Raising cats can be a very rewarding job when done properly. All the love and affection you will receive from your cats is well worth all the time, hard work and effort that we have and continue to put into our kitties. Things are not always as easy as they seem, however. We ran into a few problems that we had to break our kitties of. Some weren't so easy to break. We did research both on the net and off. We would search through Google and read for hours on a topic. We'd talk to friends, co-workers and our vet as well, for advice on our kitties. What we came up with for teaching our kitties seems to have worked so well, that our older cats now teach the younger ones. :) It's really quite amazing how when kitty #4 came along, that she has taken the least effort in teaching right from wrong and the house rules. The other cats in the house have been teaching her. It's quite the amazing thing to see one cat teaching another cat what's right and wrong to do.
Deciding to raise cats is not something one should do lightly. As with any pet, they do come with a huge responsibility and with some expense. Between, vet bills (and yes, cats need to see the vet yearly, too!), food, toys, furniture, and treats, the costs can add up quickly. Most of our kitty's are costing approximately $300 a year per cat, although ours are greatly spoiled too! We have one kitty who is costing us about $150-$200 more than the others. At least during this past year (2006) she has. She is our special kitty and comes with some very special medical problems. Remember, most house-cats live for about 20 years, so it's a lifetime commitment when you decide to raise a kitty.
Besides the cost, once should think of the amount of time it takes to raise a kitty. In order to teach your kitty to be a "people" cat, and to hang-out and learn right from wrong and learn the rules of the house, it takes TIME, and LOTS of it! Kitty's do not learn by themselves. If you want them to be a part of your life as adults, (approx. 2 years of age), then it's worth every minute you put into your kitty. And, YOU, the human, must do this. It is a quite a process to raise a kitty, kind of like raising a baby. You must be sure the kitty is eating and drinking and gaining the proper amount of weight. (They say the average cat gains approximately 1 pound per month of life for the first year. Then an additional 1 - 3 pounds during the second year. The average cat in the U.S. is believed to weight approximately 8-10#. By those standards we have some big cats.)
The more time you spend with your baby kitten during the time from about 6 weeks of age through the first year of life is very critical. This is the hardest times with your kitty as you teach them and love them. The time you spend teaching, playing, and grooming your kitty every day, will pay itself back as kitty gets older. When your kitty becomes an adult cat, they will want to be in the same room as you. Kittys can grow to be just attached to we humans, as we can to them.
Raising kitty's has brought a lot of joy and happiness to us. We enjoy the company and love each of our kitty's. We treasure our moments together. :)
We thought we'd some of what we've discovered and learned by raising our kitties. Some goes with what seems to be the "norm" of raising cats and some doesn't, but it has worked for us.
Everything we read on introducing kitty's to your home and other animals gave us some ideas and tips to go by. However, while we do agree and recommend that you restrict your new kitty to a small area at first, and slowly, over the period of about a week or two, (depending on the size of your home), let them explore more of the home. This makes things less frustrating for both you and kitty, as they are only learning the rules of one or two rooms at a time as opposed to the whole house.
As far as introducing kitty to other animals in the home, well, what we found all says to do it slowly. This just wasn't really an option for us, as we made our bedroom their (the kitties) safe-haven room. (see below) All of our kitties were first introduced to the bedroom as being their safe place. This has been wonderful for us. Whenever they get frightened or in trouble or anything, they head to the bedroom. We always know where to find them.
Anyways, we have found it better to get the main introductions done right away with the new kitty. We did this with Haunt when we got him and then again with Boo when we got her. We hold them nose to nose with each other. Then we leave them be together. They wil hiss at each other. They'll snarl, growl and even wrestle and fight a bit, but they'll get it worked out. They're going to go through these stages regardless of whether or not they are introduced right off or if it is done slowly. It's just the nature of cats.
In a multi-cat home, they will have scraps as they grow and determine pecking order as to who is and isn't "top cat". This, of course, as we have noticed ourselves, can even change from time to time. They always get it worked out, however. Our vet advised us to just let them work out these scraps on their own. We got concerned that they might hurt each other and, in fact, a couple of times, they have given each other minor wounds. Our vet advised us to only separate them if they were getting into a "cat fight", (wild cat kind of fight--going for blood), and that only then should we separate them. We separate ours before it gets to that. The instant we see them getting a bit too rough with each other, we squirt them with a squirt bottle of water. It works wonders for punishment. :)
Kitty Safe Haven
If you would like your kitties to go to a particular room in your home, it's proven to us that all one needs to do, is to introduce kitty to that room first. Keep kitty contained in a small area of the home, with the main room being their "safe haven".
For our kitties, it is our bedroom. Whenever, they run and hide, 99% of the time they will run to our bedroom. It was the first room they were introduced to in the home. It has really worked well for us, to the point that our kitties will come to bed at night with us. They will sleep in their beds, on our beds or in/on one of their condos in our bedroom. It's just what we wanted!
To deter kitty from scratching on your furniture the best thing you can do is to provide them with plenty of furniture of their own. We even buy Cat Nip Spray to spray on their furniture from time to time. It helps to keep them on theirs but off of yours!
In the event you still have a kitty who insists on using your furniture, like we did... good old Spook just loved our old couches... then here's a tried and true very simple method to put that habit to rest. Someone told us about this and then we found it on the internet as well. It really does work! At least, it did for us.
All you do is to take a sheet of foil and lay it shiny side out on the area that kitty is scratching on. If you need to tape it down you can. We covered the back corner of ours and taped it down with scotch tape. We also put a small scrathcing post next to that end of the couch. We left the tape on the couch corner for about 6 weeks to be sure that she wasn't scratching there anymore. The reflection from the foil deters them from scratching. When we removed the foil, the habit was broken and she hasn't scratched any of our furniture since.