Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kitten Care

The information given below is the standard documentation I give to all my Maine Coon kitten buyers. Check out my website for more on my cats at
Most of this is also applicable for anyone bringing home a new kitten, pedigreed or moggie, and includes my personal recommendations for feline products.


COONgratulations and thank you, for your decision to bring a Dracoonfly Maine Coon into your family. Our Maine Coons are bred and raised to be healthy, beautiful, and friendly family members. Please read and retain this information to assist you in making your kitten’s new home a smooth transition for everyone.

We will only sell our kittens to approved families who must agree to the following:
To NEVER declaw
To NEVER allow the cat to roam free outdoors
To NEVER cage
To NEVER give the cat to a shelter, pet store or laboratory
Notify the breeder if you relocate
Notify the breeder if you can no longer care for your Maine Coon (I will gladly take any of my “babies” back)
Must provide fresh food and water daily
Must provide medical attention immediately if needed
Spay females by 6 months or Neuter males by 8 months if the kitten is not already “speutered”
Provide lots of love and affection

· A quality grain free dry kitten food available at pet specialty stores
· Canned Cat Food – we use Friskies or Fancy Feast, primarily poultry flavors
· World’s Best Cat Litter or Feline Pine
· Cat Tree or scratching post made with sissel rope
· Large Cat Carrier (carriers which open from the top are NOT recommended as they are less sturdy for an adult MC)
· Large Litter Box(es), one per cat and one per house level (small is okay to start)
· Ceramic, glass or stainless steel dishes

Please bring a cat carrier with you when you come to pick up your kitten and always use one. Not only does it protect the cat in the event of an accident, it can prevent the cat from running into the highway should Rescue Personnel need to get you out of the car.

Your kitten may be frightened, insecure, confused or anxious about the changes in environment she is experiencing. She will naturally turn to you as her new safe parent to protect her. To minimize the stress and to best help your kitten acclimate to her new home, put her in a quiet room with no other pets and with toys, food, litter and water. A bedroom or room where people in the household like to congregate works well so your kitten isn’t too lonely. Let your kitten explore this room completely so it can ascertain that there are no dangers and it can start to relax. When your kitten seems secure in her room, after a day or more, she will probably want to venture into the rest of the house. Leave the door open so she can come out on her own. The kitten can always run back to her safe room if something alarms her. It is probably best to secure your other pets when the kitten first comes out so she can explore without being challenged. If you have no other pets and your kitten is to be an “only child”, skip down past the next few paragraphs to Sure, Maine Coons are like other cats, but….

Cats have very powerful olfactory senses. It would be very helpful if you can bring a towel that your other pets have been on inside the carrier for your kitten so the kitten can both add the scents of your other pets onto their fur as well as get used to the smells of your pets in advance of meeting them. Also, take a towel or cat bed that the kitten has been on and bring it out so that your other pets can get an advance preview "smell" in order to recognize the new kitten. Or just take a towel and wipe each animal all over with it, especially on the “smelly areas”, and exchange towels. Kitten’s towel to the other pets, other pets’ towel(s) to the kitten. Another help tip - put a small drop of scent (aromatherapy oil, perfume, baby powder) on the shoulder blades of all of your pets; this is one area in which the pets cannot lick or groom so they will all have a common scent on them. Remember those sensitive noses; don't overdo it.
Go slowly - it is important for the kitten to build its confidence as well as to give your other pets time to get to know the newcomer. Many times, it is the older pets that have a harder time adjusting to the change and the kitten will bounce around the house, oblivious to the older cat’s distress. Be sure to give your other pets lots of attention and don’t punish it for acting defensively (hissing or growling).

Here is another option to help the newcomer get to know your other cat(s) after a few days and the above-mentioned scent exchanges. Put the kitten in a secure carrier and put him in the middle of the living room. The other cats can see, hear and smell the kitten without the kitten wandering too close and getting a warning from the established cats. Later - alternate this system if you only have one cat and let the kitten wander around so the other cat can see him but not be able to feel too threatened.
Don’t be too concerned if there is hissing and some growling for the first couple of weeks. That’s normally just the older cat communicating that he isn’t quite ready to be best buddies yet so give me some space or the kitten saying, “I may be small, but I’m no push-over.” All of that is quite normal; so is play-wrestling. Your kitten is used to playing with larger cats (and a dog), so don’t be alarmed if she seems fearless. Aggressive behavior such as an older cat attacking the kitten is NOT acceptable. Should that happen, don’t punish anyone, just separate the two and start over more slowly. Some animals take longer to accept change and need reassurance.
Your other cats may not want to share their litter pans and food at first. Be prepared with extra supplies and to put them in different areas of your home to prevent accidents from occurring. Make sure the cats all have access to litter and food/water. Some cats will stalk the babies or bar them from the litter pans so be sure that you observe everyone closely and make sure the new kitten is not at risk before leaving them all alone together.

Sure, Maine Coons are like other cats, but….
They are generally taller and longer than your average cat, taking 3-5 years to reach full size. Adult males typically weigh 13-18 lbs, some are 25 lbs; standard females reach 8-12 lbs. Dracoonfly females are known for their size and range from 12 to 20 lbs. Yes, they can definitely get bigger than that (just don’t let them get FAT). Plan on a LARGE cat carrier and a LARGE litter box by the time your kitten reaches adulthood.

FOOD: We feed and recommend a quality dry food available at all times AND canned food fed twice daily. A diet of exclusively dry food is no longer considered to be the best for your cat or its teeth. Quite simply, it’s more convenient for us. Feeding a primarily dry diet is suspected to lead to obesity (more carbs), diabetes, hypothyroid, urinary tract disorders, kidney failure and dental problems. Therefore, please don’t hold back on the canned food. Iams, Wellness, Royal Canin Special or Maine Coon dry foods are very good. You can feed dry kitten food until around 6 months of age. Because most dry foods are made with grain and some cats are sensitive to corn and wheat, a food such as Wellness or Innova Evo may be a better choice for your cat.

We have been feeding your kitty canned food, Friskies or Fancy Feast, twice a day in addition to the dry food. Canned poultry varieties are recommended. They prefer canned food at room temperature; 8 seconds in the microwave usually does the trick for refrigerated food. Canned food may not be as convenient as dry, but it has been shown to be healthier for cats and tends to prevent obesity (and therefore diabetes) better than dry food. Besides, your kitty loves it! Cooked meat such as beef, turkey, or chicken (without seasonings) to supplement is also recommended.

WATER: Offer fresh water every day. You wouldn’t drink “old” water….don’t ask your cat to either. Maine Coons enjoy playing with their food and sometimes their water. We recommend using heavy water bowls and putting trays under the water bowls if your kitten thinks it’s fun to splash. Keep the food bowl at least 12 inches from the water bowl. Do not keep the litter pan anywhere near the food and water containers.

DISHES: Use glass, ceramic or stainless steel, low sided bowls and clean them daily. Plastic tends to collect bacteria from the oils in the cat food and can lead to chin acne. Disposable paper plates may also be used for their canned food.

LITTER: We use Feline Pine or World’s Best cat litter. You will be given a 7 lb bag of World’s Best to get your kitten started. Both litters are excellent at controlling odor and flushable, even with septic systems. Feline Pine is less expensive and does very well if you only have one or two cats. World’s Best costs more, but tracks a lot less and lives up to its name. The crystal litters are also wonderful, but not flushable. There are better cat litters out there so feel free to experiment, but do it gradually by mixing the new litter with the old one for a few weeks before switching over. If your house has more than one level, you need to provide one box per floor while your kitten is still small. Think of a young child who may realize at the last moment that it has to go and doesn’t have time to get to the bathroom. Remember to provide at least one litter box per cat in your household. Pay particular attention to the needs of your existing cats as older cats tend to be less adaptable than kittens to change. We suggest you use the jumbo sized litter pans or large storage containers to accommodate the long length of the Maine Coon body as your kitten grows. Put litter pans in a quiet and well ventilated place. Scoop the litter daily, dispose of litter appropriately and clean/disinfect your litter pans with bleach when changing litter, at least once a month.

CLAW CARE: Kitty nail clippers will be included with your Kitten Package when you pick him/her up. Your kitten is used to having its claws clipped, but may not necessarily be completely agreeable. It is much easier to attempt this on a sleepy kitty than when it’s in a playful mood and can’t sit still. Having someone else offer treats while you clip will also help distract a squirmy kitten. Trim a kitten’s nails every 2 weeks, adults can be done monthly. Don’t allow them to get so long they start catching in everything or the kitten could get caught and tear her claw out in an effort to get away. Use small cat claw scissors or nail clippers turned sideways and press on the pads of the foot to extend the claw. Clip the translucent tip of the claw. The opaque portion should not be cut or your cat's claw will bleed - this will hurt and cause a negative reaction. Clipping claws should never hurt and if done properly, the cat will not mind. There are five claws on each front paw and four on the rear.

SCRATCHING POSTS: Cats physically need to scratch. To not provide a proper scratching post is almost as bad as not providing a litter box. A cat tree or scratching post at least three feet tall is a necessity for a Maine Coon cat. If your scratching post falls over or is too small, your cat won’t feel secure using it. They need something tall and sturdy so that they can scratch (scratching boards that hang on the doorknob won’t cut it). By using the scratching post, your cat sheds her peeling outer claws which feels good, marks her territory with the scent glands on her paws and works her body. Your kitten has been taught to use a scratching post by her mother. Sprinkling dried catnip on your scratching post will help to attract her to it. It’s up to you to continue with the proper scratching tools necessary. If you give your cat the scratching outlet it needs and use negative reinforcement if she tries to use your furniture or rugs (“No!” and a squirt from a water bottle work well), you and your cat’s claws will get along just fine.

GROOMING/COMBING: Combs work best for a mature Maine Coon coat. Your kitten probably won’t want to sit still for grooming, so just try to comb him a little at a time. As he matures he’ll be easier to work with. Sometimes, it is better to let the cat brush itself, that is, hold the comb out and let the cat rub its face on it, then progress to the body. As your kitten’s coat grows in, it may tangle around its ruff and under the arms. Don’t allow mats to stay on your cat as they can be uncomfortable when they are close to the skin. Seam rippers (available where sewing supplies are sold) are marvelous tools for cutting mats out without risk of cutting the cat. A weekly combing will go a long way in preventing mats and hairballs. A “lion cut” done by a groomer can be a nice summer hairstyle if your Maine Coon has an exceptional coat.

BATHING: Your kitten’s coat probably feels clean and soft now. As it matures, the Maine Coon coat has a tendency to get greasy-looking. Males, in particular, often develop “stud tail”, at around 6 months. Stud tail makes the hair on top of the tail look sticky and clump together…that’s oil. If you bathe your kitten at least once a month, it should tolerate bathing well as an adult and will look SO BEAUTIFUL! Make sure you clip your kitty’s claws before bathing it. ;-)
My basic bathing routine includes Goop (mechanics hand cleaner) if the coat is really greasy, followed by Dawn dishwashing liquid soap, then a regular shampoo (human kind is fine). Make sure you rinse really well, it is vital you rinse everything out; a sticky coat will look worse than when you started and will attract dirt.

DRYING: I use one or two large towels initially then confine my cats to a carrier with a space heater or a blow dryer pointed at the front of the carrier. After 30-45 minutes, I put the space heater or dryer on a table and comb the cat out on a table while it grooms itself. Some cats just can’t tolerate the sound of a blow dryer and that’s where a space heater helps out. Use whatever is best for your cat’s senses. I have a plastic space heater, which isn’t hot to the touch so I don’t have to worry about singeing a tail. Bathing will also help reduce the amount of hair that is shedding and is vital during their shedding seasons (Spring and Fall). Greasy coats and shedding can lead to horrific mats so it is important to keep up with their grooming.

FLEAS: There is no excuse to tolerate fleas with the advanced products available on the market these days. Since your cat doesn’t go outside, there shouldn’t be a problem unless the fleas ride in on a pet dog or your pants legs. In this case, use a topical product for CATS such as Revolution, Biospot, Advantage or Frontline on your cat monthly to kill the fleas and treat your home. Do not buy a cheaper flea product at the store unless you speak to your vet first. Some of these products have been known to cause seizures in cats. Fleas are very detrimental to your cat's health - they can kill a cat through anemia and give cats tapeworm as well as make them miserable. Do not let fleas invade your home - keep your cats indoors and be alert.

TOYS AND BEDS: Even though it’s tempting and cute to let a kitten play attack with your fingers, I strongly urge you to only use inanimate objects for your kitty to “attack”. Little teeth and claws grow quickly (and hurt!). Your adult cat won’t understand why you now get angry at it for a game you taught it to play as a kitten. Wriggle the eraser end of a pencil or a toy instead of your fingers. Cats can be taught to only play with inanimate objects and never human body parts if everyone in the household is consistent.

Expensive toys are not necessary (but it is fun to go shopping for kitty) - cats love cardboard boxes, paper bags (handles must be cut), tinfoil balls (large, tightly compacted), ping pong balls, etc. Cat tracks and turbo scratchers are great. Catnip toys are wonderful, but your kitten probably won’t like them until it’s older. Pipe cleaner toys (bugs) make great fetching toys.
You may want to consider getting your new kitty its own basket or bed to sleep in. Cats sleep 18-20 hours daily, they may as well be comfy. Cats like to feel confined when they curl up so round baskets or beds that go up around its body work well. Keep in mind that the bed that fits your kitten now needs to be big enough to hold it in a year.

TRAVELING & VACATIONS: If you start your kitten out by taking short, fun trips that involve treats, there’s a much better chance it won’t stress out as much when it gets older. Speaking as one who has traveled all over to cat shows, some of them will develop car sickness when they get older, no matter what you do. Some of them seem to inherit the car sickness gene, some don’t. If you go away and need to leave your cat in someone else’s care, I strongly recommend a good pet sitter to come into your home as opposed to boarding a cat. Boarding has too many risks (diseases and parasites from other cats) and stresses (barking dogs).

KEEPING A CAT INDOORS Cats are perfectly happy to live indoors. You can always try walking your kitty on a harness and leash. They've never been outdoors and don't miss what they don't know and they will never miss the following:
Being hit by a car
Being attacked or killed by dogs
Being attacked or killed by coyotes, raccoons, foxes, hawks, fisher cats or other carnivores
Injuries from other outdoor cats or feline diseases such as FIV, FIP or FeLV
Coming into contact with toxins or poisons (antifreeze, snail bait, rat poison)
Injuries from poisonous insects, snakes, bees, wasps or hornets
Injuries or diseases from eating birds or rodents (bones, toxoplasmosis)
Injury from a sadistic or cat-hating neighbor
Being stolen - Maine Coons are beautiful and theft is not uncommon!
The average life expectancy for an indoor/outdoor cat is 3-5 years. Additionally, if you allow your Dracoonfly Maine Coon to roam freely outdoors, you have just voided our Kitten Sales Contract.
PRECAUTIONS: Many products and situations are hazardous to your cats. Lawn treatments and fertilizers can be airborne or come in on your shoes. Remember that cats lick their paws and can ingest many poisons that way. Pine based cleaners are toxic. Keep toilet lids down and do not use tank cleaners if your cat ever drinks from the toilet. Treat your cat like a curious child and look for hazards. Cover electrical outlets, protect them from dangling blind cords or electrical cords, fire screen off your fireplace, and be careful with recliners, hide-a-beds, rocking chairs, slamming doors. Be careful with beds (box springs, dangling threats), needles and thread, plastic bags, shopping bags, tape and sticky tags, cigarettes, Styrofoam, packing peanuts, dental floss, ribbon, yarn, rubber bands, cellophane, open refrigerators, dryers, garbage cans, sharp tin can lids, chicken bones. Be observant and try to deal with hazards before your cat finds them. Teething kittens will often chew electrical wires. If you can’t keep wires out of reach, try Chew Stop or Bitter Apple spray (available at pet stores) on the wires to make them taste bad.

POISONOUS PLANTS: Visit this web site for lists of plants to avoid:
CFA's list of plants
CAT PLANTS: Fortunately, cats seem to be pretty smart about not eating the wrong plants (unlike our dog, who will try anything). We do recommend growing your own cat (wheat) grass for your kitty to nibble. Seeds are available at any nursery or garden shop and are easy to grow. Cat grass has a short life so consider germinating one pot while the other is out for consumption, then exchanging pots.

HEALTH AND FIRST AID: Keep your vet's phone number handy as well as locate an emergency or after hours vet nearby if your regular vet is closed. Emergencies seem to always happen at night or on weekends. If you do have to use an emergency vet, always, always, always, follow up with your regular vet the next day. There are just too many horror stories out there about inexperienced emergency vet personnel.

Let us know how your baby is adjusting to its new home. Send pictures! We love to see our babies after they’re all grown up and in their new homes! Please call us if you have any questions at all. Best of luck with your new treasure and ENJOY your wonderful new Maine Coon cat!

Friday, February 13, 2009


I have two teenagers living with me (unless you count my husband Jay who has many teen-like qualities, but that's for another time). My son Tyler is 17 and my daughter Kelsey is 13. And although my kids may deny it, I used to be a teenager myself. No, not one of the hippies or the bobbie sox and poodle skirts they envision, but a kind of regular teen.

I was a teenager in the eighties, when my generation wore preppy clothes like Dickies, Levis, Polo and Lacoste, designer jeans, Dock Siders, rugby shirts, pink & green. Realizing that fashion trends come back around, I've been holding my breath, hoping the preppy craze will come back before Kelsey gets any older because I can't stand the 70's style clothing. At least the midriff-baring shirts are out now. As a teenager, I always wanted the name brand clothing, but my parents never saw the need (or had the money) to buy me the good stuff. So I had one yellow crew neck Polo sweater I got on sale that I wore to death because it was the only Polo anything I had. I was so proud when I finally got my first pair of Levis at the age of 12. They were light blue corduroys that I wore even in the summer. Because I wore them horsebackriding, they got horse dirt on the inside part of the lower legs. I would scrub them with a toothbrush each time to so they would still be clean enough for me to wear to school.

Being sensitive to the name brand gotta-haves that teenagers obsess over, I vowed that my children would never have to get their jeans from Hill's Department Store (kind of like a Woolworth) like I did. They'd never have to get the cheap sneaker knock offs while their step-dad got Nikes. As luck would have it, my kids are self-labeled "Indies", meaning they wear whatever they want; Abercrombie and Aeropostale are not necessities. For years, I fought their tendency to lose socks and wear mismatched pairs. In one of my many vane attempts to teach my children independence and not be the sort of mom who does everything for her kids just so it's done right, I held "Clothes Sorting Parties". I would dump all the clean clothes on our bed, call everyone in to fold and sort their own clothes and pair together socks. This was done in an attempt to force them to take responsibility and put their own socks together. I even got everyone in the family their own jar of safety pins to pin socks together before the washer and dryer randomly ate them. As it turns out, my non-conformist mismatched sock kids were complimented at school for their sock fashion. Now some stores actually sell socks in pairs that are deliberately mismatched. So maybe my kids started a trend?

One trend with teenage "dudes" that isn't from the 70's is the hip-hop-pants-worn-below-the-butt-cheeks style. I know the day will come with those same boys will look back at pictures taken with their boxers exposed and the crotch hanging down to the knees and say "what was I thinking?" What the teens don't realize is that they are missing out on an advertising opportunity with their low-riding style. Back in the old days, when I was a teenage girl, my friends and I often observed and rated the rear ends of the guys according to how they looked in a pair of Levis. We labeled them as "runner's butts", "lacrosse butts", football butts", etc. based upon the in-depth personal study of athletes and how their sport gave them distinctive musculature in the glutenous region. Don't tell me you haven't noticed the same thing, especially when it comes to male dancers. If teen dudes would wear less baggy pants (it doesn't have to be the so-called "girl pants", just more complimentary to their figures), they might attract more girls and eliminate some of the laughing behind their backs. There's also the fringe benefit of being able to walk comfortably without chaffing and run in the event of an emergency.