Your new Kitten

For all enquiries phone the Helpline 01992 626110 


Caring for your new kitten

Basic InformationWe recommend you keep a note of the various treatments your kitten receives, as suggested below:
Your kittens birthday is: _____________________
Last wormed: ______________________
Last anti-flea treatment: _____________________

You must de-worm your kitten every month until she is 6 months old and from thereon, every 1-3 months, as advised by your vet. Your vet can advise on the most suitable product, depending on her age. You must only use products suitable for kittens and NEVER use dog or puppy products. Also, never us medicines after their expiry date as they can become toxic.
You must treat your kitten for fleas every 3 months, or as advised by your vet.

You can purchase products from your vet, which will contain both an anti-flea and anti-worm treatment. It is important to treat for both, as fleas can re-infect your kitten with worms.

Your kitten can be vaccinated from 9 weeks of age, or as advised by your vet.

Your kitten should be neutered at 6 months old, or as advised by your vet.
Insert name of your vet here: _____________________________________________
Address of vet: _______________________________________________________
Telephone number for vet: _______________________________________________
In case of emergency, person who should be contacted to look after your kitten: ______

Pre-arrival kitten preparation!

Food


Kittens should be fed at least four meals a day, spread out throughout the day at equal intervals, with clean fresh water available all the time. In warm weather, take up the wet food so the flies are not attracted, once your cat has had her fill and give her a clean bowl each time. You can leave dry kitten food for your kitten to ‘graze’ on between meals.
Use good quality kitten food. Cat food is not suitable due to the different requirements for energy, protein and other nutrients.
At six months old, if your kitten is well grown, the number of meals may be gradually reduced to two a day, usually given about 12 hours apart. Ask us which kitten food your kitten has been fed on, and if you wish to change her food, you should not do so for the first 2 weeks. You may give your kitten small amounts of kitten milk, but never any other type of milk (such as cow’s milk) as this may give her an upset tummy. Food should be served at room temperature, not straight from the fridge as this may cause diahorrea.
A lot of people are now feeding their pets on a complete dried food, but if your cat doesn’t drink enough water, this can lead to problems, so a mixed diet of both tinned cat food and a good quality cat biscuit may be preferred.

Food and water bowls

You will need at least 2 or 3 shallow bowls for water and food. Your kitten will probably prefer glass, china or similar bowls for her food and a stainless steel bowl to keep her water in. Always wash pet bowls separately from your own.

Litter Tray

Your kitten should be fully litter trained when she arrives, but make sure she knows where her new tray is. Place her into her new litter tray after her first few meals. Don’t force her to stay in it, if she doesn’t want to! Always wear gloves when cleaning out the litter tray, and pregnant women should take additional precautions due to the possible risk from toxoplasmosis, a tiny parasite which can be found in cat faeces. The risks are reduced if the litter tray is emptied, washed and disinfected (check it’s pet safe) once a day.
If she urinates outside the litter box, it may be because she doesn’t consider it clean enough to use. Alternatively, it could indicate a medical problem, if you keep it clean and the problem does not resolve.

Cat bed

Cats need an easily cleaned, cosy, bed. It can be lined with soft towelling or a fleecy blanket. Keep the bed in a warm, draught-free spot. The bedding needs to be washed regularly on a hot wash. If you only have one kitten, they may appreciate a cuddly toy for company as they will be missing their mother and litter mates, and even a warm (not hot) hot water bottle.
Give your kitten a chance to sleep for a good deal of the day. Remember, she is a young animal, not a toy, and children should be taught to respect her as such and allow her to sleep. As she gets older, she will choose her own sleeping places – cats tend to feel safer if they are up higher than ground level.

Toys

Cats love playing with toys, and they are important for learning, socialisation and bonding with you. You can buy 'cat toys' from pet shops and supermarkets, but often a ball of paper works as well. Cardboard boxes with kitten sized holes cut in them are also a favourite! Never leave your kitten to play on her own with small toys or those with string attached as they are prone to swallowing these items.

Grooming items

If you can get your kitten used to being handled and groomed at an early age, including checking her eyes and ears, it will make her much easier to handle (for you and your vet!) should the need arise. It is also a good way to bond with your kitten. Brushes are available at all pet shops and ensure you get the correct type of brush to suit your kitten (i.e. long or short haired.)

Scratching Post

Scratching is part of normal cat behaviour, and they do this to shed their old claws, as well as sharpen the new growth. Scratching posts are easily bought from a pet shop, and cats also love thick coir door mats, which are cheap to buy. Place the scratching post in front of where the cat has tried to scratch, and she should soon use it. Once it's in regular use, you can move the post to a better location if required. Encourage your cat by playing with her around the post. Ensure the post is the right height: high enough so that she cat can stretch fully.
If your cat does scratch the furniture, you can should move her to her scratching post and reward her for good behaviour. If this doesn’t work you, shake a can filled with pebbles to interrupt the bad behaviour. If all else fails, a short squirt from a plant misting bottle (containing only fresh water) and a firm ‘no’ may be necessary. You must NEVER smack your kitten or shout at her. You will lose her trust.

Cat carrier

You will need a sturdy carrier to collect your new kitten and to take her along to the vet's, and there are lots of different types of carriers available at very reasonable prices from your local pet shop. Cardboard cat-carriers are not recommended as they can collapse if they get wet with urine, for example. Cardboard boxes are not safe – your kitten will escape! The cat carrier should be large enough so that she is not cramped, and lined with newspaper, in case of accidents. A blanket from home may also be appreciated, to comfort her.
Never leave your cat in a hot car, or unattended. Most car seatbelts can be looped through a cat carrier handle to provide extra security.

Collar and Identification

Some cats don't like collars at all, but it is well worth trying to persuade your cat that it is a good idea. An identity tag can be attached to the collar, engraved with your telephone number (the barrel type tend to come unscrewed over time) and if your cat brings in birds, you may wish to attach a bell to forewarn them of her arrival. A reflective collar is a must, which alerts motorists. Make sure the collar has an elastic insert, or a break away clasp (and check this in the shop that it’s not too stiff to break away), so that it can slip off should it be caught in the branch of a tree. You should not put it on too tight and should be able to get 2 fingers between the collar and your cat. Get your kitten used to wearing a small collar whilst she is still contained indoors, so you can monitor her reaction to it for a few days. Some cats sustain injuries from getting their paw or even lower jaw stuck in their collar, trying to remove it. You may need to try several collars to find one that your cat will accept. Loosen or replace it as she grows.

Identichip

We strongly recommend an 'identichip' as a permanent way of identifying your cat - this can be painlessly inserted under a cat's skin by a vet. Ideally, this can be done when she is being neutered, but it can be done anytime. Don’t underestimate the ability of a cat or kitten to get lost. If you move house or change your phone number, don’t forget to change your details with the microchip company. Consider also giving details of a second carer, in case you are on holiday etc . Many pets are reunited each year with their owners via their microchip. Losing your family pet is a heart-breaking experience and you will want to know that you have done everything possible to ensure she is returned to you, should she be found either lost or injured. This also means that you get to make the decisions on her welfare and future, rather than someone else. Elderly and long-term medicated pets are particularly vulnerable in this regard. It is NEVER too late to get your cat micro chipped! Ask us about a special rate for cats adopted from the Scratching Post.

The first few days…

It is important for your new kitten to arrive to a calm house and not to be pulled around too much, as she will be quite scared having just left her mother and home. Your home will seem like a big scary place. If you can take 2 litter mates together, it will help the transition. Also, try to bring her home when there's going to be a member of the family there for a few days.
She should be kept in a warm room where she can feel secure and comfortable. She should not be given the run of the whole house to start with. Depending on the kitten's nature she may well want to explore every corner of the new home or may well hide away and sleep. Don't forget it's a new environment, so wait until she comes to you and then talk and stroke her gently. Make sure there is a litter tray prepared. Make sure that any escape routes, such as windows and doors are closed. Keep oven, washing machine and tumble dryer doors closed. Block any small holes behind kitchen cabinets and appliances, and keep the toilet seat down! Remove anything that your new kitten may chew on, swallow or get caught in – string, needles, elastic bands, cotton, paper clips, twist ties…. carrier bags (a particular favourite) etc etc! Never forget that kittens are tiny, nosy and fearless!
Kittens are prone to getting upset stomachs, especially after a move, and if this happens, you should put her onto a bland diet of boiled chicken / white fish. Coley is a good choice as it’s cheap and not too many bones – which should of course be carefully removed - with washed and well cooked rice (about 1 part rice to 3 parts chicken/fish.) If the diahorrea becomes watery, or prolonged (over a few days), or the kitten become quiet or different in temperament, then you should seek veterinary attention immediately. Trust your instincts; if in doubt, call the vet.
Not too far from the food/water (but not too close!) should be the litter tray. You may have to show your new kitten where all of these things are.

Keeping your kitten safe

Going Out

You should not let your kitten out until she has been fully vaccinated and neutered, at around six months of age. At first, you should go out with her, and perhaps take her on a special cat lead. Examine your garden for any hidden dangers, such as un-covered ponds, holes, or poisonous plants, and make your garden a safe place for your kitten to explore. Let her out before meal times, so she is still hungry, to encourage her to come home. Keep a door open so she can run inside if she feels scared.
As cats are very independent, once your cat is old enough (and sensible enough!) to go out on her own, a cat flap is ideal, if it can go directly out to a safe garden. However, consider dealing with cats coming in from outside to eat your cat's food! If this is a potential problem, it may be worthwhile considering a magnetic 'collar-operated' cat flap, that only opens when your cat approaches. Alternatively, a 4-way locking cat flap is good for cats who are difficult to persuade to stay in at night, as she can come in to the safety of the house, when it gets dark, but with the setting on ‘in only’ she can’t get back out again until you un-lock it again it the following morning. Just make sure you never lock her out overnight by mistake!
If you are not going to install a cat flap, you must ensure that your kitten has a place of shelter and safety in your garden – a shed with a warm bed, water supply and a cat flap in the door is ideal. Make your garden an interesting and stimulating place for her to explore, and she won’t need to wander to find excitement! Kittens and young cats have no road sense and very little sense of direction, and become lost easily. If you live near a busy road, you should take every precaution to keep your cat away from it

. A reflective collar or cat coat may help in increasing their visibility. Block access from the front to the back garden – consider anti-climb paint if necessary for your gates! Keep her in after dark, and don’t let her out until after dawn. Most missing cats disappear overnight. This will also protect the local bird population!

Neutering

The Scratching Post advocates the neutering of all cats, even if you plan to keep them indoors. There is a cat over-population crisis in the UK and many are destroyed every day (N.B. the Scratching Post will never put a healthy cat to sleep). One female cat can be responsible for tens of thousands of descendants, and inevitably many of these will become homeless, with a life of misery, hunger, cold and untreated illness. The UK stray cat population is estimated to be 2.5 million. We ask you to agree to neutering your kitten as a condition of adoption from the Scratching Post and may follow up with you to ensure that this has not been forgotten.
Neutering promotes a happier and more enjoyable pet, with a longer life expectancy. Un-neutered male cats, as well as fathering hundreds of kittens, get involved in more fights, can spray urine to mark their territory and roam more. Fighting can lead to abscesses, as well as increasing the chance of developing other diseases spread through saliva and blood, such as FeLV (Feline Leukaemia Virus) and FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). Both these diseases can also be transmitted at the time of mating. Making them less territorial by neutering will therefore decrease the risks of disease. A roaming cat will also be more likely to be involved in a road traffic accident.
A female cat should not be allowed to have a litter before being neutered. A female kitten can come into season as early as 4 months, and pregnancy at this young age could kill both her and the unborn litter. Mating can also present a danger to your female cat. Neutering females also reduces the incidence of mammary tumours later on in life.
Both male and female cats can be neutered from six months old (please be guided by your vet). If you are on a low income or receiving benefits, ask your vet about schemes for free or low-cost neutering in your area.

Introductions to other pets

If you have another pet, don’t expect them to be as excited as you are about the new arrival. Give them time to get used to each other – it may take several weeks or even months before they either become friends or develop an understanding! Don’t rush this process. If you have any other pets in the house, keep them away from the kitten for the first few days and then gradually start introducing their scents to each other by letting them sniff each others areas (whilst they aren’t there.) Then take a cloth and wipe over each cat, before transferring the scent to the other cat. When you do allow them to meet, make sure you are there to supervise and separate, in case they don’t hit it off initially! Don’t give up too early into the process. You have taken on a rescue kitten, and she will need time and patience, as will your resident pet. Make sure they both feel loved and secure.
Never ever leave a cat and dog alone in the same room together, and keep your dog on a lead when he first meets your new kitten. Not all dogs will accept a kitten.

Socialising

It is important that kittens are handled as soon as possible, but you have to recognise that some cats never like being picked up! However, the more contact a kitten has with other cats and humans, the more likely it is to grow into a happy, friendly cat. Remember, however, to make sure that the kitten is protected by its vaccination regime before it comes into contact with other cats or cat-owning people.
Social training is also important. Any behaviour that can be amusing in a kitten may be frightening in an adult. The kitten that scratches or bites might be funny, but it won’t be when they are an adult! Every time your kitten does something that is unacceptable, a firm 'no' will usually work. Don't get angry at your kitten, but make sure it knows what is OK, and what is not.

Vet Trips

Your kitten will need to be registered with a local veterinary surgeon and will need to visit them once a year for her routine annual vaccination , and for you to pick up worming and flea treatments for the coming year. This will protect her, and provide documentation should she need to go into a cattery at any point, either planned or expectedly. Prevention of infectious diseases through vaccinations is an essential part of cat care and should be begun as early as possible. Your pet can be vaccinated against killer diseases, such as feline leukaemia, feline influenza ('cat flu'), feline infectious enteritis and the less common feline chlamydial infection.
Ask us for names of vets in your area if you are not sure where to go, or speak to neighbours for recommendations.
Try and get your kitten used to travelling in the car from an early age. A vet would rather see healthy pets than sick ones that should have been treated earlier, so if you are worried about your pet it is always best to contact the practice. If your cat is unwell, there may have been a change in behaviour, eating or toilet habits - she may be sleepier or off her food, or just generally 'off-colour'. Trust your instincts. Check her eyes and ears regularly.
Veterinary bills can be expensive. The predictable regular routine needs, such as vaccinations and worming, can be budgeted for, but it is the unexpected costs that may difficult to manage. The treatment associated with a road accident can run into hundreds of pounds, and many cat-owners are now considering pet insurance, which helps cover the unexpected. You may wish to consider pet insurance. Check all the details of the policy very carefully, as well as just the premiums, and ask your vet for any recommendations. There are plenty of organisations around that offer this. If you decide not to take out pet insurance, another idea is to put aside a regular amount each month into a separate savings account, earmarked for ‘pet expenses.’
Make sure you know what your vet’s arrangements are for out of hours emergencies.

Holidays

Preparing for a holiday has to be done well in advance. You should not take your new kitten home if you are planning a holiday in the near future. If you are putting your cat in a cattery, find out what vaccinations are necessary and book a place well in advance - good catteries get booked up very quickly and will certainly require an up to date vaccination certificate. Ask your cat-owning friends and local vet for recommendations on local catteries and pet sitters.
Visit the cattery before you make the booking to ensure that it is clean and well run. Check with reputable organisations such as the Feline Advisory Bureau for a list of their recommended catteries in your area. A bad stay in a cattery can result in illness and trauma for your cat. Are there barking dogs nearby which might upset her? Are the surroundings clean, peaceful and secure? What are their procedures in case your cat should get ill whilst you are away? How often will they tend to the cats? Do the owners seem like cat lovers? Is there heating in Winter?! Some catteries will let you take a blanket from home, to give them comfort. Specialist diets should be catered for, and any medication administered.
Are you getting a house-sitter? Check out the references, and make sure all eventualities are covered.


This booklet is dedicated to Max

House and garden plants (and other poisons)

Eating plants is a common but dangerous habit, especially in kittens, who tend to chew everything they encounter, as many household plants are extremely poisonous. One good meal of the common houseplant dieffenbachia, lilies, mother-in-laws tongue (also called ‘snake plant,’ real name Sansevieria) or other ‘fleshy’ plants is usually the last meal your cat will eat. Consult with your local garden centre and do not keep poisonous plants in your house. Lilies in particular are extremely deadly to cats and there have been well-documented cases of cats dying after merely brushing against lily of the valley and then ingesting the poison by grooming. Remove the plants or confine your cat to an area with no plants.

No cat is perfect and all it takes is one mistake for disaster to result. There are so many non-poisonous plants to choose from, why take the risk?

Also, take a look at the plants in your garden and ensure you cat cannot eat any poisonous plants there – common ones which are highly toxic include deadly nightshade, foxglove, laburnum, azaleas, daffodils, leaves/stems of tomato plants, hydrangea, philodendrons and foxglove. Also, Mistletoe and Poinsettia should be kept away from your kitten/cat.



Dieffenbachia




dieffenbachia 2




Lily of the valley




Foxglove




Deadly nightshade




Mother in laws tongue



Other common household and garden items can be very poisonous, such as cleaning fluids, slug pellets and anti-freeze.
Check your garage/ shed for dangerous items and potential poisons, and keep them well out of reach.
Also note that chocolate is toxic to cats. The darker and more bitter the chocolate is, the more toxic it is.
Protect your kitten as you would a young child. Do not delay.

Further Help

IF YOU HAVE ANY OTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR KITTEN, PLEASE DON’T HESITATE TO CONTACT US FOR HELP AND ADVICE – THAT’S WHAT WE’RE HERE FOR!
REMEMBER, IT’S A BIG MOVE FOR YOUR KITTEN TO COME AND LIVE WITH YOU, AND YOU MUST BE PATIENT WHILST SHE SETTLES IN.
WE WISH YOU BOTH MANY YEARS OF HAPPINESS TOGETHER.
HOWEVER, IF SOMETHING OCCURS WHICH MEANS THAT YOU CAN NO LONGER KEEP YOUR KITTEN, EITER IN ONE WEEK, ONE YEAR OR TEN YEARS, WE ALWAYS MAKE IT A PRIORITY TO TAKE OUR CATS BACK
THE SCRATCHING POST HELPLINE: 01992 626110
www.scratchingpost.co.uk
Shop: 107 Lancaster Road, Enfield, EN2

If you would like to join us as a member, you will receive our newsletter with updates on our charity, plus invitations to our events.
Please cut out and return the membership form below:

I would like to become a member of ‘The Scratching Post’ (Rescue & Shelter appeal for cats).
Name: ___________________________________________________
Address: ___________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
___________________________Post code________________
Telephone No: ___________________________________________
Enclosed is my membership fee of £7.00 made payable to ‘The Scratching Post’.
Please return to: June Delaney, 1 Hampden Crescent, Cheshunt, Herts, EN7 5AX

Scratching Post Homepage

Back to top of page