Whether your new kittens/cats are rescued or from a reputable source it’s very important that you have everything prepared for their arrival, so that you’re not scrabbling around at the last minute trying to organise things.  

Beds

Timmy and OllieMost kittens and cats will sleep together until they find their feet and their personalities emerge. It’s important that however many kittens/cats you have, you have a bed for each cat and one spare. That rule applies to everything else as well. Their beds can be those little round donut beds, or igloo beds, or even a cardboard box lined with old towels, sheets, baby blankets or quilts, or even an old jumper of yours.  As long as it’s soft, the cat won’t mind. Ensure the beds are placed away from draughty doorways but not too close to a heat source.

Food and water bowls   

Food and water bowls are best if they’re ceramic or metal. Try to avoid plastic dishes if possible as over time, they get scratched and can ‘bleed’ leading to bacteria getting into the plastic. 

I prefer the metal food bowls which are flatter with a low side to them. Water bowls can be ceramic or enamel but again, plastic bowls aren’t really a good idea.

Food

Age appropriate food is important so if your kitten is under six months old he should be eating kitten food.  If you have an older cat, then the kitten should be given his meals – more frequently – but separately from them so that they don’t take his food, and he doesn’t try to eat ‘big boys’ food. If he does eat food for adult cats he will get an upset stomach.

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines about how much to feed your cat and how often. And always make sure that you have fresh water nearby but not next to the food bowl.  It goes without saying that food and water bowls should never be placed near litter trays.

Toys

It is a good idea to have a few toys in a toy box which the cat can access for himself. The toy box can be an ordinary cardboard box or any kind of easy to clean container, open at the top.

Toys vary greatly fromfishing rod toys to catnip toys – mice, and various shapes, twinkly balls, to feathery things.  You don’t actually need to spend a lot of money on toys but to begin with, a sachet or two of catnip that you can sprinkle on a flat scratching mat is a very good idea.  Ordinary birds’ feathers picked up while you’re out will – with a piece of string attached – become a good interactive toy which you can play with your cat for as long as he wants to play the game with you.

Scratching Posts/Pads

It is vital for your cat to be able to stretch up and strafe his claws and in order to be able to do this, he’ll need a tall scratching post. Make sure it’s sturdy and secure and won’t fall over if he’s a bit exuberant with his strafing.  Strafing is part of normal feline behaviour – rather like you or I filing our nails if the edges are a bit rough and ragged – and helps your cat to lose the nail sheath allowing the new claw/nail underneath to come through.

Under no circumstances – none whatsoever – should a cat be declawed.  This is inhumane and totally barbaric and if you want to know what happens to a cat when such a procedure is done, check out the link here: Why you shouldn’t declaw your cat

Casey and GibbsYou can also get scratch pads and these vary from curvy, to round with a little ball going round a track on the outside.  Casey has two of these, one in the front room and one in the dining room and he loves and uses both of them daily – along with the tall upright scratching posts that are in both rooms too.

Litter trays

Two cats = three litter trays; four cats = five litter trays.  Yes, that’s a lot of trays but cats are very fussy and I’ve lost count of the number of people who have written to me with tales of woe concerning one of their cats defecating somewhere inappropriate.  It is nearly always the fault of the owner – never, ever the cat.

So position the litter tray somewhere private; easily accessible for the cat but not in areas of high traffic – i.e. on the way to the front door or just outside the family bathroom for example.  A lot of people put the litter tray in the basement and will expect an older/elderly cat to negotiate several flights of stairs to get to it.  The cat – probably riddled with arthritis – will attempt to use the tray but give up because it hurts him too much to walk up and down all those stairs; this is one of those times when inappropriate toileting may occur.  It’s not the cat’s fault is it? So be thoughtful where you position the tray.

You can get various grades of litter and you may have to shop around until your kitten is happy with your choice.  You can use soft, playground sand or soil if he seems reluctant to go on clay as clay can be a be sharp under paw. My own cats like wood pellets which don’t have a smell although it does seem to track everywhere. And there is no need to use scented litter tray liners. Cats don’t like highly perfumed products.

Just putting these simple things into place before getting your new kitten or cat will ensure that his transition into his new home will be as seamless as possible and before too long, he will feel as if he’s always lived with you.    

In the Middle of a World...

"In the middle of a world that has always been a bit mad, the cat walks with confidence."

Roseanne Anderson

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