Bringing your new kitten home can be a VERY
exciting time! However, rushing your kitten to have access to
your home before it is ready can be a very costly and frustrating
Most of the time, we forget
just what we are asking these young ones to do. They leave the
only home they have ever known. They leave their mother and
littermates. All of those things that give them security and
peace, we remove in a matter of moments. Sure you love them
and will care for them. But THEY don't know that. All
they know is that they are alone and have no idea where their family
This is one reason that
removing a kitten any earlier than 10-12 weeks of age is just asking
for a kitten with behavior issues. Mothers and littermates
teach young kittens how hard is too hard to bite. How much
play is too much and that no matter how much they want to play and
run around, when mother says it is time to stop for a bath, IT IS
BATH TIME! These are lessons best taught my mom, in a way that
the kittens best understand them.
This extra time also allows
kittens and moms to wean naturally and slowly. They learn how
and what to eat and where to eliminate all from carefully observing
their mother. My moms will actually pick up a kitten by the
scruff and bring it to a litter box or food bowl if they don't get
the idea right away.
Before its arrival
So, now that you have agreed to
leave the kitten with mom until the proper time, we will discuss
bringing your little one home. Before its arrival, make
sure you have the exact food its breeder was feeding. A total
change in its life, is not the time to introduce a new food as well.
Choose a small place for the kitten to call home. A bathroom
works well for the first week or so. Put in a litter box with
the same litter the breeder used. Put in a food and water bowl
which can't be easily tipped over. Do not put the food next to
the litter box. Opposite sides of the room work best.
Also, put in a fleece bed for the kitten to lay in. Getting a
towel from the breeder with the scent of the littermates can be
helpful for those first difficult nights away from home.
Make sure before you bring your
kitten home to make an appointment with a vet so that you can
swing by on the way home and get a fecal test, any shots that are
due and a Leukemia and Aids test. This will allow you to feel
better about the health of your new arrival. And if any
problem should be detected, you can let the breeder know immediately
so steps can be taken to correct the situation.
Coming Home -- Plan to spend some time
every hour or two with your new arrival. Arranging to pick
it up on a Friday or just before a long weekend works out great.
Don't be surprised if your kitten wants nothing to do with you.
It has no idea that you have just chosen it to join your family.
For all it knows, you just kidnapped it..:-) You need to teach
your kitten to allow being held and to allow touching. I do
this by gently scooping up the kitten holding two hands to support
its tummy and bringing it to your chest. If it fights to get
down, get it gently by the scruff and say, "no" gently and calmly.
Then bring it back to your chest and stroke it gently. If it
is particularly frightened, only hold it briefly and then praise it
gently as you let it back down. Don't let it jump from your
arms. Doing this frequently for short periods will teach it to
allow touching, but will not ask it to hold the position for long
enough for it to become panicked.
Plan for it to take a
minimum of two weeks to get your new kitten accustomed to its
new surroundings and your family. Make sure that each family
member spends time with the kitten while in its "safe" place.
That way it will get used to everyone in the household. As the
kitten becomes more calm and comfortable with your family and its
new home, you can introduce it for VERY short periods of time to a
slightly larger area. However, take it frequently back to its
"safe area" to eliminate. Otherwise, you will find your loving
kitten leaving you "presents" in the worst places. Avoiding
any marking is SO much better than trying to correct a bad habit.
When you introduce your kitten
to its larger area, they like to play with wand type toys and fuzzy
mice. "Wiffle" golf practice balls are also a favorite because
they roll so well. Again, remember to take the kitten
frequently to its "safe" area to eliminate. You can also place
extra litter boxes if your home is large. This will help the
little one get to the box in case it suddenly decides it needs to
You will find that before you
know it, your new arrival will be comfortable with its new
surroundings and your family. Allow a minimum of one month
adjustment time for the kitten and your family. Going into
Bengal "parenthood" knowing what to expect makes everything so much
easier to deal with. When I have had a call about a new
kitten, it is usually because they have allowed it run of the house
before it was ready and problems ensued.
As your kitten grows, it will
become VERY active. This is a definite part of the
breed. You need to plan regular interaction with your cat or
it will get bored and find some of your "things" to play with.
It is not unusual for Bengals to "go" on comforters and pillows (so
keep the bedroom doors closed). It is not unusual for them to
knock all of your "knik-knaks" all over the floor and play with
them. Toilet paper rolls are fair game as is drinking out of
the toilet (so keep the lid down). I have seen Bengals in that
"teen" period climb the blinds and hang from the curtains. All
of this behavior will diminish as it gets older. However, it
underscores the need for a "safe" room where the kitten/cat can be
while you are away. Any room that can be "Bengal-proofed" will
work. It should have a cat tree next to a window if possible.
That will allow it to look outside for stimulation while you are
away at work. I keep a round fleece cuddle bed on the top of
my computer desk. That is where my cats will lay instead of
standing in front of the monitor where I can't see :-)
I have never had to de-claw any
of my Bengals. I do regularly (every 3 weeks) trim their
nails. If you start this when they are young, they will
grow to accept it. They do not claw the furniture when their
nails are kept short. It also keeps them from clawing you or
your children accidentally when they are playing or trying to run
away. When they are small, regular nail clippers work well.
As they get older, toenail clippers or regular cat nail clippers
work well. I use a harness and leash to hold them and so that
they can't run away. If you have two people, this can be
easier. One can hold the kitten by the scruff and the other
trim the nails. I usually have to do it by myself and the
harness and leash method works for me. Be sure to praise your
kitty for allowing you to handle its feet!
I use flea control
regularly. My cats don't go outside, but do go to cat shows.
Also, fleas can jump on clothing and you can bring them inside.
Frontline works great and is long lasting. Revolution can also
be used, and is effective for worms and ear mites. I don't
believe it is as effective for fleas as Frontline though... So
I use Frontline and treat separately for worms or mites if I ever
Giving your kitten / cat a
bath can be challenging if you don't have a few tips to make it
easier. Make a relatively warm sink of water and place some
pet shampoo in the water so it is slightly sudsy. Then grab
your cat by the scruff and gently lower its rear into the water.
Take a cup and pour the warm water gently over the cat being sure to
avoid its head. When you have soaked it, rinse it off with the
same temperature water avoiding its head again. Wrap it while
still holding the scruff in a large towel. Hold it securely
while drying it. Place it in a warm room to finish drying.
Giving medication is
relatively easy if you stay calm. Speak softly to the cat to
calm it. Hold it by the scruff and put the medication into the
side of the mouth so it doesn't go down an airway. Try to
shoot it in the back of the mouth toward the side. Praise it a
LOT for being such a good kitty!
Spaying and neutering
can be done at any time. I suggest waiting until the kitten is
settled and it is no longer stressed from the relocation. Make
the appointment NOT to coincide with shots or other things that may
stress it. Spay and neuter is usually best done early.
They seem to recover more quickly and have less side effects.
So have the appointment made for about 3 weeks after arrival.
If your kitten has a "lapse"
in proper behavior, such as inappropriate elimination, put it
back in its "safe" area and slowly reintroduce it to the larger
areas as it proves it can handle it. You may need extra litter
boxes if your home is large. NEVER let your kitten play rough
or bite or scratch during play. This will be something you
will REALLY regret later on!
Above all, enjoy your new
addition! Even though kitten-hood can be trying, it can also
be a lot of fun! Enjoy it, it is all too brief.