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First Posted: Jan 4, 2009
Jun 9, 2014

Kitten Preparation Checklist

by Debora Johnson

  


Athena-Kismet

Athena was adopted from Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL)

Before we found our kitten and brought her home there was mental and physical preparation that was necessary for her arrival. The following are some of the mental notes that we considered and physical preparations we made before her arrival. First, we had to decide do we really want the guardianship of a kitten? After researching the pros and cons we decided that we wanted to adopt a kitten instead of a full grown cat. The next question was should we buy from a breeder or adopt from a shelter. We decided to adopt from a shelter. So then, which shelter? After several telephone calls to the DC Pound we were given several shelters in our area. The Pound did not have any 10 week old kittens, only older ones. Since this is Christmas time the litters are limited. We did not really want to wait for the arrival of spring and litters upon litters from cats that are not spayed! We found our shelter at The Washington Animal Rescue League. "The Washington Animal Rescue League is an animal protection group like no other. Its newly renovated facility incorporates the best design concepts from shelters around the world and takes them a step further to set a new global standard for the humane care of homeless and abused animals. Every detail of the dog dens, cat condos, and puppy pads was designed from the animals' point of view to promote healing and maximally enhance the animals' physical and emotional wellbeing as they recover from past traumas and await adoption. The renovation also expanded the capacity of the shelter. It now comfortably houses up to 350 animals and is one of the largest shelters on the East Coast. The League's full-service Medical Center has been enlarged and renovated, too. It still provides affordable veterinary care for shelter animals and the pets of low-income guardians..."

Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL) I would like to say that Athena had FIV and WARL had given us papers that were completely bogus. Be careful when you adopt there and really check out your paperwork. We noticed inconsistencies in Athena's paperwork and inquired about them and were told it was clerical error only. It turned out that the kitten was quite ill. It took a number of weeks for anyone to return our calls. When we returned to the Shelter with a prior appointment to discuss the matter, no one was available. Finally a return phone call was received. By that time we had enough!

Below I have listed some of our considerations.

Acquiring our Kitten, Attention

How should I find my kitten? Adopt from a rescue shelter, buy from a pet store, purchase from a breeder, ask friends if they know any kittens that are available for a good home, call the local small animal vet or my horse vet in Virginia, look in the local paper, place a wanted add in the paper, or look on line? Think about the attention that is needed. Ask yourself if you have the time and temperament to give the necessary attention?

Behavior and Benevolence

Behavior is both nature and nurture. That is, the kitten inherits some of its traits and also, we as guardians, teach behavior--both bad and good. Kindness, sweet tones and words, treats and consistency work well. Positive reinforcement is the training technique we use.

Consistency and Curiosity

Consistency is key. Cats like a routine. Most animals do. I know that our horses will be waiting by the fence looking toward the house around feeding time. Everything that you do with your cat from grooming to feeding should have some sort of routine. Try to stick to it once it is established. Felines are curious by nature. Accept it.

Diet

A kitten thrives best on a carefully planned, nutritionally sound diet. We are using Science Diet Original for kittens up to one year. That is what the shelter was feeding and recommended that we continue to feed. That is also what our small animal vet suggested when we took Athena in for her 3rd distemper shot and well-kitten check. There is enough readjustment for the kitten when coming to a new home without changing an established and working diet. I might add that our vet also suggested we change to regular cat Science Diet at Athena's 6 month mark as the kitten food, our vet said, would cause too much weight gain.

Energy and Exercise

Bond with your kitten while playing. I spend several 15 minute sessions each day with my kitten. We just play. I throw toys that Athena chases. I roll toilet paper cardboard cores and she loves to chase them, chew them, throw them up in the air. We purchased a laser light and she loves to chase the light as it reflects on the floor. It certainly helps to get her to expend lots of her pent up energy! She throws molecules that we cannot see up in the air. Athena occasionally turns flips as she plays. She is full of life, vim, and vigor. Exercise is essential for good health. It also cuts down on boredom.

Fleas

When you get your kitten, or cat, make sure to ask if they have been treated for fleas. If so, what was used? If not, why not? Were they checked for fleas? I purchased a comb that is used specifically to comb for fleas. Athena had been treated and was free of fleas. Since she is only to be in the house and not exposed to other animals, it will not be necessary to take any preventative measures. I prefer not to put any type of poison on my animals if it is not absolutely necessary.

Grooming

If you do not have to declaw for health reasons try not to do so. Clip your kitten's nails, try PediPaws, or there is another produce called SoftClaws that you slip over each nail and glue on. They need to be changed every few months. That saves the cat scratching humans, furniture, etc. Brush and comb your kitten's fur regularly. This cuts down on the kitten or cat developing hair balls. Also, I use a foam shampoo on Athena. I have started this right away. She doesn't mind it at all. In fact, she thinks it's a real game, especially when I take the towel and dry her off. That's her favorite part. The bathing cuts down on dander in case your have cat allergies and odor. These shampoos seem to work really well in our case. Ask your vet about grooming or purchase books on how to groom a cat or kitten. I use the brain, Google!

Health

It is really important to attend to your pet's health. An initial baseline check-up at the vet tells allot. You are the guardian of your kitten or cat. Their care is up to you. Get the necessary shots at the appropriate time. Ask about worming, ear mites, fungus, etc. Your kitten's health is your responsibility. Take your new pet to the veterinarian immediately for an overall exam and to schedule vaccinations and spay/neuter. Spaying or neutering cuts down on behavioral problems due to sexuality. In the case of male cats it may also cut down on spraying. That can be a really nasty problem to address. There are too many unwanted animals that are euthanized each year. Spaying or neutering your animal is doing your part to be part of a solution to that problem!

Introduction to the New Family and Family Pets

Bringing a new kitten or any animal into your home is an enormous adjustment for the animal as well as for the members of the household. Take it easy. You will hopefully have many happy years together. Do it right. Teach children to be gentle. Meanness and harsh behavior is unacceptable. Pets already in the household will be territorial about their home. They will most likely not be too happy about the new arrival. Let them get to know each other slowly. Remember that everything is new to the kitten or new arrival. Let pets sniff each other under the door and introduce human family members slowly, one at a time. Your veterinarian can provide guidance about how to proceed.

Killers and Kindness

There are many perils in your house that can kill your animals. Medicines, insecticides, fertilizers, chocolate, coffee, salt, citronella candles, antifreeze, liquid potpourris, rat poison, electrical cords, ribbons, batteries, toxic cleaning products, plants such as poinsettia, aloe, sweet pea, onion, yew, azalea, oleander, avocado, rhododendron, most lilies, caladium, morning glory, daffodil, gladiolas, holly, hydrangea, hyacinth, tulip, iris, yucca, bark of many trees such as the cherry tree. Show kindness and protect your new arrival by safe proofing the new arrival's personal space.

Poison Control: Important number 1-888-426-4435

Some Common Poisonous Plants Comprehensive List of Poisonous Plants to Cats

  • Lilies (Easter lily, Peace lily) - Cause severe kidney failure. Do not have them where any animal can eat them!
  • Yew - Causes trembling, incoordination, difficulty breathing, GI irritation, and cardiac failure.
  • Azalea/rhododendron - Causes vomiting and diarrhea, can be very severe, but rarely does an animal eat enough to do serious harm. Be careful in yards.
  • Tulip/narcissus bulbs - Causes intense GI irritation, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.
  • Cyclamen - Causes GI irritation, intense vomiting and even death.
  • Kalanchoe - Causes GI irritation and arrythmias.
Some Common Toxic Drugs/Substances

  • Ibuprofen and acetaminophen - Toxicity is generally GI, liver and kidney.
  • Chocolate - Toxicity depends on the type of chocolate (baking chocolate is the most dangerous and milk chocolate the least) and the amount of sugar and fat as well.
  • Rodenticides - Toxicity is generally internal bleeding and can be caused by ingesting the product OR animals that have ingested the product. (Do not use them! Traps really are the most humane for all involved.)
  • Pseudophedrine - toxicity is generally manifested as hyperactivity and agitation.

Litter Box

Clean the litter box every day! Completely empty the litter boxes weekly and wash and dry them. Then add new litter. My new kitten seemed to be sensitive to the first kitty litter that we purchased. She seemed to sneeze when around it. I got some clumping litter (Scoop Away) and she seems to be fine with it.

Money and Milk

Have you considered how much money a pet will cost you? Food, vet care, accessories, and care while you travel should certainly be considered. Milk can cause your cat or kitten to have diarrhea. Do not feed it to your kitten or cat!

Naps and Nips

Cats and kittens sleep allot. Kittens play hard and nip hard. Some people say these nips are "love bites" but can really hurt and should not be tolerated. The word "catnap" comes from short naps that cats take. I have read that cats and kittens nap up to 16 hours a day. I was amazed.

Products

Food, water bowls, food bowls, litter, a litter box, scoop, cat carrier, collar, ID tag, brush, flea comb, nail clippers, scratching post and toys are necessary to your kitten's well being. Athena was chipped, as well, by Washington Animal Rescue League. This experience turned out to be a bad one with Washington Animal Rescue League.

Quality Time

Quality interaction time with your kitten or cat is really important. Most thrive on the interaction. They make bonds and definitely show affection to their guardians. Bill and I are spending lots of quality time with Athena. When we come into her personal space she starts to purr loudly! She rubs, and "makes bread" with her paws. I use the same principles with Athena as I did in the raising our daughter--love, affection, positive reinforcement, praise, etc. (Athena also gets treats)

Roughhousing

Make sure that your kitten learns early that biting and scratching are not acceptable behavior. Do not let them attack hour hands, feet, toes, or climb up your legs, etc. You will hear people say that kittens give "love"" bites. Cats have tremendous amounts of bacteria in their mouths and can cause infection to you. Correct that behavior consistently and your kitten will learn the proper behavior. I use redirective therapy. That means that when the kitten if exhibiting behavior that I do not like I redirect her attention to playing with one of her favorite toys and get her involved in a game. Sometimes I will use a loud voice, but I never hit her or use any kind of physical punishment.

Safety and Security

Make a special area for your kitten. Take away chords, wires, plants, nick knacks, household cleaners, chemicals, sharp objects, breakable objects, etc. Use common sense about this matter. The area should be one where your kitten can be a kitten without hurting itself or destroying your home. I have put Athena in a bathroom that has been fully kitten proofed. Or at least, the best that I could do. We have hung toys from the bath towel bars, have scratching posts that we have wiped with cat nip, have her litter box, food and water bowl, a basket with a soft blanket in it for her to sleep, her kennel with a soft lining for her to sleep or hang out, some rolling cat toy balls with bells in them on the floor for her to chase, etc. She loves it in there. She does not seem to mind the confinement. It is a large bathroom, I might add.

Training, Trials, Tribulations, Temperament and Time

Positive reinforcement and consistency are paramount in training your kitten. I use soft tones and treats. She also loves her favorite ball with a bell in it. I have found if I shake it she comes running. I call her name when I do that and she already knows that she is Athena-Kismet! I give her praise when she comes and stroke her gently. She loves it. I have purchased some Pounce and break the pieces in half and place them in the palm of my hand. Be patient. It takes them time to realize that the Pounce is a yummy. Now that Athena knows, that yummy holds magic for me. There will be times when your energetic and inquisitive arrival tries your patience. Do you have the temperament to have a pet? Remember that "kittendom" passes pretty quickly and the little one will settle down. It is really important to spend quality time with your pet. Just like people they thrive on affection and attention.

Unconditional Love

Kittens and cats are independent creatures, generally. It has been said that a cat cannot be owned. In fact, they seem to feel that they own you! Be accepting of their personalities. Be kind and gentle. Give kind, warm feelings when interacting. The bonding process will take place quickly. Athena sees us come into her private space and starts purring, rubbing, marking me with her whiskers, etc. She has bonded with my husband, Bill and me already. He said to me that he thinks that she has bonded with her ball of yarn more than with us.

Vet

The Rescue Shelter spayed our kitten, gave her a well visit check-up, started her feline distemper shots, checked her for mites, fungus, respiratory problems, etc. They also trimmed her nails before we took her home. I have contacted a vet in VA. She has already had another check-up and her third distemper shot. I asked our friend,Kate, who has three cats, to suggest a small animal vet that she uses and likes. Athena will have her shots completed at the appropriate time. Most vets require a well kitten check, as well, when you establish with them. That is fine with us. I tried to go to a vet in DC, two blocks from where I live, but their prices were in the ozone layer! $75.00 a shot is not acceptable.

Wild Child

Kittens give new meaning to the word active! Be patient. It will pass. They have tons of energy and curiosity. Their sight and hearing are keen. They practice stalking their prey and then attacking it. That might be you!

Christmas

We rescued Athena at Christmas. Although spring is when the litter of kittens are many, there are still many kittens in the winter who need a loving home.

Youth and Years for Felines

The first two years of your feline's life he/she is considered a kitten. Adulthood is from two to seven. Cats are considered aged at seven and beyond. My last cat, Pandora, lived to be 17 years of age and died of natural causes during her nap time.

Zoonoses

Rabies, toxoplasmosis, Cat Scratch Fever and ringworm can be transmitted from cats to humans. Zoonoses means just that: a disease that can be transmitted from one species to another. Cleanliness such as washing your hands after playing with your cat or the litter box is absolutely necessary. Do not let your cat bite or scratch you. If they do make sure to clean the wound with soap and water and add neosporin to the cut or bite. Make sure to watch it for infection. I have always been told that pregnant women should never change a litter box. Check with your doctor.

"Zoonoses are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. The causative agents are bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Possible zoonotic exposure can be eliminated by good personal hygiene and handling of animals in a prescribed manner. Frequent hand and glove washing with an approved disinfectant such as NOLVASANâ surgical scrub must be a priority that is strictly adhered. Good hygiene will also prevent cross-contamination of non-zoonotic diseases from animal to animal. Do not have hand-to-eye or hand-to-mouth contact while working with animals or soiled animal caging, bedding, and accessories. Handling animals in the prescribed manner for that species can prevent zoonotic exposure through bites, scratches, and abrasions."


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