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Buying a kitten - A guide

Discussion in 'Cat Chat' started by dharma66, May 11, 2010.


  1. dharma66

    dharma66 PetForums Senior

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    There is a surprising amount to consider, but none of it is difficult or prohibitive.

    You've already made the first consideration that many people seem to overlook: it's a long term commitment, perhaps (hopefully!) twenty years or more.

    The next question is: Moggie or pedigree?

    IMHO, nothing wrong with either. I'm not sure about the genetics of ginger tabbies...they have a reputation for being male (the good old 'ginger tom'), but someone who knows the genetics can answer that.

    If you are thinking about a moggie, you may have to look around quite a bit to get exactly what you want.

    Even if you go for a moggie, I would suggest you go for a decent breeder, or good rescue centre. If you are offered a cat of less than 8 weeks of age, beware. The kitten will not be ready to leave its mother so young, and this can cause problems in later life.

    Ideally, look for a kitten that has been brought up in a family environment. The better the kitten is socialised in its early weeks, the more joy you will have throughout its lifetime.

    Consider indoor vs outdoor.

    Many people think that keeping cats indoor only is cruel. But there is a counter argument that letting them roam free is cruel. The average lifetime of cats allowed to roam free is a little over two years! For indoor cats, it's somewhere around 15 years...

    Consider vets fees. The kitten should come to you having had at least one round of vaccinations, two rounds if pedigree. The first are usually given at seven weeks, the second at twelve weeks. If you get the kitten at 8 or 9 weeks, you will have to do the second round of injections. Ideally, you should then have boosters yearly or as directed by your vet. Either way, an annual check-up is a good idea.

    You should also have your vet give your new kitten a once-over a few days after you get it. Then, as time goes by, there is the risk of disease and injury. Pet insurance is well worth considering.

    Next, question is: one or two?

    If your cat will be indoors all day with nobody around, it's generally considered better to get two, rather than one. Litter mates are ideal! If you want just one, and it will be alone for more than a couple of hours a day, the bit about toys later on is even more important.

    Cat flap. Do you want one? If so, then consider a collar or microchip operated one. These stop other cats coming into your house, which can be a very stressful experience for your cat, leading to undesirable behaviour (typically inappropriate toileting, or uncharacteristic aggression).

    Food and litter. Ask whoever you get your kitten from what food and litter is being used. Keeping things the same at first makes the upheaval of moving your cat that little bit less stressful, and avoids little accidents and upset tummies.

    You should have 1 litter tray per "social group", plus one extra. A social group is a set of cats who consider themselves 'friends and family'. If you have one cat, you have one social group. If you have two cats, you have one or two social groups. If they groom each other, sleep together and generally get on well, you probably have one social group. So that means two trays, in different places.

    Always have water available.

    Keep the litter tray(s) away from food. Cats are fastidious, and don't like to eat where they poop! They also don't really like to have their water right next to their food. If you can have it in different place, that's better.

    Play with your kitten every day (most people who want a kitten don't need to be told to do that!). Play with toys, not your hands. Don't condition your cat to believe your hands and feet are targets! Buy plenty of toys, they are only cheap, and circulate which ones you use. Keeps it interesting for kitty.

    High places and hidey-holes.

    Hidey holes are good...except for gaps round the washing machine, fridge etc. Have a look around your home, especially the kitchen, and make sure there's nowhere that tiny paws can get themselves into tricky situations. Also consider the wires around your home. Tiny teeth are very sharp. you can get cable guard to avoid kitty getting a nasty shock!

    Cats, however, do like dark corners, and they like high places. You can provide safe dark corners by having 'igloo' type beds, or even cardboard boxes (which they seem to love). See if you can provide a few high places for kitty to sit and survey his kingdom. A couple of gaps on bookshelves, for example. "Cat trees" are great for this, and cheap on ebay.

    Holidays.

    What are you going to do when you go on holiday? Worth thinking about now: do you have someone you can depend on to come in and feed? Would you rather employ a professional pet-sitter, or use a cattery? Consider the possible costs now, rather than be taken by surprise later.

    Do you have other pets? If so, the new kitten will have to be introduced in a controlled and gradual manner (details available in other threads or in a good book) in order to have the best chance of a friendly relationship. Same with children, actually! Your new kitten will want to sleep as much as 18 hours a day, so children should be encouraged to play at play time, and leave kitty alone when she's sleeping.

    Wow.

    Didn't expect to go on so much! That's a lot of information, and if you bothered to read all my waffle, then I guess you are REALLY serious about it :D

    I'm sure you'll agree, though, that like I said at the start, whilst there's a lot to consider, nothing is really difficult to do.

    The final, and most important things to consider are: Can you stand the excitement, and what will you call her :D

    EDIT
    +++
    Oops. Forgot one important bit.

    Coat length. Longhaired coats need regular, ideally daily grooming. Not many moggies have coats as long and as fine as a Persian, which simply MUST be groomed daily, but some longhair and semi-longhair moggies have coats that still require grooming at regular intervals. At least weekly.

    Get your kitten used to grooming as soon as possible. Keep it gentle and light, though don't encourage playing with the grooming brush! Bribery is fine. A couple of scraps of ham can make the whole thing more pleasant for everyone!

    Whilst I'm at it, a couple more bits. Get your kitten used to being placed on a towel and examined. You don't have to do it a lot, but every couple of weeks whilst she's young, and every couple of months after that, place her on a towel, and when she's settled, look into her mouth, inspect her paws, under her tail, feel her legs and look in her ears etc. This makes visits to the vets a lot more familiar to her. If you want, you can even give her teeth the odd clean. Or even get a weekly routine of tooth cleaning going if you like. I believe some people clean their cats teeth daily! I suspect the same people dress them up and call them 'princess' though :D

    Also, if you have (and ideally you should) a cat carrier for vet visits, bring this out now and ten, and leave it around for kitty to explore for a day or two, then put it away again. Then, when the carrier appears, kitty is much less likely to do a vanishing act.

    OK. That's a big enough edit!
     
    Tje likes this.
  2. Tje

    Tje Banned

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    excellent post!!!!! well done you for taking the time and effort. brilliant initative :thumbup:
     
  3. Bugselliecharlie

    Bugselliecharlie PetForums Newbie

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    Hi

    I've only joined what looks like an excellent group today, thank you for the welcome messages.

    I am really hoping so much that someone can give me some much needed advice. I have already written this out once and then somehow managed to lose it so I'm really frustrated, especially considering the content. I have a seven week old, very tiny hand reared kitten who, though very small, seemed to be doing oksy intil the last few days. I also have his brother, who though small, is much bigger than this one and appears, fingers crossed, to be thriving.

    The one I am very worried about was much more alert and had also started playing but now all he wants to do is to sleep. The positive thing is that he is eating, mainly Whiskas kitten food. I did try him with Lactol again but it seemd to give him the runs and he was sick a couple of times too. He has had two antibiotic injections, though really as the vet said, she can't really see anything to treat. I took him to the emergency vets on Thursday evening as he looked even weaker than usual and I feared for his life. The vet couldn't offer any treatment, he just gave me a couple of tips really.

    If this little chap has a condition that he was born with that is making him so lifefless, it's hard to understand why he got through the first six and a half weeks or so, with no apparent problems. If it is somethnig else, how can this be checked and then treated when he is so very small and extremely vulnerable. The emergency vet said to rub honey round the inside of his mouth a few times, which I've done, but I think this really would have been of help if he wasn't eating, which he is, in order to stimulate his appetite.

    If anybody can offer any advice at all, i would be so very grateful. I am out of my mind worrying about him and will do anythnig that may give him a fighting chance. Thank you so very much for reading this. i have tried to keep it unemotional but I am in pieces over it all, as I know you will understand if you are in this group.

    Any suggestions, especially if it's thnigs you've done yourself, will be really appreciated.

    Here's hoping - and again a huge thank you. xx
     
  4. Tje

    Tje Banned

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    I know you say he is eating… but the key question here is how much is he eating.

    Second vital point is his weight. Have you been weighing him daily? If not, start now. Weigh him every day at set times. Preferably weigh his brother too so we all have something to compare with. He is 7 weeks old, he should weigh (at the very least) 700 grams.

    My gut feeling is, he is not eating enough. You may (depending on how much he is eating, and what he weighs and what he is gaining) have to start force feeding with a syringe.

    Whiskas as a food is … well, it’s better than nothing. But it would help him immensely if you could switch him gradually over to a food with a far higher protein content. Hopefully Hobbs, our resident cat food guru, can you some tips on good high protein cat foods.


    if you can answer my questions, I will try my very best to help you… as will a lot of the lovely kitten people on this forum…. But we need to know the basics first. It sounds like typical "poor-eating kitten, seperated too young from its mummy" syndrome to me, but without lots of details it’s hard to say.

    best of luck.
     
    #4 Tje, Jun 6, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2010
  5. Tje

    Tje Banned

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    I don’t have any Whiskas here to check the daily recommended feeding guide for kittens. But if I compare it to Royal Canin Kitten Instinctive pouches… well a 7 week old kitten would usually weigh around 800grams, and at that weight they should be eating 2-3 pouches of this food each day. I would think Royal Canin is nutritionally better than Whiskas, so I would think your little kitten should be eating at least 2½ to 3 pouches of Whiskas daily. Is he eating anywhere near that amount??
     
  6. hobbs2004

    hobbs2004 PetForums VIP

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    Here are some that I had pulled together for a different thread. The list tells you how much meat is in it and where you can typically buy them. They are complete wet foods that don't break the bank.

    - Bozita - 93% meat content in their tetrapacks and available to order online from seapets, e and r, and zooplus. (about 4% fat). Bozita also do a tinned version, which is a pate that has 97% meat and 5% fat
    - Purely has got a meat content of 50% I believe and is available from Pets at home. About 2% fat
    - Natures Menu has a 70% meat content, and is available from Pets at home too as well as other places. About 6% fat
    - Feline Fayre is often fed by people here - the black pouches are complete- available in Asda, Morrisons etc (about 2% fat)
    - HiLife - also has a good meat content - varies from 45% to 70% depending on type. About 2% fat
    - Tesco also do a wet food that has a high meat content - I believe it is called Tesco Luxury 49% and Tesco Finest 49% +. The meat versions of Tesco Just Nature contain 60% meat.
    - Porta 21 - tends to be whole meat tuna (46%) and the rest broth; very low fat 0.5%; available from zooplus. Porta is a bit like complementary food in terms of its texture but it is a complete food. Just low on fat. You could add some goose fat to fatten it up a bit.

    There are also these, which are in consistency like applaws and co:
    Zooplus also do Schmusy - which is pure meat in jelly. They do Vollwertflakes, which is 80% meat and animal byproducts, and some rice in pouches (though it may not be a full 100% of chicken that makes up the 80% meat (if that makes sense). They do a just chicken one for that. 20 pouches are £8.90 (£0.44 for 100g). This is also a complete food.

    There is also Cosma Original - that comes in a 85g tin and is shredded meat like applaws also in broth and a little rice. 45% meat. Like applaws it is not a complete food, but since you are feeding dry that is less of an issue. 6 tins of cosma is £3.99 on zooplus (£0.78 for 100 g).

    Zooplus also sells Schesir - again shredded meat in broth, with a great selection of chicken flavours (pure chicken, with surimi, with ham - not sure whether they would eat that). Comes in 85 g tins and 6 are £4.79 - so not cheaper than applaws. About 60% meat but like applaws and co light on fat (£0.94 for 100g).

    If your cat eats pate, then you could try these:
    - Pet's Kitchen (Joe & Jills) - 90% meat content, about 8 - 10% fat - available from them directly - Pets Kitchen - Experts in natural pet food, developed by Joe Inglis TV Vet
    - Lily's Kitchen - 65% organic meat; 5.5% fat - available from them directly: Lily's Kitchen • Organic Dog Food, Organic Cat Food • Natural Complete Pet Food • Certified Holistic, Ethically produced • Natural dog food, Grain free cat food.
    -Grau - 89% meat content and 4% wholegrain rice; 5.5% fat - available from zooplus
    - Herrmanns - 97% organic meat, about 4-6% fat - available at zooplus but pricey but only need 1 pouch per day
    And there is Ziwi Peak!

    IMO kitten food is a commercial invention to increase profit - most high-end cat food companies don't offer different kitten food; the cat just gets the same food throughout the ages.

    The chunks in adult food can be too big for small kittens - so just mash them up a little.

    Hope that helps
     
    Tje likes this.
  7. lizward

    lizward PetForums VIP

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    I wonder if I could add some things to this thread?

    1. Cheaper is not always better value. Vaccinations and a microchip cost near £80 per kitten at my vet (prices will vary up and down the country). That unregistered pedigree kitten sold at 8 weeks for £100 less than the normal price of a registered pedigree (which will come with backup from the breeder if things go wrong, if only because the breeder does not want the GCCF to get involved) is not the bargain it seems to be.

    2. Some breed descriptions given by breeders of unregistered cats are not worth the paper they are printed on. In particular, "British Shorthair", "Persian" "Bengal" and "Maine Coon" seem to be applied these days to all sorts of cats. If there are no papers (at least a pedigree certificate) and you cannot see the parents, assume that "British Shorthair" means "moggie", "persian" means "long haired moggie" "bengal" means "tabby" and "maine Coon" means "large long haired cat" - this particularly applies to claimed cross breeds.

    3. Getting a kitten at 6 weeks old is asking for trouble, some kittens are not even properly weaned at this stage and this is the age at which they are most likely to go down with diarrhoea, which can easily kill them if it is not treated very promptly. If you take on a kitten that young, realise that you are taking a gamble and could find yourself seriously out of pocket. Insurers will not insure kittens below 8 weeks for a very good reason!
     
  8. Tje

    Tje Banned

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    Couldn't agree more. :thumbup:

    Regards point 1. This also applies to "free to good home kittens".


    The shelter I volunteer for... all kitten cost about 50-60 euros (roughly 50 quid) but for this you get a kitten who has grown up in a family home and is well socialised, wormed 3 times with quality products, is fully deflead, has been health checked at least 3 times by the vet, has reached a safe minimum age and weight, is vaccinated fully for the first twelve months, plus you get a voucher for 50% off spaying or neuetrring when they reach the 4-6month old mark, plus you get a "one month guarantee" for any health problems the kitten should develop in the first month it's with you (vet visit and medication free). You can get a kitten for free from adds in papers etc, but by the time you de-flea, de-worm and vaccinate, it usually costs a good deal more than getting a shelter kitten with a known background.
     
  9. jdoevans

    jdoevans PetForums Junior

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    Great post. I think (as you do) it is really important for people to have a good hard think about it before buying a cat. There are too many irresponsible pet owners out there! I found a page about things to consider before getting a cat.
     
  10. Nando

    Nando PetForums Junior

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    Hi Ive recenetly joined this site but its been really helpful with some of the things ive read, our kitten is about 5 months old now and isnt as wild as he once was but still has his moments, thing is ive seen recommedations of how much he should be eating at this point and i was wondering about your opinions on the subject, He has dry food available to him throughout the day and night and we give him half a pouch of wet food in the morning and one int he evening(whiskas for both dry and wet).

    what we read is that he should be getting upto 2 pouches a day but to be fair he doesnt always eat all of what we give him. hes an indoor cat but is playfull, and to be honest im not sure of his weight right now. upon his last visit to the vets when he'd been on the same diet for a while she said his weight was fine not too skinny not too fat.. Not very specific I know but thats the vets for you tell you hes ok then say what could happen if you dont buy their products, thanks for any help in advance
     
  11. dharma66

    dharma66 PetForums Senior

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    Welcome to the forums!

    The amount if food he old be eating depends on his weight and what food he is fed.I'm not fAmiliar with the amounts that should be fed with Whiskas, but if it should be two pouches a day, then if he is getting dry as well, then reducing the amount of wet is good.

    Really, it depends on the amount of dry he is getting,nisweight, and what is recommended for Whiskas.
     
  12. Tje

    Tje Banned

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    Nando, the 2 pouches per day is only when the pouches are the only thing he is eating. Your cat has dry food at his disposal, so it’s normal he’d only need 1 pouch, as the other half of his diet he is getting from the dry. And like you say, he looks good (not too fat, not too thin). Just watch out for weight gain after you get him neutered, but the vet will warn you of that at the time. If you want more specific dietary advice then have a look on the food and nutrition section of this (cat) forum.

    Welcome to the forum by the way!!
     
  13. kitty_katt

    kitty_katt PetForums Newbie

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    Hi there,

    Bear with me as i've just registered!! :thumbup:

    Me and my partner have just decided to adopt a kitten after several months of deciding or not to have another puss-tat!!

    The friend I'm getting him off has just been told that their only 6 weeks old and not the 9 weeks she was told a few days ago!! :mad:

    The person in question refuses to have them for any longer and will only take them to the RSPCA otherwise.

    Now its a litter of three and their currently at my friends house after being picked up this evening.

    The advice i'm after is is it best to leave them all together for a couple of weeks?? Or is it best for us to get him to his new home and get him settled as soon as possible?

    He's currently on kitten milk and soft food so if we got him tomorrow whats the best diet to have him on??

    All advice would be gratefully appreciated. :confused:
     
  14. Tje

    Tje Banned

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    I would never buy a 6 week old kitten, period! Just take a look at the many posts in here if you are in any doubt about the problems you can (and will) experience when you get a kitten too young.
     
  15. luisa

    luisa PetForums Senior

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    if you are definately getting him and there no way of leaving him til 9 weeks then you have to make sure hes on exactly the same food as what he is at home for a good few weeks before you change their food.


    there are lots of people that get kittens at 6 weeks... its not the best some have behaviour problems. But and it is a big But it can be combatted with time and patients.

    iv had my 2 from 6 weeks they were rescued from a litter that was thrown out! iv never ever had problems with them at all.

    only get a 6 week old kitten if you can be there for it alot ... it may not be properly weaned.

    i wouldnt advise anyone getting 1 6 week old kitten on its own they need company of a litter mate. it saves you lots of blood n scratches too.

    hope it helps.

    some people will preach to you about it. yes i agree its not the best but if its done its done an you learn from it.

    its entirely your decision and if you need help ill be happy to help.
     
  16. Tje

    Tje Banned

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    Luisa, the behaviour problems are only part of the reason not to get a 6 week old kitten.... the fact that very many of them (as witnessed daily on this forum) can't eat enough to sustain themselves is another very vaild reason. many of these kittens die purely because they can't get enough food inside and their new owners are too inexperienced to even see there is a problem.

    Yes I do preach this... and I do that for a very good reason...

    For the vast majority of folks out there... it is not as easy as it is for you and me. We have the time patience knowledge and know how of how to deal with poorly socialized undernourished 5 week olds... most on this forum don't.

    If every poster was more like you Luisa, then I wouldn't need to preach the message that 6 weeks is too young, however you are in a tiny minority of posters capable of taking this hefty task on. For every one Luisa on this ofrum we have 99 Joe (or Josephine) Bloggs who simply can't cope with malnourished socially inept kittens.

    Please think Luisa before giving the impression that it's relatively easy and just a bit of time and patience will conquer any problems with too young kittens.

    I can bottle feed new born kittens while I am half asleep and I can be bottle feeding one and toileting an other at the same time ... after lots of practice it gets easier, of course it does ... that doesn't detract though from the fact that it would be highly irresponsible of me to make out like hand rearing kittens isn't that difficult as long as you have the time and a bit of patience.

    When people have a in-born knack for something, or when they have hands on experience of something, or when they have a passion for something... the task at hand often is easy for them ....

    that doesn't mean though that we are all qualified to change the brake pads in our cars or knock down supporting walls in our home.

    And I can assure you that not everyone can sucessfully cope with malnourished poorly socialized 6 week old kittens.
     
    hobbs2004 likes this.
  17. kitty_katt

    kitty_katt PetForums Newbie

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    Hi there,

    Thanks for the advice.

    We picked him up on Friday evening after deciding that we would bring him home to settle here rather than at my friends house. We felt uprooting him twice in the space of a couple of weeks would be even more distressing.

    He's currently on the same food he was on at the house where he'd been for the last 6 weeks and also kitten milk.

    As for his eating he's eating like a gannet aswell as enjoying the milk.

    He is toilet trained and has been regular with his toilet habits, his stools have not been at all runny or hard abit like what i would describe as hard mousse!

    He is washing and has clear eyes,ears and nose aswell as having a beautiful set of pink gums and lips!

    He sleeps all through the night and only gets up when we do and then he goes back to sleep during the day with a water bottle under his bed.

    He's extremely outgoing aswell as being onto everything.

    As said in your post's its not an ideal situation and me and my partner dont have "expertise" on rearing kittens but i'm hoping with the help and advice of people in the know we can give him the upbringing and home and care and love he deserves! :)
     
  18. Pety

    Pety PetForums Junior

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    Hiya! It has been said but will day it again - a very good post Dharma66. I have a new kitten at home and think the idea with getting them used to being checked on a towel is very clever and will definitelly start doing it :thumbup:
     
  19. LucysKittens

    LucysKittens PetForums Newbie

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    Wow.. Great advice! :) Nice one...

    Thought I'd share with you cat lovers a great video I took today of my new little kittens, available in high definition too :)

    YouTube - Cute kittens

    Hope you enjoy xx
     
  20. jdoevans

    jdoevans PetForums Junior

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    I think a lot of people assume that pet shops are the best place to buy kittens. But no so! Here is a short piece on where to buy a kitten which might be useful. The important thing is to buy one from a reliable and trustworthy source, not one from a pet shop that you don't know any history of!
     
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