Kitten Pointers

Here are some pointers that will make the transition from our home to yours a little easier…

New Home

Your kitten in a new home:
“Strange place – New Owners – its normal for your new kitten to seek shelter in its new environment.  If possible, confine the kitten to one room (with food, water, litter box and a comfy place to sleep) until it becomes used to his or her the new place to live.  Spend quality time with the kitten.  If there are children in the household, keep an eye on their interaction, especially if they are under age three.  Young children don’t know the difference between stuffed animals and the real thing.  Unsupervised interactions could be hazardous for both.  After the kitten feels comfortable, gradually introduce it to the rest of the house.  If you have other pets, be sure to monitor their interactions also.  Established cats can be territorial (especially females), but will usually tolerate the new addition after a short time.  (Be sure not to neglect established cat(s).)


Food

Changes in diet can be disruptive to the digestive tract and result in “da poops.”  There are lots of quality cat foods available.  If you change their diet, we recommend phasing it in over about a week.  And Coons can eat!  But they are usually self-limiting and probably won’t pig out.  We keep the dry food bowl full and feed them a small can of wet food in the morning and again in the evening.  If they don’t eat it all, pick it up and put it down later.  If they appear like they are gaining too much weight, limit the availability of dry food and discuss it with your vet during your next visit. Coons also enjoy the occasional treats, but please don’t feed them kitchen scraps.  (If you don’t want to eat it, they shouldn’t either).

Litter Boxes

Coons can also poop!  We suggest buying the biggest litter box available.  A box with a top tends to keep the odor down. There are even some fancy, “self-cleaning” litter boxes on the market, but we are old style.  (Fewer moving parts, the less to break.)  As far as litter, we find the self-clumping type, like Tidy Cats, works fine.  We only use the non‑clumping clay-type litter when the kittens are really small and ingestion can be an issue - it's more of a hassle.  But if you are concerned about the environment, it may be more to your liking.  (Clay litter is compostable.)  Keep a container for the balls of stuff nearby and clean the box at least twice a day.  It won’t take long to learn your kitten’s schedule.  Introduce the kitten to the new litter box.  They are completely litter-box trained, and errant messes shouldn’t be an issue, as long as they know where the box is and can get to it. .  You may want to put a mat under the box to catch the litter that escapes the box.


Water

Coons like water (unless, of course, you want to wash them).  Don’t be surprised if you find food, pieces of paper, toys or chunks of unknown stuff in the water bowl.  Some coons love to play in the water bowl or test the water with a paw before drinking.  Unfortunately these habits can sometimes introduce unwanted bugs to the digestive tract – especially if the bowls are dirty.  We recommend rinsing out the bowl daily and filling with clean water.   Other liquids like cow’s milk, cream (and whipped cream) can also cause the poops.  But using them as a treat every now and then (in small quantities) shouldn’t be an issue.  The saying “moderation is key” applies to cats as well as humans.

Hazards and Scratching Posts

Maine Coons are like 4-legged two-year-olds – which means they can get into trouble twice as fast! Their curiosity and playfulness sometimes leads them to undesirable places and things that we don’t want them into.  Just as you would if a toddler was running around, kitten-proof your house as much as possible.  Secure or move those heirlooms and breakables that the kitten “could never reach.”  Keep the toilet seat cover down – they could drown or drink untreated water.  Beware of open widows without screens.  (Coons love to chase flying insects.)  Dangling chords could entangle or choke.  And, of course, cats (some more than others) like to scratch anything that feels good – screens, furniture, curtains, bed spreads, walls, poles.  Scratching posts provide a good alternative to your couch.

Discipline

Coons are smart, and can easily learn what “no” means.  (Of course they can be stubborn, too.)  Enter the water spray bottle.  When your kitten is doing something undesirable, say “no” (or something similar – but be consistent) in a stern voice.  If they continue, follow it up with a squirt of water and another “no.”  Initially you may even want more than one bottle strategically placed.  It won’t take long for them to understand what “no” means.  (Compliance may take a while longer.)  Do not hit or scare your cat.  Friendly much preferred to wary.


Pet Insurance

We recommend you consider purchasing pet insurance.  It works like medical insurance for people.  Pay a yearly premium, and if your cat has an accident or needs emergency medical attention, the insurance will cover a percentage of the cost. 

Cat Carriers and Shipping

When you transport your cat, always use a cat carrier.  There are many on the market.  We suggest getting one for large cats (or small dogs).  They will grow into it.  Look for good ventilation, well secured door, sturdy handle and construction.  Some have wheels and collapsible handles to make transportation easier.  Carriers for airplanes must meet certain specifications.  Check with the airline as soon as possible before flying.  (Most airlines restrict the number of animals in the cabin or cargo at one time.)  The airline will undoubtedly charge a fee for carrying your cat with you in the cabin, and the carrier (with up to two cats inside depending on age) must fit (and stay) under the seat for the duration of the flight.  If the Coon will fit under the seat, it’s the least stressful way for it to fly. 


Toys

Kittens are playful.  They like fuzzy balls and wands you hold.  Crumple a piece of junk mail into a ball and they will come running.  (Just be careful the ball is not small enough to swallow.)  They also like chewing on things like plastic bags, magazines and newspapers.  We don’t recommend feather wands (although they like them), because the Coons usually rip apart and swallow the feathers.  Also be wary of balls and things that hang on a string, especially if the string is long or elastic.  If it can get wrapped around a body part when you are not watching, it probably will.  Toys on elastic ropes can be especially dangerous by cutting off circulation or air.  When constrained cats instinctively pull away, making matters worse.   Whatever toys you get, keep an eye on them and discard toys if they are getting ratty or pointy things like springs are showing. 

Play Structures and Hangouts

Coons like to climb things.  If you have the space, a climbing structure can be a nice alternative to the curtains.  Be sure they are sturdy and can stand the weight of a Coon climbing the side without tipping over. Coons love to hang out on the structure or on a shelf (furniture) by a window.  Whatever you provide, your Coon will probably appreciate it. 


Grooming

Coons have long hair, but not all Coons are alike.  Some are poof balls – some not so.  Some take meticulous care of themselves, and may require little grooming.    Regular brushing will help keep knotted fur, shedding and hair balls to a minimum.  A few minutes every day or two is usually all you’ll need.  Introduce your kitten early to grooming and it shouldn’t be a problem.  Wait until they are grown and you may also need to put on rose gloves.  Of course an alternative is to take them to a groomer every few months if you got a few extra bucks laying around.  Knotted fur is difficult to comb out and mostly impossible to brush.  It may be easier to simply remove knots (before they get too big) with scissors.  Blunt nose mustache scissors work well.  Combs should be designed for pets.  Stiff bristle boar brushes work well.  Although Coons like water, giving them a bath can be a challenge we  recommend filling the tub up so they can just stand with their head out of the water.  (Good luck.)  Sometimes Coons (both male and female) will get "stud tail" a greasy area at the base of the tail.  Normal shampoo will not remove this.  We recommend Les Poochs F&T degreaser for stud tail.  Their products are a little pricey, but work well.  We also recommend trimming at least the front claws every few months with a nail clipper designed for cats. Catch them when they are asleep and the task may be easier.  Push down on the edge of the paw to expose the nail.  Be careful not to cut off too much.  Cutting into the quick is very painful for the cat (or dogs or humans, too).  When it comes to cleaning teeth, we let the vet handle it once a year.  A few of the brushes and combs we use depicted below.

Under Foot

Coons love to attack toes (or anything that moves for that matter).  Thick socks or slippers help (stop the bleeding).  Coons also tend to cut you off when you are moving towards a counter or table, or run in front of you when you are walking.  Be careful you don’t step on the little darlings, especially on stairs – a really good way to ruin everyone’s day.  Coons love to be part of anything you are doing, so they tend to hang around your feet when you are at a sink.  You usually don’t even know the sneaky devils are there!  Most cats mature in about a year.  Coons take up to four.  Be prepared for a big kitten that may act more like a dog than a cat.  And expect company when sitting - anywhere!  Laps are fair game (when they feel like it, of course), and we wouldn’t have it any other way.


Personality

We are sometimes asked for a cat with a certain personality.  Like kids, all cats are born with different personalities, but one can look at the father and mother for basic traits.  But like kids, a cat is really a reflection of you, and what you put into the relationship.  All our kittens have innate potential, as they are raised "under foot" in a loving and supporting environment.  However you and the people immediately around you will ultimately have the most influence on the kitten’s personality.



Poisons

According to one web site, the following materials are poisonous for your cat:
     Canned tuna
     Dairy products
     Alcohol
     Grapes & raisins
     Caffeine (Our tom likes to eat coffee grinds out of the drip filter.  We try keep it away from him, but sometimes he sneaks a lick or two.  So far he is still with us!)
     Chocolate
     Sweetener Xylitol
     Fat and Bones (Cooked bones are brittle.  Raw chicken bones are often given to dogs, especially "down under", but it's a good idea to keep all bones away from cats.)
     Raw eggs
     Raw meat & fish  (All our cats like Ahi.  We give them a little every week.  So far no probs.)
     Dog Food (steady diet)
     Liver
     Cat treats (too many)
     Raw yeast dough
     People medicine.

There are many items around the house which can be poisonous or harmful to cats.  The following lists contain some of the more common items that should be kept away from your cat.

Household Items

1.   Antifreeze (Most common cause of poisoning by ingestion.  Attracted to the taste.  One teaspoon can kill.)
2.   Bleach
3.   Cleaning products, especially those with Phenol or pine oil
4.   Fabric softener
5.   Flea and tick products intended for carpets and upholstery, and some dips if consumed  
       (Read labels completely before using.)
6.   Liquid potpourri
7.   Medications intended for people, including pain relievers (aspirin, acetaminophen and  ibuprofen), antihistamines, sleeping pills, diet pills, heart preparations and vitamins
8.   Mothballs
9.   Oven cleaner sprays
10. Tobacco (nicotine)


Garage & Garden Items

1.   Baits (slug, roach, rodent)
2.   Cocoa bean shell mulch fertilizer
3.   Insecticides containing chlorinated hydrocarbons
4.   Moldy compost
5.   Pesticides
6.   Petroleum products


Critters

1.   Brown recluse spider (usually found in wood piles in Hawaii)
2.   Rodents killed by poison (anticoagulants destroy kidneys)
3.   Salamanders
4.   Toads


Harmful Foods

1.   Alcoholic beverages
2.   Avocados
3.   Chocolate
4.   Coffee
5.   Fatty foods (their liver whacks out)
6.   Garlic
7.   Grapes
8.   Gum, candy or anything sweetened with xylitol
9.   Macadamia nuts
10. Moldy or spoiled foods
11. Onions and onion powder
12. Raisins
13. Raw yeast dough
14. Salt
15. Tea leaves

Poisonous Plants

1.   Aloe
2.   Amaryllis
3.   Andromeda Japonica
4.   Asian Lily
5.   Asparagus Fern
6.   Australian Nut
7.   Autumn Crocus
8.   Azalea
9.   Belladonna
10. Bird of Paradise
11. Bittersweet
12. Black Locust
13. Branching Ivy
14. Buckeye
15. Buddhist Pine
16. Caladium
17. Calla Lily
18. Castor Bean
19. Ceriman
20. Clematis
21. Cordatum
22. Corn Plant
23. Cycads
24. Cyclamen
25. Daffodil
26. Daylily
27. Devil's Ivy
28. Dieffenbachia
29. Dumbcane
30. Easter Lily
31. Elephant Ears
32. Emerald Fern
33. English Ivy
34. Eucalyptus
35. Ferns
36. Fiddle-Leaf Philodendron
37. Gold Dust Dracaena
38. Florida Beauty
39. Foxglove
40. Glacier Ivy
41. Gladiolas
42. Golden Pothos
43. Heavenly Bamboo
44. Honeysuckle
45. Hurricane Plant
46. Hyacinth
47. Hydrangea
48. Iris
49. Jerusalem Cherry
50. Jimson Weed
51. Kalanchoe
52. Lantana
53. Lilies (all Lilium species)
54. Lily of the Valley
55. Lupine
56. Marble Queen
57. Morning Glory
58. Mother-in-Law
59. Mountain Laurel
60. Narcissus
61. Needlepoint Ivy
62. Nephthysis
63. Nightshade
64. Oleander
65. Panda
66. Peace Lily
67. Pilodendron
68. Poison Hemlock
69. Precatory Bean (rosary pea)
70. Privet
71. Red Emerald
72. Phododendron
73. Ribbon Plant
74. Sago Palm
75. Satin Pothos
76. Schefflera
77. Striped Dracaena
78. Sweetheart Ivy
79. Tulip
80. Water Hemlock
81. Wisteria
82. Yew
83. Yucca






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