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Advice for a new cat owner

GnizmoGnizmo Registered User regular
So I apparently have a cat now. The process is slightly complex, but ultimately fairly boring so I will cliff notes it. Mr. Kitty Fantastico came around as a very poorly as an outdoor cat. He was a house cat for sometime before hand, and we have managed to gather the former owners just dumped him on the street. He is litter box trained, and extremely even tempered. To the point where my child and her friends had given the cat a bath while it was just hanging around outside our house and he just sat through it. (We did have a conversation about why that would be a bad idea afterwards, but kids get ahead of you on this stuff.) He is also a clearly sick little kitty right now. Nothing serious, but he hasn't been really active for extended periods of time either. The cone of shame he has to wear doesn't seem to help, but I think some of it is just not feeling well.

Our main problem is that we have a fairly small apartment overall. 600 sq ft total for the three of us. Could be worse, but not a lot of excess space. I know Mr. Kitty Fantastico is naturally going to want to go high, and have space on his own, but this will be a challenge to accomplish at best. He definitely seems to be adapting well so far, but we have had him at the home for all of 2 days so far. He hasn't shown a particular interest in climbing up high, or hiding out, but I don't know if I can expect this behavior to continue. Genuinely I only have a vague sense of what to expect from his behavior. Any insight on what to expect would be helpful.

We also have been trying to collect a variety of cat toys for him. We have some dangly, jangly things he has shown interest in. There is a lase pointer that it has not shown a terrible lot of interest in. He plays with things in fits and bursts, but usually not for longer than a minute at most. I can't tell if it is boredom, illness, or cat behavior. We are setting up a cat tree jungle gym scratching post thing. There are current concerns of him navigating it because of cone of shame, but we thing he probably needs something to scratch that is not all the things he shouldn't be scratching. He has also seemed extremely clumsy lately for some reason or another. We are torn between cone of shame blocking whiskers, response to minor health problems, response to medicine, or something we just don't get about cats.

We have the food and water thing seemingly sorted out for the moment because he is an extremely chill cat. Plain water bowl, and anything vaguely dry cat food like he will happily eat. He is also super affectionate which is nice for us.

I guess my main question is are we missing anything major here? Toys, scratching stuff, playing with him, making sure he eats, not getting mauled while we medicate him, and trying to give him space to be a cat has been our main goal. We would like some decent tips on getting him to scratch the scratching post and not all the other things. Plus anything we should look out for. We are being cautious with our christmas tree this year (fake, no tinsel, and anything on it might fall off) and keeping an eye on cords or the like. So far he has not had any interest in chewing cords, climbing where we wouldn't want him, or the tree in anyway at all so hopefully that keeps going forward.

Please forgive the rambling mess but I just feel like there is a lot I don't know, so I am trying to throw out what we are doing to get an idea of where we are in terms of right and wrong track.

Posts

  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    Training a cat to scratch a scratching post instead of other important things is pretty hard. The best thing to do is see what things he likes to scratch and get posts that are similar. Our cat liked to scratch at wooden door frames (goodbye security deposit) so we got some boards he could scratch and put them near the doorframes. Does he prefer fabric or carpet? They make those.

    As for the activity, this is a big change for the cat. He was abandoned, then moved into a home again. I assume he's already been to the vet (cone of shame) and that absolutely could be throwing him off. But I would ask the vet, and then just see if it changes over the next few days or weeks. He's eating and drinking which I'd say is the most important thing.
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    I guess my main question is are we missing anything major here?

    You're missing pictures of this cat. BRB reporting for Ceres to infract.

    WiiU: Windrunner ; Guild Wars 2: Shadowfire.3940 ; PSN: Bradcopter
  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    He's eating and drinking, which is great! If he's been on the street for a while, you may have to check him for worms (sometimes they come out in his poop which is D: "Aaaaaa"), which could be why he's so lethargic. Keep up with regular vet checkups, if you can.

    But at the same time, a cat in new surroundings will take a LONG while to get used to the new surroundings. They will find a place that is their "home base" and slowly start to branch out and explore from there. They need to get used to the idea that this place is their territory, and they will start rubbing their faces against everything to scent-mark and make the place their home.

    The cat, by this point, probably has already picked out a "chill out and hang" place as their home base, so set some boundaries for yourself and your children to leave the cat alone when it's at that location. You can spruce up that location with a cat bed or a box (cats love boxes) or a clothes hamper, if you'd like.

    At some point, you may want to get him a tall cat tree (around 6 feet tall) to substitute for climbing. Cats like climbing, and the tall ones will run you about 70-200 dollars.

    If you can start trimming his claws and brushing his teeth early under your care, you can save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run. But at this point, I'd be more concerned about the cat's overall health and activity level. Eating is good! As long as the cat is eating well and not barfing all over the place, then he is doing okay.

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  • GnizmoGnizmo Registered User regular
    Shadowfire wrote: »
    Training a cat to scratch a scratching post instead of other important things is pretty hard. The best thing to do is see what things he likes to scratch and get posts that are similar. Our cat liked to scratch at wooden door frames (goodbye security deposit) so we got some boards he could scratch and put them near the doorframes. Does he prefer fabric or carpet? They make those.

    As for the activity, this is a big change for the cat. He was abandoned, then moved into a home again. I assume he's already been to the vet (cone of shame) and that absolutely could be throwing him off. But I would ask the vet, and then just see if it changes over the next few days or weeks. He's eating and drinking which I'd say is the most important thing.
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    I guess my main question is are we missing anything major here?

    You're missing pictures of this cat. BRB reporting for Ceres to infract.

    So far he likes to scratch our bed sheets, and occasionally us a little. We discourage it in playing pretty well, but he seems to love casually stretching out his claws while napping on us and that seems trickier to manage. I will upload better pitcures when I can be more certain on file size. This one I think is well within them, and maybe small? Phone posting makes it tricky. uxzmbiuliu22.jpg
    Hahnsoo1 wrote: »
    He's eating and drinking, which is great! If he's been on the street for a while, you may have to check him for worms (sometimes they come out in his poop which is D: "Aaaaaa"), which could be why he's so lethargic. Keep up with regular vet checkups, if you can.

    But at the same time, a cat in new surroundings will take a LONG while to get used to the new surroundings. They will find a place that is their "home base" and slowly start to branch out and explore from there. They need to get used to the idea that this place is their territory, and they will start rubbing their faces against everything to scent-mark and make the place their home.

    The cat, by this point, probably has already picked out a "chill out and hang" place as their home base, so set some boundaries for yourself and your children to leave the cat alone when it's at that location. You can spruce up that location with a cat bed or a box (cats love boxes) or a clothes hamper, if you'd like.

    At some point, you may want to get him a tall cat tree (around 6 feet tall) to substitute for climbing. Cats like climbing, and the tall ones will run you about 70-200 dollars.

    If you can start trimming his claws and brushing his teeth early under your care, you can save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run. But at this point, I'd be more concerned about the cat's overall health and activity level. Eating is good! As long as the cat is eating well and not barfing all over the place, then he is doing okay.

    Interesting. We do have a cat tree that we just set up that appears to be a little over 6 ft with lots of climbing opportunities. Good to hear that will be sufficient. I was not aware of what it had cost, but such is life at this point.

    Home base for him is hard to pin down. The closest I could identify would be under our tree, but even then he spends very little time there. Beloved spouse confirms he loves chilling under the Christmas Tree which is an unfortunate long term choice. We will position the cat tree near by so he can hopefully do an easy switchover in February (I am realistic with my life goals.) He is absolutely rubbing his face on everything though. I thought it was to scratch his wound and was a little worried. He does it the most when I tour the apartment while holding him so he can smell things which appears possibly counter productive given our height difference. On that note, how odd is it to follow us like a lost puppy? He spends the vast majority of his time in a lap, or being carried around. I super love it and hope it's just a silly cat quirk.

    He definitely has worms according to the vet. They had to do a whole run down on him due to the wounds and being an outside cat for a while. We are waiting for the medicine to come in. Good news is it seems all that is wrong is the wounds, ear mites, and worms. Medicine is ordered, but not here yet. Can't wait to see him perk up because he definitely has bursts of interest in some of the stuff we have for him in an adorable manner.

  • BahamutZEROBahamutZERO Registered User regular
    if the cat is being friendly and seeking interaction that means it's probably bonding with you well, cats tend to withdraw and avoid interaction when they are unhappy or sick or wounded.

    BahamutZERO.gif
  • azith28azith28 Registered User regular
    How old is he? might want to take advantage of his lethurgy to introduce him to "the purrito" method of cutting his nails.

    while he seems pretty chill, being sick likely is a good part of that. you should be able to see improvement in his health just by his activity when you get the meds. putting the cat tree near a window that has a view of where birds / squirrels hang out would also encourage him to make that his comfy spot.

    Stercus, Stercus, Stercus, Morituri Sum
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    If he's affectionate, I might just see how he feels about you touching his paws. My cat hates the purrito. Hates it. But he's a sucker for trying to distract me at my computer desk. I just keep his nail clippers there. He does not love getting his nails clipped, but he doesn't hate it enough to bite or get off of me.

    If he does not tend to properly retract them, clipping them might save a bare leg from being cut to ribbons. Rough play is not the only cause of that, sometimes sleepy cats loose their balance, and they will correct this with their pointy bits out of instinct.

  • TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    See also: sneezing while the cat is sleeping in your lap.

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  • GnizmoGnizmo Registered User regular
    azith28 wrote: »
    How old is he? might want to take advantage of his lethurgy to introduce him to "the purrito" method of cutting his nails.

    while he seems pretty chill, being sick likely is a good part of that. you should be able to see improvement in his health just by his activity when you get the meds. putting the cat tree near a window that has a view of where birds / squirrels hang out would also encourage him to make that his comfy spot.

    About a year is the estimate. He is currently having some complex feelings around towels, and being wrapped up though. We have to hold him down for wound care and oral antibiotics. He has wised up to what the green towel is all about. He disapproves.
    Iruka wrote: »
    If he's affectionate, I might just see how he feels about you touching his paws. My cat hates the purrito. Hates it. But he's a sucker for trying to distract me at my computer desk. I just keep his nail clippers there. He does not love getting his nails clipped, but he doesn't hate it enough to bite or get off of me.

    If he does not tend to properly retract them, clipping them might save a bare leg from being cut to ribbons. Rough play is not the only cause of that, sometimes sleepy cats loose their balance, and they will correct this with their pointy bits out of instinct.

    Interesting. He is totally cool with people touching his paws much to our surprise. No reaction at all. So he might be cool with clipping nails. Is this a thing I can Google for good information, or will I run into weird crazies with weird crazy logic? My hand might be healing from sleepy cat falling slightly out of my arms and deciding he wants to hold on.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Cats have more dissent in their personality than people seem to give them credit for, the kitty burrito is supposed to make them comfortable, but it just made my guy a little pissed off if you came at him with a towel too. When hes sitting on my lap its because he'd like to have my attention, and the added annoyance of me doing thangs with his claws is not worth him leaving, it seems. He'll sometimes tuck his paw in to avoid this, but I'll dutifully untuck it and its fine. I dont have to hold him down at all, he just accepts this trade off.

    Also through repetition I taught spex that if he bit my arm or dug his claws in too deep, lap time was over. He had a bad habit of deciding he could dictate when I was allowed to move, which would be cute but I work from home and it got to be a little much. After a few weeks of getting dumped to the floor immediately on the behavior, he'll sit more calmly, or sit next to me instead.

    I suggest googling around for advice on clipping itself, or ask your vet to show you where to do it next time you are in there, because you dont want to clip the nerve in there and make it painful.

  • SwashbucklerXXSwashbucklerXX Swashbucklin' Canuck Registered User regular
    edited December 2018
    Mr. Kitty casually stretching out his claws while napping on you is kneading behaviour, which is a positive sign of bonding! Of course (as others have already noted) that can be uncomfortable for humans, so keeping claws clipped and stopping lap time if he gets too aggressive with it is the way to go.

    Since he's sick right now, you'll probably just need to wait a bit for his real personality to come out. When we adopted our rescue, he was very low-key, super-duper-affectionate, and loved being cuddled. After curing his kennel cough and giving him a few weeks with his own supply of food, it turns out that was just hungry/sick behaviour. He's not actually much of a cuddler and his true energy level is "massive spaz." We love the little booger anyway. That's to say that I'd wait for your guy to feel better before spending too much money on cat toys, etc. He'll show his life preferences better when he's back to 100%.

    SwashbucklerXX on
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  • 6nomePants6nomePants Registered User new member
    I've heard of people having success with "showing" their cat how to use a scratching post, either by doing the action themselves, or placing the cat's paws on the post.

    Good luck!

  • JusticeJustice Registered User regular
    edited December 2018
    With clipping the claws, start out with just one or two to get both of you used to it. Don't clip off much, especially to start (I'm happy if I can just get the tips.) Treat afterwards. I like the clippers that look like a garden tool, and I removed the "safety guard" because it was just getting in the way. Purrito attempt went very, very poorly, and it actually took me a stupid amount of time to discover that she would simply let me clip her claws.

    Justice on
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited December 2018
    Get actual cat nail trimmers, if you use something too large or not shaped appropriately you can crack the nail if you're not very careful / experienced.

    Only trim the very very tip. Eventually you can start trimming a little more but you don't want to hit the blood vessel in the claw and if the cat hasn't had regular trimmings it probably goes almost to the very tip. As you trim more regularly it will recede and you will reduce the risk you draw blood and cause pain. It also wont feel as "weird" to the cat and will let them get used to it. I keep my trimmer on my desk and I can usually catch my cats in a hammock or on the couch in a position with feet sticking out and do a quick trim. They're not happy about it, but it's not very traumatic.

    Cats seem really popular here, especially recently.

    Edit: My cat loved being in a studio apartment, because he could survey his entire domain from one perch and the floorplans tend to be more open. As long as it's got places to observe and some play time, cats do pretty well in smaller places.

    dispatch.o on
  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Beloved spouse confirms he loves chilling under the Christmas Tree which is an unfortunate long term choice.

    Are... are you sure the pet in question is actually a cat? I mean, most cats love christmas trees, but not in a chilling out way. The one time I attempted to have a christmas tree, I had to stand guard over the tree with a spray bottle all evening, with him patiently circling the area, waiting for an opening. Eventually I had to go to sleep, and let's just say there wasn't much left of the tree in the morning. Plus he had toppled a lot of other stuff around the living room as well. My guess is the tree fell on him at some point and he ended up running around madly in cat panic.

    MSL59.jpg
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    Bliss 101 wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Beloved spouse confirms he loves chilling under the Christmas Tree which is an unfortunate long term choice.

    Are... are you sure the pet in question is actually a cat? I mean, most cats love christmas trees, but not in a chilling out way. The one time I attempted to have a christmas tree, I had to stand guard over the tree with a spray bottle all evening, with him patiently circling the area, waiting for an opening. Eventually I had to go to sleep, and let's just say there wasn't much left of the tree in the morning. Plus he had toppled a lot of other stuff around the living room as well. My guess is the tree fell on him at some point and he ended up running around madly in cat panic.

    I don't do Christmas trees anymore. Buy some heavy fishing line or gardening twine, put a small planting hook in the ceiling or position the tree under an air conditioner vent. Tie the line to the top of the tree and to the vent/hook, our cats would run full speed and pounce into the tree, once we put the securing line up, they'd do the same thing but rather than tip over, it would gently swing.

  • SiskaSiska Shorty Registered User regular
    Not all cats have strong play instinct. My sister in laws cat does not play at all. At most you can get her to follow a moving toy with her eyes. Catnip scented toys are just very huggable headrests as far as she is concerned. My 6 month old cat is the exact opposite. She is all about chasing toys, bugs and weird mystery lights. Luckily, she figured out how to play fetch and is pretty good about bringing us toys to toss for her.

    This is her desperately wanting me to throw the crumpled piece of paper she is standing over.
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  • GizzyGizzy i am a cat PhoenixRegistered User regular
    I usually rub catnip on new scratchy posts to draw them in and get them to use them

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  • HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    Siska wrote: »
    Not all cats have strong play instinct. My sister in laws cat does not play at all. At most you can get her to follow a moving toy with her eyes. Catnip scented toys are just very huggable headrests as far as she is concerned. My 6 month old cat is the exact opposite. She is all about chasing toys, bugs and weird mystery lights. Luckily, she figured out how to play fetch and is pretty good about bringing us toys to toss for her.

    This is her desperately wanting me to throw the crumpled piece of paper she is standing over.
    ke8k5py9pznq.jpg

    When we got no longer a kitten she loved crumpled up post it notes.

    Then I realized she liked batting them around but the real prize was gnawing them to a pulp.

    Cut to the two year battle of making sure nothing resembling a crumpled up post it note exists in the house.

  • BenditBendit Cømþü†€r Šýš†emš Anålýš† Ðeñv€r¸ ColørådøRegistered User regular
    We foster for Soul Dog Rescue. One thing I have noticed: When scratching things, Cats seem to prefer something that pulls on their claws (like loop-carpet for example). If their claws get stuck in whatever they are scratching, the better their experience? So the cardboard scratching mats are a hit with young cats, as well as the tick twine-rope posts (that are often part of cat trees). Regular carpet seem to be the last choice for them? Cats are all different so...

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  • El FantasticoEl Fantastico Toronto, ONRegistered User regular
    Cats will be cats, and every one of them behaves differently than another.

    My cat is affectionately referred to as a porker princess, because she is laaazy. She isn't a lap kitty, but she will jump up on the dining table or my computer desk when I'm unwinding and "derp" (lay flat on her side and purr for belly scritches). She only gets exercise when we shake a bag of treats, because she comes running.

    I hope your cat gets well soon, but best advice I can suggest for you and your cat is to take care of him as best as you can, and provide a loving home. He will show you his appreciation in many ways and that's when you'll know you're doing the best in servitude to your new master.

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  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    Bliss 101 wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Beloved spouse confirms he loves chilling under the Christmas Tree which is an unfortunate long term choice.

    Are... are you sure the pet in question is actually a cat? I mean, most cats love christmas trees, but not in a chilling out way. The one time I attempted to have a christmas tree, I had to stand guard over the tree with a spray bottle all evening, with him patiently circling the area, waiting for an opening. Eventually I had to go to sleep, and let's just say there wasn't much left of the tree in the morning. Plus he had toppled a lot of other stuff around the living room as well. My guess is the tree fell on him at some point and he ended up running around madly in cat panic.

    Both our cats are content to just occasionally nap under our tree.

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