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First Time Kitten Buyer

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


  1. kittiegirl

    kittiegirl PetForums Member

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    Hi All,

    I've been thinking of getting a kitten, i have no previous experiences with cats (apart from friends cats) and wanted to gain some advice/experience from someone.

    I have been reading on the net about first time buyers, i definitely want to make the right decision before rushing into anything as i understand it is a life long commitment.

    I was hoping to buy a ginger tabby, preferably a female?

    What were the things that you discovered that you never thought about before you got your cat? I want to be a good owner and make sure that im ready for this.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated :)
     
  2. 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!
     
    #2 dharma66, May 11, 2010
    Last edited: May 11, 2010
    purrlover, lemonpie and hobbs2004 like this.
  3. kellyrich

    kellyrich PetForums VIP

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    Ive had my two cats (aged 7 years and 10 months) for approx 4 months and never had cats before this but dont regret! I have two British Shorthairs and they are the most loveable funny things! :D

    If you have a leather settee be careful as you will end up with scratches everywhere!! :D

    George my 10 month old constantly talks so be careful if you get a kitten like him as you will have to put up with a lot of noise but i love it it just makes me laugh as he just wants attention! But could keep you awake at night if you cant keep him separate from you!

    Not sure what else really unless there is anything in particular you want to know! I didnt know anything but am learning all the time and it is fun having my two in the house now, along with my house bunny! :)
     
  4. kellyrich

    kellyrich PetForums VIP

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    Great Post!! :D
     
  5. The Twins

    The Twins PetForums Senior

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    I might be wrong, but i think you'd be VERY lucky to find a ginger girl - they are almost always boys i think??
     
  6. GreyHare

    GreyHare Guest

    This site is very good for imformation on Cats
     
  7. kittiegirl

    kittiegirl PetForums Member

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    Thanks for that post, i read through it all and even had a little chuckle about the "waffle" and i must be very serious, i want to make sure i provide my cat with the best life i can give it, and with reading your post it seems i have given though to at least 90% of it.

    I think i might have to be more flexible with the gender, but i love the gingerness of them i am sure id be willing to home a man, despite it making my house 2 boys vs 1 girl - ha ha.

    Im sure i will be on here a lot more to gain more experience over the coming months etc.

    Also i read kittens need to be fed about 5 times a day, and i originally thought i wouldnt be able to have one as i work but i have seen special food bowls with 5 compartments that food can be stored in ... are they ideal for the amount of feeding a kitten needs?

    We will need to do a LOT of work to our house to kitty proof it, lots of wires, nooks and crannies around for it to get lost in, and i dont want the poor guy being injured or lost.
     
  8. Tiggertots

    Tiggertots PetForums Senior

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    Also with the ginger tabby thing, it's quite hard to get a ginger tabby kitten, especially one that has been well reared, so you may have to wait about a bit for one. I know when we were looking for our Tigger it took us quite a while to find him
     
  9. The Twins

    The Twins PetForums Senior

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    Yes they need feeding little and often when they are young - i had to feed mine 4 times a day and as i wont feed dry food and you cant leave wet/raw food down for more than 30 mins, i had to ask for help for their midday feed... i had family and friends popping round at lunchtimes to do their midday feed for about 10 weeks. I was v fortunate for their help.

    And yes kittten proofing is a must - but they will always find somewhere you havent thought of! Mine did!! hehe

    p.s. i wanted girls but am glad i got boys in the end - once they've had the snip its not much difference and their 'op' is much quicker and less healing time etc. AND cheaper. But also i think they're more loving and cuddly!
     
  10. Themis

    Themis PetForums Senior

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    I leave food down for longer than 30 mins without any problems..
     
  11. The Twins

    The Twins PetForums Senior

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    Personally I wouldnt - but if it works for you then fine... I would just advise a new owner (new to cats too) not to do this. Its not advisable - especially with wet or raw food.
     
  12. groundhogdaze

    groundhogdaze PetForums Member

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    Why don't you make correct statements instead of trying to scaremonger through making sensational generalisations?:mad:

    That statement should say:- Cats that are indoors-outdoors usually don't last to the the average age because of traffic accidents, fighting with other cats, intentional acts of violence, poisoning (accidental or intentional), diseases caught from other cats, being picked up by animal control and subsequently euthanized if not claimed, and death caused by predators.

    "Stray cats" AKA "feral cats" usually don't live more than a couple of years because of starvation or all of the above.

    Indoor/outdoor cats that are well looked after and not subject to human inflicted violence or traffic accidents etc can live as long as indoor cats and generally tend to have a happier and less stressed life through having access to the outdoors and being able to behave (hunt etc) the way cats should.

    The decision is purely down to the owner - don't be swayed by ill informed scaremongering:nono:
     
  13. Cat_Crazy

    Cat_Crazy PetForums VIP

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    Well after everyone saying how hard ginger females are to find and ginger tabbies etc. i'm going to pipe in and dis-prove it all lol

    I have 3 ginger tabby females at the minute!
    There were 5 born but 2 didn't make it and all female.

    It is pretty rare and I was sooo shocked when they were born.

    Where abouts are you OP, if local I still have 1 looking for a home?

    They are through the RSPCA so flea treated, wormed, vaccinated, chipped and given a neutering voucher.

    Here is a few pics :)
     

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  14. dharma66

    dharma66 PetForums Senior

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    I'm sorry you are mad, but those figures are actually from a scientific study. Not of feral cats, but of domestic cats allowed to roam free.

    I haven't managed to track down the academic reference just yet, but if you are really interested, I'm sure I'll be able to find the published paper.

    The life expectancy of ferals is considerably less. One study indicating that males have a life expectancy of no more than nine months.

    If you have other sources indicating otherwise, I'll be happy to stand corrected.
     
    #14 dharma66, May 11, 2010
    Last edited: May 11, 2010
  15. The Twins

    The Twins PetForums Senior

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    AHHHHH sooooooooooo cute!!!! I want one!! :p
     
  16. groundhogdaze

    groundhogdaze PetForums Member

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    Statistics: All Things Not Being Equal!

    In America it is claimed that indoor cats live twice as long as outdoor cats, although no-one has yet produced enough statistical evidence to support this claim beyond doubt. Neutered cats live longer and house pets are more likely to be neutered than free-living cats; but this longevity difference is due to neutering, not to indoor-living.

    British indoor/outdoor cats frequently reach their teens and a good number reach their twenties despite their indoor/outdoor nature. Feral cats (living outdoors only) also manage to make it into their teens; the Cat Action Trust reported that one cat living on allotments (communal vegetable gardens) was 19 years old and still breeding (the Cat Action Trust neutered her). The oldest feral on record at the time of writing is 28 years old and living as a maintained feral cat at a cat shelter (free-ranging, but with access to a barn).

    Studies of different lifestyles and associated behaviours have been carried out by Tufts (USA), Cornell (USA) and Bristol Veterinary University (UK). As with any study, the evidence they present can be interpreted in different ways. Statistics present only part of a study, empirical data (from observation and experiment) is important. Statistical methods often rely (erroneously) on "all things being equal" - the resulting data is highly misleading for those whose local conditions differ from the study conditions! Statistics should be qualified by environmental data to put them into perspective. Readers who have grown used to seeing statistics must realise that sometimes the most helpful information is qualitative not quantitative!

    Many of the web articles which promote/evangelize indoors-only repeats the same information/propaganda and do not qualify their statements. How up-to-date are their statistics? A common "statistic" is that life expectancies of outdoors cats is between 2 and 5 years. In biological terms, a 2 year old cat is mature and will have reproduced while a 5 year old cat is middle aged. The data may well apply to feral cats since wild animals rarely reach old age. Feral cats are not pet cats - they are wild animals and subject to all the laws of nature (predation, environmental conditions etc) and they do not have the same nutrition or health care that pet cats have. Readers place far too much faith in statistics and put too little effort into assessing what is right for their locality and, moreover, for their cat. There is little doubt that some of the bodies using estimates based on feral cats aim to scare owners into keeping pet cats indoors.


    Statistics are usually manipulated to suit the argument of the person providing them. I stand by what I say, in the UK the indoor/outdoor cat will on average live as long as purely indoor cats if they are well looked after and the owner takes responibility for letting them out and taking into account the immediate outdoor environment they will be letting there cats out into.

    Please show me the source and facts of the scientific study you have read that proves that indoor/outdoor cats don't on average survive beyond the age of 2?

    All those cats int CPL and RSPCA shelters must only look as if they are over the age of 3..........

    I get mad when people make broad generalisations as if they are stating facts to members who are asking advice when there is no evidence to support that claim. By your reasoning Britains roads would be awash with cat roadkill or diseased dead pet cats of the age of 3 and the local chavs would all be wandering around wearing cat fur coats - absolute tosh!

    Yes the great outdoors has its dangers but the majority of indoor/outdoor cats live a long and healthy life.
     
    #16 groundhogdaze, May 11, 2010
    Last edited: May 11, 2010
  17. groundhogdaze

    groundhogdaze PetForums Member

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    Problems/Illnesses Caused By Being Indoors Only

    Indoor hazards may be less obvious but they do exist, for example: household chemicals, human medications, eating dangerous objects (elastic bands, needle-and-thread), pull-string blinds, electrical wires, crush injuries from toppled items such as stepladders, caught in slammed doors. Sure, an owner can be sensible about safety, but human safety watchdogs say that most accidents happen in the home.

    Cats sharing their homes with smokers are twice as likely than other cats in non-smoking households to develop Feline Leukaemia, the risk rises to three times more likely in cats exposed to smoke for 5 years. Indoor-only cats are at increased risk because they cannot spend time outdoors away from the smoke (Study 1993-2000, Tufts University, Grafton, Massachusetts, USA; led by veterinary oncologist Anthony Moore). Incense smoke, burned to scent the house, may be carcinogenic in the same way as cigar/cigarette/pipe smoke.

    Moore and his colleagues studied 180 cats treated at a Tufts veterinary hospital between 1993 and 2000. They found that cats exposed to second-hand smoke were more than twice as likely to get the disease than those living with non-smokers. Cats living with two smokers had four times the risk. They also swallow carcinogenic dust, soot and ash when they groom themselves.

    Indoor Cats Need Stimulation

    Can a link be established between indoors only lifestyle and behavioural problems? Quite possibly, according to British behaviourists. British behaviourists report more problems in indoor cats than in outdoor cats. There are proportionally more pet shrinks in the USA than in Britain; this corresponds largely to the different styles of cat keeping as cats display 'displacement' behaviour when their natural behaviour is thwarted. This does not apply to sexual behaviour since neutering removes the reproductive urge rather than thwarting the desire.

    When we hear the term 'stereotyped behaviour' (or 'stereotypy') we tend to think of pacing zoo animals. Pica may also be an anxiety-related stereotyped or obsessive behaviour and is more common in indoor-only cats as they have less opportunity to fulfil natural drives than indoor-outdoor cats. Their captivity may be more luxurious than the cages of old-style zoos, but they are nevertheless captives and their captivity causes conflict between what they would like to do (hunt, explore, climb, scratch, hide, establish territory) and what their environment permits them to do. This results in abnormal or repetitive behaviour (pacing, over-grooming, self-mutilation, tail-chasing, pica) and the abnormal behaviour may take over from normal behaviours. Environmental enrichment works for cats just as it works for zoo animals.

    Indoor-only is the predominating lifestyle in the USA and behavioural problems are cited as major factors cats being relinquished to shelters or euthanized. Is the higher number of behavioural problems in indoor cats due to their owners being able to witness a problem behaviour? An owner cannot see a cat having a temper tantrum behind the garden shed! It is true to say that cats with access to outdoors can more easily and more fully express natural instincts, burn off energy and vent any aggression (albeit on other cats or on prey).

    It is also true that not every indoor cat will suffer from "indoor stress" (see later) and behaviour problems. It depends on the cat's personality (which may be related to breed), activity level, age and health. Behaviourists have noted that indoor cats can become neurotic or bored if a stimulating 3-D environment is not provided by the owner. They also need more regular play since an indoor environment doesn't present the ever-changing environment found in a garden.

    Some natural behaviours can turn into obsessive behaviours in a stressed cat. The stress may be due to the indoor-only lifestyle not suiting the individual cat. The behaviour may initially have been an outlet to release energy or tension; the reward of "de-stressing" leads the cat to repeat the behaviour more and more often. Eventually it ceases to act as stress release and other aberrant or compulsive behaviours begin. The behaviours tend to be carryovers from kittenhood (sucking on things), exaggerated territorial/hunting behaviour (spraying, ankle-grabbing) and over-attachment/separation anxiety. Books on behaviour problems (some commenting on the link to lifestyle) have been written by biologist/naturalist Roger Tabor (Bristol, UK), Nicholas Dodman (Tufts, USA), Peter Neville (Association of Pet Behavioural Counsellors, UK), Claire Bessant (Feline Advisory Bureau).

    Some owners of indoor cats are resorting to calming drugs to control behavioural problems. Other owners consider this equivalent to sedating patients and prisoners who go "stir-crazy" through confinement. Long-term drug therapy is probably not good for cats (this phenomenon is too new for any long-term studies) and a change in lifestyle or environmental enrichment should be considered as alternatives.

    Other owners have equipped their homes with high-level walkways, cat trees and they vary the available toys. This keeps cats stimulated, encourages exercise, provides "safe" places (where a cat can retreat if it wishes) and appears to reduce, or even prevent, a number of behavioural problems. It is exactly the same idea as environmental enrichment in forward-thinking zoos.
     
  18. Kaitlyn

    Kaitlyn PetForums Senior

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    My moms first cat Pepy died age 9 on the road outside after we moved house.

    The second Rosie passed away at the ripe old age of 17!

    The third Tigger passed away a few months back aged 13.

    My sisters kitten was a bit thick and decided it would be good to have a dog a few houses away as a playmate... unfortunately the dog didn't think the same and Munchkin was too badly injured.

    All of them were outdoor cats and all but one got past 2 years old..... I just got a kitten last week and when he's old enough he'll be outdoor aswell.

    To the OP i hope you find your special furbaby and the advice given is top notch :thumbup: A few things in there i hadn't thought about so definately food for thought :D
     
  19. Themis

    Themis PetForums Senior

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    Well obviously I wouldn't advise anybody to leave food out in hot weather or anything like that. My 2 are grazers though and it can take an hour or two for them to finish their food. I figure that in the wild they would go back to their pray ages after catching it and continue eating it so leaving it out in a cool room won't harm them.

    I don't knowe if every cat is the same but my 2 are very fastidious and won't touch any meat that isnt 100% fresh anyway.
     
  20. kittiegirl

    kittiegirl PetForums Member

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    I think im actually in love with the cute ginger kitten that Crazy_Cat posted!! :001_wub:
     
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