Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)
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    Senior Member Laurelin's Avatar
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    Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    I asked some questions on my other forum but thought I'd ask here. I've browsed cat forums but they're kind of scary places lol. I'm a stupid newb. Hopefully you guys know I care a lot about taking good care of my animals and you can put up with my noobish questions. I'm only asking because I want to do well by any animals I get.

    I'm just going to quote myself.

    Okay so... I like cats, I've discovered. I really have always thought if I get a small pet, it'll be a small dog. I still may never get a cat and just stick with little dogs. But I like my dad's cat quite a bit. She's very friendly and easy going. She is really LOUD though and always wants to be petted. The dogs and her get along great. She is really social and follows me around. She comes when you call her and is just a real delight. As far as breed goes, she's some mix of many generations of barn cats.

    It wouldn't be until after I moved. But I have some questions. Keep in mind I've NEVER owned a cat and am honestly totally clueless. The only cats I've been around much have been outdoor cats. And most have been declawed. If I got a cat, I wouldn't be comfortable with that.

    So I apologize for stupid questions. I figure you guys will be more lenient with me since you know me, right? I'm really just clueless.

    1. How do you keep a cat inside and happy? And without tearing up everything without declawing it?

    2. Do you just... leave them loose while you're gone? You don't have to crate them or make a cage for them? I'm so worried they'll get into everything...

    3. What do you do for outdoor time? Do you give them outdoor time?

    4. Food- in general is a good brand of dog food going to make a good brand of cat food?

    5. Litterbox and smell- how do you keep the house from smelling? I've changed shelter litterboxes and they SMELLED bad. I don't want my house to smell like dog or cat.

    6. Pros and cons of adopting a kitten versus adult. I almost wonder if it might be better to find an adult for adoption that has a good, easy personality.
    Last edited by Laurelin; 10-26-2012 at 10:24 AM.
    Mia CGC (5 year old papillon) and Summer (9.5 year old papillon)

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Laurelin's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    I keep thinking I am over my cat want but then here I am again, housesitting and dog and cat sitting. Joy has been curled up on my lap, purring up a storm and kneading my leg with her paws (feels so weird!). It's very endearing. I really love her.

    If you will not tell, I brought her inside for a little bit just to see. Yeah, she's not allowed indoors. But I brought her in and other than being loud by the door for a while, she's been great.

    I don't know how much is just her being 'Joy' and how much is just cat behavior in general. She is SO sweet and meek. I have never ever seen her bite or try to. You can pick her up and she loves it. She has hissed at the dogs some. But overall, she is very easy tempered. Very loudmouthed though and demands petting quite a lot (by being loudmouthed). Even when she's outside, she comes to the door she yammers on wanting pets. She is also pretty 'biddable'. That's not the right word, really, but I am drawing a blank. I've of course done some treat training with her. I'm getting a decent recall for a cat really quickly, lol. It's very interesting, she's a really intriguing animal to me just because it's so different. But the more I'm around her, the more I'm thinking I might want to try one.

    I almost have thought about asking if I could just have her. She's 16 and old but I feel so bad for her sometimes. She seems happy enough but I know she's fed crap food and kept outside, declawed all the time. I think she'd adjust indoors easily. But I know the answer would be no.

    I think if I do get a cat, I want one similar to her as a 'first cat'. So I'm thinking an easy going adult? Is there a good way to find that? I'm thinking shelter would be the way to go. I've heard a lot of cat rescues are interesting to deal with. Doubt I'd qualify with no cat experience.

    Oh and one thing that is negative is that Mia, while good outdoors with the cat, is not so great indoors. The cat is VERY interesting. She wants to play with her and lick all over her. Joy is very tolerant but Mia is persistent. It's been a little bit since I brought her inside though and Mia's ignoring her unless I pick her up. When I pick Joy up, she starts barking at her and whining and trying to get to her. I think this will be easily overcome if she gets used to a cat though.

    Then I keep thinking I'll be the crazy person with 3 dogs and a cat in a few years lol.

    Oh and my mom was allergic to cats so I'm mildly worried I could be. But I've handled joy so much and not had any problems without doing much special. Think it's safe to say I'm not allergic?
    Just trying to gather information. I think I'm a good dog owner but I'm clueless about cats.

    Also:

    What are essential items to buy?

    And are the raw percentages of bone/organ/meat the same for cats as dogs or is it different?
    Mia CGC (5 year old papillon) and Summer (9.5 year old papillon)

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    Member jenneses's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    Both my cats are from cat rescues. Angus is my dog-like cat, but he's a pita in that he has feline urinary tract syndrome which is VERY common in young neutered males. So look for a spayed female. Males tend to be more snuggly, but each cat is an individual. Also, like dogs, how they are in a shelter is not always how they are at home. Be prepared for the cat to hide up to a week in a new home. I put new cats in the bathroom, or other small room, alone with litterbox and water to let them get used to the new house sounds/smells/etc., visit him/her there for the first week. Keep cats and dog separate unless you can supervise.

    1. Buy lots of cat scratching items with different textures.
    2. I leave my cats loose while I'm gone.
    3. Neither of my cats get outdoor time. I do open the windows for them to sniff outside though.
    4. Before Grain is good, Weruva, and Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover are all good cat foods.
    5. Clean the litter box 2x a day will limit smell, but there may still be some odor. A good covered litterbox helps contain it a bit more. A top entry box should also prevent dogs from eating the poo. Also a good quality litter will help.
    6. Cat vs. Kitten... I have no real preference for this. Kittens are very scratchy, but you can work on that with them, they may adapt faster.

    If you feed raw you want to model it after whole prey at each meal as closely as possible to ensure they are getting enough taurine. Make sure your cat has high hiding places. I have catty stacks and they are 5 high at the highest point. I also have low hiding places (I use their carriers for this so they are used to them and it makes getting them to the vet easier). Toys are fun. My cats like the ones with balls in tracks (the dog finds these amusing as well) and jingle balls.

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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    I don't have time right now to address everything. . .I will say that a young adult would probably be best if you want a certain personality. Kittens kind of turn out however tthey're going to turn out, and it's hard to tell when they're young. Also, canned food! Or raw. Dry food is just too dry and cats in general don't drink enough water. Feeding all wet food can reduce the chances of urinary disease (and I have a female with it so it's not only males) and kidney disease.

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    Senior Member Laurelin's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    I'm not sure what range of temperaments cats have. I liked most all of the cats in the shelter but not sure how they'd all be living with. I definitely think Joy is super easy. She's not climbed anything. You can contain her in an x-pen. Brought her inside and she curled up in the sun and is sleeping. She's climbed the back of the couch and gotten on tables, but that's stuff the dogs do too.
    Mia CGC (5 year old papillon) and Summer (9.5 year old papillon)

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    Senior Member melaka's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    1. How do you keep a cat inside and happy? And without tearing up everything without declawing it?
    I had trouble with my first cat scratching up everything, but I think she calmed down once I got my second cat. You can buy catnip sprays to attract cats to scratching posts and aversion spray to spray on furniture, etc., that you don't want them near. They don't always work and it can be frustrating. They also sell double-sided sticky strips that you can put on stuff to make the sensation of scratching it annoying to them. But, really, I think having two cats really helps to keep them both entertained when you're not around.

    2. Do you just... leave them loose while you're gone? You don't have to crate them or make a cage for them? I'm so worried they'll get into everything...
    Yes, I leave mine loose and always have. I close doors to rooms that I don't want them in.

    3. What do you do for outdoor time? Do you give them outdoor time? No

    4. Food- in general is a good brand of dog food going to make a good brand of cat food?
    Yes. Though I think it's much more important to make sure cats get canned food, where I don't feed my dog canned food at all.

    5. Litterbox and smell- how do you keep the house from smelling? I've changed shelter litterboxes and they SMELLED bad. I don't want my house to smell like dog or cat.
    Scoop whenever you can. I had lots of recommendations for Fresh Step cat litter too, which seems to work better at eliminating odors than what I was using before (Tidy Cat).

    6. Pros and cons of adopting a kitten versus adult. I almost wonder if it might be better to find an adult for adoption that has a good, easy personality.
    There are so many adult cats in shelters that if you're open to it, getting an adult cat seems like a good idea (though it might be tougher if you decide to go with two). I got both my cats as kittens and they both turned out pretty well, but the younger one drove me nuts for a few years and was a very naughty kitten. I didn't realize how good I had it with my sweet older girl.

    Mina - 17 years | Buffy CGC - 4 years | Zero RIP (6.12.2013)

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    Senior Member Catdancer's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    When I got my papillon I had 6 cats. I did cat rescue, rehab and fostering for 10 years before having my son and most of my 6 are rescues that we couldnt rehome. 2 have herpes/calici and have constant respiratry problems.

    Anyway, we had a kitten show up and adopt us. He was about 10 weeks old and he and Dex (the pap) fell into a wonderful Bromance. lol Dex would lick all over him and smell all over him and the kitten would do the same to Dex. they would sleep together, play together, eat together..they are best buds.

    As a first time cat owner, I would get a 10 to 12 week old male. And wait until 6 to 8 months to neuter him. pediatric spay and neuter can cause problems, so I always wait.

    When you say "declaw", what do you mean? Declawed means having a vet rip out the first nuckle on their paws stopping the claws from growing out again. I do not support this and had a contract for adopters that forbid declawing. However, I do have a polydactyl cat with 8 thumbs in addition to his other "toes" and I have to cut his tthumb nails. I just trim them with human nail clippers like I do the dog's nails.

    Also my cats have a pet door, so they come and go as they please. There is a 2 week "imprinting" period in which the geographic location of their home imprints on the cat. So, keep them inside for the first 2 weeks and then slowly introduce them to outside. If you start training young, you can also leash train cats. Some cats do really well on leashes.

    At one time I was fostering 21 cats and kittens (had 9 kittens from 3 litters at once). I had 1o litterboxes and I use either Freshstep or ScoopAway scented. These are the best 2 litters that I have found in regard to scent. Using these litters with 21 cats, when you walked into my house you could not smell the litterboxes. I have 2 litterboxes now for 6 cats because they perfer to potty outside. Blue Buffalo just came out with a cat litter made from walnuts and it is AWESOME!! One lady I know has 3 cats, 1 litter box, uses this litter and only scoops once a week (not good) but anyhow, you still cannot smell the litterbox. So, if scent is an issue, use the Blue Buffalo. It comes in pellets which my cats dont like and "scoopable" which I use. Also, use the scoopable litter. This allows you to just scoop the pee and poop clumps out and leave the rest.

    As for litterboxes. best one to keep litter cleaned up and keep dogs from eating "kitty bonbons" is the Booda. It's a dome shape and they go up the ramp and around then they potty.

    As I think of more I will post it.
    No matter how happily a woman may be married, it always pleases her to discover that there is a nice man who wishes that she were not. - H. L. Mencken

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    Senior Member Catdancer's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    As for scratching stuff. Different textured cat scratchers is best. My guys have always loved the cheap cardboard ones. You can either raise fresh catnip or buy it and use it in the places that you want the cat to go. Cats are very trainable, you just have to show them exactly what you want them to do and reward the behavior, just like training dogs.

    So, get a couple different scratchers, sprinkle or rub them with catnip and watch your cat tear the crap out of them. lol

    Also, be careful with potted plants. Poinsettas are poisonous as are many kinds of succulants and cacti as well as jade, wandering dew and pothos. Cats LOVES greens and grass, so if you want your potted plants and you dont want to kill your cat, grow them some "cat grass". this is great for indoor only cats too. Cat grass is digestable and they wont yak it up like they do regular grass.

    As for food...same things apply as they do for dogs. I have Dexter, the dog and all the cats on Wellness Core, grain free. Also, my kitties really like Blue Buffalo grain free too.
    No matter how happily a woman may be married, it always pleases her to discover that there is a nice man who wishes that she were not. - H. L. Mencken

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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    Try to slip a few in at a time, LOL.

    1.) Most cats are fine indoors as long as they have enough toys, playtime, and scratchy things. Nice tall sturdy scratchy things. A cat tree is a good idea, but if that's not an option they do sell tall sturdy scratching posts. My cats like sisal best but some cats do prefer carpet. . .it may take a bit of experimenting. Scratching behavior is usually very easy to redirect if you have suitable places for the cat to scratch. If you get a naughty kitty, Soft Claws will prevent damage while you work on it. Nail clipping on a weekly basis is a good idea even if the kitty isn't naughty. Clicker training works for kitties, too, and would keep their minds occupied and help with any naughty behaviors.

    2.) I usually cage very young kittens. And I know people who have a separate room for their cats to stay in while they're gone. But usually there's no problem with leaving an adult cat loose in the house.

    3.) I don't do outdoor time. But some cats would like it. You can build/buy an outdoor enclosure or harness train if your cat would like it.

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    Senior Member Laurelin's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    I really don't want two. Is that going to be bad for the cat? Joy seems to interact quite a bit with the papillons so I was hoping any other cat will too.

    When you say "declaw", what do you mean? Declawed means having a vet rip out the first nuckle on their paws stopping the claws from growing out again. I do not support this and had a contract for adopters that forbid declawing. However, I do have a polydactyl cat with 8 thumbs in addition to his other "toes" and I have to cut his tthumb nails. I just trim them with human nail clippers like I do the dog's nails.
    I mean declawed. I know it's not recommended and I wouldn't do it to a cat. But all the cats I've been around much have been declawed so I don't know how much scratching an 'intact' cat does.
    Last edited by Laurelin; 10-26-2012 at 12:00 PM.
    Mia CGC (5 year old papillon) and Summer (9.5 year old papillon)

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    Senior Member Catdancer's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    Ah, ok. They do scratch, ALOT. But trimming the tips off of their claws is a great way to both keep their claws intact and save your stuff. lol Like with my polydactyl, I just trim the tips off. Toys like wands that they can jump and catch, balls to chase, scratchers and cat trees are great.

    I think that a younger cat would probably adjust better with Mia. I think she will probably be like Dex is with the kitten. I go to rub the kitten and he soaked with Dexter slobber. lol And I think that one cat having your paps to play with and interact with would be enough. You wouldnt need to get 2 cats.
    No matter how happily a woman may be married, it always pleases her to discover that there is a nice man who wishes that she were not. - H. L. Mencken

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    Senior Member zeronightfarm's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    I just want to add, that TOTW sells cat foor as well. Thats what I feed moms cat.

    I have been thinking about getting a Bangel(sp?) just beause I like looking at them. :P But I know what pains cats can be, so I haven't looked to much into it lol.
    Dogs are like potato chips, you can't have just one!

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    Senior Member Catdancer's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    Bengals are VERY VERY energetic. They are gorgeous and fun, but they need ALOT of interaction and play time otherwise they tend to get a bit crazy and do naughty things. lol

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    Senior Member Laurelin's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    Petfinder seems like there's quite a few declawed cats up for adoption too, so that's another option.
    Mia CGC (5 year old papillon) and Summer (9.5 year old papillon)

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    Senior Member sheltiemom's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    I would definitely look into getting a young adult from a rescue organization. Cat rescues are a mixed bag just like with dogs, but there are good ones out there that are easy to deal with. I have two foster cats right now and the group I work with is great. We pretty much jump for joy whenever someone inquires about an adult cat. I would email a few and see which ones respond in a timely manner. Tell them what you are looking for temperament wise and let them recommend some chioces. You will probably want to look for one that has been fostered with dogs, and adult so you will know what the temperament is like.

    As far as the other stuff, I recommend a cat tree. They can be pricy but worth it. Mine use it alot and they also use the scratchers on it. Other than that I have a couple of string toys and catnip toys they play with and that's it. I don't give mine any outside time except for opening windows when it's nice out.

    As far as the litterbox, I scoop mine twice a day and I don't have any problem with odor. I would put it behind a baby gate in a bathroom or somewhere the cat can get to but where the dogs can't access it though, because most dogs will eat poop out of it.
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    Continued:
    4.) Like I said, canned or raw. Really, it prevents so many problems that I no longer recommend any dry for cats (unless financial constraints make it absolutely necessary). A decent variety--5 or 6 different brands/flavors would be ideal. Any amount of raw is better than none, so slip it in whenever you can. If you go all raw, yes, the percentages are the same, but adding a little powdered taurine is a good idea just for insurance. . .it most likely isn't necessary but why take chances? Since you have small dogs I won't bother to point out the difference in the size of the bones offered . If a cat is raised on kibbble it can be difficult to transition them, although some cats take to it right away.

    6.) Odor really shouldn't be a problem. A spayed/neutered cat fed a decent quality diet shouldn't be stinky. Keep the litterbox clean (scoop once or twice daily, change when necessary, scrub the box whenever you change the litter, etc.), and it shouldn't be stinky. One thing a lot of people overlook is keeping the litter deep enough. If it's too shallow, the pee puddles along the bottom of the box, and that can cause odors. If it's deep enough, the pee never touches the box, and the litter kills the odor. 4 inches is about right for my cats. A baby gate will keep the dogs out of the litterbox (yummy cat crunchies! Ick), but they're so small you might get away with a top-entry litterbox. I use Tidy Cats Premium Scoop (blue or orange lid), I think I've tried every brand on the planet, LOL. And that's what I always go back to. But that's between you and your cat. . .it's all about personal preference.

    7.) As I said, I'd recommend a young adult/older kitten (6-18 months). Big enough to not be harrassed by Mia, but young enough to play with her. Supervise all interactions until you know how they feel about each other. A cat that age should adjust quickly. I do think young kittens should be raised around other cats--think of a puppy raised witthout ever meeting another dog!--but by that age it's not as crucial, and he/she will have Mia .

    What would you need to buy? Hmm, food, litter, toys, scratchy things (a cardboard pad and a sisal post to start, I think), maybe a bed (not that cats use their own beds! Heavens no!), litterboxes (I prefer to modify Sterilite totes--they're cheaper and larger than storebought litterboxes. And there's no such thing as too many litterboxes), a carrier (never try to take a cat to the vet in your arms. . .). Pretty much everything else is optional and dependent on circumstances.

    If a cat getting on the counters/table/etc. would reallyreally bother you, maybe re-think it. It's a lot of trouble and stress trying to get a cat not to get up on things and it seems like that's one of the major reasons people give for getting rid of a cat :/. Or maybe get an old cat who can't jump very well . of course now everyone will say that they trained their cat not to do it, blah blah, but, IME, if that's a dealbreaker it's probably best to steer clear.
    Last edited by Willowy; 10-26-2012 at 06:13 PM.

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    Senior Member melgrj7's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    For the scratching . . . snickers is/was horrible about scratching stuff, so now she has a 5 foot cat tree with like wicker scratching pads, a carpeted kitty cubby thing, and I keep 5/6 cardboard scratches around at all times (and this is all in a studio apartment). I regularly put some catnip on all the scratching items. Now she does not ever scratch inappropriate things. I also trim her nails regularly, as she seems much less "scratchy" when they are kept shorter.

    Snickers also tends to be very talkative and attention demanding. I found that if I exercise her at least 20 minutes a day (used to be more, she is 11? now) with one of the toys that has a feather on the end of string (flirt pole for cats?) she is much less annoying. I usually break it up to like 4, 5 minute play sessions everyday. We also used to play fetch with toy mice (taught her with a clicker to bring them back), but Nash eats them, so I don't buy those anymore.

    For counters and stuff, I taught her to "get down" on command, and also use a scat mat for areas I absolutely do not want her to get on. If I keep it on there consistently for 2-3 weeks in a new place she will avoid it from them on.

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    Senior Member chelle2513's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    If you get a rescue cat, and it is already declawed, then it needs to be STRICTLY an indoor cat. Because if a cat has no claws it has no way to defend itself, and then it is not fair to let it outside. I have never, nor will I ever, have an outdoor or indoor/outdoor cat. I just don't think it is fair to the cat. I really don't understand why people think it is ok to let their cat (especially if it is one they have had since it was young) go outside and fend for itself. People would go CRAZY if they heard a dog owner was just letting it's dog out to roam randomly, and find food on it's own. So, it should not be acceptable for a cat either. People may say their cat "wants" to go outside and wants to roam, but our dogs would probably like to do that too, and we don't allow them too.....

    I have a puppy and 3 adult cats. for several years (until we got the puppy) my cats were my babies. I feel like I am a "good" cat parent.

    answers:

    1) How do you keep cats inside and happy?
    My cats have ALWAYS only been indoor cats. Actually, 5 years ago, my cat accidentally fell out of our window, and I made my boyfriend run downstairs to find her, while I stood at the window and watched her to see where she went and she didn't try and go anywhere. She sat at the bottom of the window and cried until my boyfriend came to pick her up lol As long as they get attention and "play time" inside, they will be more than happy. We can even prop our door open to carry things in and out and our cats never even try to get out the door (I'm sure this is rare tho, and I don't know why mine don't try and run out the door??)

    2) yes, we leave our cats alone in the house when we leave. They have free reign of the house and have never caused an issue.

    3) For most of their lives, our cats had NO outdoor time at all. About the last year or so, before we got the house we are living in now, we were in a 3rd floor apartment, and I talked my boyfriend into enclosing our balcony with (I guess it was a type of screen/chicken wire) so that we could have an area for the cats to go "outside". One of my cats would not go out there AT ALL. The other would go out for a couple mins at a time and come right back inside, and my youngest cat LOVED it out there. He would sit out there all day long if he could, but all he did was Laze around on the balcony and sun himself.

    4) I agree with everyone else about the cat food. I'm ashamed to say I've had my cats for years, and always feel them Purina Cat Chow dry food, but yet when I got my puppy I started feeding him Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy food right from the start. Not sure why I think he deserves better food??

    5) litter boxes can stink. The best bet is to scoop them often, and use a clumping litter. My SAVIOR is Arm and Hammer deodorizing Spray (they also make a powder, but I've never tried that) The spray however is awesome! You spray it right directly on the litter and it takes the smell away and it is safe for the cats and makes everything smell nice. It's abotu $4 a bottle, and with 3 cats a bottle with last me at least 4 months.

    6) I'm biased in the kitten vs Cat debate. I have only ever had kittens. If you have a dog, I think you should understand this fairly well. A kitten can be trained how you want it to be, right from the start, but you have to deal with all the kitten behaviors (scratching, climbing, etc) I think litter box training is MUCH easier than potty training a dog. usually you show them a couple times where the litter box is, and they get it, that's it. As for scratching, what I have always done is say "NO!" to a cat that scratches, and then redirect them to an area where they SHOULD scratch. Same thing with climbing on counters etc..

    A few things I disagree with:

    I DO think a cat can be trained to stay off tables/counters. I have always used a spray bottle to spray them when they get up there, and they stay off, in my presence. Just like a dog, if I'm not there, they are gonna get on the counters lol

    I do NOT think you need to get two cats/kittens. Yes, if you do, they will occupy eachother. If you don't, you just have to spend time playing with your cat/kitten.

    I also do NOT think you should wait until after a cat passes puberty to have it "fixed" Most everything I read, even here on DFs says that cats are different then dogs when it comes to this, it will NOT affect them adversily to fix them at a young age. And it is MUCH better to get a cat fixed before it goes thru it's first heat cycle. Especially with male cats, it can prevent spraying.

    on a side note, I have 2 female cats, that I got from the same litter as kittens that are very social and loving. They come up and say HI to everyone that comes to my house and are not afraid of anyone. They are very friendly and LOVE to cuddle with us. I also have a male cat, that I got 2 years later as a kitten, and he fit right in, and is a big social butterfly and cuddler as well.

    Of course, cats can differ greatly, but if you start handling them at a young age, and expose them to guests, I would think most would be comfortable with it.

  20. #19
    Senior Member bgmacaw's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    Quote Originally Posted by Laurelin View Post
    1. How do you keep a cat inside and happy? And without tearing up everything without declawing it?
    Like with dogs, it's going to depend a lot on the individual cat. We've had some cats that are destructive and others that were very laid back.

    For our more destructive ones we've found more acceptable substitutes. For example, our Maine Coon loves to rip stuff apart with his massive claws. We use old cardboard boxes and corrugated cat scratchers to keep him entertained. When we've bought regular scratching posts for him, he's ripped them apart within days.

    You can train most cats to allow you to clip their nail tips so they aren't as sharp. Gentle handling and treats work great for keeping this experience a positive for the cat. This will prevent their claws from picking clothes and furniture.

    As for keeping them happy, play is essential. Catnip filled toys, scratching posts and interactive chase toys will get the job done. Most cats aren't as active as dogs and will have a burst of frenzy followed by extended nap times. They will also tend to solicit your attention when they're feeling bored or want interaction but it's a bit more subtle than the way dogs do it.

    Another thing is that some cats like higher areas while some like to be 'cave dwellers'. This varies from cat to cat so you'll need to take this into account. Three of our four are cave dwellers so a tight and cozy enclosed space on the ground is preferred by them. The other one we'll find snoozing on top of cabinets, on the back of furniture or on narrow decorative railings.

    Quote Originally Posted by Laurelin View Post
    2. Do you just... leave them loose while you're gone? You don't have to crate them or make a cage for them? I'm so worried they'll get into everything...
    Ours are loose all the time. The only time they go in a crate is when they're being isolated for medical reasons or taken to the vet. It's just a matter of making sure that you've "cat proofed" the house, particularly higher up areas they can reach.

    You'll also want to secure any items they find attractive. One of our cats loves bread bags and marshmallows. He doesn't eat them but he seems to love the texture both for clawing and chewing. We have to make sure that anything like this is put away or else he'll rip it apart, making a big mess.

    Quote Originally Posted by Laurelin View Post
    3. What do you do for outdoor time? Do you give them outdoor time?
    Ours are indoors all the time. It's safer for them that way. Cats tend to be a little frightened by wide open spaces and will often dart to the nearest cover.

    Cats draw a lot of their security from having their own territory so taking them to a new place, particularly one that they can smell has been claimed by another cat, makes them very anxious.

    Quote Originally Posted by Laurelin View Post
    4. Food- in general is a good brand of dog food going to make a good brand of cat food?
    Cats are more pure carnivore than dogs so they'll have higher nutritional needs in terms of protein and essential amino acids. They're also usually a lot more picky about the foods they'll eat. We've tried some of the expensive brands (Blue Buffalo, etc.) but the cats turned up their noses and went into 'eating to survive' mode. Even worse, they caused the Persian cat to have severe diarrhea (he has a very sensitive tummy). We've compromised with some middle of the road brands that they liked and the Persian can tolerate well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Laurelin View Post
    5. Litterbox and smell- how do you keep the house from smelling? I've changed shelter litterboxes and they SMELLED bad. I don't want my house to smell like dog or cat.
    This can be a problem but it's much more controllable with one cat rather than 3-4 (which we've usually had).

    Like with food, you have to find a litter that the cat will use. Some cats are very particular while others will use anything. You'll also need a litter box for each cat or else you're likely to get territorial marking elsewhere in the house.

    Intact male cats will have smelly urine so you have to get them fixed if you want to avoid this smell (and spraying).

    To help control the smell you need to keep the poop scooped out and the entire contents switched out every few days.

    For the litter to use, we prefer the recycled newsprint pellets. We used scoopable litter until we got mostly long haired cats. The scoopable litter sticks to their fur, creating awful mats. We also use some odor absorbing crystals to help keep the smell down. These are a bit pricey but worth it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Laurelin View Post
    6. Pros and cons of adopting a kitten versus adult. I almost wonder if it might be better to find an adult for adoption that has a good, easy personality.
    Cats that have been raised with positive human interaction from birth tend to become the best pets while those that have been wild for a time can be difficult or high strung or nervous. Those who've had negative situations with humans will be the worse. However, there are exceptions where a hand raised cat will be a vicious bundle of nerves or an alley cat becomes a loving indoor sweetheart.

    To evaluate an adult cat, first see if they'll let you touch or pet them. Some cats will resist this with growling and slapping. Unless you want to spend time socializing the cat, avoid this cat. Fearful behavior at this point may also be a bad sign if you're in a more or less private area. Most will be a bit fearful and nervous at hectic pet adoptions like at a pet store but they probably won't be vicious.

    Next, try to gently pick them up. If they're tense up a lot with claws out, ease them slowly back to a safe place. Some may complain with a little meowing but won't be overly tense or have claws extended (think of the meowing like minor calming signals from a dog). Some cats will be totally relaxed when you do this. These cats have come to associate gentle human interaction as a positive thing, a good sign.

    Then, see how much petting and stroking the cat will allow without tensing up or looking to escape. The more they allow the better if you're looking for a laid back cat.

    Kittens can be harder to evaluate but positive hand raising makes a big difference in giving them a good start. The more a kitten is handled after gaining basic senses the better the chance of them being a good pet.

    As for declawing, I'd avoid adopting declawed cats. We fostered a few of them and found them to have serious behavioral issues. The most notable behaviors are that they tend to be biters and have litter box usage issues. While I hate to be judgmental about it, most people who have cats declawed either see a cat a decoration, not a pet animal, or have a bit of a mean streak when it comes to handling their pets.
    Last edited by bgmacaw; 11-03-2012 at 09:02 AM.

  21. #20
    Senior Member bgmacaw's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a cat again (and I know nothing)

    Quote Originally Posted by Catdancer View Post
    As for litterboxes. best one to keep litter cleaned up and keep dogs from eating "kitty bonbons" is the Booda. It's a dome shape and they go up the ramp and around then they potty.
    We have this problem but we can't use a covered litter box because there isn't a covered one large enough to accommodate our 25lb Maine Coon. Also, our dog is a 9lb Chi mix who is smaller than 3 of our cats.

    Our solution for now is keeping the box scooped and a lot of "leave it" commands.

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