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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-19-2003, 01:33 PM Thread Starter
Tae
 
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Potential Cat Owner Queries

I'm a long-time dog lover, and I've lived and currently live with a dog. But lately I've been yearning for a cat, too, since I like them too. But I know very little about cats. I do know that they're more aloof and less people-oriented than most dogs, but that they still require attention, especially kittens!

I've decided to ask some questions here, since I'm assuming that the forum regulars here are cat experts.

I plan to get a cat or kitten from the local animal shelter, so I'm not in search of a purebred, though I'm hoping I'll find a siamese or snoeshoe at the shelter, since I'd love a vocal cat.

Anyway, here are some questions I hoped to get answered some time or another, but that I haven't found online.

How much time does a kiten require when first adopted? I was hoping I could adopt one during winter holiday vacation, which is 12 days long, but I'm not so sure that a kitten would learn what to avoid doing in that time period! Do you think that I should get an older cat instead?

Is cat furniture really a worthwile investment, or does a regular cardboard or carpet scratching post do the job as well?

What kinds of toys keep cats interested for the longest time?

What training aids, such as bitter apple spray, work on most cats?

Too bad cats don't chew rawhide and

And what are some good websites and books that might help me in my quest for kitty knowledge?

Thanks in advance.

Edit: Oops. I should have put this in general cat chat, shouldn't I have? Sorry about that!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-19-2003, 02:27 PM
 
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How much time does a kitten require when first adopted?
That really depends. A 12-week-old kitten should be using a litter box just fine and will probably be okay alone all day. But I personally think kittens are happier when they have a playmate, and a dog isn't the best playmate for a tiny little kitten. So I would get two kittens. They will help teach each other manners, and wear each other out running around. If you only want one cat, I would opt for getting an older one.

Is cat furniture really a worthwile investment?
I don't own any cat furniture, and never have through 7 cats over the years. I do have a small scratching board that my babies love. I bought it at PetCo.

What kinds of toys keep cats interested for the longest time?
Mine LOVE plastic and paper bags and boxes. I consider the plastic bag a supervised toy, since they sometimes chew on them. My girls also go nuts over a crinkly mylar ball they have. It came in a six-pack at PetCo as well. They enjoy their wand, but that requires me to be around. Finally, they like their Kitty Hoots brand crunchy chipmunk.

What training aids work on most cats?
I've never used anything but a spray bottle of water to squirt them when they are being naughty. Cats don't chew the way dogs do.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-19-2003, 05:30 PM
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This is a great site for all kinds of quesions about cats-especially if it's your first one.
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Poin ... wners.html

I agree that two kittens would be much happier when left alone, but they will be overjoyed when you come home. Kittens are very playful, a bit klutzy (in comparison with the elegant walk of a cat. Cats can step around tiny things and not disturb them. At 12 weeks, the youngest I would hope your kitten would be sent to a home, she will be litter trained, drinking and eating well from a bowl, and able to run and play and have you laughing. She will love your lap, because they sleep more hours than they are awake.

They are unbelievably sweet looking, love to sleep and love to teethe on their owner's fingers, and jump on anything that moves. They love to jump on paper bags and like everything that has a crinkly sound. Any scratching post is fine. You will have to reinforce the word "no" and use Bitter Apple, as you mentioned, because they love to climb draperies and furniture. My reinforcement is a clap and a NO! Then you physically move the kitten. Catnip toys are very good for bringing out the playfulness of both cats and kittens.

A cat is a larger, more elegant version, less playful, unless she has another cat to chase. I love kittens. Kittenhood doesn't last long enough for me, but if you take home a cat, you will probably be saving her life. Most people insist on a kitten. Go to the shelter and meet the cats and kittens. One of them will "speak" to your heart. You are in for a treat, either way!




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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-19-2003, 06:59 PM
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You had mentioned that cats are less people oriented than dogs. That does apply in some cases but much of it depends on the breed and how it is brought up from a kitten. The fact that a cat sleeps many hours a day might make it seem less interested in people but if you want a people oriented cat, bring it up with love and affection and it will grow to know and expect that. My cat is part Russian Blue, which is a "people" cat and he is always following me around the house, and he is quite vocal. I have heard that Siamese are like that as well. You can find a lot of sweet cats at the local shelter and you can feel good that you are giving a home to an otherwise homeless cat (or cats).

I agree that you should get 2 cats, preferrably littermates. One cat can get lonely when there is nobody around and may want interactive play more often. That is how my cat is and I don't always have the time. I really wish I had gotten another cat when I got him. 2 cats can play together and stay active chasing each other around the house. They also offer each other company when nobody is around.

Good luck and let us know how this turns out. Welcome to the forum.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-20-2003, 11:38 PM
 
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Hi, Tae, and welcome! I'm new as well, but I have 4 cats and a dog, so I am happy to give you some tips.

I also think 2 kittens or cats is a good idea so that they will have company. Our first cat was alone for a year and is nowhere near as well-socialized as our other 3, who joined our family later. We have 2 littermates in our bunch, and it was really good for them as kittens to have a rough-and-touble playmate. This is important, I think, because they are then less likely to want to play rough with humans. We didn't have to correct hand-biting/playing and other rough play with the littermates nearly as much as we did with our first single cat.

I would also make sure your dog is really cat-safe. Has she or he met other cats and kittens? I would be careful with the introductions, and wouldn't leave them alone together, at least at first. Even if your dog likes the kitten, s/he could hurt it when playing unsupervised. If the dog is anything other than a toy size, I would discourage any playing between the dog and cat, and only allow sniffing, licking, and other sorts of bonding behaviors.

I believe every cat will be vocal if encouraged. There was a study done at a university a while ago that found that feral cats rarely meowed, but cats who live with people meow all the time. So it is a learned behavior, if it gets the right reaction. We have always praised for meows, racoon-trills, teeth-chattering, yowls, etc. because I just love to hear my babies talk! So if you treat them and pay attention when they do it, they will do it even more.

Your cat or cats will be fine spending time alone, and you will probably find having a cat is much easier than having a housedog. No walks, no constantly letting the dog out, no strict feeding schedules, etc. Oh, that reminds me--be sure to keep the kitten's food away from the dog; it could make your dog sick from the higher protein.

I would go for a sisal rope scratching post. It lasts longer than carpet and my cats prefer it. You may want to weight the bottom of the post to make sure the cat doesn't tip it. And if your cat wants to claw your chair arms, you can try putting packing tape on the chair arms for a while; the cat won't like to scratch that and you can redirect it to the post. Also, don't force a cat's paws onto a post; they usually don't like that. Just get down and start scratching the post with your fingernails; that usually attracts a cat.

BTW, I recommend the book Think Like a Cat by Pam Johnson Bennett.

Good luck! I hope you get your kitty or kitties soon! And I think it's great to use the shelter. 3 of ours were strays we took in, and I'm so happy we did!
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-21-2003, 04:32 AM
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An afterthought but one that shouldn't be overlooked. If you get a cat or cats, I hope that you plan on keeping them indoors. If they are not accustomed to going outside they will be content living indoors and will not be subjected to the many dangers outside cats face.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-21-2003, 12:06 PM
 
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Tae:

It's very good that you are asking questions before you get a cat.

Two things I wanted to make note on first, kittens generally do not require as much time as puppies do. Owners with young pups always worry about being gone too much, specially for house training reasons, kittens typically adjust very well to the hours you are gone at work, they can be very independant creatures when they have to amuse themselves.
A lot of people who have not had any experience with cats, or only negative ones often thing they do not bond as much with their owners as dogs do, which is completely false, it all has to do with breeding, how much time you spend with them in the early beginning, keeping them indoors also helps form a stronger bond. Just treat them like you would your best friend, or a dog, and they'll be your forever side kick.
Secondly, I also hope that you keep your next cat indoors, it is much safer for them. Some people have different views on this, but if you keep your cat highly amused at home, with toys, scratching posts, tree's etc then your cat will be fine. You can even train them to walk on a harness and leash if you really wanted to give them some outdoor time.

As for your orginial questions.

1.) As far as time, spend as much time with the kitten as you can, playing, petting, sleeping with, get them used to you petting them while they eat, teach them that it's ok if you take their bowl away from them for a moment before they are done eating. You want to pet your kitten all over, get them used to touching their face, paws, belly, ears.
You can get an older cat, lord knows they need the most help adoption wise! You can look for an adult that fits your personality, and things will generally get off well, I have adopted both kittens and adults, all have had the potential to work out great, and others regaudless of age, will be set in their ways.

2.) If you have an indoors cat, cat furniture is a good idea, get as nice and complex of a cat tree as you can afford (or even build one yourself) and typically place it next to a window. There are also window beds you can get for cats which they love! The more ok places you have for a cat to scratch the smaller the problem you might ever have of the kitten scratching in the wrong place.

3.) Cat nip toys, interactive toys, danglers which you play with them with a variety of attachments at the end. Rolling balls with bells in them, and then there is good ol fuzzy mice. Just get them an assortment, leave some out one week, and then put the old ones away and put out new ones for a while, adn then keep rotating so the toys always seem new and fresh to the cat. There are of course boxes and bags, there are some very simple things that make cats happy!

3.) Training aids. This depends on how stern of an owner you are. Some people don't like cats up on the table (I don't mind). Kittens can be hard set to steal your food while your eating a meal, and you'll just have to teach them "no" and "down", keep putting them down, and away from your food, teach them the only food that is there's is whatever you put in their bowl, or what you put on the floor infront of them. If worse comes to worse, you can put the kitten behind a shut door while you finish your meal, most cats will grow out of this food craze.
Bitter Apple, and Tabacco sauce can work for things like chewing wires. You can put a little on whatever service you do not want the cat to chew.

Are you looking to adopt a cat from a shelter or rescue? Or from a breeder?
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-21-2003, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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Wow- so many replies! And all so helpful. I feel much more knowledgable. I'll go take a look at that website and that book, among other things before I go out and search for a kitten.

I am thinking of getting a kitten instead of a cat, though I'll feel guilty about not rescuing a grown one. But the thing is, my dog met a kitten once and wagged his tail and was incredibly gentle and calm, but growled at a cat he saw! He seems to know what's young and vulnerable and what is able to fend for itself. He's a collie, and thereby a very protective pup, but he makes friends easily and after a careful period of introduction, he'll probably treat the kitten with care, if he'll take any interest at all. I'm a little optomistic about that, as a friend of mine has a rottweiler and a bernese mountain dog that sleep with a kitten and treat it much like a puppy! I know I can't place my hopes that high though... yet.

I'll try and adopt littermates, which will probably be easy, as the local shelter has a LOT of kittens all the time. They spay and neuter all the pets they find and put in their shelter, but there are still so many people that have litters of kittens and instantly pack them up and give them to the shelter. The puppies go so fast there, but older cats have a really tough time getting adopted. Luckily they only put aggressive, fatally ill, or otherwise unadoptable pets to sleep.

Quote:
I believe every cat will be vocal if encouraged. There was a study done at a university a while ago that found that feral cats rarely meowed, but cats who live with people meow all the time. So it is a learned behavior, if it gets the right reaction. We have always praised for meows, racoon-trills, teeth-chattering, yowls, etc. because I just love to hear my babies talk! So if you treat them and pay attention when they do it, they will do it even more.
Yay! That's good to hear, I love vocal kitties.

It's also good to hear that cats usually don't need a feeding schedule. Neither does my dog, and so I was hoping any remotely finicky feline had similar attitudes to kibble.

Even though I love going on walks with my dog and exercizing with him, I'll love having a meowing kitty to snuggle up with when I'm feeling less energetic.

I'll also definetly keep my cat indoors. My neighborhood is by a park, so it is full of dogs. And also of cats that get let outside: and so I hear of cats being torn up by loose dogs, cats being mauled by other cats, cats being run over by cars, and cats getting lost much more than I'd care to hear. I'll keep my cat indoors ALL the time, I don't want to take risks I don't need to take. I just might get a cat tree or other furniture with sisal, and put it by a window, so that she can watch the birds without risking run ins with dangerous things.

Thanks for all the help, guys!
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-21-2003, 09:39 PM
 
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What kinds of toys keep cats interested for the longest time?

My boys prefer a piece of paper to most cat toys. They also love to chase around balls. Cody has an old stuffed tiger that he loves to attack. He'll grab it and start rolling around and kicking at it while he bites it.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-22-2003, 06:11 PM
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Tae, As a collie owner, you just have to read about Pixie's Rescue! It's short and sweet:
https://www.catforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=670

If your collie has a typical Collie disposition, you won't have a problem. Of course, considering the size difference, and the fact that your Collie was not raised with cats as mine were, you'll have to watch at first. My Collie turns his back to children and women, and backs up to them so they know he won't hurt them. All of my Collies have done that, and all have loved my cats. My kittens teethed and play fought with their tails and paws. The cats are definitely the bosses.




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A dog, I have always said, is prose; a cat is a poem. ~Jean Burden
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