This section is just to help you prepare for your new family member. I have loosely adapted it from the Activities of Daily Living nursing model by Roper, Tierney & Logan. It is not exhaustive and for those of you who have had cats before you will also know what individuals they can be
Maintaining a safe environment
Do not let your kitten or cat outside. They are in danger of being stolen and more importantly do not have the survival knowledge that moggies are born with. Either keep them indoors or in an enclosed outside run. If the latter, also enclose with a roof as Norwegian Forest Cats are prodigious jumpers and climbers. Your cat contract states clearly that you must not let your cats roam free outside. Norwegian Forest Cats are also amazing hunters and can get lost in their pursuit of prey.
Keep the toilet seat down when not in use
Avoid cut flowers and plants. A great many are toxic.
If you ‘toddler prep’ your house, furnishings and ornaments you will not go far wrong.
Lock away all medications and cleaning materials.
Please use earthenware or metal bowls. Plastic in particular gets scratched and supports the growth of bacteria and viruses and therefore the development of disease.
Cover your cooker hob following use to prevent burns.
Do not leave the dishwasher, washing machine, and tumble drier doors open. When loading them always keep the door in sight at all times. A kitten can climb in as quick as a flash.
Check all rooms in particular garages and cellars for small holes from which a kitten can get stuck or escape.
Michael Fox theorised that cats have three categories of sound; murmurs, vowels and high intensity sounds. To this you can also add the silent meow.
Murmurs – include all the soft sounds like purring, greetings, attention seeking
Vowels – are the open-mouthed sounds often used for communicating with the owner e.g. hungry, dirty lit tray, begging, no etc.
High intensity sounds – wail, howl, hiss and are mostly used with other cats
The silent meow – is often a ‘cat to human’ bribe noise to enable your kitten to get their own way
You will become attuned to what your bundle of fun is saying to you very quickly. You will be surprised the complexity of their ‘language’ using the above and combinations of the above sounds.
Not much to add other than please remember cats cannot pick their nose or clear their throat. So, they do cough and sneeze naturally – it doesn’t always mean they are ill. Their odd sneezes can be accompanied by a flying bogey which can be a delight when you are having your dinner.
Eating and drinking
Always have a source of clean water that is regularly changed – at least as often as you feed them. Better still get one of the electric water pumps that circulates the water round. They should be emptied and refilled daily and washed every third day at least. Do place the water a metre away from food bowls. We use Pet Mate fountains that have filters in them.
Cats are obligate carnivores. They eat meat. We respect your own personal preferences and beliefs however we will not sell a kitten to anyone intending to feed it a vegetarian or vegan diet. It is not natural for the cat.
We would like to be able to advocate a raw diet for our cats after they have reached 6-9 months of age. Raw is after all the natural food for cats. However personal experience together with research incidents relayed by vets and other breeders and owners means that at the present time we cannot advocate raw feeding. The rationale behind this is the state of the human and pet food industry. The rate of toxoplasma has increased by nearly 15% in the last decade. To kill the bacteria, you must heat meat all the way through to a minimum temperature of 74C. To kill it the latest articles are suggesting freezing meat before consumption at a temperature below -5C for greater than 67 days. Please remember that freezing does not eradicate other parasites, toxins and bacteria. Clostridium botulinum (the bacteria that causes botulism) has been on the increase in meat since 1995. It produces spores that cannot be killed by boiling water, most household cleaners and even radiation! Salmonella still affects about 42 people in 100k however these are only the reported cases. There has also been an increase in the number of parasites eg worms, nematodes, amoeba etc.
We have stated that the only raw diet we are currently feeding are day old chicks. We no longer advocate this as scientific examination has shown infections with Salmonella and mycoplasma have been found in day old chicks.
As a cattery we have fed all our cats a variety of different foods. The raw feeding clique will say how much glossier their coat is etc on raw. As long as you give a balanced diet, I believe there is no difference between feeding a varied canned and dry diet to that of raw flesh.
Tinned fish (especially in tomato sauce) goes down well. Use sardines, pilchards and skippers. Avoid tuna other than on a treat basis. It can make cats ill if fed in large quantities.
Tinned or pouched food is reasonable however we would suggest using one of the German cat foods as they have higher production standards than the UK does. You should always look for a human grade meat with no cereals such as rice or corn. Zooplus (http://www.zooplus.co.uk/) has a number of brands available.
On the whole we have found that pouched food goes down better with our cats than tinned. In saying that my brood have a predilection for food from the cheaper end of the market. You can buy posh but if your cat likes Felix then feed it to him. Cats do not have the morals and ethics we have. Don’t ignore Felix and Whiskas – we all like a Kentucky. Just feed across the board.
You are warned to change feeds gradually. Do not. Variety is what they would eat in the wild. Cats eat birds, rodents, carrion etc Change is good for them. I did have a kitten owner who wanted to return her kitten to me after 6m as it would only eat poached chicken and prawns. When I asked what she had been feeding it she stated poached chicken and prawns!!
We feed our cats over one year a diet of wet food on a night and dry on a morning. We do feed our kittens and mothers Royal Canin ‘Mother & Baby’ dry food. Please be aware that some dry food has very little nutritional value and is manufactured out of constituents unsuitable to feed to a person. Once again chop and change. Avoid dry food that contains corn and abundant grain if you can.
In the end you and your cat will strike a balance with each other. Do let them have treats. Roast chicken on a Sunday goes down well but NO cooked bones.
Always wear gloves when feeding. It can protect both you and your cat. Remember if you have a tummy upset, they can get it from you.
If food smells funky (no scientific word for this) even if out of a can; throw it in the bin.
Avoid melamine and plastic dishes. Stick with metal or china (not Ming).
Wash all utensils as often as you would your own.
Our kittens are all used to using a fine clumping clay cat litter. We tend to not use hoods or doors on our litter trays. Please scoop your lit trays at least daily – for the sake of your sense of smell you may want to do it a little more often. Lit trays should be filled to about 10cm in depth and topped up when the level falls. Dependent on which litter you used will dictate when you need to do a total change. This should involve removal of the old lit, washing the tray with bleach, rinsing, drying and refilling. Any problems such as diarrhoea and vomiting should make you increase your litter changing accordingly.
Kittens of the age that we sell will be able to use clumping litter . We have found the best litter to be Golden Grey Master available from Zooplus. BasicForm cat litter scoops work really well, are strong and save a lot of time. They are available from Amazon.
Cats are generally clean animals with the odd exception. Firstly intact males. Most ‘Toms’ are dirty boys. I have known them to take a dump in their food bowl when they have not been partial to the contents. We rarely sell kittens for breeding however as they do mature at different rates do contact us if your kitten is demonstrating different behaviour around the use of their litter tray. Secondly the move. We will never release a kitten to you that has not been fully litter trained. Please place at least one tray within sight of the feeding area but at least a couple of metres away. If they do pee or poo outside of the area then try waking them to eat and placing them in the tray beforehand as this is when they will most likely pee. After they have finished eating place them in the tray again to see if they will poo. This will normally knock them back into synch in a couple of days.
If you have an outside secure cat area then why not get a weather proof outside cat litter box. We find them to be great and no more soggy litter trays.
Norwegian Forest Cats are reasonably low maintenance to keep their coats tangle free and looking good. We have brushes everywhere and tend to give all our cats a quick brush when they come to see us. However, a good groom once a week is always a good idea. It also gets them ready for the moulting season in early spring. We also have Sara a delightful lady who comes round every six weeks to do a hygiene trim around the tail end and a general tidy up.
After they are three weeks old a kitten can maintain their temperature in a room that you are comfortable in.
For the most part your kitten will eat, sleep, use the lit tray and play, play, play. If you are out of the house, consider a playmate to keep them company if you do not have one already. Although wild cats are on the whole solitary in nature this is mainly due to the availability of food. Cats and kittens in particular love to play so provide them with lots of stimulus. A tall cat tree is ideal for Norwegian Forest Cats. Other essentials balls and toys they can flick around and carry around. You will need a good supply of these as they will either be ripped apart or will end up underneath an inaccessible cupboard. They can be very expensive so do check out Ali Express. They are cheap but do take a few weeks to get to you. Don’t pay rip off prices! The website is https://www.aliexpress.com. From the same supplier get a cat tunnel or two and a cat ball-track. We will show you when you come and visit us.
Kittens will sleep on average 13-16 hours per day. This is normal. By all means buy them a lovely bed just be prepared for the kitten to sleep somewhere else entirely – usually on a hard floor just next to it.
We rarely sell kittens for breeding so you will have signed a contract to state you will neuter your kitten at about 7months old. Please discuss with your veterinary surgeon that in females we advise a flank incision. Also please advise your Veterinary surgeon that some of our kittens have had prolonged reactions to ketamine (an anaesthetic drug).
Find yourself a good vet if you don’t have one already. Ask around. Do internet searches. Keep up to date with vaccinations and de-flea / de-worm as is indicated. A good vet will be your partner in the care of your cat and not a dictator.