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How to Care of Your First Cat or Kitten

Updated on June 23, 2013
Here are my furry babies.  My female cat is white and my male cat is black.
Here are my furry babies. My female cat is white and my male cat is black. | Source

What Should You Feed the cat?

First off, as with all living things, fresh water daily is important to any living thing. Your cat will thrive being hydrated properly with fresh or filtered water. I change the water every morning, and sometimes in the evening if they need more or have inadvertently dropped something in their water bowl. It is common for me to find toys in the water bowl.

It is important to feed your pet dry food. I place two adult handfuls in each bowl for each cat in the morning. Dry food is crunchy and good for their teeth. In purchasing the dry cat food, name brands may be your healthiest option. However, if you look at the ingredients listed on less expensive dry food, and are satisfied with what your cat will be eating, then by all means, purchase the lower priced dry food and save yourself some money. I find that the middle priced dry food usually works best for my critters.

I provide wet food for my furry family every evening when we eat supper. This gives them the opportunity to feel as though they are participating in a family function, as well as giving them a yummy treat. My two cats share ½ can per serving; ¼ can apiece. This means a can lasts two days in my home. I had about ¼ cup of water (1/8 cup in each bowl) and stir quickly and consistently for about 30 seconds. I do this because the favorite part of the wet food for my cats is the wet. They love the gravy, eat that first, then come back later for the chunks of food. My female, Olive, can tell time. At six o’clock each day she waits by her food bowl; daylight savings time doesn’t even upset her time telling abilities.

Human food should not be given to your pets. However, I have on occasion offered the cats tuna, salmon, or lean chicken when I’m cooking. I usually replace their wet food with a few bites (2-4) of the real meat. If your cat deserves a treat for obeying a training rule or behaving nicely, a cat treat or two can be great incentive to continue the good behavior.

My baby boy!
My baby boy! | Source

What must you purchase for your new cat?

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When you Adopt new Kittens

Congratulations on your new little family member. Cats generally have a life span of 13-18 years, so I assume you are in this for the long term commitment.

Start training your kitten at an early age to accept certain behaviors as a kitten. For example, if you have a long haired cat that requires brushing, be sure to get that task started as soon as they come home and be consistent, brushing the amount of times per day that is recommended by your veterinarian. Bathing, Soft Paws, and riding in the car are other incidents you may want to teach your kitten to become accustomed to on a regular basis.

A feline is considered a kitten until reaching the age of 1 year old. Kittens are treated differently than cats and need special attention. Kittens need to take vitamins, see the veterinarian more often than an adult cat. They also need lots of play to help develop their hunting and agility skills that Mama started training them.

Kitten food is different from adult cat food. Please be sure to find a food that is high in calcium and chock full of vitamins and minerals. There are several kitten foods, wet and dry, that you can purchase at the market. However, the veterinarian’s office probably sells more expensive, but healthier food for your baby cat.

Practically from birth, Mama Cat plays with her kittens. She teaches them how to be quick and poised, when and where to attack the opponent. Mama also teaches her litter what to be afraid of, how to be balanced, flexible and tough, how to use the kitten’s best qualities to assist in any survival situation. She teaches them how to rid waste and keep themselves clean.

A great product to have on hand is Capstar© which is a flea and parasite removal medication. It is safe for kittens over 3 weeks old. If you’ve received an animal from a rescue league or someone personally known, always give the kitten one Capstar to eliminate any parasites immediately. Capstar begins working in 4 hours and it kills the fleas by attacking the neurons in their brains causing them to die and literally fall off your animal. The downside to Capstar is that it lasts only one day, so a back up treatment will be necessary. Once again, speak with your veterinarian about parasite control.

My cats are indoor cats.  So, when Olive escaped and roamed the neighborhood for an entire day, she had to be bathed.
My cats are indoor cats. So, when Olive escaped and roamed the neighborhood for an entire day, she had to be bathed. | Source
All better now!
All better now! | Source

When to Bathe Them

Since my cats are indoor cats and very concerned about their own hygiene, I usually don’t have to worry about bathing. However, occasionally one will escape into the neighborhood. While out in the big bad world, animals can pick up parasites like fleas, ticks and heart worms. The can also pick up diseases like feline leukemia. Vaccinations will keep your cat safe from feline leukemia and other diseases. A good bath and a Capstar tablet will help ensure your cat will be as clean as a whistle.

As you can see, Olive has only been bathed twice in her life. She absolutely hates it! Fortunately, she is basically calm and allows me to make sure she is free from parasites, motor oil, dirt, and any other nasty things she may have picked up on her out of home adventure. That being said, not all cats are that calm around water. Most of the time it takes two people to give a cat a bath. It is of the utmost importance that you do the following when bathing a cat:

  • Have at least 3 towels handy; one to wrap the cat before the bath, and two for drying. Wrapping the cat in a towel will help keep him or her from scratching you.
  • If you forcefully scruff the cat’s upper neck to paralyze the kitty which prevents him or her from scratching you. Please be sure your veterinarian teaches you the proper way to do this. It is completely safe if done properly. This is a natural way their mothers carry them until separation.

  • Secure the back feet so that you have control over kitty’s back claws. If the paws are free there is a likely chance you will be scratched by the hind claws. Generally the cat just wants to get away from the water and will literally climb you to get out of it. This is why you need to control those back feet.

On the rare occasion I bathe one of my cats, I always use Dawn dishwashing liquid. I use the original brand with no scents or lotions added. Dawn gets the cat the cleanest, and if kitty decides to spend the night under someone’s vehicle, Dawn eliminates oil based stains on the fur.

This is Oliver.  He is unusual because he loves to sleep on his back.  Most cats prefer not to expose their bellies leaving them vulnerable.
This is Oliver. He is unusual because he loves to sleep on his back. Most cats prefer not to expose their bellies leaving them vulnerable. | Source

The Dreaded Litter box

As long as you have indoor cats you will need a litter box for them to use to discard waste. I purchase Fresh Step multiple cats. I believe this litter works the best for this family. If you sprinkle baking soda in the litter box in between changing the complete box of litter. Also, if you keep a cup of white vinegar near the litter box, it will absorb odors as well. Portable air fresheners and air cleaners can be helpful in keeping the litter box smell under control.

Once your litter box is established and the cats know where it is (you may have to show them the first time or two), it is best if you clean it out every day. Think about it; are you comfortable relieving yourself in a previously used and dirty facility?

Depending on the size of your house and how many cats you own, as a general rule, have one more litter box than cat. For example, I have two cats and we live in a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment. I think only one large litter box is acceptable. However, should we move to a bigger place of residence, we will purchase a second litter box to keep on the other end of the house in a laundry room, or additional bathroom.

You also have the choice to train your cat or cats to use the toilet to discard waste. There are a few kits you can purchase with complete instructions on how to potty train your kitty. From personal experience, Olive, my female, is extremely intelligent; more so than the average cat. She caught on to the manipulation while trying to potty train her and she refused. She acted out by peeing on my bed! She peed under my bathroom sink! She peed on my work clothes that were laid out for me to put on after I finished my shower! All she wanted was a litter box. The water intimidated her and she knows that it’s not natural for a cat to go anywhere but in a litter box. However, she is a rare exception. This method does work for most cats of any age.

This is Olive.  Her unique quality is that her front legs are double jointed, and sometimes she sleeps laying flat on her chest.
This is Olive. Her unique quality is that her front legs are double jointed, and sometimes she sleeps laying flat on her chest. | Source

Safety Tips for the Home and car

Always use a cat carrier when travelling to protect your cat if there is an unfortunate accident. Use a see through carrier for a more comfortable ride for kitty. It is reassuring when the cat(s) can see you and the other cat if applicable. It’s important for their comfort that they can hear you talking to them as well.

Be sure to see a veterinarian on an annual basis for a physical exam and any needed vaccinations. The risk of your pet becoming sick or not having the quality of life he or she deserves is not worth missing your annual veterinarian appointment. Please be proactive and make sure our pets are healthy and have them examined each year.

Plenty of toys are need to express and expel an abundant amount of energy, so toys and playtime is a must for a happy well rounded cat. If you neglect kitty in this area, you may catch them finding other objects to play with; objects that could be near and dear to your heart. Objects like jewelry, keys, curtains, blinds, other animals and new games like sliding across the floor, chasing each other, and jumping up walls are a sign that your cat needs more attention.

Oliver was born on Halloween!
Oliver was born on Halloween! | Source

Soft Paws nail caps are a great alternative to declawing. This product will save your furniture, drapes, carpet and skin! If done originally as a kitten and maintained throughout their adult life, your pet will not know the difference. Personally, I don’t agree in declawing a cat. The claws are a God given natural defense. However, if you find your indoor cat gets out into the neighborhood, your cat is at a disadvantage against a street cat since your cat’s claws are covered. Needless to say, this idea is only recommended for indoor cats.

Cats love to sit in high places for them to be comfortable. They can view the room and be readily aware if they are threatened even though it is highly unlikely since they are generally out of reach when in these high areas of your home. It will, however, give your cat the feeling of empowerment and he or she will be much more comfortable with visitors.

Cats are very territorial. When you have guests, if the cat isn’t comfortable with your guest, you may need to isolate the animal for a bit. Chances are if your cat isn’t pleased with the company, he or she will most likely hide in another area anyway. When introducing new pets into the home, be sure to keep the animals separated for no less than 2-3 days. Slowly introduce the new roommates by letting them smell each other and occasionally peek at each other. After a week or two, you can allow them to occupy the same room. They are learning about each other. Be sure to let the cats dictate what happens; unless, of course, there is a possibility that someone may get hurt.

The most important thing you can do for your cat is to love them. Spend time with them. Play with them. Pet them. Enjoy the loyalty and unconditional love they give to you in return.

Thank you for your interest in my writing. I certainly hope the read was helpful and entertaining. Please feel free to share the unique quality or talent that your cat has in the comments section below. Your participation is welcomed and appreciated.

"Be kind to one another" ~ Ellen

God Bless You ~ Margaret Sullivan


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    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      Your kitties are beautiful - and I love the caring information here! Voted up and up!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      Lots of useful information. We have one long haired white cat he demands on getting combed everyday. We have a long haired black cat that will not let us comb him and his hair mats so bad it's unhealthy for him. He has oily hair and lots of dandruff . We take him in and get him groomed by groomed I mean he gets shaved. Once it’s done he seems so much happier. It’s not easy to find a cat groomer. Voted up on your hub

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      We have an indoor cat too and the litter box is my chore, probably because my wife wants nothing to do with it.

      Your Oliver cat must be very comfortable in your house because our cat sleeps the same way sometimes. We joke about how lifeless he looks, until we poke his belly.

      Voted up and useful.

    • tonja niemi profile image

      Tonja Niemi 5 years ago from Eagan, MN USA

      Great information. My last cat lived to age 21. In her latter years, like humans, she needed more hydration - so she ate more wet food, but still ate dry food too. It is obvious that your cat (s) are well taken care of and loved.

    • Mmargie1966 profile image

      Mmargie1966 5 years ago from Gainesville, GA

      Thank you for noticing, Lucky Cats! I don't know what I would do without them.

      Thanks also for reading my hub and commenting. I really appreciate it.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi MMargie! yes! This article is very helpful. Very detailed and full of great tips/information. I had never heard of "soft paws." This is entirely new to me; I must check this out! Your kitties are beautiful and they are so forunate to have you . Great all the way around. UP Useful Interesting Awesome and Beautiful, too. It is obvious you really care for your sweet kitties.