Grooming Your New Friend

kitten5Kittens start to groom themselves at a very young age. This is learned because their mothers spend many hours a day both grooming and caring for their baby kittens. Adult cats spend 10 percent of their day grooming themselves. Grooming is a good way to bond with a new kitten. Brushing a kitten can help establish a relationship between you and a kitten you have just brought home. It shouldn’t be a painful or hard routine to establish between you and your kitten either. It should be enjoyable for the both of you. As kitten gets accustomed to being brushed it can be incorporated into their regular grooming routine.

Brushing and combing a kittens fur is very important for several reasons. First it helps reduce shedding and fur balls. It also distributes the oil in kittens skin to the fur evenly to help reduce dryness. It also minimizes the fur matting and keeps it smooth and shiny. Depending on the kittens hair length helps determine the frequency of how many times a week to brush your kitten. Short haired cats can be brushed once or twice a week while long haired cats should be brushed daily. There are many different brushes to choose from. They range from soft rubber to hard metal ones. You want to try different ones to see the one that your kitten likes the most and then stick to that one.

To get kitten into the brushing habit you should start with short sessions from 5 to 10 minutes depending on your kittens tolerance level. As the kitten gets used to it you can increase the time. A kitten has to be relaxed enough for you to groom them.

You want to make your kitten relaxed first so they let you brush them. A good prerequisite to brushing is this grooming tip that mimics their mother grooming them. The idea is to take a barley damp wash cloth and wipe kitten down all over with short little strokes as if it were their mothers tongue. This reinforces kittens grooming techniques and further teaches kitten to groom themselves.

The next thing you want to do is play a little with kitten to let kitten completely relax and let off excess energy. When the playing winds down massage him behind the ears and under the chin. A female kitten will relax if you stroke her back and near the base of her tail. If you get the kitten to purr then they are relaxed enough for you to introduce the brush.

Do not show kitten the brush. As you pet them you transition to the brush. You do this slowly. If kitten gets antsy or annoyed you stop and go back to petting. Eventually kitten will let you brush him or her longer every time until you can brush the kitten with ease. Be careful of kittens sensitive areas like the belly, hind legs and tail.

Socializing Your Kitten

kitten4The reason kittens are best adopted between 8 and 12 weeks is because this is the ideal time to socialize them. Socializing them means you teach them how to interact with people and other animals in a positive fashion. After a kitten is 12 weeks old it becomes harder to socialize them. It is the first twelve weeks of a kittens life that lays the foundation for how they will interact with the rest of the world. How you interact with your kitten when you bring him home will determine his or her relationship with you as they grow into adulthood.

Kittens that leave their mothers too early or are not allowed to interact and play with their siblings in their litter grow up with behavior problems. By being with their mothers until they are appropriately weaned from them; as well as being with their litters at that time, teaches a kitten how to behave. As they grow they learn from watching and interacting with their mother and siblings. Every time they interact with their mother or their siblings they learn what is appropriate behavior for them with each member in that cat family. Play time for kittens with their family is very important for their behavioral and neurological development. Pouncing and stalking strengthens their neural and muscular development.

When your kitten comes home he still has the urge to pounce, stalk and prey. These natural instincts are satisfied when we buy toys and encourage kitten to play. Also when you let kitten play you are letting his aggression be expressed and this gives way to a calmer less aggressive adult cat. When kitten chases a toy and stalks and pounces on it, he is channeling his aggressive nature in a positive way.

In addition to playing kitten needs to be pet and handled as part of his socialization process. The more he is touched and handled in a good way, the more affectionate and friendly he will be as he grows into a cat. This helps kitten grow into a socialized cat that is human friendly. Besides bonding with you, its good to expose kitten to other people including children so he does not fear people as he grows up. In this way he won’t fear strangers or act aggressively to them. Kittens that are not exposed to people or children tend to reject them when they become adult cats. You don’t want a cat that attacks people out of fear because they don’t know how to behave around them. This way exposing kitten to people in a positive fashion allows kitten to be friendly with people as he grows and then ultimately you can have a friendly, loving cat on your hands.

Checking Kitty for Fleas

kitten3If you are adopting a kitten its a good idea to make sure the kitten you choose is a healthy one. There are general signs that a healthy kitten displays to let you know he or she is fine and ready to go. Even if your kitten appears to be in good health it is still recommended that you take your new kitten to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Its even better to take the kitten to the vet before you actually bring it home to be safe.

Here are some things you can check to make sure that the kitten is okay before it leaves with you to its new home. The first thing is the kittens coat. Generally kittens don’t have shiny coats, but it should appear soft and smooth and feel that way too. The kitten should not have bald spots or dry patches in its coat. These are usually signs that the kitten may have parasites or has ring worm.

Next you are going to check for any evidence of parasites on the kitten like lice and fleas. The way to do this is to take a moist paper towel and rub kittens fur to the skin with it. The paper towel will show blackish brown to red spots that are actually dirt left from the flees if the kitten is infested. Flees themselves look like big brown spots on kittens skin. Fleas also leave behind black spots. If kitten is scratching nonstop it is a sign that kitten has either fleas, lice or ring worm or a combination. You do not want an infested kitten in your home, if you still want the kitten take it to the vet for treatment first then continue home. You do not want the kitten to infest your home, furniture or other pets if you have them.

There are many flea and lice baths on the market but usually not recommended for a kitten under the age of 9 weeks. In some cases not under the age of 6 months. This is why it is necessary to take the kitten to the vet. They will prescribe a medicated bath or medicine to apply to the kitten to rid it of its skin infestation. If you suspect the kitten has this condition and it’s a pet store they are not supposed to sell a kitten that way and can get into trouble. You can tell them that you suspect the kitten has a skin infestation and ask them to treat it before you actually purchase it. You can also ask to take the kitten to the vet for treatment for the infestation before you purchase the kitten if you ask them first.

In either case parasites of the skin for kittens is easy to treat when caught and handled. Left untreated it can cause anemia and even death in small kittens.

Kitten-Proofing Your Home

kitten2Just like you have to child proof your home when your baby starts to move around you have to do the same with a kitten or cat. When you bring a new kitten home at 7 weeks or more it’s like starting with a two year old child. A kitten is just like a toddler. Kittens like to try new things and get into everything they can get their paws into. They like to climb, crawl into things and investigate. So, even though you may have bought them toys, you may find them more intrigued with things they should not get into or even touch. This is why kitten/cat proofing if extremely important. It’s also an issue of safety.

The same way a kitten will go for a piece of yarn you dangle down at them when you play with him or her , they will also go for blind chords, electric chords and wires thinking of them the same way. All these things have to be safely out of a new kittens reach to ensure no accidents occur. It is suggested by the experts that before your bring your kitten home you get on the floor and look around as they would to see the potential dangers that attract them. This way you can remove them or relocate them out of kittens reach for safety purposes.

Everything from Christmas tree tinsel, rubber bands, buttons, beads, needles, safety pins to small removable pieces of a toy can choke a kitten to death. Likewise the bell on his little collar if not secure becomes a toy when it falls off that can choke kitten also. Sharps things pose threats as well. For instance the twists on plastic bags if ingested can perforate kittens intestines causing death.

Just like house hold cleaners which are chemicals and medicines have to be put safely out of a small child’s reach; the same goes for a kitten. And don’t think because you put them in a cupboard or cabinet they are safe. Kittens and cats are smart and work diligently to pull open cabinets and cupboards with their paws. It is recommended that safety locks are put on the ones that kittens and cats can reach to avoid disaster. The same goes for appliances. Make sure your washer, driers, refrigerators and freezers are not closed on kitten or with kitten accidentally inside. So do not leave those doors opened either.

There have been kitten fatalities because someone forgot to look to make sure kitten wasn’t in a washing machine, dryer or under foot of a closing refrigerator door.

Plants can also be toxic to a kitten so if you have any plants check the lists that are available on line or ask your vet or pet store which ones are safe to have and which ones aren’t when it comes to kitten. A happy kitten and pet owner is one that has a safe and happy environment for kitten that you don’t have to worry for kittens safety in.

Bringing Your New Kitten Home

kitten1When you bring home your new kitten you want to integrate kitty into your life as easily as possible. If you live alone it will be easier to incorporate your new kitten into your home life. If you have pets already and other family members particularly small children then it makes it a little more challenging.

There is a little trick you can do before bringing kitten home if you do have a pet already to make the homecoming less stressful for both animals. What you do first is take a small hand towel and rub your current pet down with it. The scent of your pet will be imparted on the towel. When you go to take your new kitten home you put that same towel in the carrier with the new kitten so kitten can smell the pet you have at home. When you arrive at home with the new kitten you then take a towel and rub the kitten with it and give it to the current “Master of the Home” pet. This way your current pet will smell the new kitten too. You do not let the new kitten loose when you get home. You find a confined safe space to introduce the two pets to each other. Before you show the current pet the new kitten you give them the towel with the kittens scent again so they won’t react as aggressive as they would without recognizing the new baby’s scent.

Make the two pets first introduction short for the first few times. Basically show the old pet the new one and remove the new one. It takes about two weeks for two animals to adjust to each other. Gradually increase the time between the two but keep it supervised. Bringing home a new kitten can be very stressful for an older established pet. Do not fuss over the kitten when the old pet is present and lavish as much attention on the old pet so he or she does not feel displaced.

The same way you introduce your new kitten to your old pet is the same way you introduce it to the rest of your family. Gradually at first. If you have small children you need to sit them down and lay ground rules of what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior with the new kitten. They need to understand that the new kitten is not a toy. It is a living creature and needs to be handled with care. Make it clear that they are not to tease, chase or hurt the kitten in any way. This means when the kitten eats, sleeps and uses the litter box they should not bother the kitten either. Make sure they understand not to pull the kittens tail, ears or use any kind of hurtful behavior towards the kitten. Show them how to correctly hold the kitten. Time they spend with kitten should be supervised especially when their friends come to play.

Once kitten gets used to the environment, your family and your other pet/pets accepts kitten it should be smooth sailing. Don’t forget to spend a lot of time with your new kitten so you can bond with him or her as well. The quicker you two bond the better it is for you to train kitten and the more affectionate kitten will become to you and your family.