Kitten Shopping Guide
- clear, bright eyes
- clean ears and nose
- thick, glossy coat
- skin free of fleas, scabby patches and lumps
- firm, pink gums
- alertness, playfulness
- parasite checks
- age, sex, and breed (he should be at least 6 to 8 weeks old)
- customary diet
- Veterinarian's name
- registration papers if he's a pure-bred
- allowing you to have your vet check him before making final sale
- If he or she is a grown cat, also ask if he/she has been neutered/spayed and if it's accustomed to children or other pets.
Rest assured, litter box training should be easy for you and your kitten. Most kittens naturally feel the urge to dig in litter as early as 4 weeks. If you interfere with your kitten while he's in the litter box, he may develop an aversion to using it. Be patient. Instinct will guide your kitten or cat to developing good litter box habits.
Most kittens will act instinctively in the litter box; however there are some things you can do to encourage good litter box habits:
- Place the litter box in a quiet location that your cat can access at all times
- Always keep the litter box clean, scoop daily
- Change the litter often, at least once a week
- Avoid cleaning the litter box with strong cleaners since the odors may repel him
- Place your kitten in the litter box upon wakening and after meals
- Praise him lavishly to reinforce the fact that he's been good
- Avoid using scented litters. Cats don't like strong smells and may me repelled by the smell
- Don't move his litter box unless absolutely necessary
- Give each cat his own litter box
- Find information here for cats that stop using the litter box
Cat-Proof Your Home
Kittens and cats are lively and curious, which can lead them into serious trouble unless you take preventative measure. Also remember that your cat has a lower vantage point than your own, like a baby who has begun to crawl, and may be attracted to things you do not see when you are standing.
It's practically impossible to absolutely cat-proof your home against accidents, but for your cat's health and safety, here are some suggestions:
- Securely screen all windows to help prevent falls. Keep your cat off balconies, upper porches and high decks.
- Securely store poisonous materials. Keep these in tightly closed areas where your cat cannot get access. Remember, cats are handy little creatures and have been known to open cabinets and doors.
- Remove poisonous houseplants or place them in hanging baskets completely our of your cat's reach. Ask your veterinarian or for a complete list of dangerous plants. Some indoor and outdoor plants which are poisonous to cats include:
Poisonous Plants (partial list)
Ivy (most types)
Lilies (all types)
Philodendron (all types)
Dumb Cane (all types)
- Keep toilet lids down. Cats may play in the water and the lid could close and trap them. Also residual toilet bowl cleanser left in the bowl is harmful if swallowed.
- Store plastic bags where your cat can't get inside them and suffocate or chew or tear them and swallow bits of plastic.
- Cut plastic six-pack beverage holders apart to prevent your cat from getting tangled in them. This will also protect wildlife that may accidentally encounter them.
- Keep exposed electrical cords as short as possible, or tack them against a baseboard so that your cat can't play with or chew them.
- Store sewing supplies out of your cat's reach. Buttons, needles, pins, and thread can hurt his mouth or internal organs if swallowed. The same goes for nails, screws and other small pieces of hardware.
- Never use electric blankets to line your cat's bed. He could be electrocuted if he chews the wire.
Introducing your Cat to the Rest of the Family
If there are children in your house, especially small ones, introduce your cat to them gradually, during short periods of time. Frequent handling and gently playing are important, but children must understand that your cat is a sensitive, living creature. Teach the children how to pick him up and hold him. Slip one hand under his chest, holing the front legs gently but firmly with your fingers. At the same time, cup the other hand under your cat's hindquarters. Never pick him up by the scruff of the neck or by his legs. Children must learn not to pull the cat's tail or ears, squeeze or poke him, make loud, threatening noises or go toward him too rapidly.
A good way for both children and adults to play with a cat is to get down on the floor at his level to make him feel more secure. Remind children that even a small child can look like a giant to a cat. And a gentle cat may resort to scratching or biting to protect himself if he's frightened.
If there are other pets in the house, introduce them to your cat with care and caution. An older cat, male or female, will usually accept a new kitten and will eventually help take care of him. But do not leave them alone together until you are sure they are friends.
Here are a few steps you can follow to introduce your new kitten to an older pet.
- Make introductions slowly and confine your new kitten to its own room for a couple weeks
- Begin introducing your kitten by first opening the door to her room a crack and letting the other cats know she is there and vice versa
- After a couple days put your new kitten in her carrier and let the other pets in the house in the room. Expect some hissing at first but don't be discouraged.
- You can also rub a blanket or toy against your new kitten and give it to the other cats so they can get used to her scent. Also do the same to the older cats and give the item to the kitten.
- With in a week or two everyone should be getting along just remember to be patient
Most dogs and cats also get along, but this may take a little longer. There may be scuffles, hissing and barking, but there is every chance that before long they will be playing together. Again, it's smart not to leave them together unattended until you see the situation clearly.
But whether your other pet is a dog or a cat, remember to show him extra love and affection so that he won't be jealous of the newcomer. And don't force your older animal to accept your cat immediately. Let him do it at his own pace.