This is an exciting time filled with expectation...
these suggestions will help you be prepare for the inevitable UN-expected!
and if questions arise...call or email A-Kerr's
- Litter and litter boxes
- Behavior modification
- Toys, scratching posts, and simple solutions
- Introduction into the new home
- Introduction to established pets
- First vet appointment
- Pet insurance
- Grooming needs
In 2013, we decided to take a fresh look at diet... and found the topic as confusing as always. Sound arguments for:
- wet food only
- raw food only
- combination raw and wet
- combination wet and dry
- combination dry and raw
- dry food only
- many options and many opinions
We focused on these main factors keeping in the forefront the original eating sources of cats:
- protein content
- availability and price
- acceptance of the food by the cats
- ease of use
- how food was utilized by cat
Interestingly, some of the "best" foods, were the least acceptable to the cats this created a lot of waste, then some of the "junk" food was highly acceptable, but little nutritional value. We compared food labels and cat's acceptance of food (which we had to generalize because of numbers) to come up with our program suggestions as of today. A very generalized site to get you started on this for yourself. Cat Food
Our favorite by far based on anecdotal evidence as well as the literature available and the 5 Paws winner of the cats is.... RAW. The best source readily available for us www.hare-today.com
The following is one option (and what Libbie feeds) linked to where it is on the site:
We thaw the packages, mix one rabbit to three chicken and add Alnutin. This mix is broken into one day portions and re-frozen taken out a day ahead to allow to thaw. Some people like to bring the food to room temperature or body temperature and feed, which is fine, but we serve from refrigerator.
The cats go wild over the food with the added bonus of feeding raw confirming that the food is well utilized and digested by producing less stool and no smell. This confirmed to us how well the food was being digested. It took some of the adults a while to dig in, but the kittens wean early on the raw and grow about a pound heavier before leaving at 12-14 weeks.
A commercial raw that you can buy at the high end pet stores is Nature's Variety. They have new products as of 2014: Instinct Raw Bites for Cats and Instinct Raw Boost Kibble for Cats. Many clients have found these products helpful though A-Kerr's does not feed these. They are more readily available though pricey!
This is a good friend's nutrition consulting site... Meghan Waals is an expert in raw feeding and available to answer questions.
Our recommendation is RAW ONLY DIET, but we find clients that have difficulty with feeding raw. The following commercial foods best fit the needs of the cat and client. If you want to feed processed, these are the best we can find.
- Pet Guard Canned any of the varieties though we have used Fish, Chicken & Liver Dinner. Another good alternative is Triumph.
- Orijen or Nature's Variety These two dry foods try to mimic the raw diet
- Stella and Chewy's freeze dried
- Primal freeze dried
Where to find these foods is not always as easy answer, so we looked around and found several home delivery options, the one we chose to work with is Chewy.com (free shipping and lower price if minimal $49 order is made)
Our adult cats are fed once a day, while the kittens are fed in the morning and also in the evening.
Cats are notorious for being finicky eaters, some cats will eat only dry, others will eat only raw, some only canned ... and some eat anything in sight. Having dry food available all day allows more flexibility with feeding time. That said, the simplest diet is raw only and the cats adjust to this and enjoy the food. The result is sleek, healthy cats. The following schedule reflects what we do here. Modifications are individual and you should do what is best for your situation.
The wet food is given for adults in the morning only and for kittens two to three times a day depending on their eating habits.
If you decide that you prefer a different type of food, you need to gradually make changes. Mix in 90% regular food to 10% new food and continue to add increasing numbers of the new food each day. Take about two weeks before completely transitioning. Cats are sensitive to change and sometimes a change in diet can cause intestinal irregularities.
In times of stress consider adding nutritional supplements to add beneficial bacteria to the gut. Such as Fortiflora, acidophilus or probiotics found in yogurt, etc.. This helps keep their system more regular by adding beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. Again, there are many different types so feel free to do your own research.
How to dish it up
If you have an established cat or dog already present... you now have the opportunity to be creative in keeping the kitten’s food available to the kitten and not have it eaten by everyone else! We all love challenges...
Here are some suggestions:
- Meow Space or easier, is to put the food dishes in a space that cat can get to, but dogs cannot. (One client bought a large storage bin with lid, cut cat size hole in it, snapped top off to place food and water in container and then snapped shut. Cat got food, dogs did not!)
- Feed in separate rooms
- Specific bowl: recommend ceramic or stainless steel NOT plastic
- Feed cats high up as they can jump, cats usually do not eat dog food, but dogs do eat cat food!
Bengal cats are quick learners and food a big motivator! One of the things we work on here, is to get them to be treat oriented. The treat we have been using is Halo Live-A-Littles. I order them on line. Cats are very individual as to whether they are "bribe-able" with that special food treat. We recommended to find a favorite from the many new types of treat foods.
LITTER AND LITTER BOXES
There are a wide range of litter boxes available from the very elaborate to the simple. But regardless of its beauty, if it is not placed correctly or inviting to the cat... it is a potential problem. To see a broad sampling and selection of many different types go to www.amazon.com
A-Kerr's uses both open litter boxes with a “kick plate” around the edge for the young kittens. The open type of box is easy for kittens to get in and out of without having them feel trapped like the one door ones sometimes tend to do. Also, the kick plate around the edge allows for all the "litter play" of the kitten litter to remain contained! Older kittens and cats appreciate the corner hooded boxes and seem to make less of a mess. Not all cats like these hooded boxes.... they need to be kept very clean as odors are also enclosed and some cats do like the feeling of the more confined places. If using a closed litter box, consider to make another opening at the other end... for "escape". Something else to consider is that if you have other animals, they can trap in the one using the box. There are a wide range of litter boxes now... and some amazing ways to hide them from view.
The kittens use Tidy Cats which is a basic clay type litter. Litter has a specific texture to cat feet as well as a particular smell. One of the most important things to understand that cats do not like change... so I recommend that you use a litter of this type when the kitten first arrives. There is about an inch of clay litter in the boxes. To help the kitten find the new litter box in your home, a good litter to get in addition to the Tidy Cat is Cat Attract. Put just a hand full of the litter on top of the clay for the kitten to be able to find the box easily. Below are some more suggestions. (Cat Attract can also be ordered from www.chewy.com with no shipping fee for over $49 spent)
- Prevention is key. Watch introductory behavior to make sure kitten is successful in using the litter box.
- Early spay and neuter is recommended by some feline behaviorist to “eliminate the elimination disorder”. Since 1997 we have had nothing but positive results in health, behavior and in rapid recovery time with this procedure. It takes stress off the kitten and you as the new owner.
- Have plenty of litter pans available in easily accessed areas that are quiet and the cat will not be alarmed when in the litter box. (Such as a drier alarm sounding or an overhead item falling on them.)
- The rule of thumb is one more litter pan available than the number of cats living in the home. Remember it is better to start out with more when the kitten is young and reduce the number of boxes as the kitten matures.
- Any changes in position of the pan should be done slowly. You can change litter pan places, but do so at increments of two feet a day until the litter box that is moving, joins the stationary one.
- The main idea with litter pans is to prevent incorrect behavior. Your kitten comes to you knowing to use the litter pan... all we have to do is understand this natural behavior and support it.
- I use a clay litter. I recommend to continue on clay until the kitten is older... any change in litter is done gradually, because TEXTURE is important to cats.
- Think through the size of your house, the number of floors you have, and think of the kitten as being the "child" you are potty training... you want more litter boxes in the beginning, you can always remove them SLOWLY later.
- When bring the kitten home, place it in the litter box and walk away... Do this from many different places and several times a day. Remember, it is better to prevent problems.
Draw a room arrangement of your house and possible places for the litter box. This is important to think through. Think in terms of more boxes initially, then gradually move the litter boxes to where you permanently want them.
First and foremost it is important to look at cat behavior in general. Look at the world through your cat senses, the strongest of which is the nose! As a rule, the transition to your home goes easily with just a little planning. An excellent book by Marilyn Krieger, Naughty No More, as well as her website give insight into the cat and ways to prevent possible problems. Our interest is in prevention.
- Squirt guns... can be really fun for the family... but not always practical... in fact some Bengal cats seem to enjoy getting squirted.
- Compressed air dusters used for dusting photo equipment, computers, fax machines, etc.. makes a sound of a cat hissing. This is an excellent correction to use.
There are now spray scents that are excellent for modification: Boundary, Bitter Apple, Bitter Lime. The ones we use effectively are from Pet Organics from No Scratch, to No Mark... they have excellent products that don't effect the two leg-geds in the household, but do effect the cats!
To encourage the use of the scratching posts, etc catnip sprayed (liquid) or rubbed on areas to attract.
- Climbing trees. Bengal cats love to climb high.... nothing like a leopard in a tree. Find sturdy, sisal rope wrapped climbing poles and shelves for relaxation. A special place is in front of the window.
SCRATCHING POSTS, TOYS, AND SIMPLE SOLUTIONS
Scratching and Climbing Posts
- Scratching posts. Cats tend to scratch close to where they sleep... combining the art of relaxation with their yoga stretches and territorial marking! So a good place for that tall scratching post is next to their favorite sleeping place.
- Sisal wrapped as it does not feel like furniture.
- These door sisal posts are amazing... City Kitty Climber and our kittens thoroughly enjoy theirs!
- Get your kitten used to claw trimming. Shower them with treats to make this a fun experience... And always end on a good note, i.e. do not let them squirm away, instead put them down when they are calm.
- Bengal cats are very interactive. Teach yours to fetch! You need small, fit in the mouth easily toys.
- There are many sites on the web filled with new kinds of toys... but some of the favorites of a cat are boxes, bags, and rings off a milk carton. Not to mention.. shoe laces, etc all are lots of fun for an energetic kitten.
- Interactive toys: fishing pole toys, plastic straws, catnip mice, fur mice, feathers (unless you have pet birds), circle ball toys with scratching center, card board boxes, sacks, rolls of paper, anything you are interested in... they will be on top of playing.
- Ask about our toys that we use. We provide you with many of these when you get your new kitten, but also have them available for you to purchase.
INTRODUCTION TO NEW HOME
Smell is extremely important to a cat in knowing territory and safety. To reinforce this natural inclination of comfort we send home with you toys that the kittens have been playing with as well as a blanket on which the kittens have been sleeping.
The new kitten arrives with a “blanket” that smells like the kitten’s home and family. This serves as a security blanket and as a way of transferring odors.
- The last week before the kitten arrives, place a terry cloth towel or other absorbent material in an area that your resident animals visit.
- When picking up the kitten from my home or the airport, bring this with you, place it in the carrier and wipe the new kitten with it... when you arrive home take the kitten’s receiving blanket and wipe the resident cats and animals with it. This will transfer the odors and help everyone smell appropriately.
- The toys can also serve to share scents by allowing the new kitten to play with established cat toys, and the established cat to play with the kitten's toys.
- Remember as well YOU will smell different to all the animals as you move from room to room.
- If you have no other animals, the receiving blanket serves as a security blanket in the new home.
Create a safe room for the kitten where litter box, feed, and toys are present and undisturbed by other animals.
- Make the room comfortable and have it large enough for you to be able to visit with special toys and treats.
- This room will allow everyone to sniff under the door and get used to different smells.
It is a good idea to isolate a new animal for up to two to three weeks while everyone is adjusting and getting to know each other. This also helps control of disease that may be passed from one animal to another.
Bring a carrier with you when you pick up the kitten. You never want to transport a cat loose in a car! It is a potential for a quick, disoriented kitten to get away. If you are going to let the kitten/cat roam in the car than have a halter and leash on the kitten. Again, better to be safe than to have an escapee!
Introduction to Other Pets
There are many suggestions and sites that have good basic information Give this some thought and make sure that introductions go as smoothly as possible.
Sometimes it is helpful to put one of the animals in a carrier in a room and allow the others to wander around the carrier getting to know the new kitten. This process can work well. Place the new cat in the carrier at first and then reverse the process... this allows for exploring and smelling in a safe area.
This is fun! Bring out the feather toy or the fishing pole toy and really keep everyone busy. Just like people meeting each other for the first time a toy that both find very interesting helps to ease the tension and allows everyone to play and get to know each other in a safe way.
Be sure to take your time. Remember that you are looking at lifelong relationships and though it seems you want everything to work out as quickly as possible... it is a good idea to watch and observe, let the animals set the pace for what is comfortable for them. Observe. Play. Pay special attention. It is not unusual for the introductory process to take about two weeks.
Kittens under 6 months of age are usually readily accepted into multi-cat households.
BRINGING THE NEW KITTEN HOME
Why should I keep the new kitten isolated for a period of two weeks?
We all want to automatically walk in the door with our newest kitten and immediately introduce one and all to each other, but this is not advisable. Your new kitten is in excellent health, all the shots given, your current cats are all inoculated and in excellent health... so what possible harm can there be?
Each environment carries its own little flora and fauna of the infectious disease world... and even though we cannot see any problems, moving to a new home away from siblings and known environment can sometimes be too much stress for the kitten. It is not common, but also not unusual, for a kitten to react to stress by having loose stools and upper respiratory infections. It is also not out of the ordinary for the resident cat to find the new kid a bit stressful... so the best advice is to allow a period of time to elapse that would allow any latent infections to come to the surface rather than expose the cats to possible infectious disease.
For a corollary think of a day care center and the spreading of germs... cats are much the same. In the two week period the cats are exposed to each other, under the doorways, by smell , and sound they gradually get to know that there are other cats . This allows for a smooth transition.
Do we insist that this be what you do?
The temptation is to not wait the recommended amount of time... but A-Kerr's guarantee of health is based on the isolation for a minimum of two weeks, vet exam for health, and your confidence that everyone is in good health.
A-Kerr's asks that this be done within the first seven days unless we have made other arrangements and it is in writing. The main reason is your assuranceof the kitten/cat's health and if there is anything wrong that we did not pick up here. Kittens in new homes often have changes that cause stress, stress tends to act on them as it does on us... so err on the side of caution and REMEMBER have your vet call Powell Vet Clinic with ANY questions or comments.
A note here. Vaccinations have become more controversial of late. The idea of vaccines is simply to create an immune system that can handle exposure to disease. So, I follow my veterinarian's advice and give the following... your veterinarian may be different, so speak to them about what they are doing and let me know. Some are called CORE vaccines. Such as the FPL/CVR and rabies. The other non-Core.
- Fort Dodge FPL CVR killed vaccine(given at: 8 weeks and 11 weeks) CORE
- FeLV Rhone Mecieux leucat killed vaccine. The FeLV vaccine has been somewhat controversial. My cattery is FeLV negative with all adults tested and vaccinated annually. NONCORE
- IMREAB 3 killed virus. RABIES check with your state regulations on age. I am often asked if it is necessary to give a rabies vaccine... and my answer is from the point of view of liability and it is yes. If your kitten should happen to break the skin of a visitor it is important to have proof of vaccination. (given according to state law) CORE
What veterinarian checks for:
- Heart. We occasionally have innocent heart murmurs. These have been developmental in nature, meaning that the kitten simply outgrows these are they mature. This is noted IF there is a heart murmur found.
- Temperature. Temperature is important to check. It is often the first sign of any infection or illness and is noted in the record you receive. Normal cat temperatures are anything around 99 - 103. Depending on stress, etc. they can vary greatly.
- Weight. I keep a weight chart on each kitten and we track the rate of growth so there is a comparison with the litter and with other litters. Any deviation from the norm is noted.
- Cataracts. There have been some "juvenile cataracts" found and these too are noted if they are found. They are not visible to our eye, but through a special scope the vet checks these out.
- Knees and joints. Checked to see if there are any abnormalities.
- Stool check of the litter. (sometimes it is very hard to find who did what in the litter box :))
- Mothers are checked for Tritrichomonas foetus when the litter is 6 -8 weeks old.
- Adults are HCM tested, TriTrich tested, Felv negative, PRA, PkD... you name it if there is a test for it, we do it!
If all is well with a kitten. It is simply not written up, sometimes you will see the PE WNL on the sheet ... meaning Physical Exam, Within Normal Limits. The main things to note are given to you. Weight, temperature, vaccine date and when the next vaccines are due.
A booklet will come with your kitten giving basic health information, feeding, etc and contact numbers for your convenience.
Attached to this booklet is a self addressed stamped post card that MUST be sent to A-Kerr's to keep your health guarantee. This post card merely shows the kitten was seen, the date it was seen, who your vet is and what was found.
The dates are noted for you in your kitten's health record.
Note: Feline Corona virus (FCoV). The test for FCoV looks for an exposure to a benign virus that has produced antibodies. While up to 85% of all cats are estimated to have been exposed to Feline Corona virus (thus the test is positive for antibodies), it is understood that the corona virus mutates into Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) which is fatal, in only 1-5% of the positive cats for Corona virus. The lack of a specific test and the inability to accurately diagnose FIP without a necropsy, leaves the breeder, the owner, and the veterinarian with little to go on. Understand that the presence of a corona titer is not indicative of FIP, the mutation takes place in the individual cat and is not understood to be "transferable from one cat to another." While corona viruses are shared, FIP is not something that is "caught."
A-Kerr's approach to cat breeding is to be as cutting edge as possible and to offer to you the best guarantees that I can. Because of this, we guarantee that everything possible is done to minimize exposure to Corona virus, make sure that there is little stress in the life of the kittens and cats, select only strong, healthy breeding cats for my program and, if one should become ill from the virus, replace the kitten as soon as possible. Even in sterile, clinical environments where extensive testing is done, Corona virus has been found after specifically selecting against it! Because of the nature of the virus, I cannot guarantee that any A-Kerr's cats or kittens will not have Corona virus exposure but I will guarantee that I do all I can to minimize any and all health issues and respond appropriately should any problem occur.
DO NOT GIVE FIP vaccines, you must work this out with your veterinarian. Most veterinarians and breeders do notcheck for Corona virus titers because they are so ambiguous and can give both false positives and negatives. The vaccine is relatively new and thus not tested over years. This leaves us in a quandary... one of those situations where the more you know, the more you know you do not know....
A-Kerr's goal to make sure you have the healthiest, well socialized and beautiful animal as possible. Our wish is to enhance your life... please know that you can ask any questions and that your vet can contact mine for phone consultation.
Stay in touch!
An excellent site for LOTS of information on cats: PawPeds