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Adopting a kitten. Any Advice? Natural food/litter recommendations?

So, I may soon be sharing my home with a lovely little female kitten.  Growing up we never had a cat or dog (allergies), so my experience is limited to an iguana, gerbils, chicks and a ferret (all were beautiful creatures, just different from cats and dogs!  I did volunteer at the local shelter in junior/senior high, but still have no experience actually living with a cat).  As such I would like to be prepared before I bring the kitten home, and am hoping you might have a tip or two to share with me.  As it stands I live alone in a smallish one bedroom apartment (approx. 500 square feet), so I may need to get creative with my space, to accommodate things like a scratching post, litter box and eating area.  Please approach your replies as if you are speaking to someone who has NO experience with cats, I'll likely be ignorant to even the most seemingly self-evident detail and would appreciate the sharing of your superior feline knowledge/experiences!  ;)

Thanks in advance!!

PS.  It would be lovely to learn what expenses I should expect to incur as well, if anyone has a figure or two they can lend.
PPS.  I'm excited! ;D

Great food links, yogaferret!  I wonder if they'd do my old girl any good.  She's having a crisis (bad teeth, hyperthyroidism, her age) and I have been cooking meat for her for 2 weeks (with her dental abscess I am loathe to let her eat raw meat, in case of bacteria.)  She lost interest in packaged food and I have been coaxing her to put on a bit of weight, since she has wasted away to just under 6 pounds during her illness.  Fortunately the meds seem to be right, this time, and she's putting it back on.

Feels a little funny to cook HER meat and make myself tofu, but there we are!  We each get what we need.  :D

Anyway... I may give those a shot!

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Great food links, yogaferret!  I wonder if they'd do my old girl any good.  She's having a crisis (bad teeth, hyperthyroidism, her age) and I have been cooking meat for her for 2 weeks (with her dental abscess I am loathe to let her eat raw meat, in case of bacteria.)  She lost interest in packaged food and I have been coaxing her to put on a bit of weight, since she has wasted away to just under 6 pounds during her illness.  Fortunately the meds seem to be right, this time, and she's putting it back on.

Feels a little funny to cook HER meat and make myself tofu, but there we are!  We each get what we need.   :D
Anyway... I may give those a shot!

Please do.  We may be able to have a choice in what we eat, but our 4 legged companions really don't.  They are designed to eat and digest certain foods and when they don't get what they need, you will see failing health.  Feed what is natural and you have a chance to extend and/or improve their condition.

As to bacteria, cats were designed to eat raw meat and bones.  They have far more resilent digestive tracts then we do.  I know many people that have never had any problem with bacteria when feeding raw meat and bones.  (If you feed bones, and you really should for tooth health, they MUST be raw.  Cooked bones are hard and splinter and could become logged in throat, puncturing it.)  They merely wash the meat off with water before handing it over. :)

It is alot to get used to--I had a late start to natural feeding because there were no resources on how to do it--but even cooked meat is an excellent start.  For variety, I would also recommend any FD products from the brand WholeLife which you can find at theferretstore.com.  Straight FD I think is a little too dry so I soak my pieces in some water first.

I hope she feels better soon!
MD

ps - what do you mean by a dental abcess?  Just puffy gums or true dental abcesses?  IF the latter, Your vet needs to tend to those ASAP.  ANY problems with the teeth and mouth affect the entire system.

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Go FUZZ!
http://nippynihon.blogspot.com/
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Mahatma Gandhi:
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." 

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YAY!!! New Kitten!  Congratulations!!!
(I'm a proud cat-mommy!)

Anyway, the whole point of my post was to let you know about the best cat litter I've ever bought.  It's actually called "World's Best Cat Litter".  It's basically ground up corn.  It's 100% biodegradable, and it has a nice earthy smell.  Also, if you clean you little box frequently ( at least once a day) it will last you a freakishly long time.  It is pricey, but you don't have to inhale clay or silica dust when you're cleaning out the box.  Also, I keep a box of baking soda in the closet that I keep the litter boxes in.  Helps control any smells.  However, if you keep the box clean, smell shouldn't be a problem.  My cat will poop on the floor beside the litter box if it's not clean enough.  That works as a pretty good incentive to keep the box clean!

If anyone's heard anything bad about this type of litter, please let me know.

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CONGRATULATIONS!!! ;D

Sharing your life with a feline companion is just an amazing experience which I personally have found very fulfilling.  I wish you all the very best with your feline companion and hope you share many giggles (trust me, you will have many of these!), adventures and happy times together.

I feed my felines a raw food species appropriate diet based on the information in this book - Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats: The Ultimate Diet by Kymythy Schulze.  They are happy healthy kitties and love love love their raw food meals.  I give them raw chicken wings every evening which they gobble up with great delight.  They even chew through most of the bones - which by the way is a very good source of roughage. 

I also find that they dont smell like cats - if that makes sense?  They dont have kitty breath or smell,  like animals can sometimes do.  I love to snuggle my face in their coats and they have a neutral smell, the way I like it  ;)

Unfortunately I cant assist with kitty litter as my companions no longer use the litter and do their business outside. 

Best wishes, take care

love and angel kisses
xoxoox

>..<

PS - as mentioned by somebody else, if your kitty is to be an indoor/outdoor adventurer please get pet insurance to ensure that in the event of an emergency or any major accident you will be covered, it makes me very sad to learn that people are forced to put their companions to sleep just because the vet bill was unaffordable  :'(  An interesting quote which made me think was "If you cant afford the vet, you cant afford the pet".

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I feed my felines a raw food species appropriate diet based on the information in this book - Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats: The Ultimate Diet by Kymythy Schulze.  They are happy healthy kitties and love love love their raw food meals.  I give them raw chicken wings every evening which they gobble up with great delight.  They even chew through most of the bones - which by the way is a very good source of roughage. 

I also find that they dont smell like cats - if that makes sense?  They dont have kitty breath or smell,  like animals can sometimes do.  I love to snuggle my face in their coats and they have a neutral smell, the way I like it  ;)

This is actually because you feed them a species appropriate raw diet. :)
Other factors will contribute, but the overriding factor is the diet.

MD

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Go FUZZ!
http://nippynihon.blogspot.com/
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mahatma Gandhi:
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
“国の偉大さ、道徳の発展は、その国での動物の扱われ方で判断出来る。” 

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Enjoy your new friend! And get those pics posted!  ;)

Kava is a wonderful name.

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Congrats! Cats can be great companions. Here are my opinions about a few things...

I recommend purchasing a copy of Dr Pitcairn's Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. It's been out for a long time but has been revised consistently and contains lots of useful info.

Homemade lightly cooked or raw food is the best. However, it does take time and most of us are pretty darn busy. I compromise by feeding a combination of homemade food and dry food. Dr Pitcairn's book has recipes for homemade food, or I'm sure those of us who make it can post recipes if you'd like them. The dry food I use is  Innova brand, which is very good quality --  natural and healthful, no nasty animal byproducts, etc -- but not the absolute best. I also really like Natural Balance, which someone else already mentioned, but I can't seem to find it in my area. If you have deep enough pockets, I think the best packaged foods are Wysong and Wellness, but those are quite expensive. Just as I can't afford the absolute best, healthiest, all-organic food for me at the moment, I can't for my fuzzies...and I know many of us are in the same position.

It might sound silly, but proper tooth care is important for cats and has been shown to extend their lives by about 3 years. Start when your cat is a kitten so that she can get used to it. Cat toothbrushes and toothpasts are inexpensive and can often save you and your kitty the awful trouble and expense of having your cat put under anesthesia for a professional cleaning.

Find a vet you trust. Don't stick with a vet if he or she rubs you the wrong way, says things that don't make sense, etc. A surprising number of vets just aren't good!

There are lots of inexpensive or free things that make great toys! My cats like plastic bottle tops, homemade catnip sachets (just put catnip in the middle of a square of sturdy fabric, then tie it up tightly with twine), a bit of cat kibble folded up inside a recycled toilet paper tube, a spare cardboard box for scratching and sleeping in, the "cat dancer" (a simple interactive toy sold at all petstores that costs about $2) and so forth!

Outdoor cats are at high risk for disease, fights, parasites, car accidents, etc. and they kill wildlife. I firmly believe indoors is best for kitties and for the environment. Cats can llive very rich, full indoor-only lives -- mine do!

I only bring this up because someone else already made a related comment: if you're ever in the unusual situation of having to take your cat on a plane, I suggest avoiding tranquilizers. A vet whom I really trust, as well as the airline I flew on with my cats, told me that some animals have very bad reactions to tranquilizers and that their full physiological effects, especially at high altitude, are not known. If something goes wrong an animal can die, and there's not likely to be available vet care at cruising altitude. I didn't tranquilize my cats when I had to fly with them, and they did fine.

I tend to stay away from covered litterboxes, as they concentrate odors inside the box. That is, they make the interior of the box stinky much more quickly than regular boxes, so your cat has to smell yucky odors while doing her business. My mother once had such a box and her cat tended to have frequent "accidents" outside the box. After mom got a non-covered box, these incidents occurred far less frequently.

Well, those are my views, anyway. I'm sure I could yammer on, but other people have already given lots of advice. Enjoy your new kitty! She sounds adorable!

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um, I stupidly posted twice and can't figure out how to delete the second one! Sorry! :P

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Finally!
Here are some pictures of the enlightened kitty, Kava.  Isn't she beautiful?  :)

More thank-yous to all those who posted.  I am in awe at how many responses I have received, and how comprehensive and informative they have been---not to mention warm, compassionate and caring!!  Too wonderful for words. To those with the raw food suggestions, I would love to provide Kava with this type of diet, but as RKathleen mentioned, when you're on a budget you can't even afford to feed yourself the best!  Even so I am trying my hardest, and have selected the most natural kitten food I could find (Royal Canin) and I am supplementing it with some canned "Nutro Natural Choice" and "Lick Your Chops Natural Healthy Pet Food."  Even these are a little pricey for my budget, but I couldn't bring myself to purchase cheap brands with unnatural and questionable ingredients.  Hopefully I will have a little more money floating around next year to buy Kava food from one of the companies yogaferret mentioned (thanks, by the way, those were great links). 

For litter I bought her Petcetera's brand of natural, 100% pine wood pellets.  I couldn't find any corn or wheat litter here, although I would love to have access to it.  I think this will do just fine, although I worry about smell and bacterial growth, as the pellets break up into sawdust when saturated in urine... thus making it impossible for me to scoop up!  Is this okay?  I would appreciate any feedback!!

Again, thank-you!  You are all very, very incredible people.

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Just two more?    ;D
Kava is going to grow up to be a philosopher, just like her (surrogate) mommy.

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she is sooooo adorable!! i can see why you fell in love with her! she has very unique markings, esp that face!  :D  i can see she is already entertaining you!  ;)  and she looks so happy to be there with you too! you will make such a great surrogate mom and friend!  thanks for sharing her with us! :)

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She is so beautiful--and she looks quite at home already. If she hasn't done it yet, she'll have you wrapped around her wee pinky toe in no time.

I confess that I was not aware of natural litter until recent years and the most recent litter I used was the clumping kind since we used to have a LitterMate and my daughter uses the LitterLocker. However, before clumping litter was available I always used the regular clay kind that doesn't clump and all my kitties were fine. I cannot imagine that your litter would be a problem. It will be harder to clean but probably not dangerous to Kava. I expect everyone else who uses that litter has experienced the same phenomenon and had it been a problem surely the company would have pulled it. You may go through more litter, though, in trying to keep it clean and odor- and bacteria-free.

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She is beautiful. The last picture of her sticking out her tongue is hilarious. You're madly in love with her already aren't you? :)
I am going to do a little looking around for something better than the clumping clay litter that I've always used...such a mess!  Does Petcetera make another type of pine litter that is more like sawdust? Here is what I found on a pet forum...

"PINE!!!!!!!!!! It's the best!! I just love it, it looks just like sawdust, does not track, no dust, smells great, and clumps better then clay clumping, and seems to last so much longer then clumping clay. Also it's so much lighter, so the garbage man loves ot too"

All the best to you & Kava

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I am indeed madly in love already!
Thank-you for the warm comments jessesmum, bookmama and firefightress.

I really appreciate the feedback on litter---especially since Kava pooped on my bed today!  And I just recently discovered that the fabric I had planned to reupholster my couch with is saturated in kitty urine. ???  I'm wondering if the litter is the problem, or if the litter box I bought is not suitable?  It does seem a little high, so maybe she just doesn't feel comfortable using it?  I'm going to look around for some information on this behaviour, hopefully there will be a solution!  Luckily we have been studying aparigraha or nongreed in my yoga teacher training class lately (learning to detach oneself from material things), so I was prepared to deal with the fabric incident.  It's only fabric.  ;) 

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Didn't think of mentioning it in my earlier post, but I used to use the very same pine pellets in my horse's stalls and I LOVED it!!!  (Unfortunately we have moved since then and no one near me sells it so I haven't used it for a couple of years.)  It was much better than regular sawdust shavings because it wasn't near as dusty and it lasted at least twice as long.  It was easy to see which pieces/areas needed scooped out because, as you said, it breaks open and turns to the sawdust look when it absorbs moisture, while the rest stays in the original pellet form.   

Having had experience with litter boxes and horse stalls both, I can say that cleaning a horse's stall could be compared to a catbox, only on a much larger scale!!  ;)  (and horses don't intentionally bury their waste)  As for the bacterial growth, I'm not sure, but I know my horses did fine with it just removing the soiled stuff and waste daily and replacing more as needed and just cleaning the stall down to the ground once every couple of months or so, which would be equivalent to you washing out/disinfecting your litter box. 

As far as little Kava  not using her litter box yet, if you can catch her trying to pee or poop somewhere else and immediately pick her up and place her in the litter box, that might help her figure it out.  She should be pretty open to trying to jump now, but if the walls are too high it still might be a bit too much work for her, especially once she knows she has to go potty, so I would see if I could find something a bit shorter to use as a step up for her, or something even as a ramp.

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Kava is completely adorable! And you're obviously a very understanding caregiver! I have had litterbox issues with one of my kitties, Thea, in the past (aside from my the problems with my mom's kitty, which I mentioned earlier). Thea would pee near the box when it wasn't set up to her liking, rather than going inside it. She doesn't like pine litter or wheat litter. The only natural litter she'll put up with is Yesterday's News (made of recycled paper), and even that wasn't much of a hit. She really prefers plain old clay or clumping litter. If I were in your position, I'd try switching to something new to see if Kava's behavior changes. Also, the phenols (aromatic oils) in pine and other softwoods can be damaging to the respiratory systems of small animals. I now avoid using all animal/pet products made with softwoods for that reason. Good luck with your new cutie!

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Hello Idioglossia,
First of all congratulations on your new addition. I think you will be pleasantly surprised and pleased.
Secondly, I am a veterinary nurse for a large emergency animal clinic in Upstate New York. I feel more than qualified to answer some of your questions.
1. Spaying/Neutering ASAP! Great idea
2. Declawing- horrible idea. As someone mentioned before, there are soft paws you can buy if your little one is scratching the carpet. Basically when a cat is declawed, the first digit (bend your finger- the first bend right behind your fingernail) is removed. This is really a digit amputation. It is severly painful. Since cats can't tell us when they are in pain, there may be some serious side effects/neurologic repercussions here.
3. De-Worming- As someone said before, their cats got worms from their food. I have never heard this to be true. Sure if they are eating mice, raw food etc... but commercial cat food? No. All cats are born with round worms. Their species name is Ascaris. Look it up on the internet. The worm eggs migrate to the queens muscles and then during lacatation are passed on to the fetus in the breast milk. A generic wormer will not do the trick. Especially if you have gotten the kitty from the shelter- then anything goes. I would have your vet de-worm her- regardless.
4. Vaccinations- Though it is true some vaccinations may cause certain types of cancer (sarcomas) your kitty should be initially vaccinated. If you choose not to vaccinate her again, a good idea is to do a a vaccine titer. It is a simple blood test to determine the levels of antibodies in her system. You can go from there. You must, however, get her tested for Feline Leukemia Virus as soon as you get her home. It can be fatal and reduce her life span.
5. Indoor vs. Outdoor: Indoor cats have a life span of 12-18 years. Outdoor cats have a life span of about 5. It's more fun to be outside but there are many enrichment activities you can do with your cat to make her life enjoyable and fruitful.
6. Litter: A big, tricky subject with kitties. They will let you know which type of litter they prefer, how full their box should be and how often they want it cleaned. Trust me. If you have a inappropriate urination in the house, you may want to look at the litterbox situation first. A big rule of thumb: One litterbox on each floor of the house, one per each cat +1. It's pretty inconvienient, but necessary.
7. Food: Any food with meat as the #1 ingredient is best. If corn is #1, it is a filler. Cats are truely carniverous so unlike dogs they have more dietary concerns. They need a true protein source. I feed Iams. Eukanuba, Nutro, Pro Plan, Hills Science Diet is good too. Many people believe that urinary tract disease, hyperthyroidism and other diseases are linked to diet. Cats in the wild eat a protein based diet. When we feed them dry food we are giving them a carbohydrated based diet. Many Vets recommend giving canned food. My cats won't eat canned, no matter what I do. My recommendation is to do what you can, your kitty is better off in a loving home- if you have to feed according to your income- so be it.
8. I can't stress this enough!!!!!!
DO NOT EVER, EVER, EVER PUT A FLEA PRODUCT FROM A PET STORE ON TO YOUR CAT
I can not tell you how many cats we have treated who have had reactions to this medicine. Sometimes the owner has put the wrong product on them (ie: a formula for a dog) other times the cat has a sensitivity to it. Please get your flea treatment from your vet. Advantage, Revolution, Frontline and Advantix are all quality, safe products. If your cat should happen to have a reaction (god forbid) the companies can be notified and pay for your vet bills. Please, it is good to spend a little more initially, to get the best product available.

I hope I have covered all your questions. If not, please don't hesitate to PM me.
good luck and congratulations!

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OHHH Idioglossa, WHAT a beautiful kitty! My favourite, black-and-white. Shades of Jess (postman pat!). Do enjoy her--yeah, like you need to be encouraged! She is such a love. I promised DH 5 cat-free years, we are coming up to 3.5. I wonder if I can talk him into a new furry next yr! (Probably not...)
Ahopgirl, good post. Detailed, informative and well-researched! You go!
anna

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Kava is beautiful, such pretty markings!
When I tried some environmentally litters, a couple of the kitties didn't like them and peed on the rug instead, so now I am back to regular litter. You might want to try and put two litter boxes out, one with regular litter and one with the type you have been using. If she uses the regular litter then at least you know what the problem was. Could also be that she needs a "ramp" until she gets a little bigger. Have fun with Kava  ;)

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;D

More great replies!
ahopgirl:  Wow, thanks so much for offering your expertise, how very kind of you!  You made some great points, and I like the way you approached vaccination.  I did go with the initial one, but I am going to do some more research before considering the next.
RKathleen:  The phenols in softwoods... do you have any links on this?  I'm very concerned!  I may not have access to other types of litter, so now I'm wondering what's worse... traditional litter or pine?  I'll have to google it.
Firefightress/katzenfreund:  The ramp is a good idea.  My father suggested I put a small box or something there to act like a step, and that's working much better for her. (:
yabbitgirl:  the black/white is my favourite as well, I just fell in love with her at first sight.  You should try a kitten out on that DH of yours, he'd most likely warm up to the idea.  My father has always said he hated cats, but since he's visited me (twice since Kava arrived, my father and mother live 2.5 hours west of here) he has fallen in love with Kava.  She is one of the first things he asks about when he calls me... "How's my little kitty today?"  Too sweet.

So, the litter problem has been solved thus far.  I appreciate all the responses, you have all been too kind.  Kava and I had our first visit with the veterinarian yesterday (a very beautiful soul and intelligent, compassionate woman, might I add!  We're so lucky!) and it went very well despite the slight discomfort of the needle--poor little thing.  I removed the lid of the litterbox and added a step to make it easier for her to get in and she hasn't hasn't peed/pooped outside the box since.  Hooray!  I am still thinking about getting a second litterbox however, especially after the discussion I had with the vet-- who seems to think it's very important. 

Again, thank-you for all the help everyone... from Kava and me.
You're the best!
:-*

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