I just got my first kitten and need some advice on care and handling.?

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Question by thedoghman: I just got my first kitten and need some advice on care and handling.?
I just got a kitten about a week and a half ago, I brought her home when she was 9 weeks old. At first she was terrified of everything which I know is normal. I let her adjust slowly, starting with the bathroom and introducing her to new rooms one at a time. I tried to make sure I never overloaded her with too much stimulation. When she was making her way around the house into new territory, she would meow non-stop unless I was a few feet away so I tried staying with her as much as possible. I think she’s now fully adjusted to her new home and starting to bond with me. She’s a Ragdoll and is almost always by my side. Whenever I leave a room, she will follow me and stay within 10-15 feet. Even when she is sleeping, once she wakes up, she will usually come looking for me. I’m worried I’m not treating her properly and I have a couple questions about her personality/behavior.

She is very okay with being held, most of the time she doesn’t struggle or run whenever I bend over to pick her up so I’m assuming she’s not afraid of me. When she doesn’t want to be picked up, she just hops away from my hands and I don’t pursue her. While I’m standing with her in my arms, she will go limp (a trait Ragdolls are born with). She seems content and sometimes purrs, yet if I take a few steps or try and sit down and set her on my lap, she’ll begin to squirm so I put her down. I understand not all cats enjoy being in laps, but why is she okay with being held while I’m standing but not okay with being on my lap?

There are other times when I set her on my lap and she will stay and relax for a bit, but not for long. These instances are almost always initiated by me, which I know isn’t recommended, but if she’s sleeping a couple feet away what difference does it make if she sleeps on my lap instead of the floor? I’d think she’d prefer my warm lap over the cold floor. Is it wrong of me to wake her up for this?

Whenever she’s on my lap and begins to purr while I pet her, she’s happy for about a minute or two. After that, she will begin attacking my hand while continuing to purr. I’m assuming it’s because she just wants to play. Her claws are always sheathed when she does this and her bites are delicate and followed by tons of licking. Is this play fighting followed by grooming? Should I put her down whenever she starts attacking or encourage the play? Is she mad at me for putting her in my lap or is she just excited? I’m worried I’m being to forceful and really don’t want to scare her or make her feel threatened.

Her tail is ALWAYS hooked at the end, since I got her, it’s the only position it’s been in while I’m around. I looked it up and it means she’s “friendly, yet cautious.” Does this mean she doesn’t fully trust me yet? Will it change to strait up when she does? How long does it usually take to build up trust with a new kitten? Again I don’t want to force it, I want it to come naturally.

Other times when she’s on my lap and purring, when I begin to pet her, she just gets up and walks away. Why would a purring cat not want to be petted? I was under the impression that purring meant, “I’m happy, comfortable and want some love.”

There’s more, sometimes when she’s on my lap and purring, she’ll enjoy being petted, relax and fall asleep. These are my favorite interactions and I’m having trouble reinforcing the behavior. She won’t eat treats, I’ve bought her three different kinds and she’ll have nothing to do with them! Freeze dried chicken breast, bonita flakes, Temptations with catnip, no more than a sniff followed by an expression of, “why the hell are putting this stuff in my face, go get the good food!” All she will eat is natural balance wet food. I mix it in with her hard food so her teeth stay healthy, otherwise she wouldn’t touch it. How can I encourage the lap sitting behavior without anything to motivate her with? I don’t to have to cover my hand in wet food as a positive reinforcement reward lol.

When she’s relaxing and sleeping I sometimes come to pet her. She’ll usually get up and walk two feet away and go back to sleep. Is it okay to pet her while she sleeps or am I just irritating her?

Overall, she’s a very unpredictable kitty and I feel like it’s my fault. I feel like I’m forcing her to interact with me, but it’s just so hard to stay away from such a cute little baby! Should I just begin to ignore her and let her come to me? Am I being a bad pet owner? :,(

Sorry for the length, I just wanted to give a full picture of what’s going on.

Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!

Best answer:

Answer by RawrZ
Cats are very proud and very much “the boss” in their minds. If a cat decides to sleep on the floor it is best to leave her there unless she is in the way, they like to have their way and to do things their way. Especially in the summer they typically prefer the cool tile much like dogs.
You’re not necessarily being a bad owner, as a kitten she should get lots of attention and playtime or she can end up growing to be a stubborn cat.
You just have to remember that cats are VERY independent and like to do things when they want to only. Also remember not all cats like “people food” and the like for catnip is actually a gene that some cats do not possess so they show no interest in it.
As far as chicken goes she might end up liking it when she’s older, I have a cat (she’s four years) who until about a week ago, the only non cat food or animals she caught she liked was tuna.
If you want to give your cat treats, for now focus on brand cat treats, or try a fresh can of tuna.
And purring doesn’t essentially mean they want attention, in relations with other cats, cats purr as a sign of friendship giving two typical meanings “You are my friend/I love you” or “Let’s not fight okay?” Purring is more of a way of cats making peace with each other.
As far as trying to get her to sit on your lap more often, it’s hard to train a cat to do something you want them to do, but try different ways to show her it’s a safe comfy place, ex: Placing her while shes awake on your lap and playing, or putting her on your lap and giving her a treat she likes. But without forcing her to stay, just try to indicate to her “You sit on my lap, you get something good, so you should sit here” If she cares, she’ll pick up real quick that “Oh, I should sit there more often, I get good stuff!”
Also remember that without other cats to teach them, kittens get confused with how to relate with people or other cats. Her tail for example! As it is said whipping the tail is a sign of anger, however many kittens will whip their tails while sitting peacefully and purring while getting what they want. Don’t take all her tail signs literally.
As far as attacking you, this is how kittens play with other kittens as they grow up, try not to get mad at her for it, cats more or less see humans as they do other cats, as is why they communicate with us the same way.
If you have any other questions just let me know ;P

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2 comments on “I just got my first kitten and need some advice on care and handling.?

  1. It sound’s like your doing a good job.
    You’ve only had her for a week and half, she’s not quite warmed up to yet but she will get there.
    Your not irritating her, you have to teach a cat when it’s young to cuddle with you otherwise when she get’s older she’ll be very aloof.
    I’m not going to answer all of the things as you said above because you did write quite a lot but your doing everythinig fine. I love ragdoll cats.
    Best of luck to you two 🙂

  2. Kittens are goofy, they change their personality over time.

    Not sure about the hooked tail, she may have broken it at one time (pinched in a door).

    Purring does not always mean happy, although I am sure your kitten is (some sick and dying cats purr to soothe themselves). She might be too hot on your lap.

    Here is an article about care for a kitten, it has lots of links to more info.

    http://pets1.knoji.com/how-to-take-care-of-a-new-kitten/

    Kittens that young do not get any effects from cat nip.

    Do not mix the canned and dry.

    Feed free choice dry, and 1 teaspoon of canned by itself.

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