Four-legged additions to the family should have everything they need when they arrive at their new home. But what does their new family need to provide so that puppies and kittens feel comfortable and secure? The experts from Maxi Zoo know.
1. Basic supplies for your kitten
Cats like it soft and cosy and usually find their own bed, or several different places to sleep. We recommend you provide a small basket and cushions or blankets in a variety of cosy spots around the house.
A cat needs one extra bowl if their menu includes both fresh and dry food. Kitties can have access to the latter over the whole day. To encourage your cat to drink more, you can leave water bowls throughout the house.
If your kitten has already been house-trained by their breeder, provide them with what they are used to, such as an enclosed litter box. You also need a shovel to remove faeces, as well as litter. This is available in clumping and non-clumping varieties, made from organic and mineral materials. Litter made of plant fibres can be disposed of in the compost and faeces in the toilet. Otherwise, used cat litter should go in the rubbish, never in the toilet.
Scratching post or board
Cats need something to sharpen their claws on. You should get a scratching post or, at the very least, a high scratching board so that furniture and wallpaper remains intact.
The collar should be cat size adjustable and lined if possible so that it doesn’t hurt your four-legged friend. A harness is also practical and prevents cats from slipping out. We recommend short nylon leads for walking. The lighter and softer the material, the better.
Toys should always be appropriate for your pet’s age. Avoid things that are small enough to be swallowed or objects that your kitten could chew into dangerous, small pieces. New feline parents should also invest in a guard for casement (tilting) windows and a balcony net if necessary.
Now all you need is care accessories to look after your new pet’s coat: special brushes with soft bristles or a grooming glove. You should also get your pet used to a suitable transport boxfrom a young age for the car and trips to the vet.
2. Cat mums
It takes around six months from birth until the kittens let go of their mother to fend for themselves in the world. Until that time the feline mum protects and cares for her offspring, provided she’s mature enough to take on the role of mother. Before giving birth, she seeks out a quiet, safe place where she can spend the first days with her new-born kittens. After about two weeks, the tiny cats become more inquisitive, they can now see to explore their “nest” and the still small world around them. That’s a sign for their mother to start egging them on a bit. She might move to a new location with them where they can move around more freely. Over time, her offspring become more and more independent and after roughly two months, they’re no longer being given their mother’s milk. By this time mum’s beginning to teach them useful stuff as well as life’s essentials: she parents them in personal hygiene, cleanliness with their surroundings and playfully teaches them the art of hunting. That’s why cat kiddies shouldn’t be separated from their mum before the twelfth week.
3. Caring for your kitten
The first year lays the foundation stones for the healthy development of your cat. This includes nutrition, which should suit the increased protein and energy requirements of the growth and “mischief” phases. Use special kitten food which has high quality ingredients specially suited for the needs of young cats. It is also easily digestible which is very important as the little things can’t eat much. In this instance dry food is ideal as it can be consumed as and when it is needed and it also provides a good work out for the chewing muscles and the jaw. Finally it is also important to keep the teeth clean. If your cat is used to this right from the beginning you won’t have to worry about dental problems.
4. Let them know right from wrong
Cats even react when their name is called – provided they associate it with something positive. So that your little tiger can sense the good in the sound of your voice, you should only say its name when you’re being nice to your animal: when fondling, feeding or playing with it. Make a special point of seeming pleased when your cat comes to you and reward it too, with a little treat or by stroking it a few times. Some little tigers can drive their owners to downright desperation. When it uses the curtains as a ladder, or jumps up at trouser legs or lands in dangerous situations by scrambling around the cooker or a full shelf. So that your animal can learn that there are certain taboos, teach it the appropriate signals early on: a resounding clap of the hands or a sharp “No” at the right moment will help it to accept the limits and prohibitions.
If you don’t want your cat scratching the walls, carpets or furniture, you must see that other options for claw sharpening are available – a roll of sisal, a scratching tree or a board. It’s completely normal for a cat to (want to) sharpen its claws – important in terms of upbringing is that the animal is then made aware of the scratching options which are meant for just that. If you don’t want your cat constantly begging at the dining table, you must point the differences out clearly. People eat at a table, and cats have their food bowl somewhere else. So never let a morsel from the table find its way into the cat’s mouth.
5. Healthy pussycat
Further health aspects included worming and immunisation. Kittens can even get worms via their mother’s milk and these are hard to get rid of. During the first six months you should worm your kitten monthly, and after this you can afford to leave longer periods between treatments. Your cat should be immunised against colds, feline leukaemia and distemper. As a rule the kitten should have already been immunised before coming to you. Follow up jabs should come 3 – 4 weeks after the first injections. There are also immunisations against rabies and other diseases. Find out from your vet, which injections are necessary for your cat.