Instructions for New Owners

My Suggestions for Acclimating an Older Kitten in a New Home

New owners often ask what they should have ready for their new kitten.

Litter

I use Tidy Cat Yellow Bin with a Red Lid for the litter box as it is readily available at Walmart for approx. $12 - 35#bin or Petco. I suggest having a main litter box located in a very convenient place for your new kitten that you will gradually migrate to a spot that is good for your household. IAnd you should actually have one more litter box than the number of cats. Some cats do not want to poop and pee in the same box. (they are very clean)

Since siberians are so curious, they can get locked into room, closets etc.., I tell my new kitten owners that it is a good idea to go to Dollar Tree to get the little $1dish pans and fill them with about an inch of litter for those extra rooms in case your new kitten explores and gets trapped. In bedrooms, you could slide them right under the bed.

Food

You will get a large sample of the dry food your kitten has been eating, Life's Abundance® (available online delivered to your home)

and a can of Fancy Feast. You can get Fancy Feast Classic Pate Poultry and Beef Variety case at walmart/Target etc. for approx $15-$16. 

All my kittens are raised eating food with Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (also available at Walmart etc. $7 for 32oz..

Once per day I mix :

*1 capful (1tsp.) of Apple Cider , be sure to shake the cider well.

*with approx. 1/4 cup of water and

*one can of fancy feast. I use the fancy feast as a medium to get the cider vinegar into the cat. I then add

*approx. 3/4-1 cup of dry food and let it sit for about 30-45 mins.

A raw diet is the very best way to feed a cat.  Unlike other animals, cats are true carnivores and would do best eating whole animals, such as mice, rabbit, etc. The internal organs, bones, et. all are necessary to thrive. You must be very careful feeding raw and unless you buy a raw diet, suppliements will need to be added.  If you decide to change foods, be sure to do it gradually, and always get a very high quality food. Inexpensive food will never allow your kitten to remain healthy.

Life's Abundance®

Benefits of Life's Abundance®

Scratching Post

You will find that some cats like vertical scratching posts, some like horizontal. You can find a happy medium by taking a 2x4 on a platform at a 45 degree angle with another piece of 2x4 as a support at the high end. You can cover it with a carpet sample attached with zip ties. If it becomes frayed, just cut the zip ties and put a fresh new carpet square on it. You can put the carpet on with the jute side facing out if you prefer. They also have the cardboard scratchers for about $3-$5 you can purchase while you shop for the perfect scratching pad.


New Kitten is Scared

Siberian often settle into their new home very quickly, to the amazement of the new family. However, if your new kitten seems to be like most new kittens, a little extra worried when you bring it home, it might be best to set up a "safe room". Your kitten might be overwhelmed if it is allowed to explore the whole house right away -often they need time to familiarize themselves with each room gradually.

Be sure the litter box, food, toys, bed, etc are in this room right next to the place he feels comfortable.  It is not uncommon for your kitten not to eat or use the litter box the first day. I suggest keeping the door closed until the kitten feel safe in that room. Then If he wants to explore the rest of the house, let him, but at his own pace. Don't pick him up to remove him from the room - let him do it by himself. The reason for giving him a safe room is so that he will have a safe retreat if he gets scared.

Try sitting or lying still and let him come to you. Or sit still and try to play with a string or something that catches his attention until he comes to you. Let him sniff you and get used to your scent - you could even put one of your t-shirts with your scent on it, in his bed. It may help.

You could get some cat treats or fancy feast canned cat food and try hand feeding him to gain trust. Atleast make sure he sees that you are the one who feeds him.

Be sure to pick him up several times a day and hold him in your lap.  If you watched the video above, you know about the collar and leash. This way you can take him to the living area to hold and then return to his safe room without loosing him under furniture. Gently rub him head and cheeks and squiggly scratch down his back in the direction of his hair.  All kittens love that.  If you are holding him in the safe room, dont let the kitten jump down.  When he is calm, put him down before he tries to get down.

They love playing with toys and the lazer light or a string (something he will not be able to resist). It may take that to get him to come to the food or treat.

Another idea is that once he is comfortable in the safe room, you could provide hiding places for him around the house and leave the door to 'his' room open at all times when he isn't in there. Maybe a cardboard box in the living room, with one of the flaps down, and for the first few days as a safe place to get to know the room from.  Before you know it, your kitten will be constantly underfoot and bugging you all the time!


Litter Box Problems

How to scratch out bad litter box behavior
8 tips that can help improve your cat's bathroom etiquette

By Kim Campbell Thornton
MSNBC contributor
updated 6:35 a.m. PT, Mon., July. 23, 2007

When people think outside the box, it’s a good thing. When cats think outside the box, it’s not. The No. 1 behavior problem reported in cats is doing No. 1 and No. 2 outside the confines of their litter box.

But your cat might not be simply rebelling. It might be trying to tell you in the clearest way it can that something is wrong.

Cats beat out your mother-in-law any day of the week when it comes to cleanliness. Their willingness and instinct to use a litter box even at an early age is one of the reasons they're so attractive as companions. So when they stop using the litter box, it’s because there’s something they don’t like about it.

Let’s run through the list of possibilities:

You changed litters because the new one was on sale.

Cats hate change. Once they’re used to a certain type of litter, they don’t want to try something new. It smells funny, it feels different beneath their paws or maybe it just doesn’t kick as well.

Cats tend to prefer clumping litter. Maybe the sandlike texture resonates with their heritage as desert animals. But whatever their favorite type is, they don’t want you to change it, no matter how much money you’re saving. If you really want to try a different brand, gradually mix it in with the regular litter over several weeks.

The other thing to remember is that individual cats may have different preferences, usually because they were raised on different types of litter. If you have more than one cat, you may need to provide a box for each with the preferred litter.

You’re using a scented litter.

Cats have an exquisitely keen sense of smell. What may smell perfumed to us may be sensory overload for a cat, says feline behaviorist Alice Moon-Fanelli, a clinical assistant professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Of course you want your house to smell nice, but it’s going to smell a lot nicer if your cat likes its box.

You’re not scooping the box often enough.

You flush every time you use the toilet, so why wouldn’t you scoop every time your cat uses the litter box? It doesn’t want to step into a filthy litter box any more than you want to use a dirty toilet.

“People think if they put four or five inches of litter in a box, they won’t have to clean it that often, and that’s asking for trouble,” says John C. Wright, a professor of psychology who teaches applied animal behavior at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. “Most cats will tolerate a clump or two, but a bit more than that and they may decide to go right next to the box. Other cats seem to be clean freaks. If they’ve peed or another cat has urinated in the box, they won’t enter the box at all.”

You’re not cleaning the box.

Beyond scooping the box, you need to clean it regularly. Plastic retains odors, so even if you scoop the box daily, it’s still going to get stinky after a while. Dump the litter and clean the box every week or two with warm water and a mild dishwashing detergent (no harsh-smelling chemicals.) Between cleanings, Moon-Fanelli recommends using Zero Odor litter spray, an odor neutralizer, every time you scoop. After a year, consider getting a new litter box.

Your cat doesn’t like the location of the box.

Cats have the same real-estate priorities as people: location, location, location. They don’t want the litter box anywhere near where they eat, they want it in a quiet area and they don’t want to be interrupted. Place it in a room away from the food bowl with easy access and few interruptions. Make sure it’s where no dogs or people are running in and out, no dryer buzzers are going off. Ideally, put it in a place near an escape, such as a door or a tall cat tree, so if something does scare them, they can exit.

You don’t have enough boxes.

The rule of paw is one box for every cat, plus one extra. This ensures that bully cats don’t guard a single box and prevent lower-ranking cats from using it. If you have a two-story house, place a box on each floor. This is essential for young kittens or aging cats who may not have the best physical control.

The box is too small.

Most cats prefer a large litter box. A typical litter box is fine for a kitten, but a 20-pound Maine Coon needs a larger box. If you are able look for one that’s one and a half times longer than the cat’s body length.

Many people prefer having a covered litter box, but cats who are being bullied by a cat or dog would probably like to be able to see if anything dangerous is approaching, like the dog or a bully cat. A lid blocks their view and inhibits their escape. It also concentrates the smell inside the box if it is not being kept clean.

Cats can’t tell us when they don’t feel good, so they have to show us.

If you’re doing everything recommended above and your cat goes outside the litter box, don’t assume it's being spiteful. It may have a painful bladder infection or some other problem that can be diagnosed by your veterinarian. If your cat has been declawed recently, it may be painful to dig in the litter. And if it’s old and arthritic, it may be having difficulty climbing in and out of the box. Consider making a cutout so your cat can easily enter and exit the box.

Kim Campbell Thornton is an award-winning author who has written many articles and more than a dozen books about dogs and cats. She belongs to the Dog Writers Association of America and is past president of the Cat Writers Association. She shares her home in California with two Cavalier King Charles spaniels and one African ringneck parakeet.

© 2008 MSNBC Interactive