Does anyone round here own a cat?
May 21, 2015 10:51 PM   Subscribe

On the off chance that someone round here has some experience with cats and cat appliances, I have some questions....

I am about to enter the land of kitten training. Small rental house with carpet. No cat doors. Large fenced yard with veggie patch, chickens and trees.

Best = economical, well-built, functional.
1. What is the best size efficient litter tray?
2. What type of cat litter can be composted?
3. Best training tools: still spray bottles?
4. Best toys?
5. Household furnishings. Can they survive?
6. Just how much should I let my cat outdoors while saving my cabbage from cat shite.
7. Best question I haven't asked yet?

My last mog, the late Tesspot, came with my last residence so no training was involved. I had dozens of kittens as a kid. Dozens. Which says something about my family's attitude to feline population control, but nothing about my ability to actually train an urban 21stC kitten.

8. Should I get two? There are so many cuties at the refuge.
posted by Thella to Pets & Animals (40 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
8. Yes. Kittens have an insane amount of energy and everyone (you, them, your curtains, etc) will be happier if they can wrestle each other in the middle of the night instead of pouncing on you / destroying your house.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:54 PM on May 21, 2015 [13 favorites]

Heading to sleep, but to quickie answer #8: yes, two! It's been my experience that when cats have cat buddies, they are much more well-adjusted and sane (well, as much as cats can be) than single cats who seem to get kinda lonely. I'll try to pop back in tomorrow with more thought-out answers to some of the other questions!
posted by augustimagination at 10:56 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Q. 8 answered here and here. I will be getting two. So please consider all other questions in this light. Yikes. Purr.
posted by Thella at 11:06 PM on May 21, 2015

1. What is the best size efficient litter tray?
I think the size matters less than how often you empty it and with two cats, plan to empty it daily.

2. What type of cat litter can be composted?
They do have newspaper cat litter, but I don't think you can compost regular cat litter - it needs to go to an industrial composter.

3. Best training tools: still spray bottles?
Spray bottles/spray guns work great.

4. Best toys?
Depends on the cat. I've heard that cats are either mousers or birders, if they are birders get things with feathers, if they are mousers get them balls and other mousy toys. Turns out my cat is a birder and goes nuts for feathered toys.

5. Household furnishings. Can they survive?
Shockingly, Ikea couches do quite well. Everything else will be destroyed.

6. Just how much should I let my cat outdoors while saving my cabbage from cat shite.
They bury the cat shit, so you probably will never notice it in your cabbage.

7. Best question I haven't asked yet?
Cats are awesome! Have fun!
posted by Toddles at 11:21 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

6. Decide if you want them to be indoor-only cats or not. It's safer for the cats indoors (no cars, no mean neighbor cats to fight with).
posted by salvia at 11:43 PM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Get at least two litter boxes for two cats. Keep them away from where they eat.
Do not use clay litter - it sticks to paws, and is ingested when cats clean themselves. I am very happy with newspaper pellet litter, but others swear by worlds best, or feline pine. Newspaper litter breaks down like a charm!
Cats are perfectly happy to be indoor only creatures, and it greatly increases their lifespan.
Get a BIG scratching post - the taller ones allow for cats to fully extend while scratching. Some cats really love horizontal scratching, too. Cardboard scratchers work well for this. To protect furniture, I've used cheap packing tape over sofa and chair arms until cats find the thing I've deliberately left out for them. If a cat gravitates toward a certain piece of furniture, placing the scratching post directly next to it aids training. Once the cat has (hopefully) decided to use the post instead, it can be moved a little further away, and then moved again into a permanent position. That said, my stupid cats still really love scratching this fancy chair I have. Whatever.
posted by missmary6 at 12:14 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Buy some fun toys, but don't go overboard - chances are, they're going to prefer that cardboard toilet paper tube over MouseBot 4000.

Also - bonito flakes sold to humans are a lot cheaper than bonito flakes sold in pet stores for cats, in case you want to investigate that as a delicious cat treat option.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:22 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

1. What is the best size efficient litter tray?

High sides, with a cutout on one side for entry. So much better than the low-sides type, which invite litter on the floor, or stand-in-the-litter-box-and-pee-or-poop-just-outside-it. If need be, get a plastic storage container and cut down one side, but then use a length of the plastic lip or similar to cover the new edge where a cat would step.

4. Best toys?

It depends. I really like the clump of feathers and mylar on a 30 cm plastic stick; it has saved me many potential finger nicks from a flailing kitten paw.

And the fur and leather Rosie Rat toys last forever.

Also, a fresh paper ball, torn off a sheet of paper so that the cat hears it being made.

Laser pointers are over-stimulating, and they never get to bite anything unless you end with the dot on a cat treat.

5. Household furnishings. Can they survive?

Not leather coaches.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:00 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

  1. The rule of thumb for litter trays is "number of cats + 1". HOWEVER, I think this depends on how the cats get along with each other and their size--I can get away with one litterbox per cat by using homemade ones with a hole cut in the side similar to this. You'll want the hole lower though depending on their size. And if you're dedicated about cleaning it out you might be able to just go with one big Rubbermaid tub, especially when they're small. If they're REALLY little you might just want to go with an aluminum baking tray, then upgrade them to a bigger one as they get older. I like the storage-tub litterboxes for many reasons: cheaper, bigger, and the high sides means no accidents. Some kittens don't know where their butts are as they get bigger and end up pooping off the side of the box.
  2. I strongly advocate for "natural" litters (I like to use Swheat Scoop, it hits the sweet spot of cost-effectiveness for me). But I hate to break it to you, composting is not going to happen. Believe me, I have spent hours researching ways to compost cat litter. The consensus is the danger of getting diseases from cat feces and the difficulty of getting the pile hot enough for long enough to kill various bacteria requires a setup and dedication that nearly all cat owners can't really commit to. I found record of one person blogging about their efforts to compost, and they realized they filled up waste drums of cat litter much faster than it took to break down and they were not confident that the compost was safe to use near anything remotely edible. If you want to try to make it work more power to you, but do a lot of research because you're risking making yourself sick.
  3. I have heard of people successfully doing clicker training with their cats. The spray bottle only really works when you're around. As soon as you're not there with the bottle the cat will do what the cat wants to do.
  4. This will heavily depend on the cat and their personality. Different cats like different things. But in my years of cat rescue I have found a few tried and true favorites: the Crackle Chute, Da Bird, and the Catnip Pickle (this specific brand). Crinkley balls and bell balls are often hits, though some cats can go either way. Also, keep in mind most cats do not respond to catnip until they're six months to a year, so the catnip pickle may not be popular until then. But dang, once they smell catnip you will know, I have never met a cat who wasn't transformed via catnip pickle. The main thing is to put out cardboard boxes, paper bags, toilet paper roll tubes, and cheap toys until you figure out what toys they like. Then buy more expensive toys based on that.
  5. You can buy pet covers for couches and stuff, but the best way to divert them from furnishings is to provide a better alternative. This scratching post lives up to its name. It is pricey but tough as hell and cats adore it. You should also get your cats used to getting their claws clipped. When you're petting them play with their paws and slowly get them used to having them handled and their claws extended. It is very possible to clip a cat's claws by yourself without incident, you just gotta get them used to it early on.
  6. I would only let your cat outdoors on a leash. In the US there is a big "keep those cats indoors" movement because it extends the life of the cat and prevents bird killing and all of that. Leashing sounds crazy but again, you start early and your cats will get used to it (heck, I'm starting with my five-year-old cats and they're having a blast). Keeping free-roaming cats out of the garden is an adventure in of itself. I have a past question asking about that and I got some good answers (do NOT use pepper, it will hurt the kitty).
  7. Cat owner pro tip: Do not feed your cat first thing after you get up. Take a shower first, make your coffee first, get dressed, whatever, just insert a step or two of your morning routine between waking up and feeding them. That way they're less likely to associate you waking up with food, and are thus less likely to try waking you up at 4:00am for breakfast.

posted by Anonymous at 1:17 AM on May 22, 2015

The best toys will be the things you don't intend as toys--gloves are a huge hit with my neighbour's addlepated cat, for example. You might also like those, whatchacallums, snack-ball-dealies. Basically you put some noms inside and they get to bat the ball around until it comes out, then it's eatin' time. Anything that's a plastic thing covered in string/faux fur/whatever is going to get peeled within a day.

Cats really love 1) enclosed spaces (warrmth!), and 2) being able to get up high. You can get heated cat beds, or low-intensity heat lamps, to make them a nice warm snuggle spot. Cat trees are also great, or do what one of my neighbours does: there's a bookshelf near the front door, a bit above and behind the back of the sofa. On it there's a nice little box/tray thing with a blanket inside for her cat to curl up in. He gets to be almost at human-head-height, has a couple of different ways to climb up there, and it's a good spot to curl up in. He loves it.

I'm not so sure I'd trust schroedinger's advice about boxes
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:30 AM on May 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

I have heard of people successfully doing clicker training with their cats. The spray bottle only really works when you're around. As soon as you're not there with the bottle the cat will do what the cat wants to do.

My neighbor uses motion-sensing compressed-air cat spookers to keep the cats off the couch and coffee table. They're effective, but make me twitchy when I'm visiting.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:58 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

1&2: You may need to do a certain amount of experimentation. My otherwise non-neurotic cat is quite picky about his litter box and litter situation: doesn't like too much or too little, likes it to be scooped often, etc. You're not going to want to compost the litter if the compost is going anywhere near a vegetable garden. Some litters are flushable, but that is not without controversy. (I not only flush litter, I trained our cat to urinate in the toilet. He refuses to defecate in it, so alas, we are not litter-box free.)

3: We went the route of no negative reinforcement. If he's bitey, petting/the game is over, but that's about it. Instead, we put double sided tape on things we didn't want him scratching and provided a nearby alternative. Right now, because he has a tendency to hunt our ankles, we're engaging him in hunting games to use up some of that energy.

4: Toys are TOTALLY going to depend on the cat. Be prepared for the cat to decide certain household things are his toys.

5: We have a leather couch, which the cat does like to scratch, but we used aforementioned doublesided tape and provided an alternative. We also invested in some leather conditioner, which helps. Ours only ruined things by urinating on it (suitcases, generally).

6: Whether to let your cat outdoors is also somewhat controversial. My view is, all other things being equal, an indoor/outdoor cat will have a shorter but perhaps happier life. We live near a busy road, so we go the leash route. Which is not to say we walk the cat; the cat goes or not as he wishes.

Basically to a large extent, life with the cat is going to be determined by the cat. Don't invest in a lot of stuff right away--maybe a scratcher or two, a bed, a little toy to chase, one of those dangly string things--and figure out what the cat is into.
posted by mchorn at 2:26 AM on May 22, 2015

We have always had cats, starting with barn cats that my grandparents had, my Mom's cats when I was growing up, many indoor/outdoor cats we have had, down to the third generation with kitties, one son who does have a cat that walks on a leash! I have a constant disagreement with my husband about letting the cats out, I had one who stayed in all the time that he now allows out, and I am not happy with that. Our other current kitty has always gone out so that is not negotiable.

One thing we found very helpful was a big scratching post, which miraculously stopped the mostly indoor kitty from attacking the furniture. One compromise my son made with indoor/outdoor is to build a porch on their house he calls the "catio" which can be reached through a window, and is a screen enclosure with a dirt floor and plants and grass for the cats to go out in and play. His cats love it.

I am glad to hear you are getting two cats, and hope they get along. My current two are full sisters but can't stand each other. I have also had unrelated cats who were best friends.
posted by mermayd at 4:23 AM on May 22, 2015

2 cats in a rental here:

1. What is the best size efficient litter tray?
Depends on the size of the cat. Ours are big and lazy, so we use large plastic utility/storage bins from the hardware store. Also helps keep kitty litter contained.
2. What type of cat litter can be composted?
It will say on the package; we use some sort of pine sawdust one that's supposedly both compostable and flushable. I agree with advice above about not putting this compost on your veg; if you do actually compost it please research first - it'll need lots of heat and time before you put it on your ornamentals.
3. Best training tools: still spray bottles?
Yes, but YMMV. Our "good" cat likes water and the few times we tried it we had to soak her before she'd respond. The other (naughty) cat is egged on by any attention, good or bad, so he gets 100% ignored (slow and frustrating, but effective).
4. Best toys?
Depends on the cat! Our cats play different types of games and have different favorites. A really sturdy, heavy, cat tower is well loved and...
5. Household furnishings. Can they survive?
Yup. They've never bothered our furnishings at all. Spring for a good cat tower.
6. Just how much should I let my cat outdoors while saving my cabbage from cat shite.
Ours are mostly indoor-outdoor, indoor now that we live on the 2nd floor. They are better behaved when they can go outside, but then one of them survived being hit by a car too. Our are both hunters (EW), and both like to "go" in our veg - we set up a decoy area that sort of worked. Again, YMMV.
7. Best question I haven't asked yet?
Will nth the double sided tape or sandpaper tape - you can also stick this to the carpet if they show interest. Mine really like watching nature documentaries - Planet Earth, etc. ;)
posted by jrobin276 at 4:25 AM on May 22, 2015

Your cats will have a definite preference for different litter. The old newspaper littler is rejected utterly by some cats. (Mine) One thing they hate is any kind of scented litter. Cedar shavings are absolutely out as they will avoid cedar so much that you can use it as a deterrent to keep them out of certain areas such as the bottom of your linen cupboard. Pine shavings may be acceptable and of course are also compostable.

Choice of litter trays will be dictated by the configuration of your house. The very best option from the cat's point of view is in the dead centre of a large room, with very low sides and extremely large. If you can spare a space like this in your semi-finished basement, a chidlren's sandbox full of kitty litter where there is so much space and litter that they can scratch in the dry litter for the pure aesthetic pleasure would be ideal. High sides, tucked into the corner of a room, hidden behind a screen are all things that most cats find anxiety provoking.

It is recommended to have three litter trays if you have two cats, one each plus a spare.

Kitty scratching posts sometimes go a long way to protecting your furniture. Why destroy a leather couch when you have this gorgeous burlap thing. Old wood is also enticing. A cat with access to an outdoor unpainted wooden post will often scorn to claw your furniture. However you may want to gently introduce your cat to the scratching posts as they might not find them before the back corner of your couch is in shreds.

If your cats get to go out in the yard they will quite likely find spots outside where they can bury their eliminations and will use the litter box less or even not at all.

They will very likely kill the chicks. They might get into warfare with the chickens but this is less likely as most cats have a sense of dignity that precludes this.

the best case scenario for the cats is to have access to a house and a nice spacious yard that they can't get out of and other cats can't get into. Then they can get exercise and air and murder the local small wildlife. But you will still definitely need to get them their outdoor cat shots as they will catch fleas and every feline illness through the fence when they patrol their territory and check out who has been checking them out through the fence.

So far your arrangements sound rather like kitty Eden.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:36 AM on May 22, 2015

1. Bigger is better. The biggest your space can afford. Covered if your cat is ok with it for your own sanity.
2. No idea. I'm a big fan of Purina Maxx Scoop (Multi Cat version for me) as the best clumping litter with respect to price and availability.
3. I wish I knew. My cats on he other hand have trained me...
4. Depends on the cat. A scratcher of some sort is a absolute must. Some cats prefer vertical (posts, etc), some horizontal (those cardboard scratchers that go on the ground). For toys, my cats love these. Pretty sure I have a dozen around my house for 3 cats. A good, solid cat tower/tree is also a good thing to have.
5. Yes. Microfibre couches have worked well for me. My mattress however has not; its become a defacto cat scratching post. See my answer to question 3...
6. This is a loaded question; many people have very strong opinions on this topic. I'm in the "indoor-only" camp, for the health and safely of my cats. A lot of rescues will only adopt out if the cats will be indoor only (or only out on a harness/leash like a dog). Many cats live long happy lives being indoor/outdoor. And some do not. I've heard the average life span of an outdoor cat is cut in half compared to those that are indoor-only.
7. Note that ask-mefi official rules state that all subsequent cat questions posted to the site must include pictures of said cat!
8. Yay! 2 are definitely better than 1. Congrats to you and your future feline overlords!
posted by cgg at 4:52 AM on May 22, 2015

Re: Training. I'm fairly lenient, but I have found that when one of my cats does something that is beyond the pale (usually that'd be jumping up on the counter where I'm getting their food ready and trying to eat it out of the can), it has been very effective for me to simply pick them up without any rancor and take them to the bathroom and shut them inside until I finish what I'm doing. Once the food's prepped, I let them out. This quickly stopped the bad behavior and I have to do a reminder banishment maybe once every other month at most.
posted by ursus_comiter at 5:43 AM on May 22, 2015

6. I say let the cats out as much as possible, so they can have a full active semi-autonomous life and be in contact with the world beyond walls and furniture. I consider the philosophy of keeping cats indoors for their 'health and safety' to be very problematic to say the very least. If one wants to make the case for protecting wildlife, that is another story, but the suggestion that creating an imprisoned 'safe' life is somehow the responsible move as a pet owner is not universally supported.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 6:11 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

For my (longhair) cat, a can of air (like you use to clean a keyboard) is FAR more effective than a bottle of water.
posted by Sheppagus at 6:22 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

2. What type of cat litter can be composted?

I think the issue about composting is addressed better above, but you may want to look into what litters are made from renewable resources. I use Swheat Scoop. I tried the newspaper litter and the cats liked it fine but it wasn't really scoopable.

4. Best toys?

I'll second the crinkly tunnel toy, da bird, and a bunch of little catnip mice. Also, boxes and paper bags.

5. Household furnishings. Can they survive?

Figure out where the cats want to scratch and put a scratcher there.

7. Best question I haven't asked yet?

Other things cats often like: places to sit. My huge cat loves his scratch lounger. My smaller cat loves the little scratchy sitting pads with catnip in them. Both of them love their cat tree, and if I had a little more space I would clear out a couple of shelves in the bookcases for them to sit in. Cats like to sit a little off the floor and they like to hide. A box with a blanket may be good if you want to try things out on the cheap.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:30 AM on May 22, 2015

1 and 2: Be prepared to get what will work for your cats. Just make sure you have one litter box per cat! Don't be too married to the idea of compostable litter. You may find that your cats do best with the usual clay stuff that is most popular in the States, for example.

3. As others have said, spray bottles are only a deterrent when you're home. You're better off thinking about making problems inaccessible to them... Go buy some new containers you can store valuable chewables in (like your computer when you're not using it, your headphones, et cetera). Definitely buy double sided no-scratch tape to put on couches or other fabric furniture.

4. It just depends on what they like. Foam balls can be a cheap toy that many kittens go nuts after, and you can train them to play fetch, too. You'll just have to use trial and error and buy different things to see what works!

5. They'll find unique ways to destroy furniture. My latest little buddy likes to chew my dining room chairs... I'd never had a cat chew wood before! Just try to use preventative measures as lists above.

6. You could let them out only when supervised, or put them on a lead (yes, that can work for cats too). Personally I choose to have indoor-only cats and they are very happy and live long lives (usually well into their late teens). Outdoor cats get in fights and can come home with injuries, can kill wildlife, and they don't just poop in your yard... They poop in neighbors' yards too (it's really no fun and frankly makes me extremely perturbed when neighbors' cats do it to my garden). I would either go the "supervised release" route, or just keep them indoors where they'll be very happy as long as they have a window, because they will use your garden as a litter box if they go out.

7. Ask yourself how much you are willing to spend if a medical emergency happens. This is a dollar amount you should decide on... just be prepared for vet bills in your future, no matter what, and be prepared for the potential for very big bills as they get old. Many new cat owners don't consider the financial side to owning a cat, and when their cat gets sick, off it goes to the pound or the SPCA (or even worse, it gets thrown outdoors and abandoned). That's how I got one of my cats, she was clearly abandoned by her old owners and she was in very dire straits.
posted by Old Man McKay at 6:34 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Re: toys and kittens - while so many cat toys are dependent upon the formula of a thing + a string as to seem unavoidable, do not leave these lying around without supervision. Many kittens are attracted to "stringlike objects" and they will ingest the string, causing potential damage to their tiny digestive tracts (it's a myth that they just pass it eventually). Signed, someone who had a kitten cost $2000 in preventable surgery (she's fine now but still loves string).
posted by Otter_Handler at 6:34 AM on May 22, 2015

Regarding toys, may not be best for young kittens but perhaps when they get older, this snacky mouse is a huge hit among my five cats. I've always found the kittens to like crinkly balls a lot and then sort of grow out of it. Only two of our cats are nip-heads, the rest don't seem to get a high off it, so catnip-based toys can be sort of hit-or-miss. This grooming arch is the only purpose-built cat accessory I've ever seen them use and enjoy over and over again (with the exception of a second-hand cat-tree I got from a friend and probably already smelled heavily of feline), otherwise they have ignored all other cat furniture/devices we've spent money on in favor of a grocery bag, crumpled packing paper, or any kind of box whatsoever. Although this thing enjoyed a brief period of use and might entertain a kitten.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 8:27 AM on May 22, 2015

We just got a cat a month ago, so these are not time-tested recommendations. I found the book Think Like a Cat really helpful and encouraging.

Double-sided tape worked really well to stop her scratching the carpeted stairs and other than that, she hasn't touched the furniture. We adopted an adult cat though so kittens are probably different. We do have this cat tree with a scratching post which she uses a lot, although we needed to sprinkle catnip on each level progressively before she would really use it. The best toys for our cat are Da Bird, Cat Dancer, some random catnip toy I got in a subscription box and these springs. And obviously all cardboard boxes that come into the house are set out so we can laugh at how quickly they are filled with cat.
posted by carolr at 9:51 AM on May 22, 2015

1. We have this litter box for our cat. It works very well and it is really easy to clean.

2. No idea about composting, but keep in mind that your cats may be picky about litter. Ours is fairly picky. (he hates lightweight litter, for example - we found that out the hard way!) Right now we are using Nature's Miracle Multi-Cat and he seems to like that.

4. Chaplin goes nuts for any toy on a string or fishing pole. I also bought him a large corrugated cardboard scratcher and he just loves it! And of course paper bags and cardboard boxes go without saying. : )

6. Chaplin is a totally indoor cat - it was one of the conditions of the adoption contract. He doesn't seem to mind. (As long as he has a seat by the window, he's happy.)
posted by SisterHavana at 10:00 AM on May 22, 2015

1. What is the best size efficient litter tray?
I (and my cats) like this one. I took the flap off the "door." The cover and high sides keep litter in, give kitteh privacy, and (somewhat) control the smell.
3. Best training tools: still spray bottles?
Think like a cat. They don't really understand punishment, but they respond to positive reinforcement. If there's something you don't want kitteh to do, give her something more appealing. She's going to end up training you anyway.
4. Best toys?
Depends on the cat, but never, ever use your bare hands as "toys." Toys are substitutes for prey. Hands are only for good things like food, treats, and skritches (and being picked up and put into the carrier). If the kitten bites or claws your hand, stop what you're doing and take your hand away. It's cute when kittens fight the hand, but not when 12-pound adult cats do it.
5. Household furnishings. Can they survive?
Nope. Just accept that your sofa is also a scratching post. It'll be easier for everyone.
6. Just how much should I let my cat outdoors while saving my cabbage from cat shite.
Cat shit from one or two animals is not really a health issue in vegetable gardens. The plants aren't going to take up pathogens and store them in your tomatoes and beets. Just wash your produce well (as you would anyway) and keep the litter box clean and accessible. I use netting on freshly seeded beds to keep them from being dug in, but once the plants are up and the ground is mostly covered they'll go elsewhere.
7. Best question I haven't asked yet?
How to avoid the feline 5 am alarm clock? Feed them the good stuff (stinky wet food) at night, before bed. Free-feed kibble at all times.
Best cat bed? Don't bother. They sleep where they want to, and they will change favorite sleeping spots regularly.
8. Should I get two? There are so many cuties at the refuge.
posted by caryatid at 10:33 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

3. Best training tools: still spray bottles?

The best training tool is high school drama club. When the kitten bites or claws you, yelp really loud, pull away, and stop playing with the critter, the way its fellow kittens would. This way when it's a grown up cat it knows not to bite or claw too hard.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:06 PM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

4. Sort of the opposite of what you asked, BUT - avoid playing with the kittens with your fingers or feet. This will avoid teaching them that fingers and toes are fun play things as adults and keep you from having your feet attacked every time you wear white socks.

7. Resolve and water for cleaning the carpet after inevitable hairball barfs. These are usually solid enough that they don't stain too badly and they are really just a part of cat ownership.
posted by maryr at 1:51 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Toys. We have a rule to never spend more than a dollar on a cat toy, but you may choose to splurge. Buy some ping pong balls.
Take an empty tissue box, the kind with the plastic that only lets out one tissue at a time, put ping pong ball in the to kitten, fun ensues.
Alternately, put the plug in the (empty) bathtub, put kitten in tub, and place ping pong ball on rim of tub, or drop in so it swirls a bit, voila! Kitty jai alai!
posted by dbmcd at 6:10 PM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best toys = boxes & paper bags.

Little boxes, big boxes, medium boxes, stacked boxes... they're all "catted" sooner or later.

Two pieces of advice:

1. Hide the toilet paper.
2. If the cat disappears, and you're 90% certain said cat is in the house, odds are a million to one that the cat is hiding someplace you don't think it will fit or get to. And as soon as you discover that location, it will find a new one, just to freak you out next time.
posted by stormyteal at 9:58 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all so much!

I will post pics when I get my pair. But in the meantime...
posted by Thella at 2:19 AM on May 23, 2015

Best toys: Soda bottle cap, ping pong ball, cardboard box, piece of raffia, piece of yarn.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:59 PM on May 23, 2015

Also: Shadows on the wall.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:35 PM on May 23, 2015

Response by poster: I haz cat!
After finally getting permission from my landlords (for one cat only, phooey!), I perused the rescue cats and kittens available and decided to rehome an older cat, Gracie, because it's harder for them to find homes ... and I am an older cat too.

Poor thing was loved once, then dumped, and has been with a foster carer for nearly two years. Others have considered adopting her but Gracie didn't like them. Yet me? Mates from first scritch.

And after only two hours at my place she has comandeered my lap as her favourite spot to sit and we are both purring in pleasure. Awww, ain't cat-life grand!
posted by Thella at 2:13 AM on July 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

Oh my goodness. She's beautiful. What a lucky catch - for both of you!
posted by missmary6 at 2:27 AM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: What joy! She is so happy! Carpet, warm wood fire, lots and lots of petting. Comes when I call. She's definitely found her forever home (and she finds the flames behind the woodfire glass fascinating). After two (very well cared for) years in an outdoor (with enclosed cover) cage this cosy home must be bliss.

And frankly, I am happy not to have the kitten-training issues. Ready-made domesticat is AOK.

PS: thanks all for your amazing excellent advice on all my questions. I hope others can enjoy the CATastrophe of kittens with the information above.
posted by Thella at 3:05 AM on July 5, 2015

Response by poster: Haha. The fun of watching a mature cat discover television.
posted by Thella at 4:46 AM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

oh who's the prettiest kitty

If you don't teach her to respond to "Say goodnight, Gracie," I WILL BE DISAPPOINT
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:45 AM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

She's beautiful! It's wonderful you got an adult kitty. They are the best!
posted by Anonymous at 1:52 PM on July 5, 2015

Awwww yay! Gracie is gorgeous!
posted by SisterHavana at 4:23 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

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