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New Family Member: Tiger

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Those that know me here know that my wife and I have been dog people all our lives, but last week Matthew and I stumbled upon a little kitten beside our house and of course found him irresistible. We now have a kitten to add to our rambunctious dog and hyperactive son. I posted a summary on my personal blog, but here are the first two paragraphs:

Of course this was completely unplanned. Thursday, May 14th (I date it for posterityís sake) after dinner at about half past six Matthew and I stepped out for Matthew to bike ride to the local school yard. Itís just a couple of blocks away and they have a little track on level ground for him to circle. We turned to go into the backyard and right there on the side of the house was a local stray cat, who was caught by surprise. Seeing the two of us, she darted up the block. But nearby, frozen with surprise was a little kitten. It didnít know what to do, and when we approached it he sped in a different direction than the big cat, into our back yard, where he hid behind one of the garbage cans.

We chased him and I reached behind and pulled him out. It was the cutest little thing. I didnít know if I should leave him out, and yet taking him in would be a burden. We had never had cats before. We already have a demanding dog, who is still an overactive pup. We already have a five year old boy who consumes all our time when heís not in school or asleep. I could have put him down and let his motheróif that was his mother who darted off, though I some doubt because the coloring was completely different, and she, if it were a she, showed no motherly concern for the tike. But he was so darned cute. And I donít know how many kittens survive into cathood living in the streets. He was so passive in my hands. He wasnít afraid.
I'm not going to figure out how to post pictures here on Lit Net, but you can read the rest and look at the pictures at my Ashes From Burnt Roses blog.


  1. Bluebiird's Avatar
    Kittens don't always resemble the parents. It depends on the genetics. Same with dogs too. My old cat Henry was a ginger kitten but his two siblings (we briefly saw when we got him) were regular little tabbies and so was the mother.
    My neighbour's old cat Snowy was white with a black head, tail and one round spot on either side of her tummy. She had a litter of about three-four regular black and white kittens and one grey and white.
    Additionally Yuki doesn't look like all of her relatives (we have her little pedigree family tree and some of her relatives were accomplished show dogs so the breeders have pictures on their website). We don't know what her mother looked like but she has some markings similar to her father but she doesn't have his face.

    Though it's been a very long time, we have had three cats so here are my cat hints, since you say you've never had cats before.
    I advise spaying/neutering as soon as your vet recommends. Tom cats can be kind of vicious (depends on their personality) and will roam a lot and are more likely to get into fights. Try not to mix up foods because I've read that a lot of cat food is bad for dogs but it all depends on the circumstances so a little isn't a problem. Also don't mix up dog and cat flea treatments (if you use those liquid spot ones) because it's a different formula and cats groom themselves a lot more than dogs so accidentally using a dog one can be life threatening (we saw it on one of those emergency vet programs). A scratching post, it will save your carpets and furniture (we left it too late with Henry and he tore up pretty much every carpet corner in every doorway and the bottom step. Not sure why). If they climb a tree don't panic right away, if they don't make their way down after a day then maybe start worrying. If you do get a ladder and go after it remember that it might attack out of fear and/or might sink it's claws into you just for support rather than letting you gently carry it down (they don't really care that we have soft, easily scratchable skin). It will probably hunt at some point so expect dead birds and mice now and then. Even neutered cats will roam so don't panic if they don't come home for a day or so (by all means go out looking if you're concerned but it's not unusual for them to do that). They are territorial and do not restrict themselves to just one back garden, they have a much wider territory. If your cat is injured and/or unable to roam their territory for a couple of days another cat may claim it so when you cat goes back outside they will have to reclaim it. Our local cats spend their mornings walking through the garden meowing and spraying to lay claim to the territory. Expect a lot of meowing. Beware foxes. I'm serious. They are vicious. I love foxes but when we had Henry a fox actually tried so desperately to catch him by jumping up at the wall that he was crouching on. When we went out to scare the fox away Henry bolted inside faster than ever and I never saw his tail so big and bushy with fear as it was that night. No matter how hard you try you can't always get them to come in at night and every time you hear a cat meowing/yowling you will wonder is that my cat? Is it alright? Expect to leap out of bed in the middle of the night because you can hear a catfight. That is unless you have a cat flap. Never had one but I know a few things about them. Beware other cats. Maybe use one of those electronic cat flaps or something so only you cat can get in because you don't want strays sneaking in, eating you cat food and peeing everywhere. Also don't put the letterbox too near to the food, they don't like to eat where they poop. When they use the litter box they usually try to bury their business so cat litter may get thrown out of the box a little. We put newspaper under ours and Henry just scratched the paper instead of the litter. He was a silly cat. I read that they prefer sandy litter but it all depends on your cat. Litter freshener can be very helpful as long as you don't overdo it. For several years Henry stopped using his litter box but we managed to get him using it again in his later years. At that time we also got a finer litter to put under the regular litter which clumps when wet, so you can easily clear out cat pee without having to change all of the litter too often. A little pooper-scooper is definitely needed. Wash the tray every couple of weeks or so, when you change the litter. Make sure you thoroughly rinse it and try not to use a strong soap and/or additional scent to mask the smell because you might put them off of it. When Henry started using his again I gave it a good clean and the next day he was sleeping in it. Not sure if that was a good or a bad thing but he got into strange places when he was old, I think he was looking for a good place to, you know, die. He liked the loft. I never saw him climb up the ladder but I saw him come down a few times, it was hilarious. Yes. Cats can climb ladders. I'm pretty sure the ginger lump I sometimes saw on a neighbour's balcony was Henry sleeping in the sun, since they had a ladder there at the time.

    Sorry this is so long. I tried to cover everything.
    Oh they go crazy for catnip toys. And playing with string might be fun but just don't let them have it unsupervised, they can eat it and/or get tangled up in it.
  2. Virgil's Avatar
    Thanks a bunch Bluebird. That all sounds like excellent advice. I've already heard several of your points, but it's always good to get extra emphasis. We don't plan on Tiger being an outdoor cat, so I'm not too worried about trees and foxes. We don't have foxes on Staten Island that I know of, but we do have raccoons.
  3. Bluebiird's Avatar
    Ah. My Granddad's cat, Sally, was an indoor cat but that was purely out of choice. They tried to let her outside but she just plain refused. She followed them home as a kitten and once she'd snuck inside they couldn't budge her. My grandmother was pleased with the idea but Granddad took a while to warm up to it. They'd had a few cats but lived by a busy road so, well they got run over, and he didn't want her being sad so he refused to let her get another cat. Well, until Sally that is. It's good though because when my grandmother died he still had Sally for company and when he moved into the first nursing home place he got to take her with him. But she was too old to be moved when he had to go to another home, and pets weren't allowed anyway.
    Thinking about cats brings up a nice nostalgia. A few things I forgot.
    Beware, not all indoor cats are as terrified of the outside as Sally was so be prepared for a possible escape if a door or window happens to be left open, cats can be very speedy.
    I personally recommend using both wet and dry food (but that goes for dogs too).
    Do not allow cats up onto work surfaces, they'll start getting cocky.
    Generally cats are pretty much self cleaning but they still like to be brushed.
    Pretty much every cat, that's let me pet it, likes to be tickled just under the jaw on one side or the other. They'll turn their heads and make a happy face, kind of like when I rub the special place on the back of Yuki's neck, not sure if that goes for all dogs or just her.
    Also, Henry was very sensitive around the base of the spine. If he was laying in that sphinx like way on the arm of the chair I would rub just where the base of the spine starts to meet the tail and his back end would stand up while the front stayed where it was. Not sure if it's the same for all cats but it was hilarious to watch. It's nice to know the sensitive spots on a pet .
    Oh and kittens will chase pretty much anything, it doesn't even have to be a cat toy. Henry and his siblings were playing with a few balled up sweet wrappers and having a ton of fun (though sweet wrappers are not recommended because plastic and/or foil is not natural for their digestive systems).
    Oh and expect a few hairballs at some point. They clean themselves with their mouths so it's inevitable. A cat's tongue is a lot rougher than a dogs. So it's really weird when they lick you.
    Lastly. It is possible to train your cat to sit on command, most of the time. I did it with Henry, just for fun. But only if they're willing to cooperate. Cat's aren't as eager to please as dogs and are generally solitary creatures, though that's not to say they can't also be sociable, it all depends on their mood.
    Sorry. Long comment again. I guess even though I have a dog now, I'm still a cat person
  4. mtpspur's Avatar
    Popped back in to see how the old homestead was doing and discovered this entry. Also great to see Bluebirrd still around. I tend to favor cats over dogs--we have 3 cats and 1 dog currently and all spoiled rotten. Kept inside as well so they can be safe. Our dog Onyx just sits around and I have to step over him constantly as he simply doesn't believe we would step ON him therefore sees no reason to move.
  5. Virgil's Avatar
    Thanks again Blue, and always a pleasure to speak with you Rich. Hope you and the wife are doing well.
  6. mtpspur's Avatar
    We are-thank you. About to be grand-parents again twice this summer. The Mrs. is progressing on her new career in Massage Therapy--the irony being I have no interest or liking for them. I'm basically retired now with for just over a year with no desire to start Career #3 and give more money to the IRS. Considering volunteer work but the wife's car died so she uses my truck (and hates it) and until we get a second set of wheels I'm pretty much homebound but I was always a hermit that way anyway. That pretty much catches us up and you know where I get my news about you so all's good and Matthew is turning out very well indeed. Rosie and Tiger are adorable by the way.
  7. Virgil's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by mtpspur
    We are-thank you. About to be grand-parents again twice this summer. The Mrs. is progressing on her new career in Massage Therapy--the irony being I have no interest or liking for them. I'm basically retired now with for just over a year with no desire to start Career #3 and give more money to the IRS. Considering volunteer work but the wife's car died so she uses my truck (and hates it) and until we get a second set of wheels I'm pretty much homebound but I was always a hermit that way anyway. That pretty much catches us up and you know where I get my news about you so all's good and Matthew is turning out very well indeed. Rosie and Tiger are adorable by the way.
    As soon as you can Rich, you really should start volunteering. It'll do you good to get out and meet people and you'll be helping out someone in need. God made retired people for a reason, you know. Congrats to the Mrs. on her new career.
  8. Virgil's Avatar
    Hey, all you cat people out there, quick question. Tiger, who has nearly tripled in weight over these past two weeks, has one annoying habit. He likes to nip, that is put a finger in his mouth and chomp down. Now he doesn't clamp down hard, but it's harder than just a little love bite. Do kittens go through teething? Or is this just a bad behavior, and if it is, how do I stop it? I haven't gotten a kitten/cat care book yet and would like some advice.
  9. Bluebiird's Avatar
    Apparently so.

    Henry was around 7-8 weeks when we got him so I don't remember him teething, then again I was about four at the time.
  10. mtpspur's Avatar
    We have had that happen now and again with cats we have owned over the years. My experience has been it doesn't last long. May be caused (in my opinion) by three things. Playing, smelling food on the fingers, or warnings it doesn't want to be touched right now. They outgrew it pretty fast and I never considered it a major issue once they matured.

    I plan on volunteering and I have the place in mind BUT have to save up a down payment to lease a car for the wife--we're going that route. Going to take awhile but should have it going in about 6-8 months--I hope. Thank you for your advice, and concerns friendship Virgil. P.S. Our oldest cat Marbles looks a lot like Tiger.
  11. Virgil's Avatar
    Thanks to both of you once again.