I have kittens! Now tell me what to do.

About 2 1/2 months ago I acquired two giant mutant kittens (I thought that they were normal sized at the time but I apparently underestimated. I have also acquired a litter-pan sized load of advice, all contradictory. Here are some questions:

  1. Everybody I talk to who has cats has said to try to get them to eat dry food because it’s better for their teeth and cheaper, and once they get hooked on canned they won’t eat dry. The vet said they should have some wet food. My kitties don’t like wet food. They will only eat it if I remove all the dry food and leave it out for 12 hours until they are really really hungry. Is my vet right? Do I have to starve them so that they will eat canned food?

  2. The vet (seriously thinking of changing, BTW), says that they should have at least 50% protein in their food, or they will get diabetes. The highest protein kitten food I can find is Purina, which is 40%. Most of the other brands (Eukanuba, IAMS, etc) are in the 35% range. Will my kitties be protein-deficient if I feed them this? If they need 50% protein, then why don’t they make kitten food that is 50% protein?

  3. The same vet says that they can be fixed after 14 weeks. Other vets I’ve talked to say no earlier than 5 months. I don’t want more kittens. When can I fix them?

  4. One of my kitties has very long hair. Will he get hairballs? Should I do something to prevent it?

  5. My kitties like to play by biting my fingers lightly. If I let them, will that encourage them to bite?

  6. I have been keeping them in a 12X12 room during the day and letting them roam the house at night. Is it a problem keeping them cooped up?

  7. They like to watch television, but sit very close to the screen. Will this hurt their kittie eyes? Will they need glasses? Just seeing if you were paying attention. :smiley:

For inspiration, here are some pictures:

Boris

Natasha

  1. Dry food will provide your cats with everything they need. Just make sure that they always have a supply of fresh water. This is extra important if they’re eating dry food.

  2. Cats need lots of protein in their diets, and kittens need even more protein than adult cats. Feed them something designed for kittens. Mine gets Science Diet kitten chow.

  3. Mine was spayed by the county at about 3 months. No complications.

  4. Dunno.

  5. Yes, this will encourage them. It’s best that when they get in this playful mood, distract them with a toy that they can bite and carry around in their teeth.

  6. My kitten spends all her time in my bedroom (though I have a big room). Just make sure that they have plenty of toys and things to climb on to keep them happily occupied.

  7. I recommend kitty contacts.

  8. Great names. :slight_smile:

My cat’s vet feeds hers dry food only, because she can’t stand the smell of the wet food. If I had to start over, I’d try to stick to only dry food as well, for the same reason. Make sure you have fresh, cool water available though; and see if you can find Science Diet brand dry food.

Wait. You don’t have to worry about your kitties giving up the sex *that soon. From what you’ve said about your vet, I agree with your inclination to change.

Hah. You’re in for some brushing. A lot. Make sure to brush a longhair at least 2-3 times a week, for perhaps 15 minutes. It’s a nice, relaxing activity, however.

They’re young; they don’t know it’s bad. Little love nips are okay, but if they bite and it hurts, give a firm ‘no!’, and I recommend pushing your finger far up into the offending mouth–it will be uncomfortable but not harmful to the cat, and it should get the idea.

Different cats have different temperaments; do they seem very restless and are they damaging things inside the room? It’s good, at least, that they have each other to play with. Lots of people keep their cats in relatively small apartments, so I guess it can’t be that bad. If you could easily give them more space to play, that would be good, but it’s not urgent.

Cute kitties. I love their names :smiley:

First, I’m not a veterinarian. I don’t even play one on t.v. But I’ve had cats most of my life.

I disagree strongly with your vet about the wet cat food. That’s all my current ones will eat. In fact, most of my cats have eaten primarily dry except when they were sick. Purina cat chow, IAMS, Friskies. Not Shop-Rite or other really cheap brands. They have all been well nourished – sometimes overly so. If you want to try the canned food, it should never be left out all day, let alone two. It can spoil and it will smell nasty. Heck, I wouldn’t want to eat a plate of even my most favorite dinner if it had been sitting out all day.

IMHO until they are at least 6 months, up to a year, they should eat the specially-formulated kitten foods.

I also disagree with your vet about the spay & neuter. You don’t want to let Boris (I’m assuming he’s male) experience puberty. Natasha should be spayed before she goes into heat. That may be as late as 6 months, but I think 14 weeks is a bit early. I’d get a second opinion from another vet.

I have one long-haired and one short-haired cat. Sweet Sara (the long-haired one) does not seem especially prone to hairballs any more than any other cats I’ve had. Most of the time a hairball is yucky to clean up but otherwise no big deal. I would not mess with trying to prevent it at her young age. Wait and see.

Don’t encourage them to play by biting on your fingers. In fact, you should discourage it. Making a loud noise sufficed to teach Sara that we did not like that, and she never bites now unless someone were to torment her, in which case they would deserve it. A kitten nip is kinda cute, but a big cat chomping on your finger would not be a good thing.

If they have food and litter, and a soft place to sleep a 12 x 12 room is fine. Cats are by nature nocturnal anyway. They probably sleep most of the time when you’re away. Presumably the room has some windows, and when they are old enough they will probably enjoy sitting on the window sill enjoying the view outside.

They will not hurt their eyes looking at the t.v.! They probably don’t stare at it like we do, and they will probably soon learn that they can’t catch the stuff they see there and become bored with it.

It seems to me that your instincts are on target. Feed them good quality dry food, don’t encourage them to bite, and play with them gently when you are home. It’s great that you have two; they will keep each other company. They look so much alike, I’m assuming they are littermates. Oh, and BTW, they are adorable. I bet they are really, really soft, too.

I think everyone else gave you great advice. I just wanted to say…

Adorable kitties!!!

Great names!

Cute fuzzerheads! Another nutritional issue for male cats is low % of ash in their food-my vet says high ash is contributory to feline urological syndrome (kitty can’t pee). Yet another vote for Science Diet.

No. So long as you feed them a good quality kitty food, they should be just fine. Make sure they get enough water, though.

If they really needed 50% protein, then why aren’t all the cats living on dry food diabetic? He’s mistaken on this, to put it politely. :slight_smile: I admit that less than 50% seems low, given that cats are obligate carnivores. However, cats are also notoriously vulnerable to a variety of kidney problems. I assume that these lower protein dry foods are an attempt to prevent kidney problems. That at least makes some sense as a hypothesis. But so long as you have regular checkups for them, and you don’t see strange behavior or other signs Something is Wrong, and the vet doesn’t either, I’m reasonably sure they’ll be fine on the kitten chow.

Don’t change vets until you’ve got your kitties fixed, :slight_smile: so long as he’ll give you references (the names of some other clients who’ve had their kitties fixed by him, so you can talk to them). The other vets are old fashioned, according to vetbridge, one of the veterinarians here on SDMB.

He also points out that most vets who do alteration on young kittens/puppies charge less for the younger ones because it takes less anesthetic, etc. IIRC, he also said that he will do them even younger than that. And I’ve known of 5 month old queens going into season. Just what you want (NOT). Maybe he’ll notice this thread and “speak” up. I’ve always been against younger neutering ages, but he did a pretty good job of convincing me. I’d also like to see CrazyCatLady’s response. I raised a bunch of kittens when I was a kid, and had a couple later on, but they’re the experts.

When he gets a little older (say around 8-9 months old) you can give him a (human) vitamin A capsule 4X a week and he will almost quit shedding. I’d start now giving him one once or twice a week. That dosage definitely won’t hurt him, and starting now means you have a better chance of getting him to accept you “pilling” him, even though he’ll never like it. And brush them both regularly. If you do just him, you may have dominance struggles.

NO!!! That sets up a very bad habit. Discourage it emphatically. Distraction works at least as well on a cat as on a dog.

That’s a very generously sized area, more than sufficient. Make sure they have toys, as well as food, water and litter box.

No. Their eyes aren’t as good as ours. That’s why they sit close. :slight_smile:

Ain’t it always the way?! Nine times out of ten, if you see a human baby with gorgeous long eyelashes, it’s a boy. So Boris gets the long hair, and Natasha sits there with the short plush coat.

They’re both very cute. And you’re lucky in that they seem to photograph well. Even in that awkward position Boris is in, and that he doesn’t seem to enjoy (reminds me of the photo of the terrified-looking kitten hanging from a fork in a tree below/behind his front legs). Just like humans, there are some cats and dogs that photograph well, but pictures of most of them are just about as flattering as snapshots of most humans are. Even beautiful people (and cats) can be “bad subjects.”

Ummm … the photos are numbered. Where is Boris1, and 3, 4, etc.? And where is Natasha 1, 2, 3? She sure can project wistfulness for a solid black kitten with lighting that doesn’t really show her expression. :wink:

Did he say why they neeeeeed wet food? I could understand saying that a very, very young kitten should have some canned food as a supplement until its teeth are fully in, but I don’t know of any reason a fully weaned kitten with a full complement of teeth should have canned instead of dry. High quality kitten food like Science Diet, etc. is developed by veterinary nutritionists, and your little one’s should get everything they need from such a diet.

It’s safe for your kittens to go under the knife that young–12 weeks or so is the preferred age for declawing if you’re going to do it. It’s not really a preferred age for sterilization for most vets, though, partly because it’s harder to intubate them when they’re that small, and digging around in a teensy little abdomen hunting for bitsy little ovaries can be a right pain in the arse. I’ve also heard, though I’m not sure I believe it, that you’re more likely to miss a bit of ovarian tissue in a smaller kitten. I do know that a miniscule bit of ovarian tissue can cause symptoms of heat–the yowling, the wallowing around throwing their ass at stuff, the attempts to get outside–requiring you to knock the animal out again and go back in.

The protocols at the clinics I’ve worked at has always been 5-6 months for females, and 6-8 months for males. You can generally wait a bit longer for neutering because males tend to mature a bit later than females.

He might have hairballs, and he might not. Some cats are very prone to them, regardless of coat length. Feed him a good diet, brush him regularly, and if needed give him some Laxatone or similar.

Do not let them bite on your fingers in play. When they get bigger and stronger and start “playing” too hard, it’s going to be damn hard to break them of the habit.

It sounds like they’ve got plenty of room to be in all day, and have plenty of room to run and play at night, so that should be fine.

If I were you, I’d limit their tv viewing to an hour or two a day, and only educational programs, and only after they’ve done their homework.

I put some water in the dry food so it would be easier for them to chew when mine were very small kittens, then went to just dry when they were bigger.

We feed our cats a mixture. They get canned food once a day (twice a day for the kittens), and leave dry food out all day for snacks. Believe it or not, cats on a dry/wet diet still eat dry food when provided. I think they like the crunchy stuff almost as good as the wet stuff. Since we have been doing this, it seems to cut down on hairballs. At least Sebastian isn’t decorating our carpets as much as he use to on a dry food only diet.

I had Chauncey live to 22 years old on nothing but a dry cat food diet, with no diabetes problem.

Most vets recommend fixing a cat at or around 5 months of age. It is a must for male cats to get them before they hit 6 months otherwise you will not be able to live under the same roof as they do. Once a male cat learns to spray, nothing is going to stop him, and he will spray where ever he wants to. Since you have a male cat and are going to alter him, once you do, put him on a low ash diet, such as science diet. High ash content foods can cause urinary track infections in male cats.

You can either groom the cat several times a week, or get the cat use to taking hairball medication at an early age. Or get use to picking up hairballs out of the carpets.

One of my kitties does this. Normally an OUCH! makes her stop. Whatever you do, no smacking kitty for it. They don’t know it hurts, they are use to rough housing with their littermates. If they injure a littermate, the injuried party lets out a sharp meow and head for the hills.

We keep our kitties confined during the day as well. As long as you provide food, water, litter box and lots of toys for them to stay busy there isn’t a problem.

hehehe Mine like to chase the mouse cursor and I always wonder about his eyes.
Your babies are adorable. Hope you guys have lots of fun together

I think you need a new vet. :slight_smile:

Our first vet wouldn’t play with the kitten. He’d look at him, give him the shot and then put him back in his carrier. It was as if he didn’t really like animals.

Our new vet plays, gets an idea of his development, pets, soothes, romps with the dog.

Their advice was the same, but the attitude was different.

Have fun with your kittens!

There’s a current theory popular among vets that dry cat food may be responsible rampant cat obesity and diabetes. Do a search for cat food and diabetes and you’ll find lots of links. Part fo the theory is that cats are much more exclusively carnivorous than dogs and most dry cat food has a lot of cereal grains as filler. I’v got an obese cat that I"m worried will develop diabets and on th advice of my aunt, a vet, I’ve been attempting to switch him to canned food. I wish I had started him out on canned food despite the mess and smell.

Don’t forget to stroke their chins!

(Kitties like having their chins stroked!) :slight_smile:

As for hairballs, there seem to be two kinds of long haired cats: Cats whose long hair is the result of breeding (e.g. Persians) and cats whose long hair is the result of adaptation (e.g. Maine Coons). Maine Coons have long guard hairs, which mat less than Persians who have long down hairs.

While Maine Coons require less grooming than Persians both types, may get hair balls. combing can alleiviate this, especially in summer. If the weather is dry try feeding them a fish oil supplement, which you can get from a vet. If they have a real problem, go with one of the supplements other dopers have recommended.

Also you may wish to feed your kitties some wet foods. Notions about the “correct” diet fluctuate more wildly than notions about human diets, but a little wet food will give your cats some extra protien.

IANA vet, and the first par was cribbed from Know Your Cat by Bruce Fogle.

Very Cute cats, BTW. How big are they? I wish I could get more Cats, but my place will only hold two.

Thanks all for the advice. This vet came very highly recommended by several people but I was uncomfortable with some of his advice. (He also told me to have a litter box on every level of my house, not to use scented litter, and to clean the boxes “every time * turn around” because otherwise they would be going all over the house since they would not be able to hold their urine in my three floor townhouse. Suffice it to say that my kitties know where their litter box is, seem able to get to it easily without any accidents, and don’t mind the litter.) I got the feeling that he didn’t really like cats.

For those who asked, the kittens were abandoned at about 3 1/2 weeks and bottle-fed by a cat-loving friend. I had been thinking about getting cats and I took them at about 7 weeks since I wanted two to keep each other company and she didn’t want to break up the siblings. Boris is huge, so I call him my giant mutant kitten. The other pictures unfortunately did not come out well-it’s hard to photograph black cats! Good to see people got the names; I get some strange looks when I tell others-some ask if they are Russian cats, and other look at me blankly when I explain that they stare out the window and plot evil against Me, Moose, and Squirrel (in that order). They’re really both sweet and cuddlers although they play like siblings. Boris likes to get Natasha in a headlock and lick her ears (I think this is the kittie version of a noogie). Their favorite television show is Queer Eye. They will stop everything to watch it.

I do think I will change vets. By my calculations, they are about 4 1/2 months old and I was planning on fixing them at about 5 months. It sounds like that will be OK. I do NOT want Boris spraying, although I’ve heard that sometimes they can start even after they’re fixed. I hope that’s not true. I’m just a little nervous about 5 month old kittens getting pregnant. I really really don’t want little inbred kittens. I’ll look in to Science diet, although it seems I am OK with the premium brands I am using and I may continue to try wet food occasionally. For those who asked-they have dozens of toys-both their own, and my stuff that they have made into toys; they have taken the little caps that cover the bolts on toilets off every toilet in the house. They have also taken a highlighter although I’m not really sure what they need to highlight. In case it’s not clear yet-they are spoiled rotten. I’ll also look into kittie contacts; I hate to hide those pretty eyes behind glasses.

One day while trying to figure out where all the sponge balls went, I was looking under our entertainment center and found the following:

  1. 8 sponge balls
  2. 1 red pen
  3. 1 blue pen
  4. a tiny tennis ball
  5. a weeble
  6. spool of thread
  7. 2 furry mice toys

I am still trying to figure out how they got the pens since we keep those in drawers and the spool of thread is in the sewing machine cabinet. Just make sure you find the highlighter. One of my cats chewed the end off a felt tip pen and got blue ink all over him and the carpet. I never did get the stain out of the carpet, which I finally had to replace.

Oh, that’s what else I was going to say before…I agree with the suggestions to change vets. There’s nothing wrong with the suggestions your vet has made, but I have real issues with any vet who won’t explain to you why recommendations are made and help you be an active participant in your pet’s health care. I favor vets who are like my dad’s cardiologist, who carries around a notepad so he can draw you pictures of the heart and show you what he’s talking about.

At some point, you may need to add more litterboxes, though. Very young, elderly, and ill animals do often have difficulty holding on till they get to the box, especially if it’s a long way off. Also, some cats are lazy and would rather just shit in the floor than go all the way down stairs. Other cats are, ahem, persnickety about their boxes; if they don’t like the type of box, or the type of litter, or where you’ve put the thing, or how clean it is, they simply won’t use it. They’ll go all over the floor, or on your furniture, or in the laundry basket. (Of course, in these last situations it can be hard to figure out when it’s a litterbox problem and when they’re pissed about something else. When they’re, say, chewing up your shoes, it’s easier to figure out they’re just mad.)

I must present an opposing view of Purina, Science Diet, etc. Those brands contain large amounts of chicken/poultry by-product, which probably won’t kill your kitties… but I personally will not feed any of my animals that stuff. We have been using the Nutro line of products for our dog and cats for several years now, and have been very happy. I seriously would recommend looking at the ingredients of all foods you buy, and make sure none include by-product meal. I usually find my Nutro products at Petsmart (NOT PetCo).

Here is a comparison of ingredients of many popular brands of cat food.

As for wet/dry ratio, several vets have recommended feeding my kitties moist food for no more than 2-3 meals per week. Someone else upthread mentioned that a new popular opinion among vets is that the only way to provide enough protein is to provide canned food rather than dry. So it probably is a good idea to make sure the kitties get plenty of canned food, but the dry is also better for the long-term health of the teeth.

Some good information on pet food ingredients:

kittens…

you could…

never mind.

:rolleyes: :dubious:

Heh. We habitually give our cats the plastic pull tab from gallon milk jugs, which we refer to as “milk jug rings” or MJRs. We always wondered what happened to the gazillion MJRs that have been thrown around, batted, and then lost. When we moved the old dryer to install the new dryer, we found them…LOTS of them. We still give the cats MJRs, too. One of our cats likes to play fetch with them, and will approach a human with a MJR in his mouth, and drop it in a lap or at the human’s feet. He’s quite persistent, and has even tried to get my daughter to wake up and play fetch in the middle of the night!

Our female cat rather likes to watch TV, too, though she doesn’t like us to watch any show with a dog or wolf in it. She’ll sit there, glaring and growling, until we switch channels.

Your kitties are just adorable. Enjoy their kittenhood, it only lasts for a few minutes, or so it seems.

Our cats farted. Ye Gods, did they fart. Clear the room farts. Melt your earwax farts. Overhearing guests saying “Do you think they know?” “How could they not know? My eyes are running” farts. Get the idea?

Our vet put both cats on a dry food only (OK, plus water) and they’ve never looked back. We’ve got a handy dandy dispenser that holds bulk food and allows you to regulate the amount of dried food that comes out via a vertical sliding gate, so you can vary between the bowl full at all times to no food coming out at all.

The cats are fine and healthier than they’ve ever been. Apart from the rubber fetish, but I digress.

Our vet said a lot of wet foods, particularly with high liver content, wasn’t good for domesticated cats, and to stick to high quality dried food - either from a vet or one of the bulk buy places, and to avoid the el cheapo stuff. Also, not to have loads of food available all the time. Cats are greedy, and in the wild would be hunting and sometimes going without, so he said to cut the food off for a day or so sometimes, and very occasionally give them a heaping bowlfull.

Oh, and they dont fart nearly as much.