Here's my recent experience on preparing for just such an event, as I welcomed my new little Moggie into my life, including introducing her to Whippet Boy!
Provide a home for a kitten that may otherwise end up being euthanised, unless you have your heart set on an exotic breed.
My new Moggie Girl was the result of an unwanted pregnancy, when her mother was "knocked up" by a local Tom. Three kiitens were the result of this mating and the cat parents were concerned each found a forever, loving home. Any unhomed kittens would have ended up at the local animal shelter for rehoming, but fortunately, excellent homes were found for each of the kittens.
Colour wasn't a priority, but good general health was, shown by lovely bright eyes and lots of energy, I wanted a domestic short haired cat, as I am a pretty allergic person, as well as not wanting to put in the necessry time and energy to maintain a domestic long haired cat's coat.
I also wanted a kitten that had began its life within a loving home, with a mother cat to teach her and provide nutritious natural milk, littermates to play with and humans of various ages to handle and nurture her through her early life.
Kittens are ready to leave their mothers and litter mates at 8 weeks of age, but Moggie Girl had an extra week for an even better start in life. She was already eating solid food.
Preparing for your new kitten:
- Your new kitten will need a comfortable, cosy bed, or basket to sleep, placed in a quiet location within your home.
- A litter tray, away from food preparation areas. Cat litter to fill and replenish it and a litter scoop. Bathrooms and laundries are ideal locations for your cat tray.
- A claw sharpening stand, with or without training toys and raised sleeping area are ideal.
- Food container and kitten food that promotes growth and good health.
- Water bowl, that should be placed well away from the litter tray area and food bowl. My own kitten eats and drinks in the kitchen.
- A cat carrier for safe transport throughout its life.
- Very expensive kitten toys are available, however, there is no need to spend money on these items. Moggie Girl is enjoying pre loved toys, including ping pong balls and a "mouse" ( made of rolled up paper, on a string) to chase, rolled up bits of paper, upturned cardboard boxes and paper bags to explore and shred. Toilet roll centres also entertain her.
- A collar, with bell and ID tag.
- I have also bought Moggie Girl a harness and lead to train her to walk in and allow excursions outside, where I know she will not be hunting local endangered bird species.
- If you want to keep your cat safe from traffic and cat fight bites and prevent it from hunting local wildlife, a cat park, accessible from a window within your home is a worthwhile investment. These can be designed to be an aesthetically pleasing element within your garden.
Kitty's introduction to your home.
Remember your new kitten will be frightened until it relaxes and learns it will be safe and comfortable in your home and care. This will take several days. Take bonding slowly and gently. Set up your cat tray and eating areas in advance. Make sure children know not to disturb a sleeping kitten and how to safely handle this young and vulnerable animal. Make time to play and cuddle your new kitten and ensure it is being fed "little and often". It is not advisable to let a new cat, or kitten, outdoors for at least a fortnight after moving in to any new home or area. Give them time to bond with their new surroundings first!
Introducing kitty to other pets:
Approach this slowly as your kitten gains confidence within its new surroundings. By the third day in her new home, Moggie Girl was clearly ready to join Whippet Boy in the sunroom for short stints. However, this introduction was made with Whippet Boy on leash. Gradually I am extending their together time until I am confident both are respecting the other, thus safe within the home. So far Whippet Boy has been a true gentleman and very gentle with Moggie Girl, despite her best firebrand efforts with him. Luckily, Whippet Boy was raised, as a pup, with cats and also was friends with my late Moggie Boy. However, if your dog, or other cat has been a sole animal, make especially sure the animals have learned mutual respect, if not outright friendship, before you leave them unsupervised. Most importantly, keep your existing pets to their regular routines and ensure they get as much attention as ever. Resentment and jealousy will build if they believe their place at your side or within the family heirachy has been usurped.
Demands and Annoyances:
Kitten claws are sharp. My legs and hands are covered in evidence of this. A visit to the vets enabled a claw trim, minimising further injuries and risk of infection to myself and other family members. A simple claw trim is very different to the irreversible declawing surgery, popular in the USA and an unnatural and irreversible cruel proceedure, thankfully illegal, across Australia!
Moggy girl loves wreaking havoc on my indoor plants and new voile curtains. I also need to watch for claw sharpening behavior to redirect her to her own scratching post.
Your new kitten will likely jump on benches if there are no doors into your kitchen, be fascinated with running taps, toilet flushes and the flame on the gas stove. These habits are not only annoying but unhygenic and dangerous. You can purchase a squirter bottle for under $3.00 at most super markets. This provides a form of reprimand. along with unceremonious sweeping off the no go zone, when sprayed at your kitten. I use the three squirts and its time for the sinbin, or exclusion time. involving half an hour, spent in isolation in the bathroom. However, you will need to be persistent and consistent with these training techniques.
Your new kitten will also let you know when she is ready for a meal. Listen to her meows and watch her body language. Remember your new kitten is wholly dependant on you for meeting all of its needs. She will need quiet time, free of disturbance to sleep, in an area she feels safe.
Kittens grow up quickly. Take the time to indulge them in chasey games with toys that you can drag around and throw into the air, mimicking kitten play hunting techniques. Encourage handling, including opening their little mouths, (yes a time will come to give your cat a tablet), inspect teeth and getting them to stretch out their claws for easy grooming routines throughout their lives.
My house feels like a home again, now that young Moggy Girl is filling the gapping cat sized hole left by my darling Moggy Boy. Whippet Boy too is happy with his new feline sister, greeting her with gentle kisses, allowing her to share his food bowl and looking strict and grumpy by my side when she makes her often funny kitten mistakes of conduct around the house. Moggy Girl has been a model of behaviour when it comes to the use of her cat tray, but, those little sharp claws and teeth are a constat reminder of the power and majesty of the animal she will rapidly become, as an adult cat!
As for those rumbling purrs, that consume her being, when she is being cuddled, feeling full and safe, Whippet Boy and I are tuning right in to them and enjoying every contented vibration!