Spring brings too many kittens
It's kitten season. Here are some tips on how to care for and train a new kitten.
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Many animal rescue agencies are bursting at the seams with cats and kittens now through the summer.
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that in seven years, an unspayed female cat and her kittens can produce 420,000 cats.
Rescue groups and volunteers diligently work at spaying/neutering and trying to find new homes for the felines.
However, many cats across the country don't make it. It is estimated that it costs Americans $2 billion a year to impound, shelter, euthanize and dispose of homeless animals.
If you are thinking about bringing a new feline family member into your home, consider adopting from a shelter or rescue organization. You will get a cat that is spayed/neutered and fully vetted.
If you already have a cat that needs to be spayed or neutered, check with local animal shelters, rescue groups and animal welfare organizations for clinics and discounts.
BRINGING A NEW KITTY HOME
If you do adopt and have questions about how to care for and train your new kitten, the folks at Hill's Pet Food have some answers for you.
They suggest that you take a little extra time to shape the behaviors and personality you want your cat to have as an adult. Early training goes a long way in keeping your new little friend out of trouble and in your home.
• Provide fresh water and nutritious food for your new friend.
• Don't make the cat afraid of you. Realize that punishment does not work. Harsh behavior on your part will damage your relationship and lead to more serious problems. Never hit a kitten. Interrupt the bad behavior, such as scratching furniture, with a spray of water or a sharp noise.
• Make sure the kitten's bedding is soft, washable and placed in a basket or small box in a cozy or sunny corner. Cats sleep up to 18 hours a day.
• Provide toys. They don't have to be fancy or expensive. Crumpled paper and Ping-Pong balls are great toys. Think noise and anything that moves easily. Keep cats away from toxic plants and other hazards.
• Use a carrier for taking the kitten to the vet, pet-sitter or when traveling.
• Provide an identification tag and required registration information such as rabies tags on a collar that has some slack but doesn't slip over the cat's head. Consider getting a microchip ID.
• For a one-cat home, provide two litter boxes, especially if you have a two-story home, and scoop out waste daily. Put it in a quiet, out-of-the-way place and don't move it. Call the vet if your cat goes outside the box. It might indicate an illness.
• Introduce your new cat to other animals in the household calmly. Make sure you have a "safe room" for at least two weeks where the animal can feel safe from other pets. The room should include the cat's food, litter, toys and scratching equipment. Play with your new cat in the room, giving it one-on-one time with you. It will help the cat feel accepted and forge a bond between the two of you.
• Pet Health Topics from WSU College of Veterinary Medicine: http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/ClientED/
Healthy Cats information from American Veterinary Medical Association: http://www.avma.org/animal_health/CatsRule/default.asp
Seattle Humane Society: http://www.seattlehumane.org/
Purrfect Pals: http://www.purrfectpals.org/
Seattle Animal Shelter: http://www.seattle.gov/animalshelter/
Animal Alliance of WA: http://www.animalalliancewa.org/
Seattle Times staff contributed to the resource list