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Young kitten questions

echaq
September 3rd, 2007, 12:33 AM
Hi all! I'm new to this forum, and I have a few kitten questions. My roommate and I are fostering a wonderful kitten named Magellan. We've had him since he was found at three weeks old. He's now five and a half weeks old, we think, and he's just a lovely kitten, happy and very friendly with people. We're still bottle-feeding him, but he's figured out the litter box thing, and he's quite steady on his feet and can even climb onto my bed. Here are my questions (with the ones I'd most like answers to first):

1. How to deal with play aggression- he's gotten to the point where he gets into playful moods and will play with a toy, or, if no toy is proffered, he'll play with us. Before when I've fostered, and growing up at my parents' house, all the kittens I've taken care of have had litter-mates to play with, so this hasn't been TOO much of an issue. Also, I've never dealt with a kitten who's been taken from his or her mom so early. So I've looked around the internet and on these forums, and I've found pretty conflicting advice. Some people say that when you are taking care of a young kitten who won't have a mom to teach him how to behave, you have to be pretty firm- scruffing him when he tries to bite you, or holding him down gently until he seems subdued. But other people, especially people on this forum in the relevant posts I could find, say that at this age that kind of treatment is inappropriate. They say you should just divert his attention to a toy or avoid him when he's bitey if you can't spare the time right at that moment to play with him and a toy (just to clarify, Magellan never bites us when we're dangling a toy for him). Can anyone give some insight as to what's really best at this age? He's so small that I don't really mind the biting (although my roommate could do without it), so mostly my concern is that I want to make sure he doesn't learn incorrect behavior, given that he's been apart from other cats since 3 weeks old.

2. Does anyone have any tips for making solid food more interesting for him? We've already tried mixing KMR into it. He'll maybe take one lick, or play with it with his paws for a little bit, then go away. We've tried putting it on a finger and trying to get him to lick it, but he's just not interested.

3. I'm seriously considering adopting him, rather than sending him back to the (no-kill) shelter that's been having us foster him. One of my concerns is that I'm a grad student and have a somewhat tight budget. I have an emergency fund just in case in a savings account, so I'm less concerned about the possible but unlikely crisis than about the everyday expenses. Does anyone have an estimate for how much you pay for one cat's expenses every year (or month, if that's easier)?

4. This is probably just me being neurotic, but he has a few areas (elbows, under his chin, lower belly) where his fur is thin and fine- downy, almost. It's not that fur is missing, so much as it's just much finer and than anywhere else. You can definitely see skin through it. Should I be concerned about ringworm, or is this normal? There aren't any scaly patches, and it's symmetrical (e.g. both elbows in front). I've always had long-haired cats in the past, so I'm not sure what to expect.

Thanks so much for your help! I can tell that you guys are both extremely loving and extremely knowledgeable pet owners, so your advice will be much appreciated! :)

krdahmer
September 3rd, 2007, 11:25 AM
First off Welcome! And we'd love to see pics of the little guy.

I have a few suggestions and answers...
1. The agression thing. My vet told us that when kittens play too rough rather than scruff them or distract them, another option is to hiss at them, it is something they understand and will react to, it has worked great on one of ours.

2. I'm not really sure about that one cause I've never had a problem introducing solid foods.

3. Here we spend $150-200/month, but we have 6 cats, one that sees the vet a lot, use very good litter and somewhat expensive food. You can spend as little as $20-30/month on just one cat that is healthy. Just remember to factor in the cost of spay/neuter and all the first shots (or adoption fee).

4. That is really a question for your vet.... it may be that the fur will fill in later, or there could be something going on with the skin in those areas. Maybe the kitten is over grooming those spots?

Again welcome to the site and best of luck with the little guy!:D

ancientgirl
September 4th, 2007, 11:51 AM
Hi all! I'm new to this forum, and I have a few kitten questions. My roommate and I are fostering a wonderful kitten named Magellan. We've had him since he was found at three weeks old. He's now five and a half weeks old, we think, and he's just a lovely kitten, happy and very friendly with people. We're still bottle-feeding him, but he's figured out the litter box thing, and he's quite steady on his feet and can even climb onto my bed. Here are my questions (with the ones I'd most like answers to first):

1. How to deal with play aggression- he's gotten to the point where he gets into playful moods and will play with a toy, or, if no toy is proffered, he'll play with us. Before when I've fostered, and growing up at my parents' house, all the kittens I've taken care of have had litter-mates to play with, so this hasn't been TOO much of an issue. Also, I've never dealt with a kitten who's been taken from his or her mom so early. So I've looked around the internet and on these forums, and I've found pretty conflicting advice. Some people say that when you are taking care of a young kitten who won't have a mom to teach him how to behave, you have to be pretty firm- scruffing him when he tries to bite you, or holding him down gently until he seems subdued. But other people, especially people on this forum in the relevant posts I could find, say that at this age that kind of treatment is inappropriate. They say you should just divert his attention to a toy or avoid him when he's bitey if you can't spare the time right at that moment to play with him and a toy (just to clarify, Magellan never bites us when we're dangling a toy for him). Can anyone give some insight as to what's really best at this age? He's so small that I don't really mind the biting (although my roommate could do without it), so mostly my concern is that I want to make sure he doesn't learn incorrect behavior, given that he's been apart from other cats since 3 weeks old.

2. Does anyone have any tips for making solid food more interesting for him? We've already tried mixing KMR into it. He'll maybe take one lick, or play with it with his paws for a little bit, then go away. We've tried putting it on a finger and trying to get him to lick it, but he's just not interested.

3. I'm seriously considering adopting him, rather than sending him back to the (no-kill) shelter that's been having us foster him. One of my concerns is that I'm a grad student and have a somewhat tight budget. I have an emergency fund just in case in a savings account, so I'm less concerned about the possible but unlikely crisis than about the everyday expenses. Does anyone have an estimate for how much you pay for one cat's expenses every year (or month, if that's easier)?

4. This is probably just me being neurotic, but he has a few areas (elbows, under his chin, lower belly) where his fur is thin and fine- downy, almost. It's not that fur is missing, so much as it's just much finer and than anywhere else. You can definitely see skin through it. Should I be concerned about ringworm, or is this normal? There aren't any scaly patches, and it's symmetrical (e.g. both elbows in front). I've always had long-haired cats in the past, so I'm not sure what to expect.

Thanks so much for your help! I can tell that you guys are both extremely loving and extremely knowledgeable pet owners, so your advice will be much appreciated! :)


Welcome to the board! What a wonderful little name he's got. I'm a pretty new kitty mom too, but I can tell you what I've experienced.

1. Vlad had a problem with this about 2 weeks after I brought him home. I tried diverting his attention with toys as well as just stopped playing with him, but hid biting was getting serious. When I took him to the vet for his shot one day he bit the bet tech. After apologizing to her I told her he was having issues. She showed me to take him gently and hold his mouth closed, and firmly say NO to him and not let him go for a few seconds, then put him down and walk away from him. I did this a few times and he stopped biting. He still play bites, but not as hard as he used to, and I know when he does start nipping to ignore him. Vlad was taken from his litter mates at a very young age, so he had no clue how to play fight. He still gets a little too rough with Oksana, who did have her litter mates until about 8 weeks. But she runs away from him and hisses. Also, in the evening she does her share of lunging and biting at him and he just sits and takes it, so I guess its his way of letting her get some wackes at him.

2. I started experimenting with different flavors and brands of food. It took me some time but I now have a good idea what they like and don't like. Maybe you may have to do the same. I'm sure though he will eat when he gets really hungry. Perhaps your vet can suggest something that might appeal to him, or at the very least give you some kind of a supplement.

3. Until about 3 weeks ago, I was taking the Dynamic Duo for their regular booster shots. This was every 3 to 4 weeks and it lasted about 6 months. So during this time I spent about $35/$50 each, for their exam and shot and any treatment they needed. Vlad's ears had to be treated several times for ear mites he'd had from before I even brought him home, and Oksana had worms when I first got her, so she had been treated for that.

I spend about $20 to $30 a month for their litter. I use Swheat Scoop, which is a natural litter with no chemicals. It costs a little more but I feel good knowing it has nothing that can harm them in case they should get curious and eat it LOL. Food is another $60/$120 a month, more or less, but I have two so you might not spend as much.

4. I'm not sure about this one. Both Vlad and Oksana had their full coats when I got them, but yours is still so small you might just want to check with the vet to make sure he's got no health issues.

I hope this helps.

CyberKitten
September 4th, 2007, 08:44 PM
What you see as aggression may just be kitten playfulness. If you think it is aggression though, you should discuss it with your vet. Most kittens respond to what their feline mamas would do - hiss at them, make a huge noise or blw at them and say no!! They will soon know when to stop. Cats are extremely smart!

Re their food, again many kittens will play with their food until they get used to it. This one is just young so give him time and praise him when he eats the way he is supposed to, Do not expect too much too soon. Bottle babies like him can sometimes take longer if only because they dfo not have other kittens and mama to watch.

I would ask the vet about the hair loss if that is what it looks like. It is unlikely ringworm but sometimes cats and kittens will lick at their fur until it is not there. Alternatively, they will lick other things - he does not have his mama to nibble on and is not suckling on you either (some kittens will suckle on wool - a condition called pica) so perhaps he is licking his own fur as a substitute. It's hard to say but I wold definitely ask the vet when you bring him in for his next round of vaccinations and check up.

Good luck!! I have raised more than a few bottle babies and they really grab a sopecial place in your heart!