What to expect when you’re expecting…a kitten

For over a year, I’ve been bugging the boy for a kitten. He kept giving me excuses like, “We’re not employed yet” or “We’re out of town too much.” You know, logical arguments like that.

Well eventually the planets aligned and we had no more excuses. We are employed. We are home for the most part until frisbee season starts. So we started the process of looking for our new kitten!

I liken this process to what new mothers must go through. I’m sure in reality it is nothing like what prepping for a baby is like, but it is as close as most of us unmarried, 20-something women get to nesting.

First step was looking up names. We had heard that cats respond best to names ending in an “eee” noise, and were thinking of getting a boy cat, so those were our only two requirements. I love old and unique or Harry Potter names. The boy vetoed the latter, so we went with a historical, unique name. Google searches led us to baby name blogs. And let me tell you, if people are using the names on these blogs, there will be some strange names in the future generation.

After collecting some potential names (Remy was a top contender) we finally just went to a Wikipedia entry with a list of Civil War generals. The boy is a Civil War reenactor, so this seemed apropos. Partway down the list we stumbled upon Turner Ashby, the cavalry general for Stonewall Jackson who was known for riding an either all white or all black horse and for his guerrilla tactics. We were sold. Ashby it is!

Next step was to go get all the equipment. I wanted our apartment ready for kitten once we brought him home. There would be no scrambling for toilet rolls to amuse him while we went to buy food. Here’s what we got:

Kitty bed, Scratching post (made from renewable seagrass), stick toy, and ball
Kitty bed, Scratching post, stick toy, and ball

Because our apartment is mostly carpeted, we went with a scratching post that was not made of carpet material so Ashby would not get confused about what was ok to scratch. Also the fact this was made of renewable resources was pretty awesome.

Extra toys- catnip mice, more balls, a feather attachment for the stick toy
Extra toys: catnip mice, more balls, a feather attachment for the stick toy
Food and treats for kitty!
Food and treats for kitty!

Food was one area in which I needed to do some research. My cats growing up had stomach issues which meant they had to eat Science Diet sensitive stomach  food without any dyes. As far as what a normal cat would like eating, I imagined they would appreciate dye-free but I didn’t really know what else. What I found was that cats, like most animals, can’t digest corn. Out go any cat foods with corn.

Another thing I found was protein is the most important nutrient for cats. Some pet food brands like to put in whole grains and vegetables to appeal to we humans’ ideas of a balanced diet but it’s just not the same for cats. They’re carnivores, they just need a lot of meat. So the first ingredients must be meat (turkey, chicken, rabbit, or fish preferably) or meat meal, but not meat by-product. A by-product could be anything. Gross.

Dry or wet foods are both fine for kitten. Wet is good for keeping kitty hydrated, while dry is good for teeth. We’re going to feed Ashby a mix, throwing in the occasional treat 🙂

I really liked the articles on Raising Happy Kittens on food and health, check them out for more info.

Shampoo and claw trimmers
Shampoo and claw trimmers

Grooming a short hair kitty (which is our preference) is easy. Their hair doesn’t really mat, they keep themselves clean naturally, and really only need brushing around shedding season, if at all! Still, kitties get dirty and smelly, so we picked up a sensitive shampoo for kitten. Starting them with baths early in life makes it much easier later in life.

The other grooming task is kitty’s claws. Since our Ashby won’t have access to the outdoors (a third floor apartment makes that difficult), his claws will stay sharper longer. A little pair of trimmers will mean less scratches on his parents, their furniture, and a happier kitty.

Litterbox- a must
Litterbox- a must
A kitty carrier for picking up Ashby from the shelter, going to the vet, and other adventures
A kitty carrier for picking up Ashby from the shelter, going to the vet, and other adventures

All said, we spent about $150 for Ashby’s equipment, which is slightly more expensive than the hamster I kept while in college, but definitely more fun than a hamster. It will be interesting to see how long kitten food will last, and what toys Ashby will like playing with. MEOW!

Next time: Ashby’s first days at home!

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