Kitten Conundrum

I have some questions/concerns about kittens and cats. So, if anybody thinks they can offer advice, please do!As some of you may know, Gilvoro and I are moving soon. We’re going to get my parents’ 16 yr. old cat, Shadow. We’re also going to get a hairless kitten. Well, we probably are. I keep feeling guilty about paying lots of money for a purebred when there are cats in need of homes at the Humane Society . . .

Anyway, I was on a waiting list for litter and the litter was born yesterday. One kitten. A male, blue and cream. This isn’t really what I wanted. I was hoping for a female. I’ve read in several places that males and females have different play behaviors, males being more agressive. This isn’t an issue, usually, when the cats are close in age. However, it can be a problem for an old female and young male. I don’t want to spend lots of money on a kitten to have him make Shadow miserable.

So, have you guys noticed divergent behaviors between cats of different sexes? Has it been a problem? Should I just hold out for a female kitten?

31 Responses to “Kitten Conundrum”

*sigh* you and your hairless pets…

James and Aretha both start shit with each other, but there’s only a year or two between their ages (We’re not sure how old James is, but he’s still got a lot of kitten in him). Ahhhh… kitties…
Wait, what was the question?
Um, yeah, I would imagine a playful kitten would give Shadow a lot of hell. Maybe wait on the kitten until she’s… er… not around?
Why aren’t your parents keeping Shadow?

Owen - October 6th, 2004 at 7:38 am

To add to the small sample statistics… I need to comment that spayed femal cats can get quite fat while neutered males don’t get, well, quite so fat (As anyone who’s met Olympia and Magellen will know). And in that relationship the female is clearly dominant, but they are the same age.

I think in general any time you get a kitten it will harass the adult to some extent. 16 years old is getting on there in age, an energentic kitten will be a lot for her to handle. Combine that with the stress of moving to a new home where she doesn’t have a territory defined could lead to badness. My advice would be that since this cat isn’t quite what you wanted anyway to decline this kitten and wait until Shadow has adjusted to her move. Then, if you think your new place has enough room for both kitten and older cat to have their own space (what are you moving in to?) then get a kitten.

Other notes: Get your cat spayed or neutered… they are soooooo much friendlier without having hormones to confuse them. Also gender attitude diffrences are much smaller so you can get much more placid males and if you’ve ever met my sister’s old cat you would know you never want to be around a female cat going through heat.

Laika - October 6th, 2004 at 9:24 am

Cats of different sexes, in my experience, act *extremely* different. I think you’d prefer a female cat.

On a side note- you’ve infected me– I keep pondering buying a sphinx cat, myself.

… and I didn’t know you were moving. To where???

Paradoxdruid - October 5th, 2004 at 10:54 pm

my advice for what it’s worth (having just got a kitten myself and a veterinarian for a Dad):
1) The cat (no matter if it’s male or female, “fixed” or not) will only get fat if you feed it too much! You control how much it eats, so as long as you only feed it as much as your vet recommends than he/she/it won’t get fat and have subsequent health problems.

2)Male cats in general are more affectionate. You usually want to get a female dog but a male kitten. I’ve never heard of increased aggressiveness due to gender, but since you’re looking at a kitten, they’re ALL aggressive! (You should see my hands and arms — I look like I have some sort of weird skin disease from all the scratches!)

3)I’m assuming that you plan to have it “fixed”. Aside from how many strays are out there (since you want a purebred and there can be pretty significant money in breeding them), male cats start “marking” their territory and (as mentioned before) females go into heat. Trust me, the smell of cat piss never goes away!

4) If you think your older cat can handle the kitten, I don’t see any problem. Just be prepared for the kitten to attack anything and everything!

5) I’d say the biggest problem is the fact that you’re moving. The kitten can’t be separated from it’s mother (without inflicting severe mental and health problems) for a minimum of 6 weeks and he’ll/she’ll still be really young and scared. Bringing it into an environment that’s constantly changing and very stressful for YOU will be 10 times more stressful for him/her. I really wanted to get my kitten within the first week that I moved here, but I’m really glad I waited until I was fully unpacked. Goober (my cat) needs lots of love and attention and I didn’t have time to give that to him with all the other stuff I had to do.

hmm..opinionated today, aren’t I? 😛

If I were you, ShortSpeedFreak, I’d wait till after you’ve moved in and have settled in a bit. The male/female thing is pretty minor. Cats have such varying personalities that it really depends on the individual kitten you get. And while I’ll never understand why you want a hairless cat (;-)), you should get what you want!

mallorn - October 6th, 2004 at 10:54 am

On a different note, I think we’re all missing a prime teasing opportunity…Paradox wants a cat? A cat without a TAIL?

mallorn - October 6th, 2004 at 10:57 am

Maybe he… um… just… you know… has given up on getting any tail?

Owen - October 6th, 2004 at 11:21 am

In my limited experienced, neutered male cats are very lazy and like to sleep a ton and easily put on some weight. Spayed females, on the other hand, are still fairly active. We have a spayed female who is 12 now (half siamese, half tortie) and she’s always rejected our neutered male, who is now 7 (silver tabby) because he’s extremely lazy (and maybe a bit retarded?) and she hunts mice all day, maintaining her slender physique. Other neutered males we’ve had have also been quite lazy, and I know other spayed females who are also quite energetic.

I don’t know how the behaviors would be different if you didn’t fix the cats, but that shouldn’t even be an issue unless you’re thinking of breeding a pure-bred animal. (In this day and age when “6 to 8 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year because of overpopulation,”: any educated person should know better than to not fix their animal.) And now I’m going to get on my soap-box briefly to say how important it is to support “your local humane society,”: such as the “Longmont Humane Society”: or the beautiful “Humane Society of Boulder Valley”: (since I volunteered at the HSBV I feel it’s really important to support shelters!).

Teisha - October 6th, 2004 at 12:34 am

Wow. Thanks for the outpouring of advice! To set your minds at ease, Jim and I are definitely getting the cat fixed- regardless of age, gender, genetic heritage. I think that it’s irresponsible to breed pets haphazardly.

Also, Jim and I will probably be in the new apartment at the Habitat(1100 square feet, Laika) for about a month to six weeks before getting a new kitten, and that would assume we got one at the earliest possible moment. Also, the apartment is DIRECTLY across the street from where I work. So I’ll get to spend a lot more time at home. That would probably give Shadow enough time to adjust. And my parents aren’t keeping her because the puppy is far too interested in her. Scottish Terriers LOVE cats, or so we’ve been told. She’s not trying to be mean, but she’s bigger, stronger, and dumber than Shadow. So she can’t quite figure it out . . .

I’m also planning on trying to wear the kitten out regulary with cat dancers and other such toys. I want the cat to know that I’m not a toy, but other things are. 🙂 And if I can run home for lunch most days, we can also do a mid-day play session.

I spoke to a vet tech. this morning. She says that gender shouldn’t matter all that much, but that the introduction should be gradual. Keep the kitten in a bedroom for a week while Shadow adjusts to its smell and we show her that we still love her and will spend time with her. Then introduce through a screen or glass. . . etc. She actually said with an older cat a kitten can be easier to get because it’s not set in its ways yet. A 6 year old cat might not be willing to change for Shadow. Kittens can be “trained.” Also, she said old cats often ignore young cats that tick them off.

Finally: Thoughts on declawing? Shadow did get declawed (front paws only), so before you tell me how it destroys cats and ruins their personalities, I’d like to note that we’ve had NO behavioral problems with her and we’ve had her for 15.5 years. And we have indoor cats ONLY. However, I’ve learned more about it (since I was 6 the last time I got a cat), and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with it anymore. What are your feelings? What do you know about it? Have you ever had it done to a cat?

ShortSpeedFreak - October 6th, 2004 at 12:57 pm

My family’s male cat is pretty aggresive even though he’s been neutered, though I think a big part of it is that he was living outside for a while before we got him. On the other hand my grandparent’s male cat is one of the most mellow ones I’ve ever seen, so I’m not sure how much it’s possible to generalize based on this sample size of 2.

mcmillan - October 6th, 2004 at 1:16 am

No declawing. It’s rather inhumane in my view (you know they cut off the first knuckle, right?). And if the cat’s being destructive a) clip its nails and b) catproof your house (says the guy with a cat who wakes him up in the morning by ripping apart his Othello poster). Besides, kitty claws can be fun, like when you’re giving them a bath, or when they take a flying leap onto your face because they’re chasing each other.

Owen - October 6th, 2004 at 1:25 pm

Yeah, declawing’s bad.. in my view.. but, if you need to get it done (i.e. either he quits destroying furniture or he’s going to the shelter, not that I’d think you’d ever do that… but some do), then make sure he’s strictly an indoors cat (and, you said that that’s how it’ll be anyway). I’d never do it, personally.. there are other ways to cope with cats destroying furniture and such.

Teisha - October 6th, 2004 at 2:54 pm

“Sphynx cats”: don’t have tails?

Teisha - October 6th, 2004 at 2:59 pm

“Numbers?”: In my limited experience at shelters and clinics, I’ve seen many more cats not declawed than are. “This article”: (as linked above) says it’s only 31%. Though admittedly that’s a large percentage (larger than I thought), it’s not a majority. But, there are “lots”: “of”: “articles”: “out”: “there”: about why you shouldn’t declaw a cat, not so many on why you should… It’s even “illegal in over 20 countries.”:

Teisha - October 6th, 2004 at 5:10 pm

Well, after talking with all you cat-o-philes and speaking with two different vets, Jim and I feel like the male kitten would probably be a fine match. The vets said that the gender shouldn’t matter too much, and that a male kitten might even be slightly better for Shadow. I guess she’ll feel like her place in the family is less threatened. Thankfully, neither vet was worried about Shadow’s age and dealing with a new kitten.

They also said that declawing should be a last resort, but they feel like a lot of the internet hype about how horrible it is has been a bit overdone and extreme. ::shrugs:: We’ll see how kitty does with claws and a good scratching post and go from there.

Thanks again for all your advice! Once I get confirmation that I can have this kitty I’ll post baby pictures of him. He looks like a hairless rat. 🙂

ShortSpeedFreak - October 7th, 2004 at 12:13 pm

And you want a hairless rat? You’re weird.
Good luck with the kitty! Aretha has offered some of her fur to make a wig for it.

Owen - October 7th, 2004 at 2:16 pm

Exactly, Teisha… Sphynx Cats has tails. Don’t know what crack Owen is smoking. 😉

Regarding declawing- If it’s going to be an indoor only cat, it seems reasonable to me. Cat claws hurt, and it’s a small further modification to an already very changed species- we humans make our environment comfortable for us.

Paradoxdruid - October 6th, 2004 at 4:11 pm

(Yeah, Owen, if you wanted to pick on Andrew for liking Sphynx cats you should bring up the fact that they look like Yoda but with less hair and more wrinkles… and then you can pick on my Chihuahua for his bug-eyes 🙂 )

Teisha - October 6th, 2004 at 4:18 pm

Bad Andrew… this is why you are not allowed to have a cat. While declawing can be done well, it is a pretty serious surgery which should never be gone into just because humans want to modify their world. But besides possible problems in the surgery, I think the most compelling reason not to declaw is that even indoor cats can escape and they need to be able to climb trees/defend themselves.

Laika - October 6th, 2004 at 4:36 pm

Not to justify myself through numbers (because it could be, and likely is the case, that the majority of people are fools), but quite a large number of cats are, in fact, declawed.

So what rationale is offered by those who do declaw their cats? I’ve never had one, so I don’t know.

Paradoxdruid - October 6th, 2004 at 4:52 pm

Ok I am going to weigh in with my opinion on all this. First off, how long have you all known us? I mean good god, of course we are going to remove the gonads on any animal we get (expect possibly a female horse).

Furthermore, in my experience with animals (across all breeds) the temperment of a fixed animal really don’t follow any type of gender line. I have had near equal number of aggressive, shy and loving male cats as female cats. Same goes with dogs and horses. I think that animal personalities develop in the same way that humans personalities, meaning that there are alots of factors. I will of concede that there are trends and I for one would never own an Arab horse if Andrews life depending on it.

As for declawing I am inclined to think that hype is over blown about its damages to cat. I think there are risk invovled with the surgry, but I am not convinced that it is greater then getting an animal spade. Of course for an outdoor cat there is a difference. Those cats need claws for defense, offence and having a good time.


Gilvoro - October 7th, 2004 at 6:13 pm

The cats will definitely be indoors only cats. I think it’s cruel to let kitties roam, unless you have a pen or well fenced yard. (Note: To those of you who let cats out, just because you love your cats doesn’t mean your neighbors do. My family is full of animal lovers and we have used humane traps to capture neighbor’s cats and take them to the Humane Society).

Everything that I’ve read about Sphynxes, as well as everybody I’ve spoken to about them (several breeders, several people who show them, and two vets) said that they are extremely friendly to other cats. And EXTREMELY affectionate to humans. In fact, they tend to get along well with dogs, so long as the dogs are fairly cat friendly. And many breeders keep dogs and a cat or two of another breed around to ensure that they do get along with these creatures. Would you mind directing me to the info. source that says they’re intolerant?

I don’t live in California or Europe. I’ve never regarded a pet as “okay” after surgery until it’s off the sedatives and pain killers and I can see how it’s dealing with the surgery on its own. I’ll repeat what I said before: I’ve never seen a personality, behavioral, physical, or emotional shift after one of our cats got declawed. I’m still undecided on how we’ll deal with the new guy, but I’m leaning towards not declawing him. I just hate it when critics of something use scare tactics to try to disuade people. I tend to feel that if declawing is the only way a cat is staying in a home, then it should be done. There are far too many homeless pets out there to put up 31% of housecats up for adoption because you can’t get them declawed.

And I’m aware of the caps. I’ve never used them or seen them used, but it would be worth a try. If they’d stay on and if the cat wouldn’t try to get them off somehow.

ShortSpeedFreak - October 13th, 2004 at 12:22 pm

I am assuming you are not going to let the cats outside. So make sure your home is large enough to allow them both to have territory. Males do tend to play a bit more agressively and have wider roaming ranges, but if the other cat is the only female, she’ll be viewed as the queen (spayed or not) and will likely be even more territorial than the young male. Although the male/female distinction on this is not that good at predicting what will happen. The personality of the cat, age, age at which neutered, all make a huge differene. I would be more concerned about the breed, because Sphynxes are notorious for have 0 tolerance for other cats.

Gatorade - October 13th, 2004 at 3:25 am

Re declawing
There are also little caps you can put on the cats fingernails. They are very small and they don’t hurt. I don’t know where this person lives, but declawing is illegal in California and well, most of Europe. If he’s in CA it will be hard to find a vet to do the surgery. It’s a very traumatic and painful surgery really. People think their cats are fine when they bring them home but that’s party the sedation and party because cats are masters at hiding pain.

Gatorade - October 13th, 2004 at 3:29 am

Well, I’ve had my little male Russian Blue/Siamese rescue kitty since he was terribly small and blue-eyed in March 03, and since then he has become a royal pain in my ass. I don’t think it has to do with his being neutered or anything, I just think he likes to be a bastard. He does this cute lay on my back, expose belly, meow, purr, hand comes near, grab forearm, shove hand in mouth, bite with molars to show love thing. Reeealllly adorable.

Anyhoo, thought I’d weigh in on clipping of claws. I do it with my cat, and even though he’s a bastard, it only takes a couple of minutes and it happens about once a week, once every other week. I’ve been doing it since he was a kitten, so he’s down to yowling like I’m beating him, but keeping him still long enough to clip his claws isn’t too much of a problem.

I don’t want to declaw my cat, simply because it costs a bunch of money and I was the one who decided the little bastard needed to be in my house in the first place. Why cosmetically enhance him just because someday I might afford nice things. When that day comes, I’ll buy that spray that keeps cats from scratching.

To those who might liken neutering my cat to a declawing, neutering is a safeguard that the little guy doesn’t go out and father kittens that will prey on native bird populations, not have a decent home, and have short, unhappy lives. Declawing a cat would be to protect a sofa. I think both are major surgeries, it’s just that one is a wole lot more easily rationalized than the other….at least to me.

Now, why the heck hasn’t anyone said anything about why someone could want a cat that isn’t fuzzy?!!?!? Jesus, half the reason I put up with my cute little jackass is that he’s, well, cute, and cuddly…occasionally…But, a hairless rat? I mean, damn, that’s just one ugly cat. Reaaaaallllly ugly. I mean, I guess if you think otherwise, that’s your thing, but….no…hair….

Jon - October 17th, 2004 at 12:54 am

Oh, and if it’s ok to modify animals to make their human masters more comfortable, I think Andrew should have a human breast grafted to the back of his potential Sphinx cat…gotta feel something up sometime, and it makes the human more comfortable…just one more modification

Jon - October 17th, 2004 at 12:57 am

Well, I certainly don’t want to have a breast on my cat, but to each their own. 🙂 I think that hairless cats are an acquired taste. They do look a little strange, some more than others, but I think they look rather elegant. And he only looks like a rat because he’s so tiny right now. (Though, for the record, I have contemplated buying hairless rats. Rats are good pets. Why not hairless ones?) At any rate, I bet your little guy is adorable. I love Russian Blues- and Siamese, for that matter. The blues are so elegant and regal looking. I’m not sure if I’d mentioned it, but the kitten we’re adopting is blue and cream. (He’s 12 days old now.) Siamese are . . . a bit too chatty for my tastes, though we think Shadow may be part Siamese, due to her sometimes excessive chattiness.

The more I think about it, the more I can see why people are reluctant to declaw cats. However, with the overpopulation of cats, if somebody is only going to have them if they’re declawed, I say go for it. Shadow is declawed, but she’s had a wonderful, long, healthy life. I don’t think it makes housecats depressed or unable to love. And I’d rather see declawed cats than an even greater population problem.

ShortSpeedFreak - October 17th, 2004 at 1:14 am

I pretty much agree with that statement—furthermore, perhaps if more cats did have breast-grafts the population of unowned cats might drop as those wierd guys who program CAD software all rush to adopt cats.

Jon - October 17th, 2004 at 1:24 am

If I may be honest (which is probably revealing my hidden bastardness or humanocentrism or something), I don’t see anything wrong with making cats with breasts grafted to their backs. I wouldn’t want one, becausde it would be awkward when people visited. But why not? I mean, as long as the surgery was competent and the breast doesn’t put the cat in constant pain or something. Heck, all that nerve tissue, the cat might grow to love it.

As to declawing- when I made my first statement, I wasn’t aware of the magnitude of the surgery involved, though I still think it’s not a bad option. I will concede, however, that it may not be the best option.

Can’t wait to see your new cat!

Paradoxdruid - October 17th, 2004 at 1:37 am

I’ve heard hairless rats can have “some real problems”: (one link of many). Well, you know, generations of inbreeding to get a quality like hairlessness can do that to you. And, as most probably know, our wonderfully “evolved” dog species have their own unique problems — dogs with “pushed-in” faces, i.e. “pugs,”: “boston terriers,”: “bulldogs,”: etc, can have real breathing issues (and I personally have seen at least one die from them), dogs with weird skin, i.e. “shar-peis,”: can have major skin problems (dermatitis, etc), dogs with long, stretched bodies such as “basset hounds,”: “Welsch corgis,”: and “Dachshunds”: commonly have spinal problems (though most were originally bred to get badgers out of holes and such), and “chihuahuas”: and “pugs”: have some wonderful eye problems because of their “bug eyes,” and the list goes on and on. And, yes, there are some semi-hairless dogs that can also have skin problems, such as the “Chinese Crested.”:

I guess my point is that you’ve got to be careful any time you get an animal that has been bred over many generations by human choice not to be the most “fit,” but to serve a specific purpose. I know that hairless rats have skin problems, though (luckily) I haven’t heard of too many related to hairless cats — I wish you the best of luck with your kitten, just be careful 🙂

Teisha - October 17th, 2004 at 6:02 pm

(Um, another note — muts are good :-))

Teisha - October 17th, 2004 at 6:06 pm

Yeah. Hairless cats also have rather high metabolisms, due mainly to the fact that they have no hair. 🙂 They can also have heart problems, though these are detectable very early on. So, we’ll know that about Atlas before we actually get him and can decide if we want a special needs cat or want to wait on another kitten. This breeder has never had a problem, so I’m very hopeful.

Also, since the Canadian hairless is such a new breed, they’ve taken great pains to avoid inbreeding and spent a lot of time cross-breeding them to furry cats to try to ensure healthier kittens. That said, I’m sure there are some idiot breeder who aren’t associated with a cat registry who inbreed them. You should always be careful with purebreds- no matter the source.

And Teisha’s, of course, right. Mutts are great. There’s that hybrid superiority for you. 🙂 Healthier and, in my experience, balanced. Much more balanced personalities. And I fully plan on adopting plenty of mixed breed cats and dogs. But I’m allowed to get a purebred every once in awhile. 🙂 I’ll take on the added care of a hairless for now. (By the way, Druid, how do I post pictures?)

ShortSpeedFreak - October 18th, 2004 at 12:32 pm

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