Friday, 17 January 2014

Kitten Diaries – Meeting James Cat

A while ago, Hubble & Hattie's Kim and her partner Dan adopted a kitten to join their family, which already consisted of a relatively easy-going feline named Leonard McCoy.
 Over the next few months, Kim documented how the kitten settled in, and how he got on with his new big brother. Read on for the first installment of the Kitten Diaries!

It was a big decision for us to get a kitten. Cats are usually solitary animals, and we already have a lovely cat by the name of Leonard McCoy. But, since he was a kitten, Leonard's not been the most ordinary cat ...

Before we moved home last year, Leonard could often be found in our neighbour's house, playing with their cat, Sam. If he wasn't there, he was in the garden playing with Lily, another cat friend from a few doors down.

After the move, however, Leonard didn't have as many cats to play with. We'd see him with a little tabby from time to time, but not as often as before. Leonard's longest-standing cat relationship to date is with the big black manx cat who lives on our road ... they can often be seen squaring up to each other and making a lot of racket, despite Leonard being half the size of this bruiser! Needless to say, they're not really the best of friends.

It was this, predominatly, that made us think about getting a kitten to keep Leonard company. Obviously, having a new cat in the house was going to be a lot different that playing with one in the garden, and we knew we'd have to tread carefully and take things slowly if we wanted Leonard and the new guy to be friends, and for Leonard to feel comfortable with another cat on his turf. We started doing some research and weighed up the pros and cons, but we were still on the fence.

My sister was in the market for a kitten herself, and around this time a friend of hers informed her that she had a litter of four looking for homes. They were about six weeks old at the time, so they'd be ready for their forever homes a couple of weeks later. I went along to check them out and help my sister, who's never owned a cat before, to see that they were all healthy and happy before she decided to keep one.

They were fab little kittens, very bouncey, very cute, and very cuddly. One in particular curled up in my lap within minutes of me sitting down, and fell asleep for about half an hour! I knew then that this little kitten would be coming home with us ...

Time for more discussions! Originally we were looking to get a girl kitten, and the fellow who fell asleep in my lap was a boy. After some more research, however, the general opinion appeared to be that gender wasn't really a matter of conflict, and it was down to the cat's personality whether they would get on or not. Confident that Leonard would get used to another cat relatively quickly, and aware that we would have the kitten neutered when he was old enough, it appeared a descision was made.

We were about to become a two cat household!

We decided to name the new kitten James T Cat (James Cat for short), to continue the Star Trek theme that we seem to have adopted for our pets. Leonard "Bones" McCoy continued with his day-to-day life, unaware that we were hatching secret plans to sneak James Cat into the house without him knowing ...

The big day arrived. We'd kept the door to the room we were to keep James Cat in closed for a week
before we got him, so Leonard would be used to not going in there and not suspect anything was up if it were suddenly off-limits to him.

It's important to have a separate space for your new kitten, for the benefit of both cats. It means that the new guy has somewhere to retreat to and he feels is safe when he starts to explore, and also means that while the existing cat becomes accustomed to the new smell, the rest of his territory is still his, and the kitten is out of harm's way.

We were going to collect James Cat in the evening, so that morning we set up a litter tray and bowls
ready so we could get the kitten in and settled as quickly as possible.

We asked Dan's sister if she could bring James Cat into the house for us and get him settled in his room while we played with Leonard downstairs in the kitchen. This way, we hoped that Leonard would pick up James Cat's scent behind the door, but not associate it with us ... the last thing you want is your existing cat thinking that you are responsible for bringing an intruder in to his house!

Once Leonard had gone out for a bit and everything had calmed down, we went up to visit James Cat.
He was very playful, but very tired, and seemed quite happy to turn in for a good long sleep. Leonard came up a little while later and completely ignored the strange mews and smells from behind the door, which we took as a good sign!

We weren't sure how Leonard would take to this little bundle of scratchy feet and fur, but it wouldn't be long before we were to find out ...

Next time: Leonard McCoy, meet your brother!

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