This is one of, if not THE, most important steps in making sure your new Prekrasne kitten gets off to a great start. The transition room is where your kitten will spend his or her important first days. This ensures the kitten feels secure, safe, knows where the litter box is located, is isolated from other household pets, and is not overwhelmed with new sights, sounds, and smells. Your kitten may take time to adjust. Some walk out of the carrier and own the place, but others can take days or even weeks to adjust to their new home. The older they are, the longer it normally takes. Just be patient and give your new kitty time. If they are nervous and hiding, try just sitting on the floor with a teaser toy or just reading a book.
The transition room should be a room like the bathroom, washroom, or an extra bedroom. The room should be set up with a litter box, food & water, and toys. Your kitten may not feel like eating much when he or she first arrives and not using the litter box for a bit is normal. That is why it is important to keep them in their room so when they do have to potty, their box is nearby.
Failure to take this important step can lead to litter box issues as your kitten struggles to find where to go in a new home, fear reactions as they could be overwhelmed with too much space, and aggression (even play aggression) if they become overstimulated. Remember, your kitten is a baby and babies need to take baby steps!
If you have another cat in the home, it is important to introduce them slowly. When your new kitten is in his/her room, feed the kitten and the resident cat on opposite sides of the door. That way they smell and hear each other and associate that with positive feelings and activities. Other ideas are to take a blanket or bedding from each kitten and place it with the opposite kitty. Again, you are letting them get used to the other cat's smells before making the introduction. Keep in mind, some hissing and hiding at first are pretty normal.
3. Siberian Proof Your House
Cats, like babies, will put almost anything in their mouth. Some are worse than others and many will be compelled to chew on plastic bags, shoes, etc. Some of the worst things are twist ties, hair bands, rubber bands, and string. These can get caught around the tongue or in the intestine and constrict around the organ and result in severe illness or death. Other objects can cause obstructions in the intestine. If caught in time, at best this means a costly surgical procedure but if not it can result in death. So, when kitties are in the house keep those items off the floor and put away in drawers. Other things to do are to get out the baby proofing supplies like electrical socket covers, cord covers, and child proof locks for those lower kitchen cupboards. Cats love to find places to explore and nothing beats getting in with the pots and pans. It might not hurt the cat, but you might not enjoy cooking with cat hair in your crock pot. Another thing to be extra cautious about is plants. Many plants and foods are toxic to your pets. Helpful links: Poisonous Plants Toxic Foods Linear Foreign Body Obstructions Home Safety for Your Pets
4. Cleaning Supplies
Kittens and cats will have the occasional accident. Unfortunately, cat urine has pheromones in it and this attracts your cat to come back to urinate again unless you really get rid of the odor. Keep in mind that just because YOU can't smell it, doesn't mean your cat can't. The best way to get rid of a cat odor or stain is by using a specially formulated enzyme cleaner. This should be CAT specific since cat urine is more concentrated than dog and harder to clean. Some good options include: Urine Off, Stink Free, and Anti Icky Poo. Cats often have accidents on items that are made of plastic or synthetic leather. This is because one of the components of these items is a product called Urea and it is chemically very similar to urine and to your cat, they are very very similar. So, keep that luggage in the closet, the back pack put away and get a real leather sofa instead of the fake. You'll be glad you did.
Siberians have a thick, triple layer coat. Like any cat, they shed and two times a year they molt the heavy coat. This means that regular grooming is needed to keep their coat in top shape. A good, metal greyhound style coat is a great all around tool for grooming your cat's coat. If you have allergies, regularly bathing will help keep the allergen levels in check - not only will the allergen deposits be minimized but any dead hair will be removed. We recommend a nice, oatmeal shampoo if you bathe your cat regularly. For a deeper cleaning that eliminates oil deposits and prevents matting, we have some suggestions:
Chris Christensen Spectrum 1 - I use this for my show grooming routine along with the Clean Start product. I dilute it so it is about 1:5 with water before bathing
Now, if you don't do a great job in the full grooming, your cat will lick themselves and redistribute the allergens which lurk in their saliva. The other 2 important steps are 1) rinse, rinse, rinse and then rinse some more. 2) blow dry until completely dry. If there is shampoo residue and/or your cat is partially wet, they will simply lick themselves again.
6. Nail Trimming
Trimming your kittens nails is part of keeping your cat and your furniture in good shape. Kittens should have their nails trimmed regularly so they don't overgrow, snag the carpet or furniture, or injure someone.
Your kitten can be conditioned to having their paws handled by gently massaging their paws to get them used to having them handled. This is best started when they are young. If they become used to having their paws handled, trimming nails is much easier and less stressful.
To trim the nails, you may use a special tool like that pictured or even just a regular pair of nail clippers you might use on your own nails. Be careful not to trim too far back because cutting the quick is painful and can cause bleeding.
Our Siberians eat a diet made up of high quality wet and/or raw foods with access to grain free dry as a supplement. Wet or raw are important because cats need a diet high in moisture and low in carbohydrates. Kibble diets, with only a few exceptions, are high in carbohydrates even if they are grain free. So we keep this to a minimum.
There are a variety of pre-made, commercial raw diets available including Rad Cat, Blue Ridge Beef, Bravo, and Stella & Chewy's. Nature's Variety and Stella & Chewy's also make a convenient dehydrated raw that is just reconstituted with water. There are also local options available for raw in many areas. Our cats enjoy the freeze dried foods reconstituted with warm water. A big favorite!
Canned options we like include Wellness, Weruva, Merrick, and Earthborn.
Finally, there are some grain free dries that we keep especially for some of our more stubborn adults to still prefer kibble. The favorite amongst the cats is Pure Vita, Fussy Cat, Fromm Family Chicken a la Veg, and Earthborn.
Diets that are made up of predominantly wet food are better for your cats urinary tract health. Other conditions such as diabetes are also increased with diets that are kibble heavy since the carbohydrates are converted to sugars which your cat does NOT need. Cats are obligate carnivores and their bodies are designed to process meat rather than grains.
Litter is a necessity and not something we typically spend much time thinking about. I do consider lots of things when picking a litter. I try to stick with natural litters when possible and I avoid those with artificial fragrances.
The litters I use most often are Feline Pine and World's Best Cat Litter. For those cats that are in need of a bit of encouragement to use the litter box (they have their moments), I use Dr. Elisey's Kitten Attract.
I find many people who are allergic are often allergic to pine as well as cats so for those folks I suggest World's Best Cat Litter or one of Dr. Elisey's low dust litters. Cats shed as much or more allergens in their feces as they do in their saliva so it's essential to keep the box clean and use a litter that won't aggravate other unrelated but bothersome allergies.
9. Litter Box
For the most part, we use a simple open litter pan for the cats here and they work fine. However, we do have some that are covered. There are some great, fancy covered boxes, but we find that the DIY versions work just as well for a fraction of the cost. You can find a good DIY on our Pinterest page. The Litter Robot is also popular but does require a bit of an investment.
Kitten behavior can be adorable and a naughty kittens is reason for laughs - until they aren't. Remember a few things:
Set boundaries. Your kitten won't do this on his/her own. You must let them know what is allowed and what is not. A firm NO will go a long way to curbing many behaviors.
Don't use hands/feet as toys. Your kitten cannot tell the difference between what is fun and what is now suddenly naughty and often painful.
Time Out. Yes, it helps with cats too. A firm NO followed by time out in a bathroom or other room by themselves until whatever stimulus passes.
Scratching. Provide lots of good, allowable scratchers in various forms. This means vertical scratchers for stretching and horizontal scratchers like a sisal doormat for just general scratching. If your kitty is looking at the new leather sofa, try some double sided tape.
As with humans, the teenager phase can mean being naughty and rambunctious especially with the young males. This is especially true of only cats. They get bored easily and will seek out activities which often include pouncing on some of their humans who they consider to be "cats". If a buddy is not in the cards for them, be sure to be firm in not allowing this behavior.
I will start off here by acknowledging that vaccination protocols are a sensitive topic. I am not a veterinarian and I don't pretend to be one. However, I do know my cats and what they are more sensitive to as far as things like anesthesias (we've had cats with allergic reactions to ketamine) and vaccines.
We do follow the basics of the AAFP guidelines for the core vaccines. Our kittens are placed in INDOOR ONLY homes and therefore their risk of exposure to many illnesses is minimal, so we believe that "less is more" as far as vaccinations go. We do also advise people to always follow their state, local, and municipal laws regarding vaccinations for rabies while also recognizing that some areas will accept rabies titres as a substitute (check with your vet and/or local health boards).
Per the AAFP, we also recommend the FVRCP 3-way vaccine. This is given typically at your pet's annual vet visit. The 4-way is more common now, but we've had kittens that have experienced some pretty significant reactions to the 4-way so we encourage talking to your vet about the 3-way.
Vaccines we do NOT recommend: FIP, Giardia, FIV, and Ringworm. We include a sheet on vaccines in our New Kitten Packages.
Cats need many opportunities to drink fresh water. They do not have a naturally high thirst drive and quite often we feed them diets that dehydrate them even further. When we include kibble in our cat's diet, this increases their need for water but this isn't something they instinctively crave. So, we need to make sure that we appeal to them and their desire for fresh, running water.
One of the best ways to help attract your cats to drink is to provide access to fountains. We all know cats love hanging out at the water faucets and sinks and fountains capture that desire for running water, but in a way that makes it available for them to drink regularly.
As with all water dishes, avoid plastic as it traps bacteria and can cause feline acne. There are some great options out there that are not only practical but beautiful. One of our very own Prekrasne family members has a business and they make stunning fountains that not only meet your cats' needs, but look like a sculpture to add beauty to your home. One of their fountains is pictured here. You can find more information on their website at Wet Whiskers Pet Fountains.