Breaking the Ice
Whether your new cat or kitten is coming from a shelter, a breeder's home, an urban street or a country barn, the first twenty-four hours in your home are special and critical. Before you bring a new cat into your life, it helps to understand a little bit about how cats relate to their world.
For the cat, territory is of paramount importance. A cat views his territory the way most of us view our clothes; without them, we feel naked and vulnerable. Place us naked in a room filled with strangers and most of us would try to hide! It is common for cats, regardless of whether they come from homes or streets, to hide in a new territory. Very sensitive cats often hide for a week or more! Kittens will adjust to his or hers new environment more quickly than an adult cat, this usually takes 1 to 3 days. You know that this cat/kitten is now a member of the family, but the cat doesn't. Kittens may temporarily suffer from separation anxiety when they are taken away from their familiar safe environment, siblings and/or their mothers, including us the human care givers whom they are dearly bonded with. When taken into a new environment and family, kittens may cry and call for those whom were familiar to them or they may choose to hide in silence.
You can help make the transition to a new home smoother and easier by providing some privacy for your new cat or kitten. If possible, start by preparing your home before you bring in the cat. Choose a room for the litter box; a bathroom works well. Set up the litter box with one to two inches of litter, and place it in a corner, if possible.
Now create a safe haven for the cat to hide in. You can buy a covered cat bed but a cardboard box turned upside down with two "doors" cut in it will work nicely. Why two "doors?" Many cats seem to feel more secure if they have a second "escape" route. Get a box big enough for the cat to stand up, turn around, stretch out and lie down in -- but keep it cozy! Place the box next to the wall or in a corner where the cat can see the door to the room. You don't want the cat to feel trapped. Place a sisal, cork or corrugated cardboard scratching post next to it. Finally, clear off a shelf for the cat to perch on to view his new world.
After you have prepared the bathroom, cat-proof every other room of your home. Are there raised surfaces for the cat or kitten? If the answer is "no," make some! Cats need to be able to jump up and survey their territory.
Do you have valuable mementos that are easily broken? Put them away until your cat is happily moved in. Check out all the nooks and crannies. Are there places that could be dangerous for the cat to explore or hide in? If so, block them off. Finally, put a scratching post or pad in every room.
If circumstances require that you bring in kitty before your home is ready, keep him/her in it's carrier until you have his room set up! He will be fine in there for a while longer. Opposite the litter box, place a bowl of fresh water. After the room is set up, place the carrier next to the "safe haven." Close the door before opening the carrier. Do not pull the cat out. Allow it to come out on his own and begin to explore his new home. Now, leave the room. Yes, leave...remember you are giving him time to acclimate. Go and prepare a small amount of a premium quality cat food. Quietly place it next to the water bowl.
Do not reach for the kitten! Let the kitten come to you. If he doesn't approach, come back in fifteen minutes. Do not be surprised if he or she doesn't eat. It is common for re-homed cats and kittens to show no interest in eating, often for several days. Pick up the leftovers and leave. Come back in a couple of hours with a fresh meal of the same high-quality food. Sometimes by placing some soft food inside the kitten's mouth, this may get the kitten to realize that it's hugry and decide to eat. If the kitten is openly soliciting affection, eating and not hiding, you can open the door and give him one more room. Do this slowly until you have introduced the cat to all the rooms in his new home.
Remember to let the cat set the pace. Be patient. It may take a few days for the kitten to comprehend that this foreign turf is his new territory.
Other pets may be introduced gradually if your kitten seems to be confident and not too timid. You should keep your new cat enclosed in the crate or carrier while introducing the other pets gradually. Do not leave the pets together unsupervised until they have had several days of SUPERVISED interaction. This is especially important with dogs - even friendly ones. A chase scene will make future interactions much more difficult.
The Rest of the House
It is impossible to give an estimate of the length of time it will take before your kitten is ready to have access to the rest of the house.
So be patient and let your pet tell you when she is ready to explore outside his or her own space. Signs that she may be ready include scratching or meowing at the door and trying to run out when you open the door. When he or she feels at home in her own space, has explored the room thoroughly and does not hide in her "house" all the time, then you can try giving her access to the rest of the house. Continue keeping his or her food, water and litter where they are presently located.
Even if your kitten has decided he or she wants to explore, it may still be easily frightened by sudden noises or too much open space. Keep your kitten's own space set up exactly as it has been, so he or she has a refuge that is familiar to her. This feeling of familiarity is very important to cats. Try to confine him or her to the original room at night and when you are absent, so that it doesn't run into any trouble - especially if you have other pets.
Once your kitten is relaxed and confident in it's new home, you will notice that he or she will start paying more attention to you! For a long time, his or her new surroundings will overwhelm it and you may feel ignored or shunned at times. Do not take this personally, try to be understanding of how your kitten must feel! Always talk to him or her in a soft soothing voice.
Now, you must be very careful to avoid letting your kitten outdoors. Your adoption contract specified that the cat will be kept indoors at all times.. This is especially crucial during the first 6 months. If your cat escapes during this adjustment period you may never see her again! Once outside, a cat or kitten in a new home often panics and starts to run blindly, in danger of being hit by a car and getting lost. To avoid this occurrence, be vigilant about opening and closing outside doors quickly. This may be difficult if children are present, so speak to them about the importance of this matter. Also, if your house has a vestibule or double door, try to use this entrance so the inner door is closed before the outer one opens and vice versa.
These are the foods that you will need to get for your kitten.
Dry Kibble: Holistic Select, Chicken formula for cats and kittens.
Canned Food: EVO- Turkey and Chicken for Cats and Kittens
High quality dry cat foods such as Holistic Select (Chicken formula) cost more per bag, but they are more digestible and therefore your cat needs to eat less of the food, costing less money overall. These foods have higher quality protein and less filler that is present in the supermarket brands such as Friskies, Whiskas, Purina, etc. If a cat eats a food with low quality protein (often derived from beaks, feet and heads of animals or from corn gluten) they absorb less usable nutrients. This not only causes poor health, it leads to greater volume of stool in the litter box and foul-smelling feces due to all the undigested matter. Supermarket brands often contain artificial colors and preservatives that can cause liver damage and allergic reactions. Feeding high quality food helps avoid medical problems such as urinary crystals and intestinal disorders. Feeding your cat the best quality food is an investment in their health for life.
Dry food should be offered at all times for the kitten to nibble on, but it should not be it's only source of food.
Canned or "wet" food is beneficial because it increases your cat's water intake (see section "water") and generally contains a higher percentage of meat than dry food, which requires a higher carbohydrate level to allow the food to bake into kibble. You may have heard the old information about dry food cleaning cats' teeth and being good for them - but recent research shows that dry food does nothing at all to clean cats' teeth, it crumbles upon the slightest pressure and cats' teeth are not designed for grinding, they tear and swallow meat. In fact, dry food with its higher carbohydrate content is more likely to stick in between your cats' teeth and cause tartar and decay!
We feed and recomend for Wet Food: EVO brand, Turkey and Chicken for Cats and Kittens canned food and we highly recomend that you do not change.
If you abruptly change the kittens diet, he/she can and will have diarrhea.
Kittens require greater amounts of food per body weight than adult cats, because they are still growing muscles, organs, and bones. Feed kittens in 3-4 meals each day, two of these meals to be wet food and the rest dry food. It is a myth of the pet food industry that kittens and senior cat need special formulas of food. Once they are weaned, kittens eat the same thing their parents do - mice, rabbits, and other small prey and these are a balanced nutrition for feral cats. We feed the high quality no grain, canned food and raw beef. Kittens simply need to eat more to sustain their growth rate.
Causes of Diarrhea in Cats
Diarrhea is typically caused by some infectious, chemical or physical irritation of the intestinal mucosa (the sensitive tissue lining the gastrointestinal tract). It takes roughly six to eight hours for food to pass through the small intestine and into the colon. The small intestine is responsible for absorbing approximately 80% of the fluid from ingested matter, while the large intestine (colon) further concentrates and forms the stool in preparation for defecation. When food passes too quickly through the system, it is incompletely digested, and the liquid component is not fully absorbed, resulting in diarrhea.
A number of things can cause intestinal irritation and the corresponding abnormally rapid transit of ingested material, including:
- Internal parasites (hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms, others)
- Infectious microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa; often from recent travel, boarding, hospitalization, trips to the groomer, etc.)
- Spoiled, unfamiliar, indigestible or decaying food
- Rich, spicy, salty or greasy food
- Dead animals (usually rodent or bird carcasses)
- Indigestible foreign objects (sticks, stones, bones, pebbles, cloth, plastic, rug fragments, bottle caps, etc.)
- Toxic substances (antifreeze, gasoline, household cleaners, insecticides, rodent bait, toilet bowl inserts, certain wild and domestic plants, certain wild mushrooms, over-the-counter and prescription drugs)
- Allergies to or intolerance of certain foods (milk, meat, fish, poultry, corn, wheat, eggs, soy, others)
- Stress (visits to the veterinarian, travel, cat shows, introduction of new household pets, household relocation, unfamiliar visitors)
- Abrupt change in diet
- Unfamiliar water (standing water in puddles or ponds, unfamiliar tap water during travel; protozoal organisms such as Giardia thrive in contaminated water)
- Administration of antibiotics or other medications
- Heavy metals
- Intestinal foreign bodies (may or not cause a mechanical obstruction)
- Cancer (neoplasia; especially lymphosarcoma and adenocarcinoma in domestic cats; also mast cell tumors)
- Irritable bowel syndrome; inflammatory bowel disease
- Accessible food from other pets that cat/kitten may ingest.
Your kitten has been wormed for all types of worms and protozoa. It will come with up to date vaccines, a USDA certified Health Certificate of Veterinary inspection, including a fecal float for parasites and stool abnormalities. If your kitten is being shipped and arrives with diarrhea, this is most likely a stress related temporary condition. Even though cats and kittens may seem very calm while traveling, it is still a stress factor that can cause the cat or kitten to have diarrhea. If the kitten develops diarrhea after it has been rehomed whether the kitten was shipped or picked up, it is most likely to be caused by both the stress of traveling and rehoming into an unfamiliar location, or/and the kitten has been offered a different diet.Although you may have an irrisistable urge to give that sweet begging little kitten some food treats, you will be doing it more harm than good. That is still a change in diet that can upset his/hers digestive system. Also make sure that your new kitten cannot get into another pet's food. Don't think that if it's high enough, the kitten can't get to it. If it can smell it or see it, the kitten will figure out a way to get to it.
Young kittens are predisposed to sudden bouts of diarrhea for whatever reason at any time. You should contact your vet immediately if the diarrhea does not improve withing 24 hours. Unattended Diarrhea can quickly dehydrate a kitten and more serious complications can develop, even death.
Cats need constant access to fresh, clean water. They should be encouraged to drink as much as possible. Increasing your cat's water intake helps flush the kidneys and urinary system, reducing the risk of urinary tract infections and disease. You can encourage your cat to consume more water by; feeding wet food, always keeping the water fresh, and putting out multiple water dishes - especially in a larger house. We use stainless steel water and food bowls. Also available are pet water fountains which circulate and filter water, and many cats love to drink from these.
Cats scratch surfaces as a way of marking territory and to remove old claw sheaths. It is a natural part of cat behavior, and must be accepted as such. Declawing is a cruel and unnecessary surgery, banned in the UK and other countries because it is inhumane. The adoption contract you signed specified that the cat you adopted must never be declawed or all health guarantees are void and null. Although many vets still provide this surgery, it is becoming more and more unpopular in the USA as pet owners become educated about the procedure, which involves the removal of the last bone and tendons in each digit of the paw. Cats will often have behavior and health issues after it has been declawed, with the most common, being that it will urinate and defecate outside the litter box, including your bed and furniture. You will find many cats in shelters that have been surrendered due to these behavior problems post declawing.
In order to avoid the destruction of furniture or carpets, immediately provide your cat with her own scratching surface. They prefer a sisal rope scratching post that is a tall, vertical surface to stretch up against and scratch.
All pet stores sell scratching posts, but the small ones are usually ignored by cats, Much preferable are the "cat trees" that often include a nest or bed of some sort. By providing your cat with her own piece of furniture, you will help avoid having her claim yours!