while the car is moving - and if you have the DCs with you and it's only four hours, I'd be tempted not to let it out at all. Cats are very good at crossing their legs.)

Having a litter tray ready is useful in any case because you can whip it quickly into the house when you reach your destination and put it, with kitten, in a quiet place to recover equanimity while you deal with the DCs and the rest of the unpacking.

As to noise, I've travelled extensively with cats (mainly Siamese) and I've found that the best plan is to largely ignore them. Secure the carrier with seat belts or something, partially cover it with - say - a light rug or coverlet to make a snug, and then leave the cat alone. As it's a new kitten to you, it won't be soothed yet by your voice so it will likely squawk a bit and then hunker down in the back of the carrier and grit it out silently. (With maybe the occasional meow to let you know it's still there and not that happy.)

Your biggest problem is going to be stopping the DCs from trying to poke their fingers in to it or wanting to let it out to play - lots of journey preparation required I'm afraid. How old are they? And are you to be alone with all of them or shall there be another adult?

ToffeeWhirl Fri 19-Apr-13 14:46:51

Thank you, that's really reassuring. I hadn't thought of covering the carrier with a rug - that's a good idea and may encourage the kitten to sleep. DH is driving, so I will be free to deal with any issues and remind the DC to leave the cat alone. They are 7 and 13. The 13 year old should be old enough to listen to my instructions hmm, but he is the one who really wanted a cat, so it might be hard for him to resist. DS2 is quite frightened of having a cat as he's not used to them. He says it won't be allowed in his bedroom, but as his is the sunniest room, the cat will probably have other ideas grin.

Is it ok to leave it alone downstairs in the kitchen/dining room on the first night? I keep thinking of the poor little thing away from its mum. I have read that it's a good idea to leave a hot-water bottle and ticking clock nearby for comfort. We have padded a cardboard box with fleeces for it to sleep in, but I realise it may ignore that for somewhere else entirely.

cozietoesie Fri 19-Apr-13 14:50:50

If Balinese are anything like Siamese they'll want to sleep in bed with someone - I'd let DS1 try his luck.

Have fun.

smile

ToffeeWhirl Fri 19-Apr-13 14:57:51

DS1 would be so happy if we let the Balinese sleep with him every night! Balinese are just like Siamese in character, apparently, and this kitten is described as very loving, so both kitten and boy would be happy with this solution. I was worried about letting it into another room so soon though. I understood you are meant to let them get used to one room before overwhelming them with all the others?

bonzo77 Fri 19-Apr-13 15:11:45

I get litter tray liners 24 for a pound from pound land.

Wouldn't feed or water before or during the journey. Unless the cat is really upset it will probably not wee or poo either.

At 14 weeks they are usually a reasonable size and independent, so although it might be best to confine the cat to one room for the first few hours, I have let them have the run of the house. It'll find its "spot" quite quickly. Keep all windows and doors shut though!

Now is a good time to start a routine with feed times, coming to call so you can get it to come inside when you want it to. Also to sort out micro chipping, vaccinations and think about neutering. Depending on your vet it might be done as soon as 5 months old (our current one was).

ToffeeWhirl Fri 19-Apr-13 15:40:03

I have booked an appointment at the vet on Wednesday, bonzo, so will find out about neutering and ask about microshipping then. The kitten has already had two sets of vaccinations. Will have to ask about fleas and worms too.

Thanks for the tip about litter tray liners at Poundland.

What do I do about feeding? Should I be feeding it just twice a day at this age?

Goodness, I have a lot to learn. It's a bit like having a new baby.

QueenStromba Fri 19-Apr-13 15:42:25

Take your cues from the cat once you get it home. We got our adult cat from Battersea and they said not to pet her too much on the first day and don't bother feeding her any wet food because she won't eat it. She was all over us for attention straight away and devoured a pouch as soon as I persuaded DP that it was a good idea to give her some. She also insisted on the tour of the flat and spent the first night sleeping on top of me.

All cats are different though, so yours might want to be left alone for a bit. Cats are pretty good at telling you when they're not happy so you should be able to figure out what it wants easily enough.

Enjoy your new kitten and don't forget to post pictures (it's the law).

QueenStromba Fri 19-Apr-13 15:46:16

I'd have thought several small meals would be best while it's still growing. My cat's 15 so doesn't eat much in a sitting and we feed her 4-6 times a day with wet food and leave down biscuits for her.

cozietoesie Fri 19-Apr-13 17:21:22

Several small meals daily and fresh water available at all times. As you're starting with a kitten it would also be a good idea to start training it on grooming and claw tip nipping at an early age - just wait until later in the evening, say, and incorporate that into the love fest that it will demand.

I'd let it roam a little although that's good advice above about shutting certain doors, cupboards and all windows.

I'd also assume that it will sleep with someone but I wouldn't announce that to DS1 in case it decides eg that you are 'the person' and he feels all rejected. You can't decide for a cat who its person is going to be although if DS1 takes it to bed on the first day, the odds are that it will choose him. (Remember to put the litter tray in whomsoever's bedroom on the first night in case the kit wakes up and gets confused.)

Best of luck.

smile

ToffeeWhirl Fri 19-Apr-13 18:30:31

Thanks for the advice on feeding and sleeping, Queen and cozie.

Just discovered a whole load of wires attached to our new broadband connection - argh! Is kitty going to chew on them? DH seems to think a bit of Citronella will put it off confused, but I have insisted he deals with the wires properly. Will have to be vigilant until the wires are dealt with. That certainly means the kitten can't sleep in that room at night.

Or am I worrying too much here?

cozietoesie Fri 19-Apr-13 19:37:49

Maybe just a little around the edges. smile

Kittens can get into anything so the usual rule is to tidy things like wires up (good practice anyway) and to put away anything valuable in the way of ornaments until they learn to be more sedate. I've never had a kit who chewed on wires but I know some can. There's some guidance below but I wouldn't myself suggest any of the serious fixes (which can be a tad expensive) until you see you have a problem. This guidance by the way is US so bear that in mind for the technical aspects like plug shapes but at least one of the items mentioned for covering wires (Crittercord) can be bought in the UK if it comes to it.

cats and wires

cozietoesie Fri 19-Apr-13 20:08:42

Or, re ornaments, and as another poster once suggested - get out the horrible vase that Great Aunt Ermintrude once gave you and put in pride of place?

grin

ToffeeWhirl Fri 19-Apr-13 20:17:52

Thanks for the link and advice, cozie. I do have form for over-worrying <remembers DS1's early weeks>. And this kitten is such a responsibility!

That vase is in the loft, by the way wink.

tabbycat15 Sat 20-Apr-13 10:16:57

Have a basket with a soft blanket & show it to the kitten. They line the hooded furry ones as they can hide & feel cosy in it. Make sure if it is sleeping to never disturb it or pick it up. It will associate the basket with being safe so will run to it if it's scared.
Make sure food & water is away from the litter tray. Cats's don't like their food near their toilet.
Try & contain the cat to just a few rooms the first few days.
It will play & get worn out & have lots of little naps. They like balls & toys so interact when it wants to play.

QueenStromba Sat 20-Apr-13 10:21:09

Cats are a huge responsibility but since you realise that you should be fine smile They also fill a hole in your heart that you didn't know you had. We've only had our girl for five weeks and I honestly don't know how we lived without her.

I'm Rice's person and it's not because I treated her any better than DP did on the first day - we made a special effort to treat her the same, I think it came down to me being more comfortable to sleep on. Knowing cats it'll probably decide that DS2 is it's person and win him over with cuddles and purrs.

ToffeeWhirl Sun 21-Apr-13 18:52:27

Our kitten is home! He is very, very sweet and still very little. He is described as a caramel tabby point, but he looks milky white to me and he has very blue eyes.

I spent 45 minutes with the breeder and her Balinese cats and I haven't been wheezy or sneezy at all, which is brilliant. The breeder says she is allergic too, but doesn't get any allergic reaction with Balinese.

The kitten wasn't very happy on the journey back, poor thing, and was trembling at first and yowling piteously for most of the way. My eldest son sang him lullabies to try and calm him down. Even my younger son - who claimed he didn't want a kitten confused - ended up trying to reassure him.

I had sprayed the cat carrier with Feliway, but I have no idea if it worked - maybe he'd have been more upset if we hadn't. I did cover him with a blanket for part of the way, when he was sleepy, but sometimes he seemed to want to peek out and yowl at us in protest.

We didn't take him out of his carrier in the car, but we did offer him a treat, which he refused. He didn't wee or poo and hasn't done since we came home about half an hour ago. He doesn't know where the litter tray is yet because he hasn't given me a chance to show him.

At first, when we arrived home, he wouldn't come out of the carrier (we left the door open for him and stayed well back), then he made a bolt for it and is now hiding in the shoe rack in a dark corner of the room, well out of sight. I have left a bowl of dried food and water near him, but he's staying put for now.

I have spoken to him and he squeaks in response, but still refuses to move.

We were planning for him to stay in DS1's bedroom tonight, but what do we do if he stays firmly ensconced in the shoe rack? Do we pick him up and carry him up or do we leave him where he is? I can see my DS1 deciding to sleep downstairs with him tonight and maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea.

My eldest son is so happy to have a kitten at last. He is going through a very bad episode of OCD at the moment and we are hoping the kitten will help to relax and distract him. I know there are no magic cures, but I do hope it will help him a bit. Already, the kitten has changed the atmosphere in the house and changed the focus from DS1's illness to the newcomer, which is a healthy change.

Tabby and Queen - thanks for your tips.

cozietoesie Sun 21-Apr-13 19:08:47

My very first cat spent his first night behind the piano! I wouldn't worry.

I would though put out some mushy wet food (maybe with a little warm water in it) for him. Dry biscuits might be too much for him at this point.

smile

ToffeeWhirl Sun 21-Apr-13 20:05:11

cozie - He has ignored the dry biscuits, but I did manage to lure him out with his usual food, which the breeder gave us. He has now explored a little and is having great fun climbing on my lap and my shoulders. He is very chatty! He still hides if anyone else comes in the room and we have all learnt to move very, very slowly so as not to startle him.

I showed him the litter tray and he climbed into it, then came out again. Hopefully, he will now remember where it is and use it if he needs to.

Ooh - he has just popped into it! I can hear little miaows from behind the door!

cozietoesie Sun 21-Apr-13 20:23:56

<laughing>

Let him go at his own pace - it will likely be quicker than you currently imagine!

cozietoesie Sun 21-Apr-13 20:30:45

PS - remember, if he's chatty, to talk back to him a lot.

smile

ToffeeWhirl Sun 21-Apr-13 20:32:45

He is now in the sitting room! He hid under the sofa for a few minutes, then came out to meet DH. Thanks for the tip about chatting back to him. I have been talking to him already, but will make sure I always respond. He is very funny and cute. I quite admire his feistiness too grin.

cozietoesie Sun 21-Apr-13 20:53:18

I tell you, you can end up doing a running commentary on life as with a two year old - but it will help him to get used to your voice. Is he showing signs of choosing a person yet? (It happens early in my experience.)

smile

ToffeeWhirl Sun 21-Apr-13 20:56:35

Well, he sat on my lap the longest, but that is because I was the only person around at the time and I took the time to tempt him out with food. DS1 is now chatting to him in his new hiding place under the sofa. I hope he chooses him, but I know cats have their own minds in these matters.

cozietoesie Sun 21-Apr-13 20:58:26

They surely do.

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