Bringing home a new kitten is an exciting time for the whole family, but the sudden change to new surroundings may be somewhat intimidating from the new arrival's viewpoint. To make your British Shorthair's transition to its new home as comfortable as possible, a little planning and preparation are in order. You'll want to have on hand some basic pet supplies, such as cat food, the day your kitten arrives. Here I am stating best supplies that I found during many years of my experience.
Accessories Your British Cat Needs
Food and Water Dishes
Every pet in the household should have its own feeding dish, so select one ahead of time for your new British Shorthair and decide on a feeding location. Stainless steel, ceramic stoneware, or glass dishes, although more expensive than plastic feeding bowls, are generally easier to keep clean because they can be sterilized in the dishwasher without melting or warping. Ceramic dishes come in decorative varieties, but select only the ones sold for human use or labeled as lead-free.
Although they are less expensive, plastic dishes tend to develop tiny pits and scratches over time, which can harbor bacteria and odors, despite diligent cleaning. The stale food odors that collect in these minute crevices may go unnoticed by the human nose, but your cat, with its more highly developed sense of smell, may find the odor buildup offensive enough to refuse to eat. To deter odor buildup, buy plastic dishes that are dishwasher-safe so they can be heat sterilized between meals. Another sound precaution is to replace plastic dishes with new ones periodically.
When selecting feeding dishes, keep in mind that most cats seem to prefer flat, shallow saucers or plates to deep bowls. Apparently, cats dislike having their sensitive whiskers rub the sides of the dish as they eat. in fact, some cats dislike this unpleasant sensation so much that they will resort to scooping out food morsels with their paws and eating off the floor.
Also, choose a weighted food dish that's heavy enough to stay put and not slide across the floor as the cat eats. Imagine how frustrating your meals would be if your plate kept sliding across the table every time you tried to take a bite!
To bring your kitten home, you'll need a suitable cat carrier for the animal to travel in safely. You’ll use the carrier to cart your cat to veterinarians, boarding facilities, or cat shows, as well. Available at pet supply stores, and sometimes veterinarians' offices, pet carriers range from inexpensive fold-out cardboard boxes to the sturdier molded plastic ones. There are also wicker baskets and canvas totebag varieties If your British Shorthairs must be shipped by air, the airlines will specify the dimensions and type of pet carrier required in the cabin or in the cargo hold. Regardless of the carrier type you select, it should fasten securely and be well ventilated so that the animal inside cannot escape but can get plenty of fresh air.
If you have more than one cat, each animal should have its own carrier for safe transport. Avoid putting two cats together in a single carrier, even if they are best friends. The too-tight quarters and the stress of travel might cause them to fight and injure one another.
Most cats like to select their own sleeping places and will alternate their napping spots on a whim. More than likely, your Brit's preferred siesta site will probably be your bed or your favorite chair. Many people like to share their beds with their cats. However, if you want to discourage your British Shorthair from sleeping with you, keep your bedroom door shut or confine your cat to a certain area of the house during the night.
Regardless of your sleeping arrangements, you should provide your cat with its own bed. Whether you buy a plush, fancy cat "cozy" from the pet store or simply throw an old blanket in a cardboard box, select something washable, because you want to be able to launder your cat's bedding frequently.
A sturdy scratching post is another essential piece of equipment for cats confined to the indoors. Cats have an instinctive need to scratch and sharpen their claws on objects in their territory. Even declawed cats continue to display this natural feline behavior. The action not only removes dead nail and reconditions the claws but also marks territory with scent from glands in the paw pads. You cannot eliminate the cat's natural instinct to sharpen claws, but you can contain the behavior by providing your British Shorthair with a scratching post.
Pet shops and pet supply catalogs sell scratching posts in many shapes and sizes. Carpeted cat trees that extend from floor to ceiling make attractive scratching posts and come in all colors to match any room's decor. Creative designs incorporate built-in perches and peekaboo penthouses for cat-napping. Not only do they double as lofty sleeping quarters, they offer ample exercise and climbing opportunities for indoor cats.
Before introducing your British Shorthair to its scratching post, make sure the post isn't wobbly and won't tip over as the cat claws it. Obviously, if a flimsy, unstable post falls over and frightens your cat, the animal likely will refuse to go near it ever again, and understandably so. The base must be wide and supportive enough to remain standing and balanced, even when accosted by the full weight of a clawing, jumping, or climbing adult cat.
Introduce your British Shorthair to the scratching post at an early age, or as soon as you bring the newcomer into your home. Simply show the cat the post, move its paws in a scratching motion, and praise lavishly when it does what you want. If necessary, rub some dried catnip on the post to entice your British Shorthair to play and climb on it. If the cat decides to try out your furniture, scold verbally by saying "No" in a loud, sharp tone. Or, squirt jets of clean water from a water pistol to startle the cat without harming it. Wait a few minutes, then carry the cat to its scratching post.
Once clawing the furniture becomes an established habit, it is difficult to break, but not impossible. The recommended strategy is to make the inappropriate surface unattractive to the cat while, at the same time, offering a more appealing, acceptable substitute, such as a suitable scratching post. To discourage an undesirable scratching habit, cover the problem area temporarily with a loosely-draped blanket, newspaper, wrapping paper, plastic bubble wrap, or sheets of aluminum foil. Then, as pre-viously explained, consistently encourage the cat to use the acceptable substitute.
British Shorthairs are easy to train and readily learn to respond to voice tones and commands. If you are consistent and persistent in your methods, your cat should soon learn to restrict its clawing to the designated area. When disciplining your cat, use your voice, but never, never strike the animal with your hand, with a folded newspaper, or with any other object. Such abusive action will only make your British Shorthair fearful and distrustful of humans.
A litter box is essential equipment for any cat that spends time indoors. Pet stores and mail-order catalogs carry a wide variety of litter pans, from the basic open plastic models to the fancy ones with ventilated bottoms and pull-out trays.
Cleanliness: Regardless of the kind of litter pan you select, it's important to keep the box clean, or the cat may stop using it if it becomes too soiled. You'll also need a litter scoop to remove solid wastes from the box daily. Keeping the box clean and changing the litter frequently are the best ways to control litter box odor in your home. A little bit of baking soda sprinkled on and stirred into the litter also helps control odor in close quarters. Or try one of several commercial cat box odor control prod-ucts available at pet supply and grocery stores.
Location: For privacy, place the litter box in a quiet, undisturbed area of the house. Do not place it too near the cat's food dishes or sleep-ing quarters. Being fastidious creatures, cats normally do not like to eat or sleep near the place where they relieve themselves. If you have more than one cat, provide each with its own litter box, and place the pans in separate locations, if necessary. Although cat friends will often share litter pans, some more aggressive cats may chase others away in a show of dominance. Without an alternate box to use, the subordinate cat may have no choice but to use the carpet or some other inappro-priate place.
Litter Box Training: By the time your British Shorthair is old enough to leave its mother and go to its new home, it should already know how to use a litter box. The instinctive digging and covering behaviors come naturally to cats, and they learn the rest by observing and imitating their mothers. Generally, all you have to do is show the kitten where its new litter box is. Do this when you first bring the kitten home and again after the kitten's first few meals in its new surround-ings, and it should quickly catch onto the idea.
If the kitten seems slow to catch on, it may be necessary to confine it temporarily to a small area with a litter box, until it does its business. Sometimes adding a single drop of ammonia to the litter helps. The scent of ammonia, being a by-product of urine, usually attracts cats to use the spot as a potty.
Litter Box Fillers: Litter selection is important, because if your cat doesn't like the tex-ture or scent of the type you choose, it may refuse to use the box. Some cats dislike the perfumed or chemically treated pellets added to commercial litters for odor control. These additives may please human noses, but cats seem to prefer their own scent. For really finicky felines, plain, untreated clay litter or sterilized sand may be better choices. Avoid using dirt from the yard or garden, however, as it may contain insect larvae or other unwanted organisms, including the one that causes toxo-plasmosis.
Some litter brands are designed to clump when moistened, making it easier to scoop out clumps of urine along with the solid wastes. This clumping action aids greatly in sanitation and odor control by leaving behind only clean, fresh litter.
Certain clumping brands have an unfortu-nate tendency to stick to a cat's fur, although many manufacturers have worked to correct this problem. So, with a longhaired cat like the British Shorthair, you should inspect the backside and hind legs on occasion to make sure litter is not sticking to your cat's fur.
In addition, concerns have been raised about clumping litters causing digestive blockages, if swallowed. As a precaution, avoid using a clumping litter with young kittens, as they are more likely than adults to sample the stuff by tasting and eating it. Then, when your British Shorthair is grown, switch to a convenient clumping brand if you like.
Most litter brands cannot be flushed down toilets. So, to avoid wrecking your bathroom plumbing, read product labels carefully.
Indoor cats need toys to play with, but you don't have to spend a lot of money on them. Cats can amuse themselves with ordinary items you might use in your own recreational pursuits, such as Ping-Pong balls, golf balls, and tennis balls. Leftover wrapping paper and paper grocery bags are a great favorite, too, but never use plastic bags for this purpose or leave them unattended around your British Shorthair, because cats, like children, may suffocate in them. A cardboard box with cut-out peep holes is another inexpensive toy that can give your cat hours of delight.
Safe toys: When selecting toys at the pet store, consider safety first. Choose only sturdy toys that won't disintegrate after the first few mock attacks. Remove tied-on bells, plastic eyes, button noses, and dangling strings that your cat could tear off and swallow or choke on during play. Never let your British Shorthair play with small items that could be chewed or swallowed easily, such as buttons, bows, hairpins, rubber bands, wire bread-wrapper ties, paper clips, cellophane, or wadded-up candy wrappers.
Supervise all access to fishing pole-style toys with feathers, sparklers, and tied-on lures. These interactive toys provide great exercise in your watchful presence, but if left unattended, the attached line poses a potential hazard for being chewed or swallowed, for accidental strangulation, or for wrapping too tightly around a limb and cutting off vital circulation. Always shut these types of toys safely away in a closet when you're not around to play with your cat.
Avoid string and yarn: String of any kind is a definite no-no for cats, so do not offer yarn balls or threaded spools as toys. If you use such items in crafts or hobbies, store them safely out of reach of your cat. Also, be careful of braided rugs or knitted afghans that might unravel if the cat plays with a loose end. Once a cat starts chewing and swallowing string or yarn, a considerable amount may amass in the digestive tract and cause life-threatening blockages or perforations. If you come home to find your cat with a piece of string hanging out of its mouth, do not attempt to pull it out. Doing so can cause more serious, even fatal, injury, if the string has already wound its way into the intestinal tract. Seek veterinary help immediately. Such a situation constitutes a true emergency. Surgery may be required to correct the ensuing condition, called string enteritis.
Catnip, the natural high: A member of the mint family, catnip is a perennial herb that many cats go wild over. When exposed to a catnip-scented toy, a cat will grip the object in its front paws, rub its face in the fabric, and roll ecstatically, kicking at the object with the back paws. Afterward, the cat lies sprawled on its back, as if drunk, and dozes off in a relaxed, trancelike state of bliss, purring loudly and contentedly.
The substance in the plant that elicits this response is called nepetalactone. The effect wears off in a short time and does not appear to compromise the cat's normal faculties. In fact, an unfamiliar sound will bring a catnip-intoxicated cat to its fully alert senses immediately. Pet stores offer an array of catnip mice, catnip sacks, and other catnip-scented toys for your Brit's pleasure. Some stores even sell planter kits so you can grow your own stand of catnip at home.
The catnip herb is not thought to be addictive or harmful to domestic cats, so it is a relatively safe way to entice even the most sedate feline into a feisty, albeit brief, bout of play. However, not all cats care for catnip, and many have only a mild response when exposed to it. Some cats lack the gene that makes them respond to the plant's intoxicating effects, and they show no marked reaction when con-fronted with catnip.