She's so cute! Help me not break her!
July 18, 2012 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Help this new kitten mama and bonus naming.

Today I found myself a new kitten mommy. It's been a long time since I had a cat, so give me the low-down.

What do I need? What should we do? HALP!! There is so much information out there and I feel lost. Break it down in simple terms for me.

She will be an indoor only cat. No discussions about this please. She will also be spayed at the first opportunity. This is as far as we've gotten.

Kitten in question is a teeny little girl. I was told she is approx. 6 weeks old. Other relevant info: I have three kids and a German Shepherd (the kitty looks wet because the dog keeps licking her.)

Bonus: She needs a name! My only requirement is that it have to do with the Harry Potter Universe. So far we're leaning towards Luna...
posted by TooFewShoes to Pets & Animals (38 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Without seeing the Harry Potter thing, my first instinct was to call her Silver.

Luna could work. Or one of the centaur names?
posted by Sara C. at 11:40 AM on July 18, 2012

With that coloring, I'd name her after one of the ghosts.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:41 AM on July 18, 2012

She is such a Luna.
posted by eunoia at 11:41 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

She's such an intelligent looking little girl, as well as being utterly adorable. Minerva, for Professor McGonagall (whose animal form was a cat), Minnie for short?
posted by angiep at 11:43 AM on July 18, 2012 [9 favorites]

Rowena for Ravenclaw, and as a special bonus you can call her WEENIE for short.
posted by elizardbits at 11:46 AM on July 18, 2012 [8 favorites]

With that flyaway gray hair, I think she's Professor Sprout.

She could also be Rowena, after Rowena Ravenclaw, the Gray Lady.
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:46 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Grey Lady (Little Lady for short)
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:49 AM on July 18, 2012

Best answer: Aw. She's precious. She's a bit young to be away from her mommy just yet, isn't she?

When we got Malcolm and Eartha, we had to get everything from jump street.

First of all, since she's a baby, you'll want to free feed her so she can eat when she's hungry. We never stopped free feeding our cats. I think because food's always around, they just eat when they're hungry and stop when they're not. They do go nuts for Fancy Feast, so you might want to give Luna some of that. We have our two kitties share a can.

I recommend the Breeze litter system. Very easy to use and clean. Especially the pee pads. Out cats took right to it. I also like the Litter Locker for disposing of "solid waste". It's a Diaper Genie for cats. Also they make a Diaper Genie for cats.

Feather toys, balls, a laser pointer good times for the little girl. We bought all maner of beds for the kitties, they like to sleep wherever. Soft blankies seem to be an attraction.

A few of those cardboard scratchers. A little nail clipper so she doesn't scratch the bejezus out of you. A Furrminator. We have one. Our little girl puts up with it, her brother HATES it. We call it, "The Cat Biter". He really hates it. So we don't use it on him.

A new sofa as your sofa will now be shredded.

A squirt bottle, for those NO moments.

Enjoy her!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:50 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Whoops. The Grey Lady is Helena Ravenclaw, not Rowena. (Helena could work too!)
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:51 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

The gray lady was Helena Ravenclaw... she doesn't look like a Helena, but she does look like a 'lena...
posted by peagood at 11:51 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think with those ears and being all tiny and stuff, this cat is totally a Dobby.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:58 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Lady Jessica
posted by DWRoelands at 11:58 AM on July 18, 2012

Best answer: Yay, new kitty! Here are my suggestions for things to get:

1. Litter box and litter. Get a big litter box! Also get some sort of area rug to put under it to catch any litter that falls out. Buy tons of litter (Petco has a really nice unscented clumping litter that is dirt cheap), make sure you fill the litter box up to 3" and scoop stuff out daily. When she gets older, you will probably want to do this twice a day.

2. Food. Start her on wet grain-free food (also known as the catkins diet) as soon as possible. It is healthier for cats, reduces the chance of diabetes and obesity and urinary tract issues, and fits their diet in the wild more accurately. has some great details on this, written by a vet I believe. My cats love Natural Balance venison and green pea wet food, but it took several months of experimenting with other brands to get here.

3. Vet. Establish a relationship with a vet soon and get her checked out/caught up on any immunizations.

4. Toys. Meh, the only toy I think that's worth buying is Da Bird-- my cats get seriously energetic and territorial over that thing. Otherwise, they love playing with boxes, paper bags, and rolled up foil.

5. Nail care. Get nail trimmers and trim her nails frequently. You want to start this habit early so she is less likely to freak out. DO NOT DECLAW. Also, invest in some sort of scratching post/surface and train her to use it. I am a fan of the corrugated cardboard scratchers. They're cheap so you can buy tons of them and put them all over the house, and every cat I've had has preferred them over other scratchy toys. If you catch kitty scratching on furniture or a bad surface, pick her up, place her on a scratching board and demonstrate with your own "claws" how to use it. She'll learn.
posted by joan_holloway at 11:59 AM on July 18, 2012

Luna is good -- with those big eyes, oh yeah, she's a Luna!
posted by Boogiechild at 12:00 PM on July 18, 2012

Response by poster: Another gratuitous picture.

My husband has vetoed Minerva.

Since she's so little should I soak her food in some water to soften it?
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:01 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, six weeks is young to be away from her mother. You need some high-quality kitten kibble, stat. Soften it with a commercial milk replacer (NOT cow's milk) with a dash of plain yogurt. (The yogurt will help with her digestion.)

She's beautiful! And definitely a Luna.

On preview: use the milk replacer instead of water.
posted by Specklet at 12:03 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hedi (short for Hedwig) - because cats kinda look like owls sometimes. Well, mine does.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:08 PM on July 18, 2012

Another gratuitous picture.

OMG my eyes exploded from cute.

I nth Luna.
posted by sweetkid at 12:11 PM on July 18, 2012

Best answer: She may also have problems regulating her own body temperature so make sure she has somewhere warm (but not too warm) to sleep. She may still need milk replace and/or lessons on how to eat solid food.

I'd recommend keeping her in a confined space with easy access to a litter box for the moment. She won't remember where her box is if she's got a whole house and one litter box. Small, cozy spaces first before she conquers the world. Also use non-clumping litter as sometimes wee ones eat litter.

Give her a stuffed toy to cozy up to in said confined space which will be sort of a placeholder for a litter mate and will give her something to cuddle.
posted by countrymod at 12:14 PM on July 18, 2012

Best answer: I vote for Rowena, and also to name elizardbits Resident MetaCat Namer because having a cat with a food name is so fun. (I've now spent 1/2 hour trying to get the kitten to let me photograph her tags, which say PIES on them. she's not having it.)

The brand you want is KMR, which stands for Kitten Milk Replacer.

Toys are good, and for your sanity I suggest nothing with a bell or an electronic chirping sound.

I suggest the cat litter formula of N+1 for boxes, where N is your number of cats, unless you live in a very small space.

Very glad to hear that the dog likes the kitten. Don't let them share food, it's best for the dog to learn now that her food is absolutely off limits. Speaking of their relationship, give her a place to chill where the dog can't reach her. A cat tree might be good, but it could also be a bed on a higher shelf somewhere.

For her relationship with you, handle her a lot. Be nearby while she eats. Snuggle her, but if you don't want a 15 pound cat in bed with you, don't let her in bed now. In fact, anything that would annoy you from a cat, just gently redirect the kitten from it. This especially includes nibbling on you, chasing your feet under the covers, expecting to be fed first thing in the morning (seriously, do some chores, go pee, eat your own breakfast, and then feed the kitten. Otherwise she will move your waking time from 7am to 4am).
posted by bilabial at 12:17 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Vet her quick, often kittens have parasites and other gut stuff you want to stop pronto.

My first thought was McGonagall actually, those ears give her a very "I will grow up to be authoritative" look. You could nickname her Mac.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:13 PM on July 18, 2012

Pearl. (Or Purl.)
posted by Ochre,Hugh at 1:17 PM on July 18, 2012

You might want to give her kitten milk replacement from a bottle. It's fun and she'll love it!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:28 PM on July 18, 2012

Best answer: When we used to foster cats we found that six-week-old kittens could handle (and loved) a commercial brand of dry kitten food whose name escapes me at the moment. It came in a container like a cardboard milk carton and was marked as kitten weaning food or something similar (it seems to me it was also marked as "milk flavored" or something similar). It was either Purina or Friskies. My Google-fu is failing me. Anyway, our vet OKd it and the kittens thrived.

Nthing vet visit in about another two weeks. She'll be checked for worms/FIV/leukemia and given a first round of shots. She's absolutely gorgeous, congrats on your new kitty baby!
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:20 PM on July 18, 2012

Cho Chang. Just because it would be fun to say when she walks in a room. Cho Chang!
posted by dywypi at 2:24 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Fleur Delacour, the pale and beautiful Beauxbatons' champion in the Triwizard Tournament
posted by a humble nudibranch at 4:26 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The higher the meat content in the food the better. I like the Wellness brand a lot.
posted by maryr at 4:54 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I foster and socialize orphaned kittens. She is young to be away from mama, but not TOO young. She will be fine. My current cat came to me at four weeks (long story) and he turned out beautifully.

Do not bottle feed her. Sure, it would be cute and fun for you, but she should already be weaned and you don't want her development to regress. She should already be eating solid food - kittens start weaning at four weeks. She can eat dry kibble made for kittens, or you can soften it with water, or broth, or formula, but probably not plain cow's milk. It upsets kittens' tummies.

The most important advice I can give you is to NEVER use your hand as a "toy" or play-fight with her with bare hands, and don't let anybody else do it either. Use a sock puppet or toy or hands and feet under covers. The idea is that you never want her to associate human hands/skin as scary, or hurtful, something to fight, or something to avoid. Hands are for love and skritches and food and comfort and that is all. Play with her only until she wants to stop.

It may be cute to play fight with her now, but it won't be when she weighs 12 pounds and attacks someone's arm or leg.

Don't feed her wet food in the morning. If you can get her used to free feeding, and then give her the wet stuff in the evening, you will never have a kitty alarm clock permanently set at 5 am.

She will be old enough to spay in two weeks (they do it very early these days). Get her microchipped too - even if she is an indoor cat, she could get out.

Please do not declaw her. It's barbaric and horrible and she needs her claws to defend herself.

Talk to her - it just seems to help with bonding. Try to see things from her point of view - she is tiny and helpless, but very curious and brave. You don't have to over-coddle her, but don't be a source of terror to her either. When you pick her up, support her feet so she feels she has some control. You will soon find out how (or whether) she prefers to be held at all.

If she wants to get down or not be held, don't hold her against her will (unless you have to, like for washing or keeping inside). Get a small brush and brush her gently every day so she get used to it - but only as long as she likes it, and give her a treat afterwards. When she learns that being close to you means good things like skritches and strokes, and she can leave anytime she wants to, she will come to you and stay on her own terms.

If she decides to hide, let her come out on her own. You might want to keep her carrier out and open so that she does not associate it only with trips to the hurty place (the vet's).

I know this sounds like a lot, but trust me, this is a crucial period in which you will teach her what she can expect from humans. It will make a huge difference in her adult personality if she learns to associate humans with only good things.
posted by caryatid at 7:15 PM on July 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Aw, a lilac tabby! She's adorable.

I'd suggest doing some research on cat litter types. There's anecdotes about clumping cat litter being dangerous for kittens, and to my knowledge, it hasn't been proven or disproven. However, there are a lot of alternatives available, and personally, I'd rather be safe.

And as for names, I have a cat named Narcissa. I call her Cissy.
posted by ThisKindNepenthe at 7:59 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I recommend the Royal Canin brand kitten food. It's like crack and very well balanced. Since she's so small, she might not have really good toilet skills. If you have problems in that area, I recommend Dr Elsey's Cat Attract litter. I also have to agree with not playing rough with your hands and add that playing "blanket mouse" (feet or hands under a blanket) just makes cats that attack your feet in bed.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:14 PM on July 18, 2012

Response by poster: Okay, thanks for the input. Her name is Molly. There were lots of good contenders, but in the end we think she just looks like a Molly.

Please continue with the cat care tips. We're really clueless around here.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:30 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Molly is a perfect name!
posted by caryatid at 9:54 PM on July 18, 2012

Best answer: caryatid is providing good advice. I'd add that you should also resist letting her play with your socked foot. I avoided it best I could and a friend came over and teased my kitten with his white socked foot. To this day, she has no interest in feet as toys UNLESS you are wearing white socks. It's kind of amazing.

It would be good to start clipping her toenails now, when she's little and will get used to it. She'll never like it, but she'll be more patient about it. My kitty gets a treat as soon as I'm finished to make up for the pain. Cat claws are pretty straight-forward to trim - they do have a vein in them, so you have to be careful, but the rest of the claw is transparent, so it's easy to see. That said, ask your vet for a demonstration.

But really, just provide her with as much attention and company as you possibly can right now.
posted by maryr at 10:24 PM on July 18, 2012

PS: It's awesome that the dog seems to be doing fine with her.
posted by maryr at 10:26 PM on July 18, 2012

Oh, little cute fluffball!
posted by sarcasticah at 5:45 PM on July 19, 2012

Best answer: Oh my the unbearable cuteness! I hope Molly is just the first of many names for this little critter. May I suggest Golly Miss Molly and Lady Gray? And anything referencing those ears.

As far as cat care tips, lots of cuddling and gentle play. I have raised a few kittens into loving adults and they all got insane amounts of attention. But be ready to have your feet attacked while you are sleeping.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:00 PM on July 19, 2012

Response by poster: Oh yes, Molly is just the beginning. I'm thinking Mistress Molly Minerva just as a start. I'm sure as she gets older she'll earn more names.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:05 AM on July 21, 2012

Heads up - when you go to the vet, you might as well just tell them "Molly". I get embarassed every time my Millie comes up as "Mildred Emily" in the database.
posted by maryr at 7:59 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

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