i can haz kitteh tiem now?
November 3, 2008 6:08 PM   Subscribe

As a first-time pet owner-to-be, what should I know about adopting a cat?

I'm a year-and-a-half out of college with my own apartment. I've concluded there's a hole in my life that can only be filled with a vibrating, vomiting ball of fuzz. Some call them 'cats.'

I've lived with pets all my life, but I've never personally owned one. At some point in the next couple weeks I intend to pick up a number of kitteh necessities, followed soon by visiting the local animal shelter and adopting a kitteh. It would definitely be full-grown.

Having never done this before, I'm incredibly nervous about taking the plunge. I pay the fee, carry it home in a box, and then...what? I've got the love-it-to-bits part covered, but I figure there's more. What should I be doing in the first couple weeks with a newly adopted kitteh to make it not drop dead on me?
posted by spamguy to Pets & Animals (51 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you wear mainly light colored clothes, get a white, gray or orange cat. If you wear black or dark clothes, get a black cat.

Just do it. You'll thank me 100,000 times later.
posted by rokusan at 6:12 PM on November 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


1. Do not freak out when your cat runs under the bed and stays there for two weeks. You will be in AskMe seven days from now saying "OMG my kitteh!" and everyone will be like "dude wait another week" Your cat will be fine, just getting adjusted.
2. Depending on the place you get the cat from, a vet appointment would be a good idea, look around for vet suggestions, etc
3. Where does the litter box go?
4. Where do you put the water dish where you do not step in it when making coffee?
5. Any No Admittance places for the cat? Prepare to make them actually inaccessible, or give them up. If you have breakables, try to put them away.
6. How do you keep the cat inside when the cat wants to go outside? Think about this a little, depending on how you're used to living your life [also true for people coming to your house]
7. Who takes care of your cat when you go away? You can spend some time thinking about that before you get your new budle of joy, etc.

Humane society has a lot more.
posted by jessamyn at 6:20 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


In re your describing yourself as an owner-to-be:

You don't own the cat. The cat owns you.

Enjoy!
posted by charris5005 at 6:30 PM on November 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


It's not going to drop dead.

You should probably take a good look around your house for things that a cat would eat. Things kitty can get into, etc. A cat cannot read Mr. Yuck stickers and I personally believe that, if they could, they would chew dangerous things just to be cat-like.

If you have those toilet things that go in the tank to make the water blue or kill germs and what-have-you, vow to keep the lid closed or get rid of those things. Cats drink out of toilets. Especially just flushed toilets. Roach motels, ant traps, anything like that, toss 'em. If you keep random screws and thumbtacks laying in an ashtray on the coffee table or somewhere, put them away where a cat can't eat 'em. You'll be fine.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:34 PM on November 3, 2008


I dunno how helpful this is, but I will just say that cats are fun and wonderful and pretty damn easy (except for the shedding and cleaning the litter box, anyways). Mine can be left for the weekend with a big pile of food and lots of water. If we're away for longer than that, I have a friend come and check on them once or twice and they're good.
posted by missjenny at 6:35 PM on November 3, 2008


From me, earlier.

Cats rock. Seriously. Be up-front with them. And cats always land on their feet if you need to punt them.
posted by deezil at 6:42 PM on November 3, 2008


At the risk of sounding completely nuts, if you can afford it and are allowed to do so, get two cats, not just one. That way, your cat will have a buddy for when you aren't home or when you are home and don't feel like playing with a cat.
posted by MegoSteve at 6:44 PM on November 3, 2008 [9 favorites]


Also look for: loose threads on blankets and sweaters. Elastic bands. Really, your best bet is to give the house a good cleaning and tidy-ing up so that ANYTHING small on any surface your cat can reach (including countertops, tops of cupboards etc) that could go in their mouths, is safely put away in a drawer.

My best girlfriend had to have the following things removed from her cat's stomach over the years: yarn, string, rubber bands and even a safety pin once. Granted, it was a deeply dumb cat. But better safe than sorry - or poor, due to vet bills...
posted by twiki at 6:44 PM on November 3, 2008


(1) Cats is awesome.
(2) Cats is awesome.
(3) Figure out what food you want to feed it. It's not as easy as you may think: wet food, dry food, which brand. Fortunately there was a wonderful askme a few weeks ago.
(4) If you want to handle your cat, you should probably get it used to it. So pick it up every day. (My cat was feral and 8 months when I got her and she ain't no hugger.)
(5) If you want to take your cat for walks on a harness, I understand you should get it accustomed from a very early age--so start now.
(6) Buy toys so it's always stimulated even when you're out.
(7) Get it microchipped in case you ever lose it.
(8) Enjoy thinking of a suitable name. Take your time...
posted by NailsTheCat at 6:47 PM on November 3, 2008


One thing about cats, they are all vastly different.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:48 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seconding getting a second cat. The upkeep of owning multiple cats only seems to be felt at cat #3 (2 cats seem to eat/poop just a little more than one cat. Three cats seem to eat/poop like 10 cats) and shelters will often give you a break on adoption on bonded pairs.

Also, a big sturdy cat tree is endless fun and will (sort of) save your upholstery.
posted by jamaro at 6:50 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dogs have "owners" and "companions." Cats have "staff." This is integral to understanding everything about interacting with a new cat.
posted by answergrape at 6:51 PM on November 3, 2008 [8 favorites]


Thanks, this is all great advice! If I ever bring home a kitteh, I will be sure to post a pic here.
posted by spamguy at 6:54 PM on November 3, 2008


You should consider what kind of cat you would like. Do you want a lap cat? A quiet cat? A cat that will mind its own business? A playful cat, etc?

I know a lot of people who "like" cats, but then they only really want a cat with some cat-like characteristics. So if you really really want a lap cat then look for one that likes to sit on people.

So, just a suggestion, from someone with a very talkative cat.
posted by aetg at 6:56 PM on November 3, 2008


When you bring your kitten home take him/her out of the carrying case and place immediately into the kitty litter box. He/she will know where it is and will explore beyond it to get a sense of its new living arrangement.
posted by ericb at 7:04 PM on November 3, 2008


2nding MegoSteve. If you find two cats who have grown up together both you and the kittehs will be endlessly amused. And they might even do that thing where they sleep like a ying yang. Total shucks and awws.

Cats vary in temperment, and if you like having a snuggle-cat, make sure to hold your prospective kitteh at the shelter to see how it responds. If it goes limp, snuggles or purrs you're golden.

My husband suggests that if you pose this question to people you encounter you'll probably make some fast friends among the feline enthusiasts.
posted by abirae at 7:07 PM on November 3, 2008


If your cat has claws, make sure to give him/her something to claw on that you don't mind getting destroyed. Ideally, a cat tree or one of those cardboard scratching boards or a carpet square. I watched a pretty expensive sectional couch deteriorate into shreds over a period of a few years due to not following this advice.
posted by medeine at 7:09 PM on November 3, 2008


Nth getting a second cat. Didn't Someone Important have some quote like "If you want to write a play, get two cats and observe" or something like that? Maybe I just made that up. The point is: two cats are much more fun than one without too much hassle. Some cat lovers might beat me up for this, but I only have one sandbox for the kids and they do just fine (so long as I clean it out every 2-3 days).

Also, one thing I was not expecting -- as someone who grew up visiting the houses of plenty of cat-lover friends but never once actually owning my own Precious -- was the amount of fur that comes out of that thing. Unbelievable. There are dust haystacks harboring terrorists in my apartment, I swear to bob. Make sure you've got a decent vacuum and ease the cat into a weekly brushing routine. Also, invest in lint rollers like it's going out of style. You'll need'em to keep yourself IN style!
posted by Menomena at 7:23 PM on November 3, 2008


At home: cat in litter box first thing. Leave food out for it at all times, it will find it when it wants to. It might not eat at first: this is normal. (It also might eat at first, which is also normal. If it does it, it is more likely to do so in secret than not.) Leave out water as well.

Be sure the litter box is somewhere you're happy with before you start. Not all cats are ok with moving them, and there's no need to court disaster.

Cats will go into any open room, and also into any closed room which is open for even the briefest moment.

At the shelter: when you're hanging with the cat, give it quite a while before you determine its personality. Sometimes they're awesome from the first moment, sometimes they take time to get used to the change.

Multiple cats: depending on how the shelter sets things up, they may put siblings together in the (usually vain) hope that someone will adopt them together. Consider doing this, should you decide to get more than one cat.

Also, if you're not hugely picky about kitty looks, black cats are the hardest cats to adopt out.
posted by jeather at 7:41 PM on November 3, 2008


Talk to your landlord about getting a cat. There may be a pet deposit or pet rent, and you'll probably have to put your fuzzball on the lease.

Think about what you want from your kitty before you go to the shelter and ask for a cat with that personality. If you want a lapcat, ask for one; if you want a playful cat, ask for one; etc. Spend some time playing with and interacting with the cat before you take it home to make sure you and it get along. I did this when I adopted a kitten from a shelter 10 years ago and have had a fantastic experience with her.

Also, take seriously what they say about single-cat-household cats, and if you think you might adopt a second cat, get one who doesn't have a record of getting into it with other kitties. When I rescued a cat from outside, cat#2 was jealous and she has never quite forgiven me for adding cat#3 to the household, and the hissing and petulance got old really fast (fortunately, there's never been more than an occasional cuff violence-wise).
posted by immlass at 7:55 PM on November 3, 2008


Have a spray bottle ready. Best deterrent ever. At this point just holding the bottle and pointing it at my cat makes him jump off the kitchen counter, or anywhere else he knows he should not be, because he knows that he's doing something wrong.

You may want to add a little lemon juice to the water so that your kitteh doesn't learn to be scared of water.

Cats understand "No!" when paired with a spray bottle. After a while, you can put the spray bottle away and just say "No!".

Start bathing your kitty early and show it that water isn't so bad. Dry kitty gently with a towel and show it lots of love after bathing it. If you're lucky, like my friend, your cat will refuse to drink out of the water bowl but instead wait for you to turn the faucet in the shower on, get in under the stream of water, and lick the water off her back. She's pretty messed up in a circus kind of way.

Good luck, cats are absolutely awesome. P.S. male cats are generally more chill and awesome than female cats. Just from my experience.
posted by icarus at 7:55 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Cats are obligate carnivores and need wet food every day. At least this is what my vet says, and I believe her. Cats did not evolve to eat much grain, unlike dogs. And most dry food has lots of grain because it has fillers like corn and rice.

If your cat throws up often, it doesn't necessarily mean he or she is sick. Cats swallow a LOT of hair. Some cats eat too fast or too much, and that's why they barf.

Cosmic Catnip Scratching Pad--available at any big box pet supply place. Get more than one.

The day you bring kitty home, start touching his or her paws, just holding them and touching them a lot. This will prime kitty (if you're lucky) for allowing you to snip off the sharp ends of his or her claws with cheapo kitty claw clippers. My cat sits still for it about once a month. She's a total bitch otherwise, but because I started early, she lets me clip without restraining her.

I HATE sccopable/clumping litter, because it's so small that every cat I've ever owned has tracked it (carried it on its feet) much farther through the house than happens with regular litter. I've always found the cheapest clay litter does works perfectly for my needs. YMMV.

Lastly, if a cat lies on its back with huge saucer eyes and paws up in the air, inviting you to touch its belly, DON'T FALL FOR IT.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 8:06 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Allow time to get to know the cats at the shelter; don't just pick a random one based on its appearance. Cats can have radically different personalities, and these differences can take more than five minutes to discern. I spent several hours at the shelter over a couple of days picking out my kitties; 14 years later I'm _so glad_ I did; i got an absolutely awesome pair of kittens, both killer smart and at the same time cuddly, willing to learn tricks even.

Especially if you have an intelligent or active cat, you _must_ spend time playing with it to avoid it becoming either destructive or depressed. You'll want to spend time especially at first (once it stops hiding all the time) to "bond" with the cat. This really can make a difference.

Cats are definitely lower maintenance than dogs, but they still need _something_ good in their lives. Please don't get a cat and then leave it alone _all_ the time. It will love you.
posted by amtho at 8:07 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some wet food is worse for cats than some dry food. Please educate yourself a little about food.

Also - higher-quality food leads to less poop.

And - you will have a truly wonderful relationship with your cat if you can manage to never break its trust. So think twice before putting lemon juice in that squirt bottle.
posted by amtho at 8:09 PM on November 3, 2008


Prepare to make them actually inaccessible

So true. Cats get into *everything!*
posted by radioamy at 8:15 PM on November 3, 2008


I nth getting 2 cats. I just adopted a second cat 8 weeks ago. My first cat was a shelter adult cat. He's been with me about 6 years now. The newest addition is also an adult cat. They play together, groom each other, and sleep together.

I also suggest a cat water fountain. My cats have doubled their water consumption using this fountain. Very important for keeping their kidneys healthy.

If you need help naming the kitties, just ask!
posted by JujuB at 8:16 PM on November 3, 2008


The ladies at the shelter we got our half siamese nuetered male from made us promise to feed him Iams dry food and keep him indoors. (Indoor cats live much longer on average.) A large heavy bowl keeps water fresh and cool longer than a little bowl, encouraging kitteh to drink plenty.

It's true that cats' temperments and personalities vary greatly, that is what helps us love them.
posted by longsleeves at 8:16 PM on November 3, 2008


Although many people continue to have "indoor/outdoor" cats, most humane organizations do not recommend this. The outdoors are dangerous for cats (cars, fights, etc) and indoor/outdoor cats have much shorter lifespans.

Also, please do not "de-claw" an "indoor" kitty. They don't just remove the claw - they take off the whole first joint! If you absolutely must have a declawed cat, ask the shelter if there are any adoptable cats that were declawed already by previous owners.
posted by radioamy at 8:21 PM on November 3, 2008


If you've got any houseplants, make sure they aren't poisonous to cats.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:21 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's see. You will go to get the cat, which will involve some paperwork and possibly showing them that you've purchased the requisite kitty necessities and proving that you live in a place that's kitty-friendly. You may have to bring a cat carrier with you to pick him/her up. (Or not; we got our cat in a "to go" box, which we thought was hilarious and the cat was less than amused by. It looked like a big Dunkin Donuts donut-hole box. We still have it.)

When you get home, with your house totally prepared, you will let the cat out of the box, ready to love and cuddle and play with your new companion.

The cat will freak out, and run under the biggest, heaviest item of furniture it can find. It will come out only to eat and use the litter box. (Protip: Let the cat out of the box near the litterbox when you first bring him home, so he knows where it is and doesn't "improvise" elsewhere. You don't want him getting creative on this point; believe me, they can get real creative.)

For the next several weeks you will not have a cat, only a magic disappearing food dish and a magic crap-bearing litter box. You may begin questioning whether a goldfish would have been a better choice of companion.

After a while, depending on how social the cat is, he may decide to hang around in the same room with you once in a while. It's probably best to let the cat come to you, rather than going to the cat, at least at first. Also, every cat I've ever had finds people with shoes on (especially big clunky shoes) pretty terrifying; it might be that I've just gotten cats with bad cat-vs-shoe experiences, but you might want to remove shoes before approaching when you're trying to reassure kitty that you're not the Evil Catkiller Beast from Hell.

One thing I'd do that's fun for both you and the cat, and useful to boot, is train the cat to recognize and come to the sound of shaking treats in a container. (This is the only thing I've ever managed to "train" a cat to do.) This is useful in case the cat ever starts to wander outside or something, and you need to retrieve them — shaking a can of Pounce is a lot easier and generally more successful than trying to run after an animal that can easily outrun you, to say nothing of climbing and crawling into places you can't get to.

And definitely hold off on any new clothing or linens purchases until after the cat; those 650-threadcount ivory sheets won't be quite so nice after a little black cat catches your eye, and I'd put forward that you may not have as much control over which cat you end up taking home as you think you might. Sometimes they really do pick you.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:25 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Really, really recommend getting two cats, unless you work from home and are willing to be a constant companion. An alone all day kitteh is a sad kitteh. A home with buddy all day kitteh is a happy kitteh, who is still very pleased to see you when you get home.

When you arrive home with your kittehs (see, I'm planting the seeds), I recommend you have a room ready prepared for them. Just keep them in that one room for two to three days, so they can acclimate to you and your house. It helps if it is a room with an easy-wipe-clean floor like a tiled bathroom or kitchen. Cats like small confined spaces, cats are freaked out by large new spaces like a whole new house. Keep them in that one room with the cat carrier they arrived in (their refuge), their food, water and litter tray. Go in and visit them a lot, so they can get used to you and begin to bond. Pick them up a lot, but put them down if they start to panic. Easy does it. After a couple of days, pick them up and carry them through the house for a sightseeing tour. Put them back in the room to think about it. Next day let them explore, then return them to the room. Following day, free roam of the house. If you just let them have free roam immediately, they are likely to just dash into the nearest hiding spot and refuse to come out for 2 weeks because they are scared to death of you and this new house.
posted by Joh at 8:34 PM on November 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


2nding 1 room. Pick your litter room and make that kitty's homebase for the 1st day or 2. Then gradually let him/her out. It'll be less overwhelming.
posted by k8t at 8:45 PM on November 3, 2008


Things that have made my life with my cat easier: feline pine cat litter (doesn't smell like cat pee), a curry-comb type brush, advantage multi flea stuff (works way better than frontline) and "x-treme" catnip.

I'd recommend looking into pet insurance when you get your kitty. My Sammy Katz recently developed a heart murmur and I've spent about a thousand dollars in expensive specialists only for them to tell me it's probably congenital and likely (and hopefully!) harmless. Makes me wish I'd thought of pet insurance sooner.

I'm sure you'll do fine, though! Post pics of your furball when you get it!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:49 PM on November 3, 2008


Also:

- It's fun to mock wrestle with kittens and let them chew on your hand. This may not be a good idea; when they grow up they still wrestle, but they bite too hard.

- If you can, get kittens which have been weaned properly. This means they've lived with their mum through the age of 8 weeks+ (10 is better), and also been socialized to humans. (Note that this is desirable but that there are wonderful cats out there that were weaned improperly and badly socialized.)

- Don't put the food and water too close to the litter box.

- Tidy up the string, rubber bands, chocolate, raisins, etc. My 2 girls chew plastic bags, so I have to take care of those as well.

- Keep the cat carrier out with a fresh towel in it. This way when you need to take the cat in for check-ups, they don't think "Aha-ha! The cat carrier is out. I need to hide under the bed now!" Also, with adolescent or adult cats, it's one cat per carrier. You can fit two in a rabbit hutch in the back of a car for longer trips.

- Habituate them two a whistle or call when you give them treats. This will make it easier to recover if they ever get lost.

-Fourthing or fifthing the "Get 2 cats" advice.

- Have fun!
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:15 PM on November 3, 2008


Accept the fact that everything you own that can be broken will be broken by the cat within the first six months of their arrival.

Praise and pet the kitty whenever it's not doing anything wrong. They'll learn to differentiate by your tone of voice when they're being "good" versus when they're being "bad". Half the time they won't care but sometimes they will constrain themselves appropriately.

Similar to what others have said, higher quality food seems to generate less poop, and in my experience, the poop may not be pleasantly fragrant but is relatively less stinky.

Once you settle on a kitty litter that both you and the cat like, buy it whenever you see it on sale. You can never have too much.

Be aware that cats lie all the time. They'll whine that they're hungry when they've just eaten an hour ago. They'll whine that they must go out and then just stand in the doorway contemplating the air. They'll whine that they're bored when there are cat toys strewn everywhere. They seem to get a lot of enjoyment out of jerking dumb humans around.

Read this everyday to help keep your sense of humor when you find a freshly hacked furball on your pillow or in one of your shoes.

Just love the little bugger(s).
posted by fuse theorem at 9:40 PM on November 3, 2008


Here's something that I haven't heard much about but made a huge difference for me and my cat. If the cat doesn't seem to drink his/her water, move it far away away from the food dish. According to my vet, (some) cats won't drink next to where they eat because they think the water is contaminated by, uh, store-bought food. I dunno, my vet said it was a some sort of inbred wild feline memory thing.

Either way, as soon as I moved the water dish feet away from his bowl he took to it instantly. And if cats don't drink enough water they can get heinous intestinal/urinary problems. I've heard it's worse in male cats. However, if you look at my previous cat-related Ask Me, my cat's blockage seemed to come from digesting a very large consumption of rubber bands. Don't know why he likes them. We've had to de-rubberband the house.

Also, you may have some allergies you weren't previously experiencing. They went away in our case, after a couple of months. My husband and I are both asthmatic, but thought getting a cat would be a great idea (?!) Honestly though, we aren't bothered by his dander at all anymore.

The main benefit of a cat, in my opinion, is that they're way better than anything on cable TV. Watching him is like a continuous 3 Stooges marathon, but sweet and cuddly too. I can't imagine life without the little dork.
posted by Kloryne at 10:10 PM on November 3, 2008


If you do not want to find yourself getting up at the crack of dawn because OHMYGODIFYOUDON'TFEEDTHEKITTYRIGHTNOWHE'LLDIEDON'TYOUSEEHOWHE'SWASTINGAWAYTHERE then do not feed him in the morning. EVER. They'll forget everything you ever try to train them to do/not do but they will not forget that one time you fed them in the morning because you weren't coming home until the next day. Two years ago. Nothing can wake you up from a dead, Ambien-assisted sleep coma faster than the sound of the slow slide of the bedside lamp to the very edge of the bedside table.
posted by marylynn at 11:12 PM on November 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


1) Cats rule
2) They are ridiculously easy to litterbox-train
3) Don't cheap out and get one of those flat, cardboard-based scratch slabs, shell out and get a quality cat tower (9 times out of 10 they double as a damn fine scratching post)
4) Get pet insurance, especially if kitty is intact, since it will take the financial edge off of vet visits for shots and spaying/neutering.
5) Laser pointers = BEST CAT TOY EVER
6) Get several lint rollers, put one in pretty much every room. This applies regardless of whether your cat is a shorthair or a longhair, they shed like crazy and often times my blue shirts are CAKED in orange fuzz.
7) Cats RULE.
posted by Yoshi Ayarane at 11:27 PM on November 3, 2008


1. Do not freak out when your cat runs under the bed and stays there for two weeks. You will be in AskMe seven days from now saying "OMG my kitteh!" and everyone will be like "dude wait another week" Your cat will be fine, just getting adjusted.

This. I was this person. He hid for six weeks and then was suddenly a perfectly normal, lovely cat.
posted by altolinguistic at 2:48 AM on November 4, 2008


Hang a cowbell on the door of the cupboard where you keep your cat food. Pavlovian conditioning will ensure that your cat(s) learn to associate the bell with food; then, when you need to get them in from the garden / off the top of the wardrobe / out from under the bed, you can just ring the bell.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:30 AM on November 4, 2008


Cats are obligate carnivores and need wet food every day. At least this is what my vet says, and I believe her. Cats did not evolve to eat much grain, unlike dogs. And most dry food has lots of grain because it has fillers like corn and rice.>>

The latter part of this is true; the former is not. Cats absolutely do not need wet food every day. Check with your own vet to get the truth on this. Most cheap-o or grocery store foods are mostly filler, so you'd do better in the long term to get yours a high quality food that is more meat product than grain (look at the ingredients).
posted by FlyByDay at 5:36 AM on November 4, 2008


1. Seconding the lint rollers, or if you are dirt poor, use masking tape. (I used masking tape until I realized that lint rollers had removable tape layers and were totally different from lint brushes.)

2. Rubber gloves are fantastic for getting fur off chair and couch cushions. Just put one on and wipe the cushion in one direction using firm pressure, and the fur will come off in little rolls you can pick up (if there's enough of it, which there probably will be if the cat sleeps there regularly.)

3. To get fur off a small carpet or carpet-type surface such as a cat tower, use a pet brush with wire bristles.

4. If your cat hides under the bed, behind the couch or whatever when you bring it home, just lie down on the floor. If necessary, pretend you are asleep. The cat will relax and come out. This could save it weeks of adjustment. I will never forget how scared my first cat was. When I lay down on the floor, she came out and lay on her side and kneaded me with her paws.
From that moment we were completely bonded.
posted by serena15221 at 6:32 AM on November 4, 2008


Also it's pretty easy to build a decent scratching post or cat tree for your cat if you are at all handy. There are a bunch of places that tell you how to do this online. My sister's cats seem to prefer scratching the "box full of corrugatd cardboard" cat toy, whatever that's called, but it's pretty easy to make too. Unless you love shopping, a lot of decent cat playthings can be made at home from random things. The one exception is those little mice made of real rabbit fur that drive the kitties wild. Also, grow some cat grass. It looks nice and may keep the cat from eating all your plants, maybe. I love how one of the "how to make a scratching post" articles starts out talking about how long it took the writer to crochet her tablecloth...
posted by jessamyn at 6:43 AM on November 4, 2008


Dental floss is deeply enticing to some cats. Don't just drop it into the bathroom trash anymore, especially not dangling over the edge where it can be nibbled on.

If you make a habit of feeding a cat while you are eating, it will torture you for the rest of your lives together.

You're adopting a grown cat so this doesn't apply, but for anyone getting a kitten, cuddle them like crazy and you can encourage them to defy the aloof stereotype and be very affectionate with humans.
posted by Scram at 7:37 AM on November 4, 2008


Dear Spamguy,

I am was very excited when I found out I was getting a new pet. Good humans are hard to come by, but I am excited to have you. The fact you started a thread like this makes me feel like we are going to get off to a good start. I realize I don't have to state the obvious about food, water, and shots. Just remember when it comes to food not to by the cheap supermarket stuff. I have heard vets say wet or dry is fine, depending on the vet. Remember though, I like routine so I am going to be expecting to be fed every day. Don't feed me at 5am during the week if you want to sleep in on the weekends. I'm just sayin'.

I might hide for a bit when I get home. That really depends. You probably should just check on me every day to ensure I am still there, but give me my space. I can be a bit temperamental when moving into a new home. Don't take it personally. Once I get to know you I will give you some more of my attention.

I should have some toys to play with. I heard that the plastic ring with the ball inside has been popular. Think about getting me one. The balls I can push around on the floor are pretty nice too. And perhaps this time I will actually catch that stupid laser pointer dot.

Speaking of toys, you had better get me something I can scratch on. It is really up to you though. If you prefer, I would be happy to take care of that sofa instead of a scratching post. I think those carpet covered cylinder looking things with the place to play inside and lay on top are pretty nifty. Perhaps you can think of getting one of them?

Not to nag, but I am only going to tell you this once. You should get me some good clumping litter for the litter box. Try to scoop it every day. It makes it a lot less disgusting. Yeah, sorry about the smell. If someday down the road I decide to relieve myself outside of the box, I am trying to tell you something. Listen. The skin in my ears and around my mouth is a good place to watch for any illness. My fur might tell you how I am feeling too.

Lint rollers, lint rollers, lint rollers. There is only one cat in this relationship. Keep my hair of you. Try the 3M brand. I hear those are good. Oh yeah, don't worry too much about the puking. You try living with a fur coat and only a tongue to clean yourself up.

Good luck keeping me off the counter. Or anywhere you think I don't belong. I MIGHT listen when you are there but guess what I am going to do when you are gone? SUCKER!

Some of my friends were independent when they were younger, but mellowed as they aged. It might take me a while to really calm down and lay with you. Be patient. And I might like my tummy rubbed or I might not. Try it and find out, but be prepared.

I am going to love the look on your face when I run head long into your legs as I am trying to get through. I would tell you to stay out of my way, but I understand you humans aren't too good at that.

Did you save up money for new blinds yet? I like to lay in the window where it is sunny. Those things piss me off. If they are in my way, I might wreck them. You have been warned. Oh yeah, and get me a cat bed to lay in where you are at.

I will probably be a little jumpy in general at loud noises. Don't mind me.

I really like those rubber brushes. They seem to get the hair off and they feel really good.

Don't be too concerned if I stay up late and run around the house. Hopefully I won't keep you awake. Another related thing, you will pay attention to me on my schedule, not yours. Trying to fall asleep? Ha! Reading a book. I love to lay on paper. Keep that in mind.

To close, even though we are going to have a few bumps, I think this is going to work out wonderfully. I can't wait to get home.

Love,

Your new kitty

PS I apologize in advance for the claw marks on your testicles. I can't help it that I use my claws to jump. That is going to smart...
posted by Silvertree at 7:54 AM on November 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


1) Plastic grocery bags
2) Aluminum foil balls
3) Laser pointer
posted by TravellingDen at 9:23 AM on November 4, 2008


Lots more in this previous thread.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:37 AM on November 4, 2008


You might be shocked to realize that kitties don't really care how much you spend on their toys. The amount of money you spend is not directly proportional to the amount of fun your cat will have. My cat Sherman's favorite toy is a plastic bottlecap from a two-liter bottle of soda.
posted by MegoSteve at 10:38 AM on November 4, 2008


a question i asked last year about the actual costs of adopting a kitten might be helpful to you.
posted by kidsleepy at 12:01 PM on November 4, 2008


to add to the "all cats are different," i was warned that I wouldn't see my 7 year old shelter cat when I brought him home. I got the cat, put it in the bathroom, went to Petco, came back with cat stuff (i was just going to "look" that day, I didn't realize I was about to be chosen as the desired human), set it up, and opened the door.

he came out, I showed him the litter box and the food, and then laid down on the couch.

he climbed onto my lap and promptly fell asleep.

and that's kind of how we've been ever since.

they are wonderful, wonderful animals.
posted by micawber at 2:20 PM on November 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I asked the question referenced by Zed_Lopez. I ended up with a totally awesome kitty, who I love more than I ever thought possible. He's had his share of health setbacks and strange behavior but he's my little buddy!

One piece of advice from that thread really stood out. And it is WEIRD! mckinney suggested I lick Coal's head when I got him. I did it, and felt super strange doing it. But it WORKED! He is totally bonded to me. Every once in awhile I lick his forehead again, just to renew the bond, and it really works.

Good luck. Your new friend will be such a cherished part of your life.
posted by MeetMegan at 7:58 AM on November 5, 2008


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