About Your Future Kitten

Ragdolls Are Only Indoor Cats

No Ragdoll should ever be let outdoors because they lack the natural instincts of most cats to defend or protect themselves. In addition, they wouldn’t be able to find their way back to your home.

No Ragdoll should ever be let outdoors because they lack the natural instincts of most cats to defend or protect themselves. In addition, they wouldn’t be able to find their way back to your home.

Before You Get a Kitten

                                                                                                                      by Dr. Jean Hofve, D.V.M.

                                                                                 (Please note that I have added a few things to Dr. Hofve’s article

                                                                                                                     which are applicable to quality care of Ragdolls.)

Congratulations!  If a kitten has appeared in your life, or if you’re considering adding a new feline family member to your household, you’ll definitely want to consider these important factors —

Four Things You Should Do Before Your Kitten Comes Home:

1)  Supplies and preparing a kitten-friendly environment

    You’ll need supplies to set up a “base camp” for your kitten especially if you have other pets at home, a “safe” room for the kitten is essential. This can be any a room, such as a spare bedroom or bathroom, or even a large dog crate, where the kitten will spend its first days in its new home.

You will need:

  • litter box, kitty litter and metal scooper to clean the box;

  • kitten food (wet food for daytime and kibble for nighttime),

    bowls (glass or lead-free ceramic are best);

  • toys;

  • comb and brush;

  • bed (a fluffy towel or blanket will work);

  • a scratching post.

  • other items that will come in handy are a hard plastic carrier, breakaway cat collar

     and identification tag.

You will also need to kitten-proof the base camp area and eventually kitten-proof the entire house:

    • Put “child-proof” electric plug protectors in all unused outlets.

    • Remove breakable items from shelves and tables, or secure them with mounting putty.  You’ll be amazed how fast and how high a kitten can jump or climb, and you’ll be grateful that you took these precautions!

    • Cover exposed wires with foam pipe insulation, or wipe with hot chili or Tabasco sauce (to prevent chewing).

    • Remove slotted furniture (such as chairs to prevent the kitten from getting his head caught).

    • Tie up blinds and curtain cords.

    • Remove all string, ribbon, rubber bands, hair ties, twisties, paper clips, tacks, along with any other small items that could be swallowed.

    • Be extremely cautious when using a recliner.  Make sure you know where the kitten is before getting up as too many kittens have been injured or killed by its mechanism.

    • Store house cleaning products, insecticides, etc., out of your kitten’s reach.  If needed, install child-proof latches on cabinets.  Consider switching to eco- and kitten-safe household products if you haven’t already!

2)  Learn How to Communicate and Establish Rules

    Animal communicator Kate Solisti has some sage advice on how to get to know your kitten and establish “house rules” to make life peaceful and fun:

    • Using mother cat’s communication techniques will work best. From birth until weaning, Mother is everything.  She is definitely “She-who-must-be-obeyed,” as well as the source of food and love.  But you are now “Mother Cat,” and for a few golden days or weeks, if you’re lucky, your kitten will pay attention to you and want to learn from you.  If you make the most of this precious time, you’ll have a loving relationship for life!

    •When you first bring your kitten home, give him lots of contact. Quiet yourself and get into a loving, soft space with your kitten.  Pet his face, starting on the side and sweeping down his body (see Jackson's post You're Petting Your Cat All Wrong).  This is how Mother Cat grooms.  Pay attention to the whole face and think how mother cat would lick her kitten.  Now your kitten clearly knows who you are!

    •Mother cat communicates clearly and decisively, and always with love and clarity.  She never punishes.  In fact, physical punishment is never appropriate!  If your kitten gets into plants or places you don’t want him to, it makes no sense from his perspective if you yell which will scare him, or just say “no” without demonstrating what “no” means.

    •When a kitten goes somewhere he’s not supposed to, Mother cat picks him up and moves him.  If you want to mimic Mother cat, gently pick your kitten up by the scruff and calmly take him to where he should be.  Put him down and pet his face to tail to let him know that this is where he’s supposed to be.  Note: scruffing should only be used when they are younger than about 10 weeks old.  After that, it’s offensive for them to be “treated like a baby!”  (But you can make an exception in an emergency if you need to hold or move the cat immediately.)  This is very effective if he is clawing his way up the sofa, drapes or your pant leg.  In fact, kittens get the message very quickly that this is NOT okay behavior.  Of course, you must provide scratching posts or other alternatives, because all cats will scratch—and, don’t even think about declawing!

3)   How to Introduce Your Kitten to other pets

    Your kitten should be isolated from other animals at first, but if you have other pets, eventually you’ll want to introduce them.  There’s a right way, and dozens of wrong ways, to accomplish this!  Please see Jackson Galaxy’s post How To Introduce Two Cats.

    If kitty’s base camp has a door, keep it closed to allow both the kitten and other pets sniff at each other under the door.  Feed your kitten and the other pets on opposite sides of the door (as close as possible without anyone getting upset or stressed).  This establishes an association between all the pets and something good—food!

    It’s great to exchange bedding between the kitten and other pets, or rub a towel on the kitten and allow the others to smell it, and vice versa.  This way they become familiar with each others’ scents–without the chances for a disastrous physical encounter. You can also change places—resident animal(s) in the kitten’s room, and let kitten explore the rest of the home.

    • The introduction process may take several weeks.  It’s vital that you do not rush it. Let the animals tell you when they’re ready for the next step (that’s usually when all the hissing or growling stops).  During this period, give the resident pets a lot of extra love and attention, so they don’t feel like their social status is threatened by the new addition.

    • When the animals all feel comfortable, crack open the door to base camp just a little bit, and let them to see each other.  Or, put the kitten in a carrier and bring it out so the others can see.  With cats, expect some hissing and growling at each step; it’s perfectly natural.  Do this a few times a day.  If any animal seems hostile or aggressive, go back to the previous step, and proceed more slowly.

Once things simmer down, it’s time to let the kitten out.

    • If you have a dog, leash it when the kitten is out and about.  Most dogs are fine, but occasionally a bouncing, small, furry kitten will trigger the hunting instinct in even the most placid dog. Please understand that you are not fast enough to stop a tragedy, so never allow that situation to occur.    

    Reward the dog for calm, non-aggressive behavior with plenty of praise and treats.  This helps the dog associate the kitten with good things.

    • For the first few weeks, until you are confident in all the animals’ behavior, separate them from the kitten when you are unable to supervise them (when you are out, or sleeping).

4)  Veterinary Care

    • Kittens need special care from your veterinarian — deworming and tests for infectious diseases such as feline leukemia and FIV (feline AIDS) before meeting resident cats.

    • Vaccination is controversial, and guidelines have changed.  It is no longer necessary to give annual vaccines; but kittens need core vaccines such as distemper (panleukopenia) and rabies to protect them from these fatal diseases.  Most kittens do not need leukemia, FIP, or FIV vaccines.

    Shelters typically give the first panleukopenia vaccine.  Talk to your vet about which vaccines are appropriate, and on what schedule.  Vaccines should be given one at a time, at least two weeks apart.

    If your kitten is not already microchipped, please have this done.  Even if you aren’t planning to let your kitten outside, accidents and escapes happen!  A microchip is “cheap insurance” that lasts a lifetime.  Ideally, have the chip placed slightly off midline to avoid acupuncture meridians, and give a dose of homeopathic Ledum 30C afterward to prevent an adverse reaction.

    And finally, if your kitten is not already sterilized, please spay or neuter!  It’s better for health reasons as well as to curb pet overpopulation.

This post is by Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM, holistic veterinarian and original founder of Spirit Essences holistic remedies for animals, now known as Jackson Galaxy Solutions.

Tips To Make Your Ragdoll Cat Happy and SAFE

1. When holding or picking up your cat or kitten, always put hand under back feet  

(cupping rear) and the other hand under front feet (also holding chest with your other fingers).

    Hold kitten next to your chest.  All of these steps will make your cat feel safe.

    NEVER pick up a cat or kitten by the stomach or underbelly because this can

cause intentional problems.

2.  Stroke very lightly…not like petting a dog.

3. When you want your kitten to go to sleep, gently stroke top of head and sides of face.  They also like you to lightly stroke under his or her chin.  I also lightly run my hand over their back.

4. Hands are ONLY for “good.”   NEVER discipline using your hands, however you may use your hands to block an action.  And, hands should NEVER be used in play.

5.  Always reach down UNDER their face.  You may have visited other people’s home and when you reached down to pet an animal, he or she ducks his or her head.  That occurs because the owner has most likely frightened the animal by unexpectedly reached down to the top of his or her head. It’s best to let an animal sniff your hand first, and then (assuming you have permission) you reach under the jaw to stroke each pet.

6. When traveling, ALWAYS put your cat or kitten in a closed crate because if you ever have an accident or get out of your vehicle, your pet may escape and then panic.  Also, by being safely enclosed in a hard plastic crate, if the car was ever crushed, your cat would have protection.

    Make sure your crate is large enough for he or she to turn around and stand up, but not so large that they can be thrown around inside (in case a crash occurs).

7.  Close all toilet lids.

8. I keep all kibble in a dark, cold place.  I put any opened canned cat/kitten food in the refrigeration (tightly sealed).

9. I’ve been feeding kittens on a flat dish, kibble and water in small bowls.  Before I serve the kitten canned food, I heat it in the microwave for  about 7 to 9 seconds (depending how much I serve because I only want it to become the same temperature as your cat’s tongue…not hot).

    If your kitten doesn’t eat his or her canned food within an hour, remove it.

    Keep kibble available at night only.  This is because I’ve found that most Ragdolls prefer kibble to canned food and if kibble is always available, they learn to eat canned food during the daytime.  

    You’ll want your cat to consume wet food because they need the moisture, along with the fact that if you ever need to provide an antibiotic, etc. you’ll be able to hid in in their canned food.  

    Also, another very important reason —  

I sprinkle a little probiotic (Purina ProPlan Veterinary Diet Probiotics Cat Supplement, “FortiFlora,” a feline nutritional supplement) each time I serve wet food.  This keeps their intestinal tract balanced.

     Always provide fresh water.

11.  I always put Vetoquinol Felovite II Oral Gel Vitamin & Mineral Cat Supplement with Taurine on each cat’s and kitten’s leg every day.  You may purchase from your vet or on the internet because one never knows when a cat/kitten won’t want to eat or can’t eat.  By putting about a 1/4” of the gel (read instructions for correct amount) on a cat’s/kitten’s leg, he or she will lick it off.  At least, in emergencies, your cat/kitten will receive immediately quality nutrition.  

    I also keep Kitten Replacement Milk (KRM) handy if more or another type of nutrition is required.  I store both in the refrigerator or in a cold, dark place...until needed.

Declawing (or actually de-knuckling)

I strongly recommend that Ragdoll cats should not be declawed as I’ve seen declawed cats develop arthritis.

Animal shelters have noted that the main reason cats are brought in is because declawed cats may become more aggressive (i.e. acting out with their teeth since they have no claws).

Before you make the decision to declaw your cat, there are some important facts you should know. Declawing is not like a manicure. It is serious surgery. Your cat's claw is not a toenail. It is actually closely adhered to the bone. So closely adhered that to remove the claw, the last bone of your the cat's claw has to be removed. Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat's "toes." When you envision that, it becomes clear why declawing is not a humane act. It is a painful surgery, with a painful recovery period. And remember that during the time of recuperation from the surgery your cat would still have to use its feet to walk, jump and scratch in its litter box regardless of the pain it is experiencing.

The following website "Cat Scratching Solutions"  provides many solutions as well as and insight into the psychology of why cats scratch. You can teach your cat to use your scratching posts (sisal posts are by far the best). You can trim the front claws. You can also employ aversion methods. One of the best solutions is Soft Paws® which are nail caps.