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Kitten Care


Bring Home Kitten

Bringing your Kitten Home

This is a very exciting time for you and it has been a long wait but now your kitten is coming home! The first thing you need to remember is that your kitten will be very scared and his/her whole life has just been changed.  Bringing a kitten home can be so exciting that you want to rush in to playing with him/her and let him run the house, but for a safe and happy transition you must have patients and do a few things before you let your kitten run the house.

 

Due to their wild heritage, early socialization and a smooth transition into their new homes is essential for new kittens and Cats. It will take a little time for your kitten to adjust to his new home. Remember, everything that the kitten has grown accustomed to having has now been changed and they are confused. Before you bring your new kitten home, you should set up a small, quiet room, such as a bathroom, where he/she cannot hide under anything or get hurt. 

 

 

Preparing your home.

 

At a minimum you should make sure to have on hand the following: 

 

(1) A cat litter box. 

 

(2) Water and food bowls. 

 

(3)  A sampling of the food your kitten has been eating. We will send home food that we currently feed so they will adjust easier.

 

(4) A scratching post. This is very important as kittens love to scratch.  The more you have the better.

 

(5) A bed and blanket.

 

 

(6)  Plenty of safe toys for both of you to play with!

 

 

(7) A veterinarian picked out and ready when you need them.

 

It is very important that your new Kitten remain isolated for a minimum of two weeks to allow for adjustment to its new home. Each cat/kitten will differ in the time that it needs to acclimate to its new family and new surroundings. Your cat/kitten needs to feel safe and secure to develop a bond with you so that he/she trusts you.  It is also important that it bonds to you before getting to know other animals in the house or it might not bond to you.

 

 

Savannah Proofing Your Home

 

Just like having a child you must “Savannah” or “Child” proof your home. Be forewarned that kittens love to chew! 

 Electrical Wires:

Please use extreme caution if your kitten plays near wires. If wires are a problem, treating them with Bitter Apple Spray will discourage this dangerous behavior.  Locate your circuit breaker box, so that in the event of an emergency, you can quickly cut the power.  If your kitten does bite through a wire and is experiencing electrical shock DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES touch the kitten or attempt to unplug the wire!  IMMEDIATELY shut off all electrical power and THEN rush your kitten to the nearest Emergency Hospital for veterinary care.

 Draws and Cabinets:

If you are purchasing a higher generation Savannah you will find that they will learn to open every drawer, cabinet and probably your doors!  We have put “Child proof” latches on all the cabinets and draws and we put door handles that lock on rooms that we do not want them in or to get out of.

Safe Toys:

Toys are also a concern.  Young kittens can play with a variety of toys but as they begin to grow, sturdier toys must be provided for unsupervised play.  You will find that small dog toys are a safe and wise choice.  (We found out the hard way that the rubber “Kong” toys are not good choices, but Nyla Bone makes DuPont nylon products in a variety of shapes and sizes that cannot be chewed or ingested.)  The best play of all is interaction between owner and kitten.  Cat ticklers are a great way for your kitten to get exercise and bond with you.  Inspect all toys regularly and discard any that are broken or showing too much wear.

 

Once you bring the kitten home:

Please don’t rush the kitten, allow your kitten to come out of the crate on his or her own.  It is best if you get down to their level so they don’t feel threatened with you towering over them.  Some kittens will come out of their crate right away while others may require some coaxing with a toy or treat.  Once your kitten comes out of the crate, you should show him/her where the litter box is and then gently placing him/her inside.  Show him/her where the food and water is and then let your kitten explore on their own until you see that they are getting comfortable with their new home. The best way to bond is to play with your new kitten.

Please do not introduce your new kitten to your other pets or let them roam the house for at least a week and preferably 2 weeks. It is important for the kitten to feel comfortable with you and feel safe.  Also, keeping him/her away from other pets will help protect all concerned from passing on an unnoticed virus.  Since kittens are stressed during a transition period, their immunity is generally weakened and they are more susceptible to illness. While it is common for an adult animal with a strong immune system to carry viral strains that don't affect them, a kitten with a weakened immune system, exposed to the same virus, could easily contract the virus and it could be deadly to them. So keeping your kitten separated for a minimum of one week is very important. 

 

Scratching Posts & Safe Toys

Please be sure to have a scratching post or two ready for your new kitten, a cat tree and lots of toys.  Toys should be made of material that will not tear apart easily and be swallowed.  Savannahs are chewers and therefore you have to buy toys that they cannot chew up, especially ones that have a squeaker inside of them, as they will swallow it. Toys that work the best for a Savannah are medium to large size dog toys or toys made of very heavy material. 

The safest and simplest toys are the beam lights that you point so they can chase the beam around and they love them!  Other simple things are a plastic water bottle, but remove the lid as they can swallow it, a ball, a paper bag, cardboard from inside a paper towel roll, but by far one of the most enjoyable play toys for a kitten seems to be an ordinary brown paper bag or cardboard box. I know these items don’t sound very cute or exciting for you but they will love them and they are safe for them to play with.  Most of the “Cute” toys out there are very dangerous for a Savannah.

Savannah kittens love to play with, feathers, toys, balls or crumpled paper, it doesn’t seem to matter. Typical cat toys like fuzzy mice and feathered birds and the little fishing poles with feathers on the ends are a great way to interact with your kitten/cat, but since the Savannah likes to chew, we caution that those toys should be played with only under supervision.

Just be careful that they do not swallow the mice, feathers or other objects that come with these fishing poles, even the feathers you have to be careful because they will eat them and they can cause a blockage.  We learned the hard way when we had to pay $4,000 to have a toy removed from one of our Serval's! 

Another toy, that they really enjoy and is safe for them, is the toy with a circular plastic base that has a scratch pad in the middle of it and a ball that they can roll around the track, they will play with this one for hours and even several of them can play with it at one time.

Savannah cats are very curious and highly intelligent, seeking lots of playtime and interaction. Your savannah kitten will follow you around like a dog, they love playing with running water and drinking it from the faucet, and they also enjoy playing fetch.  They are so much fun and they will entertain you for hours!

  

Indoors or Outdoors

Savannah cats, like other purebreds, are strictly indoor only pets. I find that if your Savannah hasnever been let outside they will never know what they are missing. The risks to letting your kitten/cat run free is extremely high risk for them, due to diseases from other animals such as, rabies, pan leukopenia, intestinal parasites ear mites, fleas etc. Also, it has been observed that indoor cats live longer than free roaming outdoor cats as it is less stressful.   It is in the best interests of your Savannah to stay safely inside. 

If you truly love your Savannah you will never allow him outside alone. You can however teach them to leash and then take them out doors for a walk.  Also if you have an enclosed outdoor run then that is the safest and healthiest way for your Savannah to get some fresh air and exercise if you are not able to take them on a leash. But if you have any feral cats in the neighborhood please make sure they can not get close to your kitten/cat or their outside enclosure or have any exposure to them. Feral cats carry many diseases that could be life threatening to your animals.

 

Feeding your Savannah

In the beginning it is advisable to use the same type of food the kitten is used to eating so you won't upset its stomach by changing their diet too suddenly. You can gradually change their diet by adding a little of the new food to the food that they are use to, but please do this gradually so they can adjust to the new food. This will also help to prevent digestive problems.  

At Exotic Hybrid Cats we wean our kittens onto a raw, ground chicken diet, with vitamins and minerals added.  It is advisable to stay with the same diet, but we know that not many people are willing to take the time to grind your own chicken.   We hope that you will at least start out with ground chicken and than gradually add a high quality kitten food like Evo can food, Turkey and Chicken formula for kittens.  Add a little Evo to the raw until eventually you are feeding just the Evo.

Studies have shown that raw meat diets offer the best health benefits to these pure carnivores, extending their lives considerably. There are many resources and chat lists, on the internet, that talk about this and there are people who have been feeding raw meat for over twenty years or more that have cats who are living well into the mid to late twenties and beyond.

If you decide to use a dry food along with the wet food, we recommend, Evo, Royal, Innova, Canin or Blue Mountain as they are high in protein and have no grain or rice in them.  I don’t feed very much dry but a little is good for their teeth and also in the winter months it helps to maintain a little fat for the cold weather.

The biggest problem with dry food, in some people’s opinion, is that in order for a kitten to properly digest it he/she must drink considerably more water, (which cats generally don't) and kidney problems seem to be on the rise.  Some vegetarians contribute it to the diet. Some dry foods are very high in salt, which has drawn some researchers to make a correlation between water retention and heart problems. Other foods are high in corn, which is used as a filler, obviously a pure carnivore would not fill up on cooked corn or rice, perhaps trace amounts would be consumed in the wild state, via the preys consumption habits, but corn or rice is not something a cat would hunt.  I love the commercial where a cat says, “Does it look like I am chasing a carrot?”

We do believe in variety and realize that not all pet owners will grind fresh meat for their cats or kittens (as we do). We believe that at a minimum a high quality moist food should be factored into your feeding routine. When your kitten first arrives home he/she will eat about a ½ cup of raw or a quarter of a can of food per feeding.  If they eat it all up in a couple of minutes, you can offer them more or if they don’t eat everything right away, just reduce it next time.  I don’t like to leave raw food out for long periods of time.  As your kitten grows, increase the amount of food offered at each meal.

The main goal of any feeding program should be to obtain the optimum nutrition available for your kitten.  When choosing a dry or canned food, please read the label.  The first ingredient should be a meat or poultry product. Even though this type of cat food is more expensive, your kitten will eat less since a smaller amount will satisfy her nutritional requirements.  You can also give your kitten-cooked chicken, chicken heart, gizzards, or other meat as a snack.  Treats are okay as long as they do not become a main dish.  Too many treats steal the appetite and keep the kitten from getting the nutrients he or she needs from the primary cat food. 

Litter Habits

It is best to use the same litter that your kitten is accustomed to using to avoid any mishaps.  When they are kittens we use Swheat Scoop or a Wheat or paper litter, as it is not harmful if digested.  Some products that clump can turn into cement in a young kitten’s lungs or intestines so please make sure to purchase a brand that is “Safe” for “Kittens”. Later we use Tidy Cats clumping litter. If you decide to switch brands, please do so after two weeks time and do it gradually.  Sometimes a kitten will refuse to use the litter box if he or she doesn't recognize the same litter.

We also recommend placing several litter pans around your house until your kitten becomes familiar with your home.  A small kitten trying to find a litter boxes in a new home is like a two-year-old child looking for the rest room in a large restaurant. 

If your kitten loses his/her way and eliminates inappropriately (anywhere but IN the box), you should confine the kitten to a smaller space with a clean litter box to reinforce good habits, and then over time, gradually allow the kitten more and more freedom, provided no accidents occur. 

Training your Savannah

Just like you would with a child…you should not let your new kitten do things you would not want them to do as a full grown cat.  Savannahs respond well to boundaries and are very teachable.  Teaching them acceptable behavior at a young age is much easier than trying to break them of poor habits that they have learned.  The best way, which is very humane, is to use a squirt bottle while FIRMLY telling the kitten “NO.”  Repetition and consistency will be your keys to success.  You will need to be patient but Savannahs are smart and will catch on quickly.

Another method of teaching good habits and discipline is “scruffing” your kitten.  Mother cats carry their kittens by the “scruff” of the neck to remove them from danger and teach them boundaries.  Kittens naturally “go limp” when picked up by the scruff, so continuing to do what their mother did will help you to communicate with the kitten in a language the kitten already understands.  

Savannah kittens and cats have strong inquisitive personalities and it is possible at some point that you may feel a little challenged.  Just like you can do with a child, you can give your kitten a  (10 minute) “time out”.  If necessary place them in a small carrier (without a lot of room to move around in. put your kitten in it and make them stay for at least 10 minutes. Remember that Savannahs are extremely intelligent and if you are consistent in your disciplinary methods, your kitten will quickly determine that his time playing is interrupted each time he/she exhibits the offending behavior.

Kittens love to nip and they DO NOT understand why humans don’t respond to them like their littermates.  Kittens will initially try to nip at you as their way of affection or play.  It is VERY important to have a NO TOLERANCE policy to this behavior from the very start.  If your kitten bites you, DO NOT jerk away.  Instead, quickly push your finger INTO the kitten’s mouth, activating the gag reflex, and thus forcing the kitten to spit your finger OUT.  It won’t take long for your kitten to learn that biting is NOT a pleasant experience.  They don’t usually relate this as you doing it to them but rather they just see it as something that happened when they nipped at you. 

Do’s and Don’ts

Do 

  • Be calm and quiet when you bring your kitten into your home.
  • Place the carrier on the floor and let your kitten come out on his/her own.
  • Encourage your kitten to come out of the carrier for the first time by gently coaxing him/her out with a feather teaser-toy.
  • Keep your kitten in a small room when he or she first arrives. A small area is kitten-size. It will help him or her to more readily "get the lay of the land." After a week or two, allow him/her a little more run of the house.
  • Sit or lie on the floor at your kitten's level to play and socialize.
  • Place your kitten in the litter box several times during the first few of days after arrival.
  • Allow your kitten to sleep with you after the first couple of days and after he or she has a firm grasp on the location of the litter box.
  • Slowly introduce the kitten to your other pets, but not until a few weeks of bonding with you. 
  • Make sure your kitten knows where his or her food and water is kept and check to see he/she is eating and drinking enough.
  • After your initial 2 weeks.  A 30 minute timeout in a small room, such as a bathroom, may be required several times a day to force your kitten to stop playing long enough to eat and drink.
  • Use a pelleted litter, such as Feline Pine or pelleted newspaper or a wheat litter, for the first few weeks after getting your kitten home. This is what we at Exotic Hybrid Cats use and what the kittens are used to. It will not harm them if they ingest some of it.
  • Very important: Please call us with any and all questions. We will do our best to advise you regarding any situation.

 Do Not

  • Give your kitten full run of the house immediately. Wait 2 weeks and gradually give them more room to roam.
  • Move the litter box for the first couple of weeks: it will confuse your kitten. When/if you find it necessary to move it, place your kitten in it several times to establish its location.
  • Introduce too many people to your kitten at first. It can overwhelm your baby. After he/she is comfortable and confident in your home, gradually introduce new people.
  • Leave a down comforter on your bed for the first few weeks if your kitten is sleeping with you. A down comforter may feel like a litter box under his/her little paws and, consequently, may be used as one.
  • Take your kitten outside, even on a harness, until your kitten has had all of his or her vaccinations.
  • Give your kitten small toys that they might swallow.

 

 

Health Maintenance & Veterinary Care:

Your kitten's future health will be directly influenced by the quality of his/her care. You should have a licensed veterinarian lined up a head of time just incase your kitten needs help.

A well-groomed kitten is a healthy kitten. Grooming not only keeps your kitten looking it's best but it also makes you aware of any changes in skin, coat, ears, etc. Bathing is not generally necessary but most Savannahs will enjoy playtime in the water. Occasionally you will need to clean your kitten's ears using a warm, damp cloth or a baby wipe and a q-tip. Nails need to be trimmed approximately every 3-4 weeks. You can use regular nail clippers to snip the sharp tips being careful not to cut them too close. If you are not familiar with this procedure ask your vet to show you so you don’t make a mistake and hurt them.

The Savannah cat is not known to have any “breed specific” health problems but by being a cat it is subject to all of the potential feline diseases that affect the general cat population. You can be proactive and prevent many of the problems, associated with cats, by making sure vaccinations are up to date and a healthy immune system, through proper nutrition and exercise.

Cats mask pain and discomfort better than most animals, as a cat will purr if it is happy or in pain, so reading their body language can sometimes be very difficult. It is desirable to have a vet who knows and understands the needs of Savannahs but at the same time over exposure to potential problems at the vets office need to be considered and visits kept to a minimum.

Vaccinations are essential for keeping your kitten healthy. Before leaving our home, your kitten will be vaccinated to prevent feline Panleukopenia, Rhinotrachetis, and Calicivirus.   Your kitten must receive annual routine Veterinary Care, which includes the administration of vaccines under most State, City and County ordinances.  Rabies vaccinations should be given according to your states or local areas legal requirements.

Make absolutely certain any vaccine administered to your Savannah Cat is KILLED VIRUS ONLY.  Failure to inform your Veterinarian of this requirement could result in an adverse reaction or possibly even death.  Also please DO NOT vaccinate for FELV (Feline Leukemia Virus) or FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) as it has been reported these vaccines either have very bad side effects or may even predispose cats to contract the very diseases they are purported to prevent. This vaccine has not been proven to be effective and therefore we do not recommend it.

 Anesthesia:

Another thing to be aware of is that some traditional methods of anesthesia can cause harmful reactions in Savannah Cats.  Instruct your veterinarian to only use isoflurane Gas.  NEVER allow your veterinarian to administer a preoperative “cocktail” containing Ketamine to your Savannah Cat. 

Cautions to be aware of:

In rare cases, despite your best precautions, your kitten may ingest something harmful.  Some of these objects can cause a life threatening emergency.  If you think your kitten has eaten something harmful that may create a blockage, seek medical attention from your Veterinarian immediately. Signs are throwing up after eating, especially if accompanied by loose stools.

Poison Control Hotline:

If you believe your cat has ingested a poisonous substance, contact the National Poison Control Hotline at (888) 232-8870.  The cost of this service is billed on a per incident basis ($35.00 the last time we checked) and must be billed to a credit card at the time of consultation.  Be absolutely certain to write down your case number, as your veterinarian will require this information in the event any specifics require verification prior to administering treatment.

Some plants are poisonous to cats and curious kittens may want to nibble, so please remove all toxic plants from the rooms your kitten will have access to. Please remove all plants if you do not know if they are harmful… as a rule, when in doubt remove them.

Be aware of all electrical cords that can be bitten in to, you need to cover or removed them until your kittens teething days are over, usually around seven months of age. Wire can be covered easily with plastic tubing or flexible plastic pipe. Any breakable ornaments should be put out of harms way. It cannot be over emphasized how curious a new young kitten can be.  

Declawing

Declawing is a very controversial subject and when “Cat” furniture is available; your cat will use it.  None of our Savannahs have been declawed as we have found that proper discipline has been enough. You can discourage your kitten away from the sofa or chair with a spritz of water from a spray bottle or by putting double-sided tape on the corners of the couch.  Claws may be clipped every month or so, and a product called Soft Paws has been very successful in inhibiting undesirable scratching.

We also realize that, in certain situations, living in harmony with your new pet may require removing his/her claws.  There are several surgical procedures available to accomplish this objective and it is important to understand the differences between De-Clawing, Tendonectomy and Claw Removal. 

     De-Clawing:  Regardless of whether the surgery is done with a scalpel or a laser, this procedure amputates the first digit of the toes.  If that is not enough to deter you, consider the additional risks.  Cats subjected to the surgery frequently develop joint issues later in life and post surgery must adjust their center of balance.  Placing more weight onto their heels causes additional and unnecessary strain to their joints.  HIGH RISK.  NOT RECOMMENDED.

     Tendonectomy:  Severs the tendons which control use of the claws.  Claws must still be clipped and can frequently catch on things and rip out if not fastidiously maintained.  Post-surgical risks include loss of use of the toes and feet.  HIGH RISK.  NOT RECOMMENDED.

     Claw Removal:  Involves making a tiny incision in each toe and removing the claw ONLY.  Recovery is speedy and although there is a small risk of the claw growing back, this is more common in animals with very thick claws and is not frequently observed in cats.  The ONLY method RECOMMENDED.

Adding a new kitten or cat to your home can be a very rewarding experience if you plan ahead for this “Special” member of your family. IF YOU FOLLOW THESE FEW SIMPLE RULES, YOU WILL FIND BRINGING A NEW KITTEN INTO YOUR HOME WILL GO EASILY AND SAFELY for all.