"Stray Cat Strut"
Seven Questions To Ask Your New Kitten
(A Pets: part of the family Magazine contribution)
- Who are you?
- How can I best prepare my house for you?
- What things are dangerous to you?
- When and why should I have you neutered?
- What are the signs that you may be ill?
- What and when should I feed you?
- How do I choose a good veterinarian for you?
Who are you?
I am a kitten, but the cat I shall become is virtually unchanged from my ancestors of thousands of years ago.
I have managed to retain my independence and self-possession while still being a loving and playful companion to humans. I may be tamed, but I am never subservient. For many cat lovers it is precisely this contradiction that endears me to them.
I am dignified and yet mischievous. I am cautious and yet quite daring. I am equally affectionate and can be equally obstinate.
You may catch me snoozing contentedly or stalking imaginary prey. I do both exceptionally well.
I am perhaps the perfect pet for a busy world. I generally require little time and effort on your part, and with good preventative care I am relatively inexpensive for the companionship I offer.
While I can manage quite well alone all day, it is preferable to introduce a playmate early in my life (ideally before four months of age) so that I may reap the important benefits of proper socialization with my own species. Otherwise, I may forever be suspicious of other cats.
There is another good reason for having two of us around. It will give me someone to play with when you are not here. Then I won't sleep all day and wish to play with you all night. We'll all be a lot happier.
How can I best prepare my house for you?
Let me come home to a quiet house. This is not a time for neighbors or children to make a fuss over me. Keep the household activity and noise to a minimum. Ordinary sounds like hairdryers and washing machines may easily frighten me.
Place all small, breakable objects out of my reach. Because I am quite adept at jumping, climbing and sometimes even flying through the air, I am bound to make contact with your valuables sooner or later. To me these are merely obstacles in my path. It would be wise to ensure our collisions never occur.
Have a litter box waiting for me in a more secluded area of the house. Place me in that room first with the doors closed. This will allow me time to get accustomed to my new surroundings with a litter box close by, should I need it. It would be especially nice if you were in this room with me so I could draw comfort from your quiet presence.
Have a scratching post ready for me. It need not be fancy. You can make one with carpet remnants or thick rope tied around a post. This will benefit us both by helping me stay away from your draperies and other interesting textures. Should I prefer your furniture to the scratching post, give me a firm 'NO" when you catch me in the act and then return me to the post. If I show no interest in the scratching post at all, you may have to try another material until you find one that Suits me.
You may have a bed set up for me, but do not be offended if I find my own sleeping quarters. I prefer to be up high, off the floor, because that is where I feel most secure. Don't be surprised if I choose to sleep on your bed. I figure if it is good enough for you, it must be warm and comfy for me too.
What things are dangerous to you?
(Or anything similar such as thread, fishing line, yarn, ribbon, dental floss, etc. ) These things are dangerous because they are so enticing to me. They are fun to play with and they are satisfying to chew. However, string and other linear objects can and do cause great harm to the delicate lining of my intestine. They can even cause perforation and death if not surgically removed. If you play with me using a kitty tease on a string, only do so when you can supervise my play. Put all string toys out of my sight when you are not playing with me.
Dangling Cords Or Rope
I may get tangled in them or attached objects (such as lamps or irons) may fall on me.
There are many house and garden plants which are poisonous to me. Among the most common are azalea, calla lily, jasmine, periwinkle, hydrangea, oleander, poinsettia, diffenbachia and rhododendron. I may go a whole lifetime without showing any interest in tasting these greens, but because they pose a potential danger to me, it is best to place any poisonous plant out of my reach.
A good alternative would be to grow a little fresh catnip and place it in a sunny window where I can safely enjoy a treat.
When and why should I have you neutered?
You should have me spayed (female) or neutered (male) around six months choice of age because it is a wise for my overall health. It reduces the risk of infection and cancers of the reproductive tract which may occur later in my life. Additionally, it will make me a more acceptable pet.
If I am female, spaying will eliminate the howling during seasonal heats. If I am male, neutering will help eliminate my need to roam and get into fights with other males. Roaming is not only unhealthy for me, it will also be costly for you since many of my bite wounds will become infected and will necessitate a trip to my doctor.
Neutering will reduce or eliminate altogether the very disagreeable habit of spraying wherever I go.
The cost of spaying and neutering is usually less than the cost of raising a litter of kittens. Even if you think you have homes for my kittens, what about my kittens' kittens? There are millions of pets at animal shelters right now waiting for homes. Millions of others have already lost their lives because of one sad fact: there were simply too many of them. This massive overabundance of us is due to nothing more than human irresponsibility. I am glad that you wish to be responsible.
Cats suffer no ill psychological effects as a result of neutering. When performed early, you merely eliminate any unwanted behavioral habits. In the hands of a good veterinarian, the procedure is relatively simple. The benefit to me is a healthier life. The benefit to you is a happier, more affectionate kitten.
What are the signs that you may be ill?
There are a variety of signs and some are often very subtle. The most common ones you should 1ook for are listlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, not eating, not grooming, sneezing or any discharge from my eyes or nose. Do not wait. My health can deteriorate rapidly. I should see my doctor right away.
Fortunately for me I live in an age when most of the truly .serious diseases of cats are preventable if I am well immunized. The best thing you can do for me is to be conscientious about keeping to the vaccination schedule my doctor provides you.
Good medical care and good nutrition can help me reach a life span of well over 20 years. That is a very long friendship. I look forward to sharing our home together for such a long time.
What and when should I feed you?
It is very unlikely that I will overeat, so you have the luxury of leaving my food out all day. This has been made especially convenient for you by the introduction of dry foods.
Canned food is especially tasty and you may offer me small amounts 3-4 times a day. Always have fresh water available. Do not give me milk, as this may cause diarrhea. A well balanced kitten food will provide me with all the calcium I need.
Because I have a very small tummy, it is especially important to select a high quality kitten food that is nutrient dense to meet the needs of my growing body.
My protein requirement is greater than for any other species. In addition, I have a very specific need for certain amino acids such as taurine.
This must be considered when selecting the right food for me. Because my overall nutritional demands are even higher than for an adult cat and because my portions will be small, my food must be maximally compacted with the proper balance of fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Starting me out on a sound nutritional plane with a Nature's Recipe Feline Formula is one of the best preventative care measured you can take for me.
How do I choose a good veterinarian for you?
You will be selecting a person who not only gives me good preventative care, but who will also be able to provide proper diagnostic and therapeutic services should I become ill or injured. Here are a few things to consider:
This person should be a good communicator. He or she should be willing to answer questions thoroughly and in a manner which is easily understood. Any tests or procedures performed should be clearly explained.
Educational pamphlets, videos or other material should be readily available to you at the doctor's office.
The hospital should have 24-hour coverage for any emergencies-either by their own doctors or by referral to a quality emergency care facility.
The hospital should maintain a courteous and well-educated staff. It should be a place you feel comfortable visiting or calling whenever you have a question about my health.
It should have visiting hours for patients. I cannot talk or telephone. Your presence when I am hospitalized will go a long way in helping me recover. It will let me know that my home and my family are waiting for me.
Won't you please take a few minutes to sign our guestbook. Thank you.