No, this is not a kitten post. We are not getting a kitten, there will be no cuteness here, well maybe a little for we are getting a cat in a week or so, more specifically we are getting a 1 year old, jet black cat called Ollie.

My nephew and his flatmate have to give up their flat and rather than have the cat go to the local cat rescue centre we thought we’d take him. We both work all day and decided that it wouldn’t be fair on a kitten, nor a puppy and so other than getting a goldfish we kinda thought we’d remain petless for a while.

However Ollie is a housecat, well trained and v.friendly, so it’s a great opportunity to get a little black ball of fun into the house. He’s getting all his jags and ‘stuff’ sorted out before we get him, and we’ve already got a cattery sorted out for when we go to Spain in February.

There is just one thing though, we both grew up with dogs (Golden Retrievers) so whilst we know the basics of looking after a cat, well any advice or tips would be welcomed. Particularly on making it at home and making sure it’s well entertained during the day.

Over to you, cat lovers, what can we do to make Ollie feel at home? Should we let him out? Any good websites for cat related information? We are both complete novices, other than having played with a few cats now and then, so any advice is welcomed.

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Long time blogger, Father of Jack, geek of many things, random photographer and writer of nonsense.

Doing my best to find a balance.

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Entertained during the day? Man, cats just love to sleep and that’s all they do during the day, that and pooing

If you really want to entertain a cat during the day, leave a blind pulled up so it can sit on the ledge and watch the majesty of Cat TV going on outside.

There’s some great info here: http://www.cats.org.uk/catcare/index.asp and also on this American site: http://www.thecatconnection.com/care/behavior.htm There’s also some good suggestions for activities to prevent your cat getting bored here: http://www.purrballs.com/fun/index.html

The other thing I would say, is that (from my experience) cats do get quite lonely and rely on human contact for affection, so be aware of that – and the cat’s resulting demands on your attention – when you are around, back from work etc.

If you go to the whiskas.co.uk site there are loads of commercials useful tips and hints.

If you go here: http://www.whiskas.co.uk/Whiskas/en-GB/KittenPack/kittenpackform.asp, you can get a free kitten pack. I know a one year old isn’t a kitten, but, if you pretend, you get loads of freebies (food samples, useful booklets, coupons) and, as your cat gets older, even more freebies. Plus, eating kitten food won’t harm a year old cat.

If Ollie is used to being at home alone all day, you shouldn’t have any problems. For advice, just ask what he does at the moment…

Keep him on the same food he’s been used to to start with. Do I recall you use Costco? The Kirkland Signature dry cat food is loved by any cat I’ve ever met – and it’s very, very good Value. Dry food can also be left available all the time, which is convenient. Just make sure there is also water avaialbe (and ltos of cats dislike chlorinated tap water, so you may need to either let some stand, or collect rainwater).

Don’t let him out for a few weeks, even if you’re going to eventually, or he’ll try to go back to where he’s come from.

If you are used to dogs you will be pleasantly surprised how little attention cats need. Little toys with catnip work with young cats and will provide him with ample entertainment. But to be honest it’s surprising how quickly kittens tire of toys- cats just want food sleep and a comfy person’s knee to occasionally sit on at the end of the day.

And, for sure let him out- get a catflap and stand back as the livestock gets dragged in! All the entertainment your cat will ever need.

We have three of the blighters. It’s like the Serengeti round our way.

I’m not sure about keeping him in for a few weeks, but certainly a few days. He will be a bit disoriented at first, but the best tip I’ve ever had for establishing a cat in a new home is to give them something oily to eat (a little tinned pilchard – not a whole tin!) or to but a dab of softened butter on their fur. The result – the cat sits for half an hour to wash itself clean, getting used to its surroundings as it does so.

If you have Ollie’s existing bedding, that’ll be a bonus. Don’t wash it until he is used to his new home.

Try to stick to his normal food to begin with. Also, if he is a house cat, you might need to develop your houseplant skills a little and keep a healthy pot of lawn grass (not ornamental types). Cats need to chew on grass or something similar in order to keep their intenstines functioning properly. Modern cat foods make up for the absence of grass in a modern cat’s diet, but I reckon there is no substitute for the real thing.

Finally (for now), water, not milk. Cats can’t metabolise cow’s milk, so just put a bowl of water. And certainly no cream – only as a rare treat.

Best regards to ollie from Monty (currently suffering from an abscess on his tummy) and Treacle.

PS – if Ollie isn’t already microchipped, get him done PDQ! Also, make sure his flu and leukiemia jabs are up to date, he is wormed and reguarly flea-treated.

Only thing I’d absolutely say (in sort-of contradiction to BW) is don’t give the cat Whiskas at all.

Whiskas put an additive in cat food (I think it’s liver, but I could be wrong) that is addictive for cats, which is why after a while they won’t have anything else, because nothing else has the additive in.

Personally I feel that addicting a customer, or keeping a customer through addiction, is utterly unethical and as such I wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole.

Amusement through the day? Comfy bed, maybe a scratching post (which’ll save your furniture) and a couple of cat toys. That’ll do it, I’m sure.

I’ve never had a problem feeding odd bits of Whiskas (and I’ve had dozens of cats), and I’ve never heard of that addiction thingy. Urban myth maybe (must look it up… t’inter will know)? I think that all cat food is basically the same rubbish reject human meat/cats/dogs/horses… whatever the tin/packet may claim.

That said, I really suggested the Whiskas site becuase it has lots of good info. The freebies were a bit of an afterthought. But, cats are like kids – if you don’t spoil them, or give them choices, they’ll eat what they are given or go hungry (and a young cat won’t do the latter)!

And I suggested keeping him in for several weeks because you won’t be there in the day. If he’s lonely, he’ll just wander off to where there is more company.

When you get him, decide where you want to site his litter tray, then take him to it and scribble his front paws in it, so he gets the idea. I’d do that a coupleof times, every hour or so, until you see it’s working. As with food, stick to whatever brand he’s used to at first. Again, Costco do cheap cat litter (Aldi’s is even cheaper). I reckon that as and when councils start charging by the kilo for rubbish removal, there will be a hell of a lot of cat litter fly tipped, because it’s something that you just cannot do anything else with (unless you have acres of ground and can bury it or something).

Thanks everyone.

First night down, he has used the cat litter fine, eaten, poo’d and had a manic half-hour or so when he discovered the stairs (he lived in a flat before now).

He has two scratching posts, one small one, one multi-storey job, and more toys than he’ll need for a while…

Also, he’s 6 months old, not one year, and yes, chipping is scheduled as are jabs and whatnot.

So. So far, so good. He’s settling in fine.

We’ll nip down to Aldi later to get more litter. Thanks again.

BW, It could be Urban Myth, you’re right – but a quick Google Search shows a number of sources propagating it.

From personal experience, I know my parents cats took about three weeks to lose an addiction to whiskas when my parents changed brands due to hearing the same tale about addiction (which means the tale has been around for a good 15 years).

In addition (and semi-related) with Hound we found that taking her off commercial dog food and onto additive-free stuff from James Wellbeloved made an immense difference to her moods, anxiety, and behaviour in general.

Herself had also heard the thing about Whiskas, and we never feed Psycho Cat whiskas at all. *shrug* YMMV.

Debster says:

Been referred here by BW, and yes I would agree with most of the advice here. Feed him what he likes, give him somewhere warm to sleep and play with him and give it a couple of weeks before even thinking about letting him out. We tried putting butter on the paws one time but just got a load of buttery footprints all round the house. Toys are not so essential as you playing with him – dangling string round a corner for him to pounce on, rolling a ball etc. He will soon have YOU trained how he wants.

Debster says:

Oh and photos please!

As well as the addiction thing, Whiskas (and much of the “processed” pet foods) are very high in additives, preservatives, fats and proteins, the latter of which has a very detrimental effect on cats’ kidneys, because it overloads them and they become weakened. And problems with the kidneys (and the thyroid, oddly: perhaps the chlorinated water has some effect on cats’ metabolism?) are the two most common problems cats face as they age, so a diet lower in protein and fat is advised (according to the vets that helped my cats live to 18, 19 and 21, by suggesting they were fed on real meat, like turkey, chicken and the occasional bit of beef/lamb). And yes, I know real (as opposed to pretend) meat is expensive, but the cost of it is balanced out with the saving of costs of vets bills (and dentistry – processed foods rot cats’ teeth very quickly) due to the cat having a more ‘natural’ diet.

Not meaning to be obnoxious and know-it-all about this (I’m no expert and certainly no vet): just adding my experience to the mix, is all…

Gordon, glad your cat is settling in. Um, photos, please? Ahem.

Kat says:

Getting to know a new cat is one of the most fun experiences you can have, so I expect you are having a great time.

One thing not mentioned so far is being careful with cut flowers and house plants. Lilies in particular, if eaten by cats, can cause kidney failure, and I suspect there will be other things that are not so hot either.

ASDA do cheap cat litter too, and one of the reasons I do my shopping online with them is that they deliver it, so I can buy in bulk to keep in the hut, and don’t have to carry.

Thanks Girl and Kat. The plant thing I kinda knew about, and will be removing one from the hall (much to the joy of my wife). Girl, will look into that, we bought a big pack of cat food to get us started but will try some other foods.

So far so good then. He’s a little mental after he eats, and enjoys chasing me up and down the stairs, but I know he’s only playing.

He only ventured onto the bed once as well last night, so that’s not too bad.

Less advice and more of a warning: Cat shit is the most foul-smelling substance in the known universe.

What cats like best, of course, is fresh killed rabbit, fresh killed squirrel, fresh killed bird, fresh killed mouse and fresh killed rat. Which is what mine have always lived on. Which is why I don’t worry about the (very) odd bit of Whiskas – usually fed when dry food has run out and I’m not going to Costco that week πŸ˜‰ (I still reckon it’s an urban myth and that all the processed food is equally bad – as is most human processed food)

I didn’t realise you were getting him so soon!

And… sorry about sending Debster over. Her real name isn’t Debster at all, it’s ‘kitten picture required’, as you’ll probably find out for the rest of blog time now πŸ˜‰

Where have all the Haloscan emoticons gone?

BW – we only realised we were getting him yesterday, YESTERDAY! A quick dash to the pet store and we got him in the evening.

And there are no HaloScan emoticons because I ain’t using HaloScan anymore (I think you mean gravatars, and I disable them as they were slowly the site down).

And no probs about sending Debster over, happy to oblige.

Matt – yeah I’ve found that out already, good god.

Ah, yes, I’ve switched over to FF in desperation and am seeing better now. The pic was somehow preventing the page loading properly in my preferred browser (no comment required), so no graphics were appearing, including the smileys. I hate gravators, so no loss to me!

Cats have a habit of arriving on you like that.

Debster says:

BW you slander me horribly! As you know I am a lady and like ladies things, like looking at pictures of kittens and thinking about embroidery … and anyway surely that is the *real* purpose of the internet, not that porn malarky?

I am now forever thinking Deebster rides a tandem and has a tache πŸ˜‰

Debster says:

LOLOLOL no I was thinking of Mr Cholmondley-Warner and his view that ladies brains fill up in a messy way and should be restricted to thinking about kittens …

I do have a bike though, and yes it does have a name. My sister has a tache.

donalda bint says:

I knew someone who studied nutrition at college and was amazed to discover that one of her lecturers had worked as a taster for cat food. It is still meat, can’t be too evil, else the fussy beast will not eat it. The lecturer, as far as I know did not become addicted to the cat food, but as this occurred in Edinburgh anything, frankly, is possible. Oh, and to anyone who might think that maybe eating cat food is all just a bit too disgusting, one word: sausages.

Debster says:

My daughter tried some, much to the cats digust. She said it was like pate.

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