Notes and Tips
Here's the list of gear you'll need for your new kitten:
- Bowls for food and water. I recommend stainless steel or ceramic. Plastic bowls can cause chin acne, which can be a nasty condition to treat. I also recommend a water fountain as this does encourage pets to drink. For cats, get a fountain with a gentle stream that has areas where the cat can drink from the bowl or from water flowing over a surface.
- Food. We feed our kittens canned and dry food, so they will be weaned on both. We use Royal Canin cat food that's available from pet stores or a vet. We don't feed raw or freeze dried food. We've tried them, but our cats don't like them.
- Litter box. You'll need one litter box for each cat, plus one. So if you have one cat, you'll need two litter boxes, two cats, three boxes and so on. Cats naturally cover up their waste and they need enough room to do that. Would you want to step in or shovel through your own waste? Your cat doesn't either. If you want to use a covered litter box, I advise getting one covered and one uncovered. Some cats don't like covered litter boxes.
- Cat litter. Clumping clay litter is the best. It's easy to clean and it absorbs odours if the cat covers up after himself, which he will typically do if he can. Do NOT get scented litter. A cat's nose is more sensitive than yours and the scent is too strong. Besides, what's a bit of scent going to do? Trust me, it doesn't help. I have a favourite brand of litter that I find works really well. I'll give this advice when you pick up your kitten.
- Litter scoop. You should scoop out the waste every couple of days, or at least once a week, if the box doesn't get too full. I use a kitchen compost bin with a charcoal filter and a bag liner for the dirty litter, then it goes in the "green" bin once a week, which is part of our waste collection services.
- Bed and pads. Your cat may not use the bed, but you should have one available just in case they do. I find that they do choose to sleep in the bed periodically. I also have catnip-filled mats or pads. These have a bit of foam fill and you can refresh the catnip in them. You can also throw them in the wash. Once again, my cats like to use them periodically. Ada in particular likes to sleep on the pads. The beds are washable as well, which is important.
- Scratching posts. We have several scratching posts, some sisal, and some cardboard. Their favourite scratching posts are the ones that sit upright on a stand. A tall post lets them scratch and stretch, which they really like. I recommend not getting a carpet scratching post. These can cause confusion because your cat can't distinguish from your floor carpets or furniture and their scratching post. Spreading catnip or using a catnip spray on the post can encourage your cat to use it.
- Cat furniture (trees). Your cat will want to climb and observe proceedings from a perch up high, so give her a cat tree. Cat trees also provide another place to scratch and nice places to sleep. Unfortunately most trees are covered in carpet. Try to find a tree covered in sisal and fuzzy fabric so they don't scratch your furniture or floor carpets.
- Toys and more toys. Cats need to play and hunt and toys serve that purpose. Give your cat a variety of toys. When she tires of a particular toy, put it in a box on the floor. We put all our cats' toys in a box on the floor and they will go to the box and dig out the toy they want to play with. They will carry their toys in their mouths and drop them in a spot so that they have to work to dig it out again. Ultimately toys will wind up under furniture and we'll have to dig them out. Also if you don't give your British Shorthair a toy to play with, he will find something else to play with. Brits are smart and inquisitive.
- Interactive toys. These are the wands you see in pet stores decorated with feathers, tinsel and string. Some are wands with cords and a fly, feathers or mouse on the end of the cord. You cat will love these interactive play sessions and they are great for giving your cat lots of exercise. Don't leave these toys laying around because they will get chewed up pretty quickly and your cat could swallow dangerous parts.
- Travel carrier. You'll need a carrier to pick up your kitten. You'll also need one for trips to the vet and travel. I advise getting a soft-side carrier for local trips to the vet or car trips. If you're going to be travelling longer distances with your cat, especially on a plane, then check the regulations to make sure the carrier meets them. If you cat has to travel in the cargo hold, then you'll need a hard shell carrier. Just remember that the little carrier that worked for your kitten won't suffice for your full-grown cat, especially if you get a male.
- Treats. Everybody likes dessert every once in while and cats are no exception. Dental treats also help with taking care of your cat's teeth. Cat's are trainable, especially if a treat is involved.
- Grooming brush and comb. I use a slicker brush and coarse toothed comb. A slicker brush is a fine wire brush with curved pins. A combination comb with medium and coarse teeth is an excellent option. A British Shorthair's coat is dense and thick so I don't recommend a fine toothed comb.
- Nail clippers. I recommend getting the scissor style nail clippers. If you've never clipped a cat's claws, you may want to ask your vet to show you or we can show you when you pick up your kitten. We will have clipped our kittens' claws several times before they are sold. You may still want a helper because they do get impatient and may start pulling away.
- Leash and harness. These are certainly optional, but you may find your kitten likes to walk on a leash. If you want to try this, remember that cats aren't like dogs. They will be taking you for a walk, not the other way around! Start by putting the harness on your cat and letting him wear it inside for a while. Once he's walking around with the harness on, try taking him outside. Let him explore and walk where he wants. If he wants to go onto the road, stop and say "no". Just hold the lead, don't pull it. Eventually he'll get the idea and you'll be walking, or trotting along.
- Laser Toys. If you choose to use a laser toy, give your cat something to catch. Cats are hunters and while they are used to chasing prey and it escaping, laser toys will cause frustration if you don't give your cat a reward in the form of a toy that they can catch. I believe there are some laser toys in the form of a mouse, but I have never used that kind. When I use a laser, I move it around the floor getting my cats to chase it. After a few minutes, I finish by pointing the laser at one of their toys so they can pounce on it. No matter which kind you get, do NOT leave the toy for the cat to play with on his own. Lasers can be dangerous.
Caring for Your Kitten
- Change their water daily. If you're using a water fountain, top it up daily. You'll need to do a full water change every few days. Follow the manufacturer's directions regarding filter changes. When you change the filter, you need to thoroughly clean the fountain and pump as well.
- If feeding dry food, feed once a day as directed on the label or directed by your veterinarian. If you find your cat is gobbling down his food, talk to your vet and get a revised feeding regimen. You may need to feed several times a day, with measured portions at each feeding.
- I don't recommend wet food for regular feeding mainly because you'll have to clean your cat's teeth. If you're giving wet food as a treat, or periodic feeding, give your cat a full small can (85g). Once they're done, put their dry food down again, with the amount adjusted for the canned food. Royal Canin, for example, tells you how much dry food to feed if you are feeding canned food as well.
- As I said above, scoop the litter boxes at least once a week. You'll need to top up the litter periodically and do a full change of litter in six to eight weeks.
- Try to play with your cat or kitten with an interactive toy daily. At least make sure they have lots of toys to play with on their own. As I said above, if you don't give your cat some toys to play with, she will find things to play with on her own.
- Replace their scratching posts when they get worn. Cardboard scratching posts can get worn pretty quickly.
- British Shorthair cats don't need much grooming, although a good grooming with a fine wire brush will help cut down on shedding, especially in spring and fall. I even bathe my cats periodically. This is a necessity when showing cats, but it might be something you choose to do periodically too. Really it's only necessary if they manage to get into something, like your kitten playing in the spring mud. Yes, personal experience speaking here. British Shorthair cats don't like baths, but they will tolerate them. I find using warm water helps. If your cat really fusses when you spray water on him, try reducing the temperature.
- Regular exercise will help your cat maintain his weight. They do have indoor exercise wheels for cats, but they are quite expensive. Another option is taking your cat for a walk on a leash. See my tips under the Leash and harness point, above. If you want to let your cat outside, the safest option is to make or purchase an enclosure, usually called a cateo. There are also ways that you can make your yard cat-proof, but that involves putting baffles on the fencing around your yard to keep the cat from scaling the fence. You can search the internet for cateo, cat enclosures and cat-proofing your yard.
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