I just realized I have no idea what I'm doing. - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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I just realized I have no idea what I'm doing.

Hi! This is my first post here, although I've been lurking (and reading a LOT) for the past few days. I've wanted one since I was little but my parents are dog people. I'm finally in a position where I think I can do right by a pet (financially stable, not away from the house too long, etc.), so I'm getting a cat tomorrow (hopefully - if I find one that 'clicks' at the rescue place). I've been prepping for a couple of days getting things already. I've cleaned my apartment, cat-proofed everything as best I can, laid in a supply of food (good wet food, thanks to you people and your information on cat feeding) and cat litter, and basically just done as much as I can.

The trouble is that I'm now realizing that, although I've known cats before and read as much as I can about they're care, I have no idea what I'm doing. For example, how do you introduce a cat to a litter box? Will he just find it on his own, or do I need to introduce him to it? And if I introduce him, should I just show him the box and he'll be all like, "Oh hey, it's a litter box, I know what that is" or...? I'm lost.

So, any advice for a completely new and lost cat owner would so much appreciated. This is my first 'real' pet (I've had a snake for six years, and I love him dearly, but taking care of him is more like taking care of a houseplant who eats), and I'm so worried I'm going to screw up.

Edit - if it helps, I'm planning on adopting an adult cat, so at least one of us will know what they're doing...
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 04:37 PM
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Re: I just realized I have no idea what I'm doing.

Show him or her where the litter is and they'll know what to do.

Depending on the cat it might run and hide for a while when it first gets into a new environment. It may be afraid that there are predators in your house.

The last time people tried to elimate free roaming cats it resulted in The Black Plague.
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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 04:52 PM
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Re: I just realized I have no idea what I'm doing.

Yes, plan to confine the new kitty to one room, where he/she can't get under furniture, to begin with. Provide a covered bed or a box that he/she can hide in if desired. The litterbox and food should be in this room (on opposite sides). If there's no inclination to hide, then you can let him/her free to roam.

When I bring a new cat into the house, or bring my cats to a new place....I open the carrier right next to the litter box so they have it as a reference point.


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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 05:37 PM
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Re: I just realized I have no idea what I'm doing.

While my first cat moved in, did a quick check of the premisis and took over I did have to dismantle the room I dedicated to my second cat to get near her. It all depends on the cat. I'm lucky I didn't let the second girl lose in the house with all it's running room and hiding places or we might never have gotten to know each other.

The last time people tried to elimate free roaming cats it resulted in The Black Plague.
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 05:53 PM
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Re: I just realized I have no idea what I'm doing.

Good luck when you go to the Rescue Center tomorrow! My only thought is once your bring your new friend home to just sit quietly in the room with him/her so they can get used to you on their own terms.


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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 05:59 PM
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Re: I just realized I have no idea what I'm doing.

Yep, we make it sound like a big ordeal when it's really so much fun.

The last time people tried to elimate free roaming cats it resulted in The Black Plague.
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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 07:15 PM
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Re: I just realized I have no idea what I'm doing.

When we brought Mak in I knew he needed to be confined to a small room at first, so I set him up my (then) large bathroom with everything he needed... Well, that didn't last long. After about 10 minutes, when he got bored of cuddles from his new people, he was meowing at the door to explore the rest of the place. Just goes to show every cat is different!

Your cat will know what the litterbox is for no problem, so no worries there.

Honestly, if your future cat is anything like mine... If you're doing something wrong they will let you know without hesitation!


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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Re: I just realized I have no idea what I'm doing.

Thank you all for the advice and reassurance! I'll be sure to share pictures once s/he settles in.
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 08:23 PM
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Re: I just realized I have no idea what I'm doing.

If it's a kitten, I always cuddled with them at night. And if it's an adult, I still kept it in my bedroom. I've been fortunate; even the adults liked to sleep on the bed. I think it's wise to introduce the new kitty to the house gradually.

All will be fine. Just give the kitty lots of calm reassurance and good food. And give her a chance to get used to the house. As Dave said, the cat might hide at first. Don't worry. If it was friendly and purring at the shelter, it won't take long for your new baby to get used to the new quarters. You're in for a happier life! I'd hate to think of life without a purring kitty.

PS Introduce the new kitty to the litter box, and I think all will be well. They like a place to scratch and bury the waste.




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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 09:06 PM
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Re: I just realized I have no idea what I'm doing.

When I brought Zenobi (senior -- elevenish) home she made straight for the litterbox. As I had decided to give her as much freedom as possible, I opened most of the doors. Two closets, the second bedroom, the basement to allow her to explore 'her home'. There were a couple of problems due to her past experiences. She was always terrified after she'd used the litterbox. I finally decided that she'd been punished at some time for spreading litter -- which she's quite good at -- and I spoke calmly to her in the spot she'd chosen as the best place to hide. When that didn't help, I started to just clean the litterbox and say nothing. That seems to have worked quite well, although after eight month she still has anxiety days. Food was another problem. She wouldn't touch the good stuff I bought. I managed to get her to eat tuna, and then tried her with the Whiskas dried that I'd been feeding to the recently killed feral. That was good. The only problem was that she started throwing it up as undigested tuna and kibble. This is where reading this forum came in handy as someone mentioned that tuna was bad for them. I stopped that and the kibble stayed down. After more experimentation I settled on the Whiskas kibble (salmon flavour is her favourite) and Friskies salmon dinner,she won't touch the other flavours). I would have given her the best, but I suspect she doesn't like the turkey that is used for a lot of the protein. (That's not true for the cat that sometimes turns up looking for nosh, as it did today. I gave it some of the 'better' kibble that Zenobi won't touch.)

The thing is, that cats are individuals; somewhat like humans in that regard, and what suits one does not suit the other.

The other big problem that I had was her biting me for what seemed like no good reason. Three times, but one was when she mistook my thumb for a cat toy. Then, thinking about it, I relalised that she did it when she saw a petting hand approaching from the wrong angle. Pure supposition, but I think she may have often been grabbed by the scruff of the neck and beaten. I gave her a lecture about biting with repeat demos as to what was not good by pretending to bite my own arm and pointing to her. "You bit me." Eventually she hung her head and turned away. She's only bitten me once since then, and I think that was an unthinking reaction. She did hang her head that time as well. Now I watch where my hands are. I rarely pick her up, and then never to pet her. I never hold her against her will. I try to treat her as I'd want to be treated if I were a cat.

I know some of the above goes against the general advice given on this site, but it's worked well for the two of us.

When I chose her, by the way, I did so because she looked terribly depressed in her cage. I had intended to foster a cat first, but when I saw her condition, I gave up that idea.

I don't suppose I'd be able to be as permissive if I had more than one cat, or if I didn't live alone. Still I thought I'd lay out my experience in case it there would be a time when it came in handy.

By the way, she gave up the nightly closet inspection that she'd been doing. She does come to see me first thing in the morning and she loves to make sure I'm safe in bed at night, although she might be coming to watch the strange routine of the changing of skin that takes place.

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