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Taking your new kitten home and care


  These guidelines are provided to help care for your new kitten. These hints, plus tender, loving care, will help keep your kitten healthy, playful, and affectionate.

 

    1:  Acclimatization:

Please remember that this is your kitten’s first time away from the only home it has known, and it will probably be insecure and confused at first.  Give the baby time, and don’t expect it to be best friends with you right away.  Keep the kitten introduction to other family members and pets quiet and stress-free as possible and, most of all, give it time to become used to the new surroundings.   Show the kitten its litter box, food and water as soon as you get home.  Your kitten has been litter box trained for several weeks.    It is still possible for a kitten to have an accident while becoming accustomed to his/her new home.   It’s important to have at least one box on each floor of your house in which the kitten will be allowed. 

DO NOT ever spank or punish the baby if it misses its litter box!  Rather, pick it up, put it in its box, and gently make digging motions with its front paws.  Young kittens sometimes forget where their boxes are – this is normal, and will pass quickly.  Your kitten has been raised with open litter boxes.   If you would like to use covered boxes, use two boxes to train them to the covered box.   Use one open and one covered side by side and after your kitten is used to the covered box you can then take away the open box.  Introduce the kitten to one room at a time, offer encouragement and petting, but allow it to proceed to others.  Try not to startle the kitten, and again, remember that this is a stressful time which brings us to:

 

Stress: Your kitten has had vaccinations and is in good health.  However, it is not unusual for a new kitten to hide, be skittish, or refuse to eat for a couple of days.   He may also get a runny nose or eyes, and/or sneeze some in the first few days after changing environment.  Give lots of petting, soft speech, and encouragement, and the first problems should clear up within a few days.  The runny nose/sneezing is nothing serious (so long as it isn’t accompanied by a fever and/or diarrhea) and should also clear up within a few days.  If it doesn’t, call your vet.  Be aware that the kitten may cry and want to be near you the first couple of nights.  Although it is completely weaned, it is used to being around many other cats and the baby misses mom, littermates, and the smells of "home”.   It is scared and lonely.  As soon as it makes friends with you and your other pet(s) the kitten will feel more confident.

 

Other Pets: If you have other pets, wait until the kitten is settled and comfortable before bringing in other animals, one at a time.   Do not leave the kitten alone with the other pet(s) until you are certain they are good friends (this may be several weeks).   Be certain to give the "old" pets plenty of attention, in order to keep them from being jealous and to avoid stirring territorial instincts too strongly.   It is always possible that the original pet may not take too kindly to someone new using its litter box/food dish.   Be prepared for this by giving the kitten its own litter box and food/water dishes.

 

 

 2:  Food-what kind, how much, how often?

Your kitten is completely weaned and has been eating dry and canned food supplemented with fresh cooked meat/organs.  Always offer plenty of fresh water.  Pet fountains are ideal, such as the Drinkwell Pet Fountain.  Please introduce the kitten to any new foods gradually (over a 7-10 day period) to avoid upsetting its stomach.  New food should be mixed with food the kitten is currently eating, gradually adding more of the new food and less of the old until the kitten is eating the new food exclusively.  We recommend a food with the highest protein content available and no fruits/vegetables or herbs (with the exception of pumpkin, cats love pumpkin and it's good for them as a treat).  We are currently feeding California Natural Chicken and Rice and Diamond Active Cat dry food.  Both have good protein content and simple ingredients.  Fresh cooked chicken/organs, turkey and sometimes beef added to the canned food is a great extra source of fresh protein and a great treat.  Freeze dried meats are also a healthy treat and cats love them!  Cow’s milk is not good for cats as most cannot digest it properly, and consequently get diarrhea.  Goat’s milk is easier for them to digest and a good treat.  Sardines canned in salt free water and cooked eggs also make a good treat on occasion, but the eggs must be cooked.  We recommend metal or ceramic dishes.  Plastic dishes can harbor germs in the surface which can cause a condition known as feline acne.  Feline acne is small pimples on the chin which cause swelling and discomfort and can be very difficult to clear up.

 

 

3: Bringing Your Kitten To Your Vet (What To and Not To Do):

When you bring your new kitten to the vet for a checkup, vaccines or to be spayed or neutered we highly recommend the follow advice. 
- Tests: Your kitten does not need a Feline Leukemia Virus/Feline Aids test.  All our adult cats have been tested which means all our kittens are negative. Your new kitten should need no tests.
- Vaccines: We recommend 2 RCP vaccines, we give them their first shot at roughly 10 wks of age, they need another a month after that date (given either by us or the new owner)  And then one at a year that is all. We do not recommend yearly vaccines for RCP, again your cat is indoors and not exposed like an outdoor cat.  Too many vaccines is overkill on your cats immune system. Since your kitten will be a indoor cat we recommend rabies at around 6 months of age.
- Altering: For altering we recommend 6-7 months for females and 6-10 months for males. 
- Illness: If for some reason your cat becomes ill PLEASE contact us first, we have been breeding for many years and have seen and treated many things, my daughter Kelly also works for a vet practice.  Most likely we will be able to tell you what questions to ask the vet as we will probably have an idea of what tests your vet should (and should NOT) run therefore keeping unnecessary tests and vet bills to a minimum. 
- Gums & Mouth - One of the Maine Coons breed health issues is gum disease, particularly gingivitis. While we try and breed cats with good mouth health gingivitis is very common in our breed. It is not uncommon for teething kittens/young adults to have a red line on the gums.  This generally gets better with age.  If your kitten has this we highly recommend you let your cat grow up some and not to worry too much, generally there is a great improvement between 1 yr and a year and a half.  This is called juvenile gingivitis.  Please do not do any drastic dental work. 
- Finding a Vet:  When selecting a vet choose one that offers emergency appointments after hrs and on weekends.  Otherwise if you had an emergency you would have to find an emergency clinic which can quickly get expensive.

 

 

4: Care-Do’s and Don'ts:

We beg you not to let your kitten run freely outside because of potentially fatal feline diseases such as Feline Leukemia Virus/Feline Aids.   Also respiratory virus and internal/external parasites.  Not to mention automobiles, antifreeze, car engines, people who don't like cats and being attacked by another animal to name a few.   It is not any safer for cats in the country.  They also have to deal with coyotes, fox and fisher cats as well as all the above.  If you choose to ignore this, the chances are good that the kitten will not survive its first year.  If you keep the kitten inside, or only take it out on a leash (as described below) life expectancy is 12+ years.

 

Safety: Before you let your new kitten loose in your home, check for the following safety hazards:

 

* Electrical and phone cords left dangling

 

* Toilet lids left up (a kitten can easily drown in a toilet bowl)

 

* Open fire screens

 

* Reclining chairs (the mechanism of the chair can easily crush a kitten that has crawled inside).

 

*Hide-away beds (again they can crush a kitten caught in the mechanism).

 

* Fringe, or any loose trim (kittens have been known to strangle when their heads get twisted in the fringe or in a hole between trim and fabric).

 

* Dangling drapery or mini blind cords (another invitation to strangulation).

 

* Accessible garbage (especially any kind of bones – cooked bones can splinter and perforate the stomach or intestines or form an intestinal blockage).

 

* Needles and/or thread; knitting and/or crocheting materials.

 

* Rubber bands (which can wrap around intestines).

 

* Plastic wrap (the kitten can eat it, strangle on it, or suffocate in it).

 

* Plastic bags (they can eat it or get the handles caught around their neck)

 

* Styrofoam (especially packaging "peanuts") which the kitten may eat.

 

* Cigarettes (yes, they will eat them)!!

 

* Yarn toys (if they come unraveled, they can wrap around the intestines or block them).

 

* Toys with easily removed and swallowed parts.

 

* Cellophane (it turns glassy in the stomach and can cause internal lacerations).

 

* Open refrigerators, dishwashers, microwave, ovens, washers, dryers – always check!

 

* Put away feathers and toys attached to string (such a kitty teasers) after use. Kittens and cats will often eat feather and swallow string.

 

* Keep your workshop off limits. Cats will jump at moving objects such as drills and power saws. They may also swallow screws, nails, wire, and other small parts. Keep your cat out of the garage or wherever antifreeze is stored.  It has an attractive scent to cats but is fatal if ingested.

 

* Some plants are poisonous to cats.  See following links for lists of hazardous plants.

 

CFA: Plants and Your Cat

ASPCA: Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants

 

* Keep all cleaning products and other chemicals (lighter fluid, furniture polish, tea tree oil, etc.) stored away and out of reach. Anything with phenyl (check the label) is deadly to cats (this includes Lysol). Cats love to drink out of toilet bowls, it’s wise not to use anything in your toilet and make sure the lid is down at all times (except some cats have been known to raise toilet lids). The best disinfectant to use is:

1 part bleach to 30 parts water. Remember, a cat will lick its paws so be careful what you use on your floors.

 

* Advantix (a product used for treating fleas/ticks in dogs only) is deadly to cats.  Your cat(s) should not come into physical contact with a dog treated with Advantix for at least the first 24 hours after application.

 

 

5: Training

Contrary to widespread belief cats are trainable by proper methods:  Rewards and tangible, but removed punishment (see "squirt bottle method" below).  Be firm and patient with your kitten.  By teaching it the house rules now you can avoid future behavioral problems. Actions that are cute in a kitten may not seem so cute in an adult (such as nursing on your arm, or sitting on the dining room table, or counter top in the kitchen).  If the kitten scratches its claws where it should not, say "NO", take it to the scratching post and gently make scratching motions with its feet.  Kittens respond well to a firm voice and patience.  You can also put some catnip on the scratching post to make it an attractive place to scratch.  Cats are naturally fastidious, and want to behave. 

 

Squirt Bottle Method:  Behavior problems that don’t respond to the "NO" can usually be modified by giving the kitten a quick shot from a water spray bottle or squirt gun.  This method removes you from the punishment in the kitten’s mind.   The kitten does not begin to fear you as the source of punishment as it would if you were to spank.   Please DO NOT ever spank your kitten/cat!    It will just learn to fear you and not the undesirable behavior.  The squirt bottle correction should be sufficient in getting your kitten to refrain from the undesirable behavior. 

 

Play – When, How long, What Kind:  Kittens and adult Maine Coons like to play. Generally the morning or evening (following afternoon naps) is the best time if you want an enthusiastic response, especially in an adult cat.  We try to discourage rough play as this can make the kitten aggressive.  DO NOT roll the kitten over, grab it, and vigorously rub its stomach.  This will also make the kitten become aggressive. When you play with the kitten always use a toy, do not use your hands or feet as a toy.  Imagine an adult Maine Coon attacking your feet and hands!   If you are using a teaser, do not leave the kitten unattended with it.   The kitten may ingest the feathers or tinsel or get poked in mouth or eye with the stick.  Remember that what your kitten needs most is your time and attention.  If your kitten is left alone during the day, it will be very glad to see you when you get home!  Please remember that kittens are sensitive, living creatures.   Do not allow your children, friends, or other pets to manhandle your kitten.  One sure way to guarantee an unsatisfactory pet is to mistreat it, even if inadvertently.  On the other hand, plenty of attention, love, and considerate play will result in a companion that will give you years of pleasure.

 

Collars and Leashes:  If you use a collar on your kitten check it daily to be sure it is not becoming too tight as the kitten grows.  However, a kitten can catch its lower jaw in a too-loose collar. A breakaway collar is the best choice, as it will separate if it becomes caught on something.  If you train your kitten to use a leash, use a harness designed for cats – not a collar. Remember that harnesses are not totally secure, and a cat wearing a harness or a leash should NEVER be left unsupervised.  The cat can slip out of the harness, become strangled or be attacked by predators.   Never walk a leashed cat near a roadway or busy sidewalk unless you are sure that the cat is very calm.   The best place for your leashed cat is in your own quiet backyard with you.

 

Traveling:  When you take your cat in the car always put it in a carrier.  A cat or kitten roaming around the car is dangerous for you and your cat.  When you go to the vet make sure you use a carrier to take the cat into the clinic.  It helps keep the cat from getting away from you in a stressful situation and protects the cat from other animals.   It is a good idea to have paper towels and plastic bags in your car in case there is an accident.

 

Grooming:  Maine Coons coats are easy to maintain.  A weekly combing with a steel-tooth comb that has wide teeth on one end and narrow teeth on the other, and a pin brush are the tools necessary in for grooming your cat.  However, you may have to comb your cat more often in the spring and fall to remove shedding undercoat.  Pay particular attention to the areas behind and around the ears, the ruff, flanks, britches, and under the front legs. These are the areas where mats most readily form. 

Very important:  Please handle, bathe, clip nails, and groom your kitten regularly so it becomes second nature to them. It will make these things much easier to do when the kitten is an adult.  If you wish to keep your cat looking like a champion, a bath every few months with a good shampoo, plenty of rinsing, blow drying, and combing afterwards is recommended.

 

Congratulations on your new baby and family member!!! You will LOVE your easy-going, yet active, gentle Maine Coon.  They are the best!!!

 

- This site created and maintained by Kelim Coons - ©2003-2015 Kelim Coons