Just over a month ago, myself and my partner brought home our first child!!! As you may have guessed this child is a kitten.
Unfortunatley the process of us actually getting our kitten was stressful to say the least so in an effort to not dwell on the negative I thought I’d get it out of the way here: my biggest tip? Don’t get yourself stuck in a situation with an awkward breeder where you’re basically answering to his/her every whim. We found our kitten, Floki on Pets4Homes and fell in love with him because he was just what we had dreamed about: a Ragdoll! We placed a deposit down on our kitten assuming we’d get the chance to see him before buying him and bringing him home but that didn’t happen and by that point we were not only invested monetary wise, but emotionally; we’d fallen in love with him. So the start wasn’t easy and smooth but as with everything in life, the harder you work towards something the better the pay off and in 1 week Floki went from a shy and unsocialised little kitty to a happy, playful, affectionate one: but as I mentioned before, not without work! I thought I’d write this for anyone in a similar situation as us, whether their kitten be a rescue one or one from (as in our case) an irresponsible breeder. So here’s how things went…
Luckily myself and Jordan had booked a week off in preparation for hopefully getting a kitten. We brought Floki home on the 26th of August which was a Sunday and had the whole week off from that point. This proved to be extremely useful in order to really help him along the road to adjusting so I would highly recommend getting at least a week off. During the first 3 days of him being home we kept him in the spare room upstairs which is a quiet room that we don’t need to be going through or into regularly, in order to give him the space he needed to adjust on his own terms. For nearly the whole first day he was hidden under my clothes rail; we were really worried about this at first but we were quickly assured by both my mum (who has had lots of cats) and by the Internet that this is entirely normal and natural for new kittens to want to hide and make themselves feel safe in a totally new environment. From here we followed some tips from various websites and forums on the web that are very easily accessible and some from my mum too. We kept leaving him to his business and in our absence he eat and had a pee (food and water bowls and litter tray were all in the room). From there we just kept spending time in that room, talking to each other quietly or reading out loud in calm voices. Eventually on that first night he came out, had a sniff of us and even played a bit!
Day 2 and 3 was basically spent repeating these trust building activities, lots of playing, lots of letting him smell us and a little bit of soft and gentle stroking here and there. We had a huge success on the Tuesday night when he let Jordan stroke his belly and immediately started purring, the moment was akin to what I can only imagine it’s like hearing your baby say their first word and we both had to stifle loud hurrahs as to not scare him!
On the Wednesday (the 4th day) we decided to open up the door of the spare room and see if he wanted to come down. We played with him on the stairs for a bit and eventually he made it downstairs and finally into the living room! He was a bit nervous in the living room at first, but soon enough he was eating, using the litter tray and playing downstairs. On the nights he would tend to stay under the sofa but we soon realised this was just how he got used to a new space so he could feel confident in it. By Friday, and through a lot of patience and not pushing him into doing anything he didn’t like or wasn’t ready for, he was finally up on the sofa in the living room, padding away on a blanket we had put on there to make him more cosy and comfy. It honestly felt so great to see him chilling out with us and being happy to let us rub his belly and hear him purring away. The progress was incredible and something we certainly didn’t expect after it being quite distressing to see how scared he was on those first two days.
The following day, Jordan’s mum came round to visit and meet him and we were hoping and praying he would be okay with it or better yet, it actually help him gain confidence. I was really nervous and unsure about how he’d take meeting a new person but he did amazingly! We were so taken aback by his confidence and the ease at which he accepted a whole new person being around! It was entirely unexpected and it was just another thing proving how much progress he had made and by extension his great character.
Since then he has met two other new people and been great with each of them and this weekend he will be meeting his fourth because my dad is visiting! He’s even made a trip to the vets and been totally cool during and after. He’s coming to us more and more for affection and love, sitting on our laps, purring when he’s picked up and finally, showing the parts of his personality that really make him a Ragdoll (which is why we chose him in the first place), this all includes totally flopping in our arms and following us around like a little puppy.
This wasn’t the experience of getting our first cat (I’ve had many in the past at my mums but because it was with her she took a lot of the responsibility) that either of us had expected, we hadn’t anticipated putting in this much work to socialise him, make him comfortable around humans and to associate us with only good things and it has taken really, this whole first month for him to totally relax. He’s still learning every day and every day brings a new challenge (current challenge: our hands are not toys for biting!) so by no means is it easy…But oh is it worth it! What I would say to anyone in this position who just brought home a new scaredy kitten is that how they are now, isn’t how they’ll always be, even if it may seem so. They learn and adapt and make progress in such a short time, especially when they’re young!
Jordan and myself are now looking to the next month or two where he will be getting the snip (sorry Floki haha) and getting his 2nd set of vaccinations. With this last vaccination comes the possibility of him going outside! He’s an extremely curious little boy with so much energy so I think he’ll really enjoy having new places to explore and take in new things. We’re going to start him on the harness in the house and then slowly start taking him out! I can’t wait to show him the world and can’t help but dream of camping trips and days out in the countryside with him!
I’ll leave this first part of documenting Floki’s journey on here (I’m sure there will be many more posts to come) with a photo of him looking very cute and very happy.