Getting a kitten for the first time.

My family was always a dog family. We’ve had dogs since before I could walk. The only cat we ever owned (a stray we took in) was, tragically, killed by a dog.

But anyway, I’ve since moved out and have decided to get a kitten. Went down to the shelter today and picked out a 3-month-old gray kitten. I chose him because he was the only cat in the shelter who wasn’t screaming for my attention when I walked in. He was too busy playing with the toys in his cage to notice me.

I got him at a discount because he was set to be put down in less than a week. He gets neutered this Tuesday and I can pick him up Wednesday. My roomate also adopted a puppy, who’ll be picked up Thursday.

My roomate currently has two older cats: one is 15 and the other is 12. We’re hoping that they’ll get along with the new animals.

So, dopers, any tips for a first-time kitten owner? I’m going shopping tommorow for kitty food and toys, so place your orders!

Have the litter box already set up where you want it before you bring the kitten home. The rule in our house is that the first thing a new kitten’s feet touch is cat litter. Set her in the box as soon as you arrive. When she hops out, put her back in. Put her back in again. Then let her start exploring on her own. That way she knows exactly where the box is. Then, the first time she eats, watch her. When she’s done, pick her up and put her in the box. Most cats get the hint right away.

Be aware that most cats need a few days to acclimate before they’ll eat or drink much. Three days has been the standard whenever we have moved or gotten new cats.

My daughter’s new kitten is particularly enamoured of a jingle bell on an elastic string. (She also loves playing with Bic lighters). Flashlights make good toys…Chase The Spot of Light is a perpetual favorite game. And a mirror also amuses some, but not all kittens…get one that has a stand and put it on the floor…Instant Friend!

Ooh, hooray! New kitty! :slight_smile:

And he’s 3 months, yes? That actually makes some things easier. Mkay…on the shopping list should be the obvious:

food (I recommend Science Diet, but for now, just be sure you’re getting what he’s been having! No need to introduce you to the colorful world of cat barf too soon)
food and water bowls
litter, litter scoop, and litterbox (I recommend a scoopable litter–Arm and Hammer has a flushable type. For the box itself, I’ve preferred a covered one mainly because it helps limit the litter ending up everywhere.)
catnip (a packet of the dried stuff–tons o’ fun!)
scratching post (The taller, the better. Cats LOVE to stretch out when they sharpen claws, and love to perch high up. Our cats completely ignored the little short post, but have destroyed two 6’ tall ones–and they leave the furniture alone!)
grooming materials (I use a grippy mit, similar to a curry comb in horses. WAY more effective at grooming than a simple brush.)

The rest is all fun stuff that’s up to you–toys and whatnot.

Now…you’re bringing a kitten to a home with established, older cats. Some very important tips here:

  1. Isolate the kitten to one room. This way the kitten gets used to a new environment without being threatened, and the older cats can sniff under the door and “meet” the new one without feeling like someone is invading their territory. I’d do this for about a week; after that, allow supervised interactions among the cats–perhaps one at a time, then both cats at one time–for about one more week. After the two weeks, start expanding new kitty’s territory; let him sniff new spots supervised more and more. Free rein of the house should be after 2-3 weeks.This, btw, is how we introduced our new kitten–it went over great for both.

  2. It gets more complicated with the puppy. The old cats are going to be very upset about two young upstarts in the home. I’d isolate the puppy in similar fashion, for all animals’ sakes.

  3. DON’T FORGET TO LOVE ON THE OLD CATS! If they find your behaviors are suddenly changed, it will add to the stress–and they may turn to destructive behaviors, such as peeing on everything.

  4. Also–make sure the kitten has his own litterbox. If you just hope all cats will use the same one, well…that’s a thin hope. My grandmother’s cat quit using the litterbox when another cat used it–you don’t want the same problem! Again–it’s part of the adjustment phase. Once the home cats have accepted new kitty, all will be well in litterbox land.

I’m sure I’ll think of more later, but this should be plenty for now! :slight_smile:

Now…where are the pictures?

No pictures until the kitten comes home, and probably not for a while after since I don’t currently have access to a digital camera.

Correction, there’s a picture on the county Web site.

Here he is. Pay no attention to the name the county gave him. He’s most certainly a Raymond.

Prepare to be amazed at how little self control you will have over cat toy impluse purchases. [shakes head ruefully]

The only cat toy you need is a laser pointer. (Just be extremely careful to keep it pointed away from his head; don’t want to shine it in his eye.) Every other toy you buy will be ignored while the kitty discovers the joyful wonderland of twist ties and grocery bags. :slight_smile:

Cardboard box.
Paper grocery bag.
One ball.

This is all a cat really needs to keep himself occupied for hours.

Your Ray looks exactly like my Jake. Congrats.

I’ve heard lots of bad things about Science Diet, and lots of people denying those bad things. So, do your research and make your own choice.

Our animals get NutroMax Natural Choice.

FilmGeek, what have you heard about Science Diet? I tried to Google it, but came up with only pages and pages of sites selling it.

My vet has put my male cat on Science Diet presciption food for recurring crystals in his urine. He has improved greatly since he began eating it exclusively, but if you know of long-term problems, I’d be very interested.

Oh yeah! I remember hearing something about a controversy around a brand of pet food…but…um, I think it’s Iams, not Science Diet. :::rushes off to Google:::

Here we go–an entire website dedicated to the controversy: From the site:

Of course, maybe there’s controversy with Science Diet, too; I just haven’t heard that one. Anywho, read up and decide what you will. :slight_smile:

Oh–and I realized in reading my reply that it may sound like I’m suggesting new kitty be isolated for up to 5 weeks. No no! Two weeks (maybe three, if things are rough) total oughta do the whole scenario I described just fine.

Here is an interesting article on the quality of most mainstream cat and dog food.

Small quote from the 2nd page:

They also conclude the article (which is only 2 pages) with links to pet food sites that offer “human-grade” foods commerically. My next cat will be eating food from one of those sites. I’d switch my Tawney over now, but the only thing she’ll eat these days is Friskie’s Ocean Whitefish & Tuna (I can’t bear thinking about what’s probably in that).

Ruffian also offered great tips on introducing a new cat to the household. Here is a link that goes over the process.

May I also recommend ceramic (or metal) bowls, not plastic. Plastic collects oils too well and can cause an outbreak of chin acne.

Lastly, Raymond is a doll!!! :slight_smile:


Acclimating kittens is an important part of introducing any kitten to a new house whether the kitten is new to your house or your just moving kittens between rooms in your house.

When ever a kitten is moved from it’s room to another it experiences high levels of stress without good acclimation this can greatly increase the stress levels making new kittens very susceptible to various diseases. This is why good acclimation is so important, just like jumping into a nice cold lake on a hot summer day can be a real shock to humans adding new kittens to a room can be just as big a shock to the kitten. Acclimation is done to help reduce the level of shock, which can stress kittens, when being introduced to a new house. Temperature however is not the only thing that kittens need to acclimate to. There are several chemical properties of the air the kitten must also adjust too such as PH, water hardness, salinity, and any other chemical treatments being used. This is why the standard “float the bag in the water for 15 minuets to get it to temp and release the kitten” method is not really recommended anymore.

Congratulations on your new kitty! He looks like MY new kitty. Mine is not quite three months old, and his name is Rio. You are in for so much fun!

As for food- I feed my Phoebe (who is a grey tabby, too) Fancy Feast. My vet shakes her head and tells me that it’s “like McDonald’s for cats”. But I’ve had Phoebe for a little over 19 years, so I guess it’s not that bad for her!

 You can buy a little catnip garden so you can "grow your own" for your kitty.  Don't grow it outside, though, of you'll have kitties coming from all over the neighborhood to party at your house.

Must-Have Toys:
Laser pointer! Best $5 you’ll ever spend.
The plastic rings from milk jugs.
Paper grocery bags.
Old shoe boxes.
Balled-up pieces of paper.
Your wiggling foot with untied shoelaces.
I feed my Fur-Balls Iams, JFTR.

Something else I thought of: I know every cat is different, but my wife and I were able to train ours to come when his name is called. We spent hours and hours doing this, but it was worth it.

Here’s our method: We sat on the kitchen floor, about ten feet apart. We each had a stock of kitty yummies within reach (up on the counter, not on the floor with us). You’ll have to do some testing to figure out what your kitty goes for; our cat turns up his nose at the standard treats offered by the pet companies, but he luhhrrrrves bits of hot dog or a spoon-dab of Gerber strained turkey.

Anyway, once we knew what turned his crank, we took turns saying his name and offering the treat, making him go back and forth. We did this for maybe half an hour at a time over many, many days, until it became clear he was getting the hang of it. (Cats are, by and large, pretty intelligent, but training them is different from training dogs in similar behavior; much, much more repitition is required.) Gradually we scaled back the treats, so he’d get a yummy on every second or third trip back and forth (with scritches and strokes on the treat-free trips).

You get the idea, yes? Long story short, now, as an adult, we can call his name, and he comes running. Once or twice a week, he gets a treat, just enough to continue reinforcement. (Actually, he’s learned the word “treat,” also. Say “treat” around him and he’s instantly climbing the walls and drooling. :))

It requires an investment of time, and you’ve got to do it before he gets much older and establishes his habits (cats are notorious about sticking to patterns once set), but we thought it was well worth the effort.

I’m in the area if you need help loving on the kitty!

Yesterday I picked up a temporary litter tray (thanks, Ruffian), some Science Diet kitty chow (I’ll switch later if I find out they grind up babies into the mix or what have you), and a packet of Whiskas Temptations, courtesy of the Kitty Crack thread.

I set up a little corner for him in my room. After lunch today I’ll go pick him up. Thanks for all the advice, Dopers. Updates on personality and whatnot to follow shortly.

Kittens, unlike older cats, will still be highly active at night and wanting to play. Since carnivores tend to play hard, you can either resign yourself to scratches and bites or… get another kitten as a playmate.

No? Eh, just a thought.

I feed my kittens Nutro MaxCat and Royal Canin kitten kibble. For wet food, they’re fed Nature’s Variety Prarie (1/4 can each/day.) They have lots of treats, Plaid Cat, Old West (cow and sheep lung), Snack 21 Pacific Whiting (ew!), and YumYum Fish Flakes (ew!). They are not at all spoiled, no sir!

They’re favourite toys are paper bags, crinkly balls, shoelaces, and these little, flat furry mice with leather tails and “faces.”