Thinking of getting a kitten... have some questions. - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-22-2005, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thinking of getting a kitten... have some questions.

Hello. I am currently living alone in my apt and was thinking about adopting a kitten. Honestly, I am more of a dog person and I've always been; therefore I know little about cats and their tendencies. Unfortunately with my work schedule, I don't have time to take care of a dog.

My apt is pretty empty and I would like to have an animal here to share time with. I like cats, I have just never owned one.

So, I have some questions before I do anything to make sure this is the best decision for me and the kitty.

- What is the minimum age for a cat to be declawed and neutered/ spayed?
- If I get a scratching post, will the cat know the difference between the post and my couch?
- Do cats chew on things; outlet cords, bed sheets, etc...?
- Do kittens need litter box trained or is it instinct?
- How are cats during car trips of ~ 90 minutes? Need traveling cage?
- I know males will mark territory, but will they continue to do this after they're neutered?
- How long can a cat be left alone? Sometimes I go to work Friday morning and after work go see my g/f at her college all weekend and go to work from her place Monday morning... therefore I don't get home until Monday evening/ night. There may be some times the cat could be alone in my apt for ~ 4 days. As long as they have food, water, and litter, are they okay for this amount of time?
- Here is another major concern... my g/f has two bunnies. Do cats and rabbits get along? My g/f will probably live with me for some of the summer and the rabbits come with. I just want to make sure the two can get along. Is this something that can be dealt with if the cat and bunnies meet each other when the cat is young?

Last one
Will cats get into 'people' food? I realize cats can jump on counters easily, which is fine, but... I usually leave a loaf of bread sitting on the counter (still in the plastic of course), or potato chips with a clip, or whatever... will a cat try and get into those things and eat the food?

Any other advice?

Thanks a ton.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-22-2005, 11:19 PM
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Hello, and welcome!!

First I would like to say I approve of your desire to research cat care and find out about the subject BEFORE you get a cat. That's more than a lot of people do. So, congrats on that.

But, I'll probably p*** some people here off when I say this: after reading your post, I'm not sure you're the right person to care for a cat. So, my apologies in advance. You say you're a dog person but you want a cat because you don't have time to care of a dog. Well, I've got news for you. A cat is going to be just as demanding as a dog. In different ways, yes, but a cat is not going to be a pet that's not going to require a lot of committment of your time, work and resources. A cat isn't just something that will sit around when you don't have the time for it or want to be free to take off. A cat is like a child in many ways. A cat needs attention and care.

A cat is a wonderful companion for a human. But I want you to honestly evaluate your motives and decide whether you really want to put your heart into this and make this committment at this time. Are you the right person to care for a cat? Please continue your research and get your questions answered. Just remember that a cat demands your all.....but gives its all in return, too, just like a dog.

Good luck and best wishes!!
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-22-2005, 11:43 PM
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I agree with Tim that a cat isn't something that requires far less time and attention than a dog - just DIFFERENT time and attention.

If you have your heart set on a cat though I'd suggest getting an older cat. Kittens get into everything until they learn their boundaries. Chances are, with you out of the house so much there's a lot of time for the kitten to get into something and possibly get hurt or do major damage.

As far as your questions:

Some shelters neuter as young as 5 or 6 weeks although ideally its best to wait until around 4 months, though most vets do the surgeries around 6 months with no problems. This will give you plenty of time to teach him to use a scratching post so declawing need not be a worry

Some cats chew, others don't. Mine doesn't... but he also doesn't jump on counters or get into things he's not supposed to (I think I got lucky on that one). Its best to keep cords and things out of the way as to not tempt the cat. Chances are, you won't have the same problem as a puppy that wants to eat all of your furniture.

Most kittens know how to use a litterbox by a few weeks old. I'm fostering some babies at my house that are 4-5 weeks now and use the litterbox pretty well. By the time they're old enough to be adopted they've got it down. You could always have a few boxes laying around for the first month or so just to make sure he's got somewhere nearby when he realizes he's gotta go.

Males spray after they reach maturity. Neutering before thie time almost eliminates spraying. Some cats start early, some start after the surgery, but most never do. Six months is usually a good age to have it done without the risk of spraying.

Some cats do fine in cars, others hate them. Starting from kittenhood might make it easier. I'd use a carrier just to be safe - kitten playing with your shoelaces while you're in traffic isn't fun!

Now - about this being away all weekend thing. It MIGHT be ok for an older cat but definately not a kitten. Especially any cat that is new to your household and hasn't gotten everything figured out. No matter what though, there are always risks. Say right after you leave, the cat spills his water and knocks over the food bowl... food gets soggy and he has nothing to eat or drink for 4 days. Some cats are picky about litterboxes and after a day of not being cleaned, may start using the floor because its cleaner. If you have to be gone, its best to have a friend or neighbor stop by at least once a day to check on things and keep the cat company for a little while. Some cats are just so social that so much time alone could be devestating.

Kittens can be introduced to rabbits and live with them no problem (just look at Spacemonkey's house! ) but its best to not leave them unattended... just in case.

If you haven't noticed, I used the word "some" quite a bit. Cats are just as different from one another as dogs (if not more so!). The answers to all of your questions can vary a great deal from cat to cat, as well as from kitten to adult. I think you have a lot of reading to do.

Jessie

"There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast."
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-23-2005, 02:26 AM
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I agree with many of the things that Tim and Jessie have had to say.
Cats are wonderful pets, but they are definatly not low maintainace, especially a kitten. A kitten will get into anything and everything, even more so if it doesn't get enough play time. For your situation, as a first time cat owner and since you may not be able to be around all the time, I highly reccommend getting a cat that is 2 years or older. An older cat will still have plenty of spunk, but won't require quite as much attention as a kitten. Actually, if you plan on not being around as often, two cats (that get along well) may be better than one. That way, when you're not around, they will have each other to keep themselves active and entertained.

A lot of the answers to your questions will depend on the individual personality of the cat.
A scratching post is a must. I hear the best scratching posts are usually made of sisel rope and are tall enough that the cat stretch out completely. If you're somewhat handy, one of these can be very easy to make. Having a scratching post, though, may not keep the cat from scratching on furniture. It will take patience and dilligence on your part to teach the cat appropriate places to scratch. Declawing a cat for this reason, IMO, is unacceptable. I, as well as many other people, do not believe in the practice of declawing. It is known to cause behavioral and psychological problems for many cats, and is very painful. I suggest reading THIS POST to hear what others have to say about the practice of declawing.

Our cats don't chew on things like fabrics or cords, but the will chew and try to eat other thing like string, rubber bands, houseplants or other small objects if they get the chance. These types of things should be kept well out of reach because serious problems can result if they eat them.

We have two neutered male cats. When they started to reach maturity, they did start to spray, but this stopped as soon as they were neutered. Female cats, if unspayed, will go into heat every month or so. They will call constantly, their behavior will change, and it is extremely annoying.

I would never leave my cats completely alone for even over a day. Too many things could go wrong. What if the cat were to get sick or hurt itself? By the time you returned, it may be too late for help. If you have to be gone on occasion, it is best to get a reliable trustworthy person to check in on them at least once a day. A cat needs fresh food and water every day, and will get bored if let alone for too long. If you are gone for long periods of time often, then getting a cat is probably not the best choice.

We cannot leave food out unattended, especially bread. If I were to leave a loaf of bread on the counter and leave the room for even a few minutes, the cats would tear the bag open and eat it. Bread seems to be one of their favorites, and I have no idea why.

Cats and rabbits can get along. I have 4 cats and a rabbit and they tolerate each other just fine. My rabbit is a large breed though, and I'm not sure if I'd trust the cats with a dwarf rabbit. It isn't even neccessary that the cat be young when introduced to the rabbits. All of our cats were ex-strays, so they have strong hunting instincts, and they were all introduced to the rabbits as adults.

There is a TON of information on this forum. You can do a specific search or just browse around, and I'm sure you'll find lots of information that will help you decide if a cat is the right pet for you.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-23-2005, 07:57 AM
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As I expected, some of our members have poured their heart and soul into answering your questions. Does this tell you something about people who have cats? I'm hoping you're a person like that. Willing to make some accomodations in your life and willing to put time, money and effort into providing a good home for some wonderful, deserving cat. A cat who will reward you by giving back everything its heart and mind can give. Go for it!!

And stick around here...we'll help you do it!!
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-23-2005, 09:52 AM
 
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When I first looked into getting a cat, I had NO CLUE that declawing was bad, nuetering was good, and that they weren't all low maitenance. Boy was I wrong!!

It's easy to go through life with those misconceptions and without asking questions before hand. The first cat I got showed me that, even though I claimed to be a dog person, a cat could twist my heart around its paw.

I lost the cat within two weeks. He was my Rain Cloud. Although he did not die due to negligence (he was at the vet's office so much the two weeks I had him they cried when I brought in his lifeless body for cremation), he showed me that cats are more different than most dog people realize.

My current cat, Scotty, is so much like a dog, it's cute. He follows me around, he's very social, and he likes a good belly rub.

I am happy that you are here, and that you are asking questions. It shows initiative and open mindedness. Welcome, and please, try not to take offense if anyone shows a strong opinion. Sometimes us "cat people" get a bit carried away with "teaching" new people about cats.


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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-23-2005, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
 
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Ok... thanks fo the replys. But I do want to get something straight here… not sure how it came off in my original post, but, I think I am plenty capable of caring for a cat. I am not coming into this with the attitude of, “I can’t get a dog, so I’ll just get a cat instead because they don’t require much attention.” No… I realize cats (as well as virtually all animals) require a lot of friendly attention and love; what I meant earlier is cats don’t require walks, and to be let outside X times a day. When I had my dog living with me, I would have to rush out of work (didn't make my supervisor too happy) so I could let him out and take hom for walks.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had animals around (dogs, cats, ferrets, pigeons, a parrot for a little while, fish, snake, rabbits). My family, as well as myself, are animal lovers.

Anyway, the past 5 years or so when I was still living with my parents, we haven’t had any cats… so I guess I forgot a lot about caring for them. Our last two cats were both outside cats, but if I get one, I want it to be an inside cat only. I want to get a cat like emrldsky's, but I guess that's not something that can be controlled.

I’ve already talked with a friend from work and he said he’d have no problems coming to my place a few times if I am not here for a while. I may go to a local animal shelter sometime in the next week or so and see what’s there. I think a cat might be better for my situation than a kitten. Another question: if one were to get a kitten, odds are the kitten will grow very attached to its owner as it grows into a cat… if one gets a cat, will it grow attached to its owner as much as a kitten would?
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-23-2005, 11:18 PM
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It will take longer, and depends on the personality of the cat and what its life experiences were before, but unless it was traumatized and abused by humans before coming to you, yes, it will grow attached.

As OsnobunnieO suggested -- perhaps an older cat used to being in a one-cat household would be ideal for your situation.

Please keep us posted on your search for your cat!!
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-24-2005, 11:20 PM
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My cat was about 2 years old when I adopted him and he was in love with me within a few days! He would crawl up and lay on my chest and fall asleep.... oh how I miss those days!

But it all depends on the cat, though given time most cats will grow very fond of their new owners.

Jessie

"There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast."
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-25-2005, 01:46 PM
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Here's a quick reminder course for you:

http://cats.about.com/cs/kittencare/a/k ... styear.htm

Good luck. I'm sure you'll enjoy the kitten. It would be great to get two, but make sure they would be in a safe place while you're at work, until they're adults. Getting an adult cat would also be a great idea!




Jeanie

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