Your RoyalRags Kitten's Handbook
Bringing Your Kitten Home
Be sure to bring a carrier in which to take your kitten home. Your RoyalRags Kitten is still just a baby. So when you first bring him/her home, introduce him/her to one room at a time or he may get "lost". Often the best choice is to keep him/her in the bedroom of "his/her" person. Have the litter box where s/he can find it easily, put his/her food and water in a corner (but within sight), and have some toys (teasers, crumpled paper ball, crinkle balls) available.
Never "grab" your kitten. Sit on the floor with a little teaser or toy and entice him/her to come up into your lap to play. Then when s/he's in your lap, start to pet him/her. Slowly s/he will decide you are "his/her" person. Once s/he seems comfortable in your bedroom, you can open the door and allow him to explore further, but leave the door open to "his/her" safe room. If you have more than one level or a very big house, s/he may need a litter box on each level or close by until s/he "knows" where to find it.
The RoyalRags household is a very quiet one, so if your family is large, active and noisy, your kitten may be intimidated at first by the increased noise level and activity. Introduce him/her to each family member one at a time. Wait until s/he seems settled in and comfortable with his/her "people" family before introducing him to any four-footed family members of your household.
The key is to go slowly and not overwhelm your new baby with too many new things all at once.
Keep your kitten separate from other family pets at first.
Your kitten is accustomed to other cats. Just the same, s/he may be feeling insecure since everything is so "new" to him/her and s/he may feel threatened by a strange cat.
Let them first sniff one another under the door and exchange their blankets/toys every day. Once your kitten seems comfortable, you can let them meet one another with a human in attendance, of course. Don't force it. If either cat hisses at the other just reassure both of them that everything is okay. Do not punish either cat if they reject the other. Just give them time to become accustomed to one another
Even though our kittens accustomed to our dogs, they still may feel threatened by a strange dog. Dogs are bigger and noisier than cats, so introduce them to one another slowly. You will want to protect the kitten from the dog's exuberance at first. Most cats and dogs become good friends once they get to know one another.
FOOD: Your kitten has been raised on Blue Ridge Beef Kitten Mix, Stella & Chewy's Chick Chick Chicken Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food and Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat & Kitten Food. We will send a goodie bag with you when you pick up your kitten. The food and treat are labeled. Please rehydrate a few pieces with purified water first, and the rehydrated food should not be left out for more than one hour. If the kitten starts eating, then you can make more food for him/her. If the kitten is not eating, just serve it without rehydrating it. A kitten normally eats about 20 pieces a meal, at least 3 times daily, 5 hours between each meal. However, each kitten is different in size and appetite, so they can eat as much as they want unless they start having loss stool. We do recommend the continued use of Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Cat Food or another premium brand such as Primal or Fresh is Best. The initial cost may seem to be a bit higher, but the benefit of good nutrition (a healthier animal, less veterinary bills, etc.) far outweigh the small price difference between the best brands of cat food and supermarket brands. If you would like to switch to new cat food, we recommend doing a seven-day switch:
Day 1: 75% old food, 25% new food
Day 2: 70% old food, 30% new food
Day 3: 60% old food, 40% new food
Day 4: 50% old food, 50% new food
Day 5: 40% old food, 60% new food
Day 6: 25% old food, 75% new food
Day 7: 100% new food
PROBIOTICS: We use NOW FOODS Probiotic-10 25 Billion (1/8 caps twice a day for kittens and double for adult cats) and Jarrow Formulas Saccharomyces Boulardii + MOS (1/8 caps twice a day for kittens and double for adult cats)
TREATS: My kitties love Wholelife Freeze Dried Chicken Breast as treat, and you can sprinkle some on their food to stimulate their appetite too. Egg Yolks are really good for your kitty, they provide many nutritional benefits and help prevent hairballs. As a special treat, I also keep some Miamor creams handy. They have vitamin supplements and hair remedy creams etc. You can only find them overseas in Europe. Any alternative products will do.
MILK is NOT GOOD for your kitten.
Do not feed your kitten milk. Fresh, clean filtered water is all s/he needs. A sudden change in water can upset your kitten's digestive tract and cause him/her to have diarrhea, so I recommend that you give him/her only purified water at first and gradually change over to your own filtered water. This lessens the shock to the digestive system of the change from RoyalRags water to your local water.
Your kitten should have his/her own bowls. The stainless steel bowls are the best, and china, ceramic or glass bowls are good too. Do not use plastic bowls as they can harbor bacteria and hold oils which can cause feline acne or allergic skin reactions.
Always use a clean bowl for each meal, and put fresh water down at least once a day. The bowls should be as clean as those you would use for yourself. Dirt, dust, and hair will collect in the bowls during the day - you wouldn't want to eat or drink dirty food or water, and you shouldn't expect your kitten to either.
Our kittens are used to the pet water fountains, and we highly recommend you to get one for your kitten.
The Litter and Litter Box
We recommend the Non-Clumping Cat Litter. I use Tractor Supply Pine Pellet Stall Bedding or Feline Pine Original Cat Litter, but any good, dust-free litter is acceptable.
The odor is virtually nonexistent if the box is cleaned regularly - every morning and evening.
The directions on the litter will say to keep the litter at least 2 inches deep - I have found that 3 to 4 inches works much better.
It is also advisable to clean the box itself every week. I suggest using a litter box liner to keep the box clean. Dispose of the litter if you are planning a complete change of litter. If you want to save the litter, clean out the waste, then place it in the clean litter box.
Wash the dirty litter box using Clorox, Parvocide, Nolvasan, or any other disinfectant cleaning agent. Chlorine bleach works very well in about a 20:1 dilution (20 parts water and 1 part bleach), since it kills bacteria, viruses, and fungus, and is inexpensive to use. Rinse well.
I use a large sifting litter box (created with IKEA ALGOT Mesh basket and a Storage Box) with sides about 6" high once the kitten is full-grown. The higher sides lessen the chances of litter slatter.
Your kitten also knows how to use the Litter-Robot Open Air. The use of hooded or automatic litter box is a personal choice that needs to fit the needs of both the owner and the kitten. Cats and kittens are individuals - and some may prefer an open litter box while some prefer privacy.
Kittens, like all babies, have an occasional soft bowel movement - the "poopies". Especially when excited (like coming to a new home for the first time), a kitten may have diarrhea from the stress and change. You can double the amount of the probiotics mentioned above, and it should resolve itself within a day or two. If your kitten has diarrhea over an extended period or you see blood, please take him/her to a veterinarian for a checkup.
Your kitten has been trained to use a scratching post while still at RoyalRags. If you do not provide him/her with a scratching post, however, it would not take long at all for him/her to start to use your furniture to sharpen his/her claws. It's important for you to think ahead and make it easy for the kitten to continue to have good manners. The easier you make it for him/her to be a good pet, the better the pet s/he will be. If the kitten shows any interest in using a piece of furniture instead of a scratching post, there are steps you can take to change that behavior:
Put a scratching post right next to the target piece of furniture, gradually moving it to its permanent location.
If you see the cat looking like s/he is going to scratch on the furniture, you must, in a loud and firm voice, say "NO!". Don't overly frighten the cat, just make your point.
Squirt the cat with water from a small spray bottle or water pistol when you see the behavior begin. Squirt guns or spray bottles are great discipline tools for cats - more about discipline later...
Sometimes it's helpful to rub catnip all over the scratching post to attract the kitten's interest, or you can try fastening a dangling toy from the top of the post (a shoelace works well, and is quite durable) to encourage the kitten to use it. It takes patience and consistency on your part to keep/instill good habits in your companion, but it is worth the effort!
***TIP***Purchase a cone-like scratching post covered in rope (sisal) for your kitten before s/he comes home. Place it in his/her room where s/he can see it right away. Most kittens would also love a large carpeted cat tree to play on.
Nail clipping is something that should be done once every week or two. It is desirable from both the standpoint of avoiding possible damage to furniture and from accidental scratches on you.
Clippers specifically designed for clipping claws do work the best, and a human nail clipper works too.
The kitten is accustomed to having his/her nails clipped. Take the toe in your hand, and gently put just enough pressure on the base of the toe to expose the nail. If the nails are white you can actually hold it up to the light and see where the "quick" or blood vessel comes down to in the nail. Clip just beyond the quick. You don't want to cut up into the quick, as it will bleed. If it does bleed, you can stop it with a product called "Quick Stop", or by holding an ice cube against the tip or packing it with flour.
Remember, cats cover their waste in the litter box, and you don't want any open wounds on their feet! Frequent claw clipping will cause the quick to recede naturally, which makes the whole process easier. Not to mention that the cat knows the procedure is just part of the routine and will accept the process with little objection.
***TIP*** If your kitten objects to nail clipping - try doing it in his bath. Most cats are more placid when they are dripping wet.
I do not recommend declawing and feel that these should only be considered as an absolute last resort solution.
The following statement is from the CFA Health Committee, made after an extensive review of scientific articles, studies, and veterinary experience.
"The Cat Fancier's Association recognizes that scratching is a natural behavior of cats and that cats may be defenseless without full use of their claws if, either intentionally or unintentionally, they go outdoors. Scratching damage to household furnishings can be minimized or avoided by routine clipping of the claws, the use of claw covers, and by redirecting the cat's activity to acceptable surfaces. CFA perceives the declawing of cats and the severing of digital tendons (tendonectomy) to be elective surgical procedures that are without benefit to the cat."
Our Kitten Contract specifies that the kitten may not be declawed without our written permission. If you feel you MUST consider declawing, please contact us and I will see if I can help you decide the best solution to the problem.
If all behavior modifications to correct inappropriate scratching have been exhausted, I prefer a tendonectomy surgery to declaw, as it is more humane.
RoyalRags Kittens love ALL toys, but here are some of the favorites:
TEASERS: feathers, fur, ribbons, streamers, rattle, clapper, or anything on a long slender stick
BALLS; golf, plastic, crumpled paper, crinkle balls, rattle balls, smooshy balls. Always be sure a ball is not so small that a Lover might be able to swallow it.
FLYERS: A toy on a baby (fishing rod-like) pole and line
LASERS: Often available at an office supply store (laser pointer for presentations) Be careful not to point directly in the Lover's eye. Great for exercise, run the light under the couch, up the wall, across the ceiling. Turn off just as Lover puts a paw on the light and the Lover thinks its "captured" it!
CAT TRACK: Available at pet stores. It's a big round plastic "track" with a ball inside!
The more variety you have of toys in your kitten's life, the more s/he will make you laugh. Don't forget the homemade favorites:
SHOES - especially with laces
FINGERS and FEET - especially if hidden underneath a blanket, pillow, etc.
Vet Care and Vaccinations
A good vet is just as important to your cat as a good doctor is to you. Finding a good vet is just like looking for a doctor or dentist - some are worthy of patient referrals, and some are not!
You can find out a lot by talking to other people about their experiences with a certain vet.
Vaccinations: Your kitten has received an injection at 9 weeks and a booster injection at 13 weeks. It is very important to keep this current with annual boosters.
The detailed vaccination schedule is printed on the back of the Health Record.
Your kitten has received vaccinations for:
I DO NOT recommend that your kitten be vaccinated for:
Chlamydia: I do NOT recommend this vaccination as it not particularly effective.
FeLV: Our cats are routinely tested negative for FeLV.
FIP: I strongly do NOT recommend this vaccination. In studies, the FIP vaccination has not proven to be effective, and in many cases has made the cat more susceptible to the disease.
Rabies: I do NOT recommend this vaccination unless compelled by law due to the increased risk of vaccination site sarcoma from this vaccine.
Annual boosters have been the norm in veterinary medicine, but new studies suggest that a 3-year interval may be just as effective. This is something to discuss with your vet. It is important to your cat's health to keep your cat's vaccinations current.
There is some variation in each vet's recommended vaccination schedule. Discuss the options with your vet and make informed decisions.
Your RoyalRags pet kitten will be neutered or spayed before going to its new home. If circumstances are such that the surgery could not be done prior to your picking up the kitten, your pet kitten should be neutered if a male, spayed if a female before 6 months of age. Be sure to send me the certificate from your veterinarian indicating the date on which surgery was performed and I will send you the registration papers.
All cats require regular coat care. Your RoyalRags kitten is accustomed to weekly combing and a monthly bath. You don't have to keep him/her on the same schedule - but I recommend a minimum of a Weekly comb out and a yearly bath.
When combing your cat, begin with those areas the cat may not like having groomed, such as under its arms, between the hind legs, rear-end, etc.
End the grooming session with an area the cat likes, such as behind the ears or under the chin. This accomplishes two things - you have gotten through the "bad" parts while the cat still has some patience, and you have ended on a positive note.
A little treat of chicken flavor baby food or Miamor both before and after the grooming also encourages the kitten to look forward to grooming times.
The kitten needs to be combed regularly, preferably daily. Use a good comb and comb all the way through the coat. Always comb before bathing. Of course, in the springtime when the kitten is shedding, the more you comb the less hair there will be on the carpet and furniture.
If you see a goopy eye discharge or sore, red-rimmed eyes, this is not normal and indicates an eye infection, scratch, cold, or viral infection of some type. You should take your cat to the vet if you notice this, and s/he can determine the cause and a course of treatment.
Bathing the kitten on a regular basis helps keep his/her coat clean, shiny, and healthy, and also helps to reduce shedding. I recommend that you bath your kitten at least once a year. Always blow-dry the kitten until it is completely dry to avoid a chill.
HOW TO BATH YOUR CAT:
Before bathing your cat, gather all the supplies you need:
Dawn dish detergent (blue)
Chris Christensen System Kits
2 big towels
Stand for hairdryer (if available)
Carrier with a towel in the bottom
Whiskey (to steady your nerves)
An additional pair of hands
Even though your kitten will have had many baths by the time s/he comes to live with you. s/he may decide to "test" your authority by behaving badly during his first bath. Simply grip him/her lightly but firmly by the back of his/her neck until s/he calms down. This is called "scruffing" your cat and is what a mother cat does to discipline her kittens. This is a good technique to use whenever you need to control your kitty.
Before starting, gather all your supplies and have them handy. Comb your kitten out completely before bathing or s/he will mat. I find that the kitchen sink is the easiest place to bathe the kitties, as it eliminates the constant bending over that happens using a bathtub. Clear anything near the sink out of the way just in case your kitten scrambles out of the sink and sends everything flying.
I start on the face, and simply use a washcloth to clean it, especially under the eyes and inside the "flap" of the ears. Unless your cat's face is really dirty, warm water will be sufficient for this step.
For the rest of the body, wet the coat down, and then for the first soaping, use Dawn dishwashing liquid, mixed 50/50 with warm water. Dawn cuts through the grease in the kitten's coat and gets it squeaky clean. Work it into a good lather (not hard to do with Dawn), and massage it into the coat, paying special attention to the areas that tend to be the greasiest: behind the ears, the belly, the chest, and the base of the tail. Then, rinse it out thoroughly. A good rinsing will take several minutes.
You can then follow with the Chris Christensen System Kits products by instructions. Wash & rinse using the same procedure. Fill the sink up and let the water swirl around the kitten to make sure the water gets right to the roots of the hair. While the sink is filling the kitten will often rest its chin on the edge of the sink. The kitten's face may have a rather disgusted look on it.
As a final step to make sure all the soap is out of the coat, add several tablespoons of white vinegar in a pitcher of water, and pour this mixture over the cat. The vinegar will remove any soap residue from the coat. Then, rinse thoroughly again to remove the vinegar.
***TIP*** In the Spring your kitten may shed more than usual. The best way to control the hair loss is by more frequent bathing as it loosens the hair and washes it down the drain (rather than the hair being left on your clothes or all over the house).
Once the bath is finished, you can wrap your cat up in a towel, and hold him/her for a few minutes - this will help to absorb some of the excess water.
I find that while the cat is wrapped in the towel is also a really good time to clip claws if you haven't already. You can pull one leg at a time out from the towel to work on it. Clipping the claws at this point has two advantages: one - the cat is wrapped up and can't struggle too much; and two - the hair is wet, and it's much easier to see the claw to do the cutting. This is also a good time to clean your cat's ears with a Q-tip. The same rules that apply to clean your own ears apply here - don't go too deeply into the ear. Dry the external ear gently as well. If you notice anything other than normal ear wax - anything foul-smelling, wet, or icky - consult your veterinarian.
Drying Your Kitten
For drying, any human hair dryer will work - just make sure to use a low heat setting that will not burn the cat. I do most of the drying with the cat in a carrier. If not, I improvise by taking a jar or something similar and set the handle of the hair drying down into it. If it rattles around and makes a lot of noise, a kitchen towel around the handle of the hairdryer or the mouth of the jar will help.
Once the cat is drying in the carrier, I check them out every 10 minutes or so, and carefully run a comb through the hair that has started to dry. This helps to separate the strands of hair, which makes drying quicker.
After the cat is mostly dry, you can remove it from the carrier and finish drying by hand. The feet and belly are usually the last areas to dry so pay special attention that they are not still damp before finishing with the drying routine.
KEEP YOUR CAT INDOORS!
The most important thing you can do to ensure you and your cat will have a long life together is to KEEP YOUR CAT INSIDE.
There are many diseases in the outside environment, many of them becoming a problem in just the past decade. Parasites abound in the outdoors - fleas, tapeworms, lice. There are irresponsible pet owners who allow their animals outside even if they know they're ill. Cars kill cats. Dogs kill cats. Raccoons, possums, coyotes all kill cats ... the list goes on.
THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR CAT IS KEEP IT INSIDE, away from the hazards and diseases outside. Your RoyalRags kitten has never been outside and is content to stay warm and safe inside.
CAT PROOFING YOUR HOME
The inside of your home can also be a danger to your new kitten. Think of your kitten as a human toddler. That's just about the level of "childproofing" that is appropriate. Think like a cat. Look around for things that could trap him/her - small spaces that s/he could get his/her head stuck in, exposed electrical outlets, open windows, loose screens, uncovered heat vents, rubber bands laying on the floor, etc.
Kittens just love to chew and will be teething at about four to five months of age. Chewing can be easily dealt with by putting Grannick's Bitter Apple on whatever the kitten chews. Available at pet stores, or through supply catalogs, it is a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and bitter essentials. It tastes really nasty, and your cat will hate it! There are different formulations depending on what you're trying to protect - wood, plants, etc. Choose the one that is appropriate, and the chewing should stop quickly.
Many kittens like to chew on electric cords - Bitter Apple is a very effective way to stop this very dangerous behavior, Or an even better solution is to wrap your electrical cords in plastic tubing available at hardware or computer stores for securing multiple electrical cords together.
It's also a good idea to put away anything that is very delicate and breakable, at least during a kitten's early months. You want to keep your breakables safe, too! You'll be able to bring them back out when the kitten matures into a cat.
Many common plants are HIGHLY toxic to cats. If you have always enjoyed poinsettias at Christmas, you should know these beautiful plants are toxic to cats, as are philodendrons and ivy. You may want to remove some plants from your home, or change to some nontoxic plants, for the safety of your new cat.
cats have a very different physiology than humans; some things are harmless to humans but toxic to cats, such as aspirin. Food can also be a problem - for instance, chocolate, if ingested in sufficient quantities, can cause cardiac arrest. For a comprehensive list read the article Plant, Poisons & Other Dangers To Your Cat.
SWALLOWING FOREIGN OBJECTS
Toys should have any parts or decorations removed from them that a kitten might swallow - plastic eyes, ears, noses on a toy mouse, for instance, can be pulled off in play and ingested. Examine all toys for possible danger in the same way you would do for a human baby.
Never give a kitten a toy that is small enough to swallow. This can include such things as pennies, caps to small bottles, Q-tips, thread...
Be sure to dispose of dental floss where the kitten cannot get into it (and all cats eventually tip over a wastepaper basket to investigate), so if it doesn't have a lid, please don't put used floss in your bathroom basket.
MACHINES & THINGS
Kittens love to sleep in a warm clothes dryer, so always shut the door when not in use and always check inside the dryer before turning it on.
If a kitten falls in a toilet, it may drown, so always take care to put down the lid (see guys, there are OTHER reasons to do this besides your wife complaining!).
If you have a reclining chair, NEVER operate it quickly - a kitten may be caught in the action.
Ragdolls generally travel well. However, there are a few considerations regarding both the safety and the comfort of your cat when traveling with you.
If you are traveling by car, be sure you take some water and food with you, and some non-breakable dishes. Aso, think about what you will do for a litter box - A rectangular plastic box, filled with some litter and then sealed with the lid, is quite handy to take along in the car.
Never, ever travel with your cat, unless it is in a carrier.
If you are involved in an automobile accident, and your cat is not in a carrier, it can become a projectile that could go through a window. If you are unconscious, and someone opens your car door, your cat would almost certainly be gone before anyone could react fast enough to catch it. As long as you have to have a carrier, consider getting one that is airline approved. The SturdiBag Large is the perfect size for the average size ragdoll.
If you are traveling by air, airlines will want to advance notice that you plan to bring your cat with you. Each airline has its own requirements, so be sure to check with them, but generally, all airlines will require a health certificate with rabies information. Regulations vary from airline to airline, so be sure you contact the specific airline and your vet ahead of time! Do not sedate your cat for travel! Tranquilizers depress the respiratory system which is not a good thing for a cat traveling on an airplane.
The one absolute rule in disciplining a cat is: NEVER HIT A CAT! It will make them fear and hate you, and will not correct the undesirable behavior.
You don't want a cat to associate punishment with you, so you must find a way to associate punishment with the undesirable behavior, instead of you. This is where behavior modification works best.
The best way to accomplish this is with a squirt of water from a gun or bottle.
If you don't want the cat to get on the counters, squirt him/her when you see him/her there, while you loudly and firmly say "NO!".
If you don't want them scratching the oriental carpet, squirt them and say "NO!" if you see them do it.
Soon, they will associate the place or the behavior with the unpleasant sensation of being pelted with a stream of water. They may in time figure out where the water is coming from, but you should soon be able to firmly say "NO!" at the mere onset of the behavior and have the same result as with the squirt gun.
There are also some other "tricks" to use to correct some behavior:
A good technique to use whenever you need to control a kitty who is being difficult is to simply grip it lightly but firmly by the back of the neck until the kitty calms down. This is called "scruffing" your cat and is what a mother cat does to discipline her kittens. This comes in handy when bathing, medicating, clipping nails, etc.
Kitty comes and purrs in your face and you can't get to sleep at night? Blow a puff of air in his/her face. S/he should go lay down a bit further away.
Kitty plays in the bathtub or thinks its a litter box? Leave an inch of water in the bottom of the tub.
Kitty jumps up on counter or table? Buy a plastic carpet runner with the little spikes on the backside. Turn it upside down and line the counter with it. Whey kitty jumps up, s/he won't like the feel of the prickles on his/her feet.