The budgie sitting on my shoulder is helping me write this. His name is 'Oscar' and he would like to tell you that budgies are way cooler than kittens.
Personally, I would like to tell you that they are both fabulous additions to the family.
Possum, the kitten, is a fabulous, lively friend who teases the crap out of my children. We are all adorned with scratches on our legs and hands. She takes great delight in running vertically up our legs, which she did to me five times this morning!, with a maniacal look in her eye. I'm pretty sure she enjoys the adrenalin rush! One day she ran up my legs and on up my back, to hang on my jacket, thank goodness I was wearing a denim jacket, and hung where I could not reach her. She thought it was a huge joke!
This is where I tell you to find a really good local pet shop to buy all your supplies from. (We adopted our kitten from the SPCA, only because the local pet store did not have any kittens at the time).
Since we were 'virgins to the world of cats' we have found our pet store owner a valuable source of guidance. She told us what we would need, which were the best foods, how often to feed the kitten, and how to introduce the collar.
Once you have your pet you will need to find your family's veterinarian. If you don't know where you local one is, have a look in the yellow pages, find the nearest, and go visit. If you don't like the look of the place of the feel, move on and find another one. You must be comfortable with your vet, otherwise do not expect your pet to be.
So, let's talk about what to expect with a kittenÂ…
They are like children, mischievous, inquisitive and adventurous, but, like children, they can be taught what is acceptable behavior and what is unacceptable. Not through swipes and smack, but through use of a firm vocal 'No' and through teaching them what words like 'up' and 'down' mean.
You can buy sprays to prevent your cat or dog climbing on things or going near your plants. They don't like the smell and will learn not to go near those places. (Let's just say that we purchased the spray too late to save the lace curtains in my lounge.)
When a pet, such as a kitten, is clawing up your leg you can blow firmly in his or her face and say 'No. Down.' And if that does not seem to teach them then get a water spray bottle and when she does it again give her a spray in the face with the spray set of 'fine spray'. Cats don't particularly like water and this is an easy, and harmless, way of teaching them. The fifth time Possum ran up my leg this morning she got a spray of water in the face, and did not do it again.
Just as with a child, you do not want your pet to be afraid of being hit, and that is why alternative methods of teaching should be found. You have to find what will work for you.
Possum, now aged 13 weeks, has just had her first visit to the vet. We were all there with her, and she seemed unafraid, though looking for a way down off the examination table. She had her first 'shot' and was fine afterwards. The reason I suggested finding the closest vet is because you have to put your kitten in a kitten-carry-box or a cat cage in order to take them to and from the vet, and they can get a bit stressed. You really don't want a stressed cat trying to claw out of the box on the way home. The faster you can be there and home again the better.
What is the secret to a happy healthy kitten? Lots of love, but don't smother her, and a good healthy diet. If you don't know which foods are the best call in and ask your local vet or ask your local pet store owner.
I am shamed to admit that Possum quite likes to lick a tiny amount of dairy whip off my daughter's finger, as a real treat.
Possum seemed content to sleep in her bed downstairs when she first joined our family, but would not settle and behave in my daughter's room. After a couple of weeks we gave her the chance to sleep in my daughter's room either in her own bed or on my daughter's bed. The first night she did not behave and we put her back downstairs, the next night she was fine. It's a new thing for her, so sometimes she is more interested in playing, read 'biting', so we have nights where she sleeps on the bed and behaves, but wakes ready to play at 6.30 a.m. and nights where she is a bit feisty and has to be put back downstairs.
Possum is a welcome addition to our family, and she is much loved by us all. And, just as with my children, she is learning what is allowed and what is not allowed. Cats are so much easier than dogs!