9 things to do before you bring a new kitten into your home

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Just Kitten Around pin WildflowerandCompany
We’re really excited that we’ve been approved for adopting two rescue kittens from a local shelter. We bought our first home late last year and it needs work: we’re mid-renovation and it’ll all get put on hold when little paws arrive. I’m seeking offbeat advice on what to think about for our new meow-faces.

We’ve both had cats before, but not since living with parents, so we’re preparing for their arrival and making sure our home is ready. We’re having a little work done at home to ensure it’s kitten-safe, (blocking up holes in walls, etc.) with a view to continuing works later when they’re older, and of course, we’ve got litter trays, food bowls and stuff. But I wondered if there’s anything anyone would suggest to prepare for furry arrivals? Especially anything unusual, DIY, or low-cost, as we’re on a budget! Thanks! -Silverprincess

Okay, wait. You are MID renovation? First give SERIOUS thought to when you get cats. Kittens are often more tolerant of change than older cats, but all cats want familiarity. And shelter cats are already lacking a steady home, so they’re already a little (and sometimes a lot) wigged out. Cats being wigged out can lead to all sorts of undesireable behavior, from peeing on stuff to full-on attack mode.

So I’d say, 1. Wait until most renovation is completed. If you just can’t bear to wait, see if you can get cats after the noisiest, dirtiest bits are completed.

2. The accoutrements. Get a variety of cheap toys to try out with them: ground-based toys, lasers, strings, and air-based toys. Some cats are more into jumping, others are more into chasing — just like some will want to play with you and others will be into their own thing.

3. Start growing catnip on a sunny windowsill.

4. Make a litter box plan. Upon examination you might not decide to do anything special, but it’s worth thinking about: what type of litter will you use — clay? non-clay? pine? flushable? How often will you clean? Where will the box(es) go? Do you need to build a cool cabinet for them? (Totally on my Christmas list: a custom double-decker litter box cabinet.)

5. Plan food. What’s your budget? What do you want your cats to eat? This is important (and comes after the litter box question) because quality/type of food majorly affects the raunchiness of cats’ excrement.

6. Make a kitty bug-out pack. Get a cat carrier (or two) and outfit them with a week’s supply of canned food, a towel, veterinary information, and your own contact info in case you are separated. You’ll be ready for emergency vet visits AND alien invasions!

7. Check your houseplants for cat compatibility. And remember: poisonous doesn’t mean a complete no-no, but you will have to make a plan for this, too. I have three (poisonous) diffenbachias in my house, but cats dgaf. There are bitter sprays that work well for dissuading cats from eating things. Speaking of sprays…

8. Plan on disciplining. Personally, I think the best cat-discipline method is using a spray bottle coinciding with a hiss sound. I have a friend who goes “sss!” when she wants her cats to COME and really, those poor cats must have had quite the mindfuck dealing with SSS! meaning a good thing.

Use the spray and the SSS to tell your buddies NO don’t eat that or NO not on the table or NO LICKING THE CARPET GODDAMNIT. It’s a super effective tool that enables you to teach your cat very specifically what is and is not allowed. Eventually (though it may take years) you’ll only have to say SSS! and your kitty will listen. Unless they’re a bitch like my cat.

9. Collars and tags. Suggested wording: CAT’S NAME, ADDRESS and/or PHONE, I AM AN INDOOR CAT (if this is true. If your cat escapes but is chill with it, it might otherwise be hard for someone it meets to know it is lost.)

I think that’s it. You might also consider pet insurance or a vet savings account. And you should also subscribe to The Way of Cats if you want to be a cat wizard, like me.

Comments on 9 things to do before you bring a new kitten into your home

  1. I think that a HUGE factor in pet ownership is the ever-increasing cost of vet care. Do your research. Contact vet clinics in your area, ask friends for recommendations and choose a vet you are comfortable with. Many cities now have wonderful holistic-based vet practices as well. Look into the cost of basic care- vaccines, flea prevention, spay/neuter, etc. Even without any medical problems, prepare to spend a few hundred dollars a year on preventative care and maintenance. If you don’t have access to a couple thousand emergency bucks, look into pet insurance.

    • Consider pet insurance. Our cats tended to get stir crazy. They were indoor/outdoor cats. They’d get in fights and cost hundreds of dollars at the vet. So we’d keep them inside AND THEY WOULD FIGHT EACH OTHER and still cost huge amounts at the vet. So especially if you’re going to have a multi-cat household, consider pet insurance. My husbands office actually offers to deduct pet insurance pre-taxes just like people insurance. So see what your options are.

      • PET INSURANCE!!! My cat at my parents’ house has horrible ear issues and I pay $20 a month at his regular vet as ‘pet insurance’. This means when he needs medicine we just go get it and I MIGHT have to pay a $5 or $10 copay. It’s literally saved my family thousands of dollars. =]

          • I certainly fall into a “to each their own” about this topic but I do want to say that even pet insurance companies pull the pre-existing condition BS. We had a cat for 8 years before we got insurance and because she had breathing issues in 2000, her lung cancer couldn’t get covered in 2005.
            Me thinks one should get pet insurance when they’re lil kit’ens 😉

    • This. We just got back from an ALL NIGHT emergency vet stay when our previously horse-healthy turkish angora got sick. It was $500 (with a discount) and they still don’t even know what’s wrong! We always leave some money set aside for this sort of thing.

  2. Get into the habit of NEVER leaving glasses of water (or any beverage) unattended. My first cat made it his mission to knock over and break every glass I owned whenever I turned my head. This stopped when I got him a buddy to curb his boredom, but it is still something to keep in mind.

    • Yes! Especially around our house, where the cats not only knock over full water glasses but I swear they aim for the nearest laptop /phone/ other expensive electronics!!

    • And I thought it was only my uber-bitchy persian that did things like this! We have 2 cats, who get along just like I did with my sisters (they tolerate each other, but there is a lot of hissing involved) but the companionship has done nothing to stop the persian’s crabby behavior. She is ultra-needy and sometimes I think she knocks over the glasses to get attention. My husband even thought it was because she was thirsty and we recently invested in one of the stupid expensive water dispensers just for the cats, and NOTHING. Sometimes I think she just hates me XD Think about BREED before you adopt! Even cats with a little purebred in them will display behavior of their breed. High maintenance cats are a big no-no during house renovations.

      • Recently, one of my kitties has been attempting to drink (or nom) on my straws. :facepalm:

        Also, for anyone else (besides the poster) planning to adopt kittens, always adopt them in pairs. Kitties tend to do a lot better with a playmate. It’s double the costs, but at least the kitty will have someone to play and cuddle with when you can’t be there.

        • With respect, I’m not sure this is strictly true. It’s something I’ve heard repeated a lot but have never heard any evident for beyond speculation or anecdotes.

          As anecdotes go, I’ve known at least one pair of sibling kittens who grew up to be very different from one another and interact very little in adulthood, actually taking up residence in different parts of the home. Of course there are bonded pairs and many cats who enjoy the company of other cats, but not all cats are the same.

          • Well, all I can give you is an ancedote, but in my case, I adopted a 6 month old kitten, who on her own was just fine, but was a complete troublemaker. Jumped up on the table, just to make me shoo her down, sat on top of the bookshelf to knock everything to the floor, scratched the couch and bed while I was on them, stuff like that. About a month ago, she was just over a year old, and still being as much of a brat. And then my aunt found stray kittens in her backyard. So I adopted one of them (now 10 weeks old). After a short period of them getting friendly, the older cat now gets in much less mischief (though not none), because she’s too busy chasing the kitten, or being pounced by the kitten. The couch scratching in particular has pretty much completely stopped. My theory is that she was being such a brat because she wanted attention, and more attention than we could give her with two full-time jobs. And the kitten is probably much happier following the cat around like a little sister than I imagine she would have been left alone all day. Random bonus, the older cat now purrs a lot louder and more often than she used to.

            So, I don’t know that it’s bad to adopt just one kitten. My first cat wasn’t that young when I got her, and had it not been for the found kittens, or her particular personality, I probably would have been perfectly happy with just her for many years to come. And she might have grown out of the brattiness in a few years. But even if the two do grow up to hardly interact at all, I think it might be worth it just for them to have someone to expend some extra energy on. Cause kittens have tons of energy.

    • Agreed. One of my old cats loved milk and my mom insists on using a cream & sugar set at the table during breakfast. As soon as her back was turned, the cat was on the table with her paw in the milk.

    • My female ferret does this ALL.THE.TIME. Ugggghhh she tripped over a glass of kool-aid once and got a taste, and ever since she’s been OBSESSED with knocking glasses over. I think she’s a crackhead for kool-aid. Or she’s just a bitch.

  3. Socialization! One of the most important things to do with any new kitten (or cat), that a lot of people over look. Just remember that the earlier you introduce new things to your kitten, and you keep introducing those things throughout their first year, the less likely they will be bugged out by those things later in life.

    So, examples would be: within the first month of having your kitten, have lots of people over (just not at once) armed with treats, so kitty will learn that people=awesome. This way you wont have a cat that runs to another room when you have company. Same goes with most other stimuli – construction noises (so long as kitty is safe), other animals, brushing, nail clipping.

    I’m a firm believer that positive reinforcement trumps punishment; so another tip would be reward behaviour you like, and try to prevent behaviour you don’t. I have a 5 month old kitten right now, and it’s easier said than done, but if you keep a few treats on you, and know that your kitty likes feather toys, you can distract your kitten from scratching the couch, put him near the scratch post and give him a treat. I think punishment (like a spray bottle, or smacks) should be kept to a minimum, since your kitten may come to associate you (not the thing they were doing) with something they really don’t like.

    After a while, these things become second nature! Good luck with your new kittens!

    • We gave our cat treats every time we saw her scratching the post we got her – she picked up quick, because whenever my partner or I came home, she would run over to it and start scratching -then look at us like “look how good and smart I am, mom! Ignore the eaten cactus and soil covered sink – I scratched the post!”

      She’s pretty awesome. Also a menace.

  4. I have just a few things to add. I have had tons of cats myself and helped to adopt out many to new homes.

    1. Give them a “safe” space. I’m assuming the kittens you’re getting already know each other and get along, in which case you’ll only need one safe spot, but you’ll want each cat to have his or her own if they’ll be meeting each other when they move in. Usually I recommend a bathroom, since they’re small and make cats feel cozy, but for you I would recommend any room that will not be part of the renovation. When you bring kitties home, keep them in their room(s) for a couple days before giving them free roam of the house. You’ll notice later that they’ll use this room as the place to run if something frightens or startles them.

    2. Get three litter boxes. I know, it seems like a lot, but when I had issues with kitties marking in the house, the vet said cat homes should ALWAYS have one litter box for each cat plus one. In the end you actually have to clean more boxes less often and if you forget one day, you’ll have less chance of kitty going next to the litter box since the box wasn’t clean enough. I have five cats and seven litter boxes and it works great!

    Good luck with the new loves of your life!

    • amen to both of these. especially the litter boxes. and if you have multiple floors, stick one on each floor. i found this helps my furtubes IMMENSELY, particularly if they’re running from the dog or have belly problems.

    • For the safe space thing, pick a spot your cat can start in. Make it a room where you can close the door and have space for litter and food (not too close together). This will be your kitty’s domain and I personally would NOT say bathroom because that is guaranteed to have intruders.

      You also may need separate food dishes. Cats do squabble over food sometimes and it can be helpful to have two dishes so they can both eat at the same time.

      • In my first apartment, which was otherwise tiny, I had an unusually large coat-closet in the living room. It was large enough to partition off with a set of drawers (containing cat-care items, toys, and food), place the litter box on one side, and the food/water and a climbing toy on the other. The best part was that it had sliding doors, so one side (litter box) was accessible, but always had privacy, which this cat demanded — if you happened to spy him at all during his bathroom time, he would purposely overhang his butt and allow his business to drop on the floor, while the rest of him remained in the box. Even when the box had a cover, if he thought he was being watched, his butt would pop out the entrance and start doing his business… sigh.

        This space was perfect because it was large enough that if I had to shut the doors (to save him from the vacuum monster, or to keep him from allergy-ridden guests), he never minded. He had plenty room to play, poop, and eat, until it was time to be let out again and play in the rest of the apartment. It was especially great because if he ever felt uncomfortable or threatened, he would run into the closet until he felt ready to re-emerge. When he’d do this, sometimes I’d close the closet doors a little more (just open enough to give him space to come back out) to give him more privacy, especially if he went in there due to a visiting animal being in the apartment.

  5. May I just say….. HA! Train a cat! That’s hilarious! Cats do what they want…. When they want. At least mine do. Cats are like babies… They are all a little different and need different stuff. You may think you have devised the ideal food for them… And they hate it. You may think they should let you sleep past 5am… And they may not agree. You may think they will charmingly sit on your lap…. But they love the basement. Anyhow, enjoy your little furballs. I love mine so much- more than I expected, actually. And, no mice.

  6. Hi there! I am a lifelong cat owner, currently residing with two social, well-behaved indoor cats. Everyone loves them and they love everyone. They are also in perfect health. These are my credentials… here is my advice:

    1) I’ve never had more than one litterbox for my home, even with two cats. I live in apartments with space limitations. None of my cats have ever gone outside the box. Cats have no problem sharing if the box is in a well-ventilated area and is scooped daily. I change the entire box every week or so.

    Make sure the first thing you do when you bring them home is show them the box. Place them right into the center of it and let them sniff around. If they get out, put them back in. After a few minutes of this, let them out to roam. They may not go to the bathroom right then but that box needs to be “home base” from which the whole rest of the house is explored.

    2) I recommend against having any cat-poisonous plants in the house, at least in the beginning. Cats are very athletic and inventive. They will find ways to reach spots you thought impossible. You need to be absolutely sure your cat can’t reach a poisonous plant if you’re going to grow one. So just for starters: NO LILIES!

    3) Socialize immediately, and constantly. Yes, each cat has its own personality. But if you want social cats you have to socialize them very young. Have friends over often, and encourage them to pick up and play with the cats. Carry your cat around as much as possible. If they attempt to hide, fish them out with treats and cajoling. Talk to them a lot and use their names. Cats need to be smothered in love early to be social for life. So smother away!

  7. 1. If you have a lot of electronics with wires out in the open, I would recommend getting something like this: http://www.amazon.com/American-Terminal-SL500-100-2-Inch-Tubing/dp/B0017686ZC/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1345739416&sr=8-6&keywords=wire+cover
    Our cats our 2 years old now, and don’t chew often, but when they were kittens they loved wires.

    2) If you can’t avoid renovation chaos I would recommend buying a pheromone diffuser (http://www.amazon.com/Feliway-Plug-In-Diffuser-bottle-Milliliters/dp/B000WHUOEI/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1345739568&sr=8-3&keywords=cat+hormone). You can also buy replacements in bulk from Amazon, and a timer to extend how long it lasts. Especially with two cats, it keeps them from fighting too much, and from freaking out when the other cat smells different after, say they got neutered.
    3) Cats can definitely be trained. I would recommend getting a book on training a cat, it helps to start early. We used clickers at first but now we just use treats and hand gestures; our cats can come, leave a room, jump on our laps and nuzzle our faces on command.
    4) Definitely agree on the socialization. Even though it takes time, brushing the cat’s teeth regularly(ish) can save a bundle later on, and some cat toothpastes have tasty flavors. Also would recommend giving baths early, so they get used to it. They still don’t love it, but it’s not the ordeal it used to be.
    5) And finally, look at your schedule and see how much time you can devote to your cats. Are you going on vacation any time soon? Crunch time coming up? The more time and work you put in up front, will give you more loving, obedient laid back cats later.

  8. We adopted a pair of kittens about a year ago. Here’s what we learned.
    1. Pick a vet early and take those babies in to be checked out the week you bring them home. This establishes the relationship, gets them any routine care they’ve been missing, and allows you to ask any questions you may have. Many shelter kitties come home with respiratory infections and some will have intestinal parasites.
    2. Kittens are crazy and will get EVERYwhere! They climb like monkeys and jump like fleas. And fit in places so tiny it never occurred to you. Whatever cat proofing you’ve done will probably not be sufficient. Re-evaluate this as needed.
    3. Cats are TOTALLY trainable!!! Like with dogs, and relationships with other humans, you get back what you are willing to put in.
    Start early. Reinforce often. Find a treat they like, decide on consistent commands/responses, and you can have a relatively well behaved companion that is a good citizen in your house. Start small by calling their names when you bring them food. Good things are to have them come when called, sit for treats or food (a grabby cat is really annoying), and have them get in their carrier on command.
    Consider motion sensor compressed air devices to keep cats off counters or out of areas that aren’t safe for them.
    4. Number 3 only works if you meet their needs. Food, water, clean litter, a place to scratch, toys/play, security. If these are not met, your cat may be a butt head. As are we all when we don’t have what we need.
    5. Cats have needs that they don’t always act happy to have filled. Start as early as possible with nail trims and other chores that can make your cat unhappy. Ask your vet to show you how, bribe cats with treats, and then do these things regularly. This includes baths, teeth brushing, anything else you think you will have to do anytime in the future. If you have indoor cats, they NEED their nails trimmed. Ignoring these chores will only make you all miserable in the long run. Like getting the cat into the carrier, nail trims absolutely do not need to be a tragedy every time.
    6. Enjoy your furry new friends!

    • Forgive me, I’ve never had a cat…I’m volunteering in a cat shelter and working up to being a cat foster parent and eventually an owner. In any case, how do you train them to get in their carrier? Thanks!!

      • Bum first.
        That’s the only way I’ve ever managed to put a cat into a carrier/basket.
        [ The grumpy result seen here: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/714044 ]
        And sometimes also turning the carrier so that the opening faces up not sideways, that way you can drop them in bum first. They don’t see what’s coming…

          • There are also cats that love the carrier. Our cat, Chess, actually drags the carrier from the closet so she can try to open it. If we leave it out and open she climbs inside and takes a nap. 🙂

          • Yup, this and many other things can be trained very easily with clicker training. Just rewarding the cat with treats every time they go near or in the carrier helps, but if you first teach the cat that the clicker means “you’ll get a treat” and then click when they do a specific thing (like get in the carrier), they know exactly what to do to get another treat. If they aren’t getting in the carrier, you start by clicking for being near the carrier and work up to it. (See Aja’s comment near the bottom of page for more info.)

          • we always kept a favorite blanket or cat bed in the carrier, and left the carrier open at all times, so our cat could go in voluntarily when it wanted. occasionally, I would leave treats in there, or a little pile of cat-nip to be discovered. Any time we had to shut our cat in the carrier, treats would be immediate!! We weren’t able to get him to just go in by command, but he rarely ever balked at us putting him in there when needed (only if he was otherwise freaked out — like the time the fire alarm was going off).

      • My grandma leaves the carrier out all the time with a dish of dry food and a blanket in it. Her cat initially sniffed around and eventually just became accustomed to it as his little “den” of sorts. Now she has no trouble putting him in when he has to go to the vet.

      • I’ve trained my kitty to get into the carrier by getting it out 1 week before a vet appointment and placing her food bowl inside.
        she is a very hungery kitty and runs into the kitchen for meals.
        I always feed the cats when I get home from work so they both run to meet me.
        I put her food inside the cat carrier, she runs in, I shut the door, let her eat then take her to her vet appointment.

        if we were in an area that had evacuation risks (such as hurricane season) I would probably keep the cat carrier out and feed her regularly inside it so I know I could get her in whenever I wanted to

  9. This is all great–we just got our first kitten this week!

    We asked our friends for vet recommendations and called around. We found the cost for care varied widely, even within just a few miles of our house, and even for vets that our friends said had high-quality care. I just called and asked each what a kitten would need for its first year (ours was a stray, so it needed shots, neuter, and other stuff that some shelters take care of) and how much each of those cost.

  10. Please, please, PLEASE — everyone out there who puts collars on their kitties:

    It needs to be loosened as your kitty grows!!!!!!!!!

    I just adopted a 6-7 year old cat from a friend, and her collar looked like it was choking her. Since we don’t have collars on our other two cats at the moment, we took it off of her. IT RIPPED OFF HER FUR (!!) and 6 months later, she is permanently bald in some spots around her neck (although a lot of the fur is starting to grow back).

    That collar had obviously been put on as a kitten or young kitty, and likely never loosened. My vet friend said they see this often in shelter cats or cats who don’t get taken to the vet regularly (the cat we adopted hadn’t been to a vet in the 5 years my friend had her, otherwise I’m sure someone would have mentioned to them, hey, you’re choking her!)

    Very, very important to make sure it’s tight enough they can’t get it off themselves, but loose enough that they aren’t choking!!

  11. one tip that can help the cats to live long, healthy lives (and prevent high vet bills due to overweight kitties): invest in high-quality grain-free food. cats cannot digest corn, so this should not appear in the ingredients list at all. even if you don’t buy the top dollar brands, the first three ingredients should be from identifiable meat sources.

    the logic behind it is this: high grain content (particularly corn) means they’re trying to use that as filler, so the cats end up hungrier and will eat more food. then they end up overweight, and this can lead to diabetes.

    at the very least, avoid anything you can buy in a normal grocery store…and ESPECIALLY avoid anything from Hill’s Science Diet. stuff’s bad, yo.

    • The best less expensive no corn one we have found is “Purina Beyond” mid priced and my big old Kitty Poe makes a lot less litter mess and my husband who has cat allergies doesn’t have nearly as many problems. Also our cat is trained to stay off our bed, if he is afraid he goes under it but not on top. Mostly he wont even come in the bedroom, he will sit outside the door and watch us sleep but like I said unless he is frightened he doesn’t really come in since we trained him due to Alex’s allergies

    • I can’t recommend the Blue Wilderness brand of food enough. Our guy can be free fed on it and he stays at his fighting weight. It’s pricier than Meow Mix for sure, but it definitely pays off in how little health issues he’s had.

      • This stuff saved my cat, seriously. She had awful… poopy issues for over a year, starting when we got her. The vet tried us on a million different foods (2-3 months each, to give them time to work) and they often made it worse. These were hypoallergenic foods. Finally, my husband read about stuff like Blue Buffalo and said we should try it, because it’s the OPPOSITE of what they were trying to feed her (it has tons of protein, and they felt she might have been allergic to proteins) and BAM problem gone. All of our cats have beautiful coats of fur now, too. 🙂

        • Wellness has done wonders for our kitties. They were okay but were having little annoying issues when we had them on the main brands (purena etc). I decided to try wellness on a goof and I have never gone back. Leaner, more active everything.

          And on top of that – litter box is alot less smelly. 😀 Awesome.

  12. I generally don’t buy my cats cat toys anymore (except the laser pointer, that thing is amazing). I make toys out of paper bags, toilet paper rolls, cardboard, paper, whatever. Paper is generally safest because it is nontoxic if they end up eating it and it’s relatively easy to clean up once it’s destroyed.

    One other tip… I recommend not declawing your cats, it is painful and like cutting off their first knuckle of every finger, some cats turn into biters after claws are removed, etc. But then if they have their claws they scratch your furniture. If your cat(s) can’t NOT scratch the furniture, there are caps you can put over their nails to keep them from doing damage. If not those, I recommend lashing flexible scratch posts (like made out of cloth and rope) to parts of furniture they tend to scratch – couch arms, etc – and rubbing it with catnip or spraying with catnip oil. My 6 1/2 year old cat has (mostly) broken her habit of scratching the furniture by just scratching these things on the furniture. Yes it’s still ON the furniture but it is replaceable once it gets worn out and much cheaper than buying new sofas / slip covers / blankets.

    Also, if you get kittens, inspect their feet/ears/lips/teeth/eyes carefully with your fingers, especially when they’re sleepy or calm-happy. It will make your life easier in the future if you need to inspect them for some reason, clip their nails, or give them medication. The idea is that they will be used to you touching them in those places and won’t wiggle away or bite.

    • I know people have different opinions about declawing. Just wanted to throw out that I found some cool “anti-claw” tape at the pet store. It’s somewhat like medical tape, but pets hate the feel of it on their claws. If pets eventually learn to avoid certain furniture, you can remove the tape without doing any damage to the furniture itself. We don’t have much of a clawing problem yet but will try the tape if we do.

      Also, when it comes to kitty-proofing, clear your windowsills! Cats love windows, so we made sure to take down vases, etc. that they would knock over. If your sills aren’t wide enough, give your kitty some kind of perch (furniture, put up a shelf, etc.) in front of the window.

      • I tried the tape and it DOES damage the furniture. Well, I guess it depends on the furniture so I recommend trying it out in a place you don’t care about first! We ended up having to put it aaaalllll over the couch because my cat would just find a new place to scratch, and then when we got sick of having a sticky couch and took it off, it left a really gross residue that was impossible to clean.

        I know people with other opinions about declawing also, which is cool. I just really recommend not doing it, as I have seen some unfortunate behavior changes because of it (but I have also seen some perfectly sweet cats who have been declawed, so it seems like it’s kind of a toss up, you don’t know which will happen).

      • Poe was declawed when we got him from the shelter, his owners let him get out then dumped him at the shelter when a neighborhood cat ripped poor Pies face open. Gawd I hate those people.
        The funny thing is Poe pretends to scratch only one of my couches, the one my last cars tore up he has no interest in the new undamaged couch and it would be so easy to break him of “scratching” but you know that was an old couch when my other cats were here and my attitude was oh well and I trained them to not scratch anything except that couch and at the time I had a very plush antique chair they left alone.

    • If you have problems with them clawing the furniture, try providing another scratching post in the same area as the furniture. When they go to scratch the couch, redirect! Just pick them up and move them to the scratcher and then run your fingers down it. Praise and/or reward when they scratch the scratcher. With some repetition, they should get the point. Also, check that their nails haven’t gotten too long. Ours only go after the couch when they haven’t had a trim in a while.

      • We got some spray for furniture that deters them from scratching it. I cannot smell it. We clip their nails often. We provide them with things they can scratch happily. They do not scratch the furniture. I understand people have differing opinions on declawing … But they are animals. Are you going to have their teeth removed when they bite instead? Sometimes they will do unpredictable stuff you don’t like to your stuff. If that’s not okay, you shouldn’t have a pet.

        • I’ve seen some rather terrible things come from declawing. I’m never doing it and i try not to talk about it. Moving on…..

          As for scratching issues I find that having scratching pads (petco, five for 9 bucks) and a couple cheap pillars to scratch takes attention away from other items. If you scent them with catnip it’s even better. :D:D

          There is also anti-scratching spray that I have found very effective. All of which is much cheaper then irreversible and painful surgery.

      • yeah i was going to say that. When we moved with our two kittehs, i was super nervous because we were coming from an apartment with wood floors to a house with rugs. Interestingly enough, the scratching posts they were used to looked just like the carpet they were walking into. what fresh hell.

        so yes. we went to petsmart and bought three (when we originally had just one).
        [i compulsively knock on wood as i type this but…..so far so good]

      • I have two cats and two different cat scratchers, one on the floor and a post. I always had the cardboard-style floor scratcher for my previous cats and they used them all the time, but one of my new cats would never use it. I realized he likes to scratch vertically so I ended up getting a sissal covered scratching post and my boy LOVES it. I did the scratch on approved surface, treat and reward with both my cats starting the moment I adopted them and I’ve only had issues with them scratching one thing in the house in three years.

        Don’t spend too much on store-bought toys because cats always seem to enjoy milk jug lids or crumpled up paper more than the $9 toy from the pet store. I crocheted a bunch of 1 1/2 inch balls and stuffed them with an old cotton shirt and those have been a HUGE hit because they can pick them up in their teeth. I also cut up an old pair of jeans into strips and wound it into a ball but it’s more difficult to pick up so they don’t play with that as much.

    • Also, cats don’t like the feel of aluminum foil. Covering a problem area with foil (box springs were our bugaboo) will stop them from scratching it up. And no sticky residue

      • Sorry, I call BS on this one. Obviously, all cats are different, but I wouldn’t rely on aluminum foil to deter your kittens until you have tried and proven it. My cats coudln’t care less about it, they walk on it all the time, they sometimes play with it because it’s not perfectly secured to the floor, and they have even pooed on it.

  13. Only buy a small amount of food or litter to start off with, some kitties are picky and your litter/food plan might need revision.

    I’m also anti live cat nip. It taught my cats that all live plants are free game. They went from completely ignoring the regular houseplants to chomping on them 24/7.

  14. If I could only recommend one thing I would recommend micro-chipping your pets. We rescued our little Dimmu (DeeMOO) from a shelter and he was already microchipped so we just had to update the contact information. If something (knock on wood) should happen with your furbabies getting loose your local humane society will scan the animal to see if they have a chip so they can return your pet to you. Also make sure you update the information anytime you move or your contact information changes. All it takes is 1 call.

  15. I found a three week old kitten in May, and we had these super cheap blankets I got on after-christmas sales a couple years ago, just cheap fleece like throws really, I got her in the habit of napping inside it since she was still so teeny tiny she couldn’t regulate her temp well, and now she sleeps in it, no matter where in the house it is, though we keep in on the bathroom floor (this will change with winter coming) so I’d have to say for sure, get them their own blankys, just something way cheap, you sleep with it till they get home to pick up your scent, and then make it theirs! Your scent will comfort them when you are away and there’s a storm or they are lonely, and even when you wash the blanket, its theirs y’know? Even when my lil Kittikins is feeling tummy sick, or needs a nap, or its time for bed, she’ll actually go to her blanket and put herself down for a nap, but my two big kitties have a bunch of random fav spaces, none of which are really THEIRS… it makes me sad… *sad face*

    • Oh, and randomly walking to the bedroom to walk past and find the wee Kittikins kneading and sucking on her kitty blanket? Well worth the dose of adorable :3

  16. “Unless they’re a bitch like my cat”

    Oh man I feel your pain. I live with possibly the most vindictive and manipulative sod ever…

    Advice wise, I’d see if you could take an item of yours like a blanket to their current shelter space so they can get used to your smell. Then when they move in with you, they’ve got a security blanket (literally!)

  17. I just want to butt in for a second about the laser pointer. Those things can SERIOUSLY fuck with animals. Yes its fun to watch them chase ot around and try to figure it out, but it is also easily to accidentally scar them. My dog will literally spend hours staring at a light spot (made from a lamp, a torch or other such things) because as a puppy the neighbours had a kid that used the laser pointer to “play” with him. While some animals go their whole life without a care for where the light comes from or what it is there is a possibility that your pet could be lovely curious and end up the same. Just something to think about really.

    • Yes – we had to stop using the laser with our first cat, because she would run around calling for it for a good half hour after we turned it off. I read once that it actually messes with cats because it’s “prey” that they never have a hope of catching. Some cats do just fine with it; others, you should probably hold off.

      • I read the same thing – hunting play is great for cats, but if they never get the satisfaction of catching whatever they were hunting, then it can definitely scar them.

        • Shine the laser in your hand and close your hand as you turn it off. If you show the cat you are “putting the light away” they don’t keep looking for it. Worked for our cat, anyway.

  18. My opinion on food is that you should avoid anything with with corn or wheat gluten. Grain-free is best, because cats are carnivores. generally, the first three ingredients are the most important, and the first should be real meat, not meat by-products or gluten.
    I adopted one of my furfaces (a persian/ragdoll mix), and if you make a specific sound, he’ll come running. We’ve made sure and reinforce the behavior with treats, and he’s taught the other cats to come with that noise, and occasionally I’ll heard them all into a carrier in case something ever happens. Obviously, they get a crapload of treats when that happens.
    Also, as far as litter goes, some cats will not use scented litter. I found that out the hard way. Cats don’t like change, so changing litters is difficult too. As far as that goes, I’d also recommend covered litter boxes. It helps keep the stink in a bit better.
    Keep them away from strings and ribbons, unless you are closely supervising them. They can swallow them, and it may end up with a trip to the vet.
    Pet insurance is awesome, too. Would definitely recommend.

    • Yes! Covered litter boxes are pretty awesome. There are also some that you just roll over and then roll back, and it’s scooped for you. This have been a great time-saver with my veritable herd of cats.

    • Yes yes yes to the string and ribbon thing. I know your cat may look cute playing with a bit of yarn, but after you have to pull a foot of it out of the cat’s mouth, you won’t find it quite so adorable.

  19. Microchip! Microchip microchip microchip! Even if Fluffy is going to be ‘indoor only’, if he gets out while you have company or if you move, collars and tags may not last long. And honestly, how many people really keep collars and tags on their indoor cats. I have seen too many loving sweet cats at the shelter who have lost their home and never been reclaimed because they had no ID. Or a collar with no tags (really, how silly is that!). If someone finds your little furball and takes him to the vet or the shelter, they can scan his chip and find you. Make sure to keep your info up to date with the microchip company though.

  20. I only have two tips:

    If they are very young, give them a warm, soft place to have as their own, like maybe a special fleece blanket. Shelter kittens are usually weened too early, and may need a “nurse” substitute to make biscuits on and feel safe.

    Second, lots of medical conditions can be solved without medication. For example, ear mites can be eliminated with baby oil. Fighters will get scabbed cuts, so lightly pick the scabs off and rub gently to keep the wound from getting infected.

  21. This spring, I grew some cat grass to see if Mr. Ivriniel’s cat would like it. He ate the first couple of blades I offered him quite happily, so I planted some more, to make sure he’d have a regular supply.


    Cats. Who the hell knows what they are thinking?

  22. Oh, and on the litter front, we use a wheat based litter called “Sweet Wheat”. The cat doesn’t like clay, and I’m allergic to trees (and cats) so the woodchips are a bad idea for us.

    • Love this litter. It’s flushable too, which was a great help in the apartment where we didn’t have an outdoor garbage bin. Good choice! (Sorry about your allergy to trees though, that kinds stinks.)

  23. Here’s my “baskets” tip for litter boxes. If you have a shower or bathtub in the guest bathroom, put the litter box in there as soon as the kitties can jump in. 1) it contains whatever they kick out of the box and 2) if they miss the box/ decide it’s too dirty/ whatever then they will do their business in the bathtub and it is sooooooo much better than having them do it in the laundry.

    Also, if you have a larger kitty, or one that likes to fling the sand around then don’t waste time finding a large litter tray. Go straight for a high sided Rubbermaid container.

    For scratching you can cover the targeted area with aluminum foil. It doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue and cats hate the way it feels underfoot. Obviously not a long term solution for say the living room couch, but it keeps our guy from trying to shred the box springs at 3AM.

    • Agreed about the high-sided (or even enclosed) litter boxes, although even with those one of my cats has a tendency to try to scoop the litter out the entrance.

      However, I disagree about the bathtub, at least be warned that some bathtubs have a non-slip rough texture on the floor of them, and liquid poo (which is often painful for the cat, which often causes them to go outside the box) is near IMPOSSIBLE to get out of it, even with scrubbing and letting the shower run. I would rather they go on my tile floor in the bathroom or laundry room than in the tub. Plus, tons of litter getting in the drain probably isn’t great, especially if it’s clay.

  24. Yes to microchipping.

    Also, get some books on positive training for cats. My friend Caroline (http://staypositivetraining.com/) is an animal trainer and recommends Getting Started: Clicker Training for Cats by Karen Pryor and Naughty No More! by Marilyn for cats. I’ve trained my cat to come when called, follow a pointer, and sit, stay, and come on cue at feeding time. She’s so much more polite now! Still need to tackle the infernal meowing, and teach her to stay OUT of the house, but cats are trainable and it’s possible to do it in a positive way.

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