This post and the following four are part of a series named Here For The Kittens and are all in collaboration with Cats Protection, the UK’s largest feline welfare charity:
You can find all the links for their social media here: Cats Protection’s LinkTr.ee
This Series was inspired by the fact I finally made the decision to get a kitten (who I picked up today – May 20th!) and having worked with Cats Protection several times in the past, I thought they’d be the perfect collaboration partner. So, we’ll be working together to produce weekly content for the first month with my new kitten; Ruby. The content will revolve around all the information and advice I’ve needed to take from the Cats Protection website each week and there’ll be a Ruby update in each post with plenty of photos and video clips…
If you’re fairly new to I’m NOT Disordered, then you might not know my little history of pets and it’s something you kind of need to understand for this blog post… So, before I moved into my own home in 2014, we had an all-black British shorthair cat at my Mum’s home called Saffy and having had her since I was in Middle School (aged 9 – 13) I couldn’t imagine life without a cat. Also, having been sectioned and in a psychiatric hospital for over two years before I moved into my own home, I couldn’t imagine being completely alone 24/7 and so I got a maine coon called Dolly (you can read about her here).
After three years out of the psychiatric hospital – in 2017 – the visual hallucinations of rabbits seemed to reappear, and I found myself struggling with the ability to keep myself safe. So, one day, my Mum and I were in my local Pets at Home store and I had this thought in my head that if I were to hold a bunny, I might either get the courage to tell my Mum the hallucinations were back, or I’d have a huge feeling of reality and would feel less suicidal and have fewer thoughts to self-harm. And so, I chose this one, fluffy, Lionhead lop and after wriggling in the staff’s hands they passed her to me and she instantly went still and just as quickly as she did, a ton of tears were falling from my eyes, and I was telling my Mum everything. I went back to the store the following day and bought the bunny who I named Pixie (you can read about her here).
In 2018 – after just over one year since introducing Pixie and Dolly (Cat’s Protection have a whole page of information and advice on introducing different pets to each other: Cats & Dogs/Other Pets | Help & Advice | Cats Protection) and watching them becoming best friends; Dolly had to be put to sleep (you can read about losing her here). Almost immediately I got the distinct impression that Pixie and I couldn’t cope with it being just the two of us and I went against everyone’s advice and opinions and rather than ‘wait a bit longer’ I adopted a little calico rescue kitten (who I named Emmy – you can read about adopting her here) within six days of losing Dolly. With Emmy being a rescue, I was slightly sceptical and curious as to how easy the introduction between her and Pixie would go; but I made the decision to just put them together straight away rather than gradually introducing their scents because I believed that doing it slowly would almost string things out and make them more anxious. I turned out to be right and they hit it off!
Emmy and Pixie were together for almost three years when Pixie became poorly with her fourth episode of Gut Stasis (a common and potentially fatal condition affecting rabbits), but the Vets said that this time it was going to be harder for her to recover. They also told me that she would likely continue to suffer with episodes of this and that each time it would be more painful and harder to recover from and I hated the thought of her life being like that so in April 2021, Pixie was put to sleep (you can read more about losing her here). And, in all honesty, because she had that special meaning to me around the hallucinations in that when I was seeing the rabbits, I could look or touch Pixie and be assured that she was the reality and that they were not; losing her hit me in a different – maybe harder, to be honest – way to the loss of Dolly. And because of that, I decided not to rush out and get another bunny straight away, but Emmy was gradually getting more and more distressed (she would often go to the cupboard where the sawdust and hay used to be kept and would scratch at the door) and I was missing having a bunny in a psychological and emotional therapeutic sort of way.
So, in September 2021, I bought my mini Lionhead, black and white lop; Luna (you can read about her here) and once again, introduced her immediately to Emmy. And, once again, it went off without a hitch – in fact, if anything, Emmy wasn’t even too phased by this energetic, curious, and friendly new ball of fluff in her home! But the feeling wasn’t mutual – Luna was ecstatic to have Emmy in her life! She followed her everywhere and sometimes if Emmy was outside, Luna would come over to me for a stroke, but if she spotted Emmy back in the house then she’d be off back by her side. I think Emmy enjoyed being in charge a bit, and whilst she sometimes seemed playfully annoyed by Luna being her shadow, they had such a lovely bond that they often ended up washing themselves next to each other at the same time!
Less than one year after getting Luna, I found sores starting to appear on her face – mostly her cheek and forehead near her eyes and ears – and I had a bad feeling about them so when her usual Vet dismissed them, I ended up taking her to another practice. They immediately issued antibiotics and a cream to put on the sores and confirmed that had I not taken her for help, she could have lost the sight in the eye nearest to this one sore that kept getting larger. The sores healed, but then returned with a vengeance and were immune to the treatment that had previously worked so she had to have blood tests and a biopsy. And eventually, she was diagnosed with Lymphoma Cancer and put to sleep on October 26th 2022 (you can read my blog post marking the loss here).
If you’re making the decision to get a new pet and it is because you have lost one, Cats Protection have a grief support service called Paws To Listen as well as some helpful resources: Grief and loss | Dealing with your cat's death | Cats Protection
Going home without her sister, almost immediately bonded Luna and I even more, and she began following me around the house and whenever I was sat in the living room she’d come over and sit by me for hours just wanting to be stroked and talked to. She also started taking one of the cat tunnels in her mouth and pushing it around the floor and initially, I thought it was just out of fun and that she was trying to occupy herself without Emmy… I was wrong though, and it turned out she was doing it out of frustration, loneliness, boredom, and grief. And so, in January of this year (2023), I got my brown mini Lionhead lop; Gracie (you can read about getting her here).
In all honesty, in getting Gracie, I had no sense of our little household suddenly being complete nor was I feeling as though everything was permanent and at peace. And so, the first thing that inspired my decision to get a new kitten was that I noticed Luna and Gracie were always off in another room (usually the kitchen) cuddling together and washing each other. Then there was me – in the sitting room, with no companion(!) and whilst I’m mostly someone who enjoys their own company and who really doesn’t mind having me-time; noticing that I was alone for a good chunk of the time that I spent at home, didn’t feel good for my mental health (which has actually recently relapsed).
In considering this fact, I came to the realisation that it has been the longest time in over 20 years that I’ve not had a cat in my life! I was actually kind of surprised with this – the fact that it had taken me so long to realise it because my mental health has always benefited from continuity so I thought I really should have spotted this enormously important aspect a whole lot sooner! And so, once I had these two factors (that I needed a companion and that I hadn’t gone so long without a cat) in my head, I struggled to shake them out; so, it almost felt natural that – because of this – I decided to get a kitten!
I say ‘natural’ but there were still a few hurdles to overcome in the time between making the decision and waiting until Ruby was old enough (eight weeks) to leave her mum and siblings. The largest of these challenges was my mental health because a few months ago (in February) I had a relapse in my recovery and was sectioned and admitted to a psychiatric hospital for almost two weeks (you can read a bit about it here and here).
Being discharged from that hospital didn’t mean that I was just totally fine and back in recovery though; so, the months since then have still been really difficult (that kind of feels like an understatement to be honest!) and that’s meant a lot of crying, a ton of visits from professionals (including Paramedics, Police, Crisis Team staff, and the Step Up Team), a few nights in A&E, and lots of shouting on phone calls. All things which I’ve worried were unsettling for Luna and Gracie and so they left me almost automatically asking myself ‘is it fair to bring a kitten into this?’ Almost as instantly, however, I knew the answer was that Ruby was going to be so helpful for my mental health and for managing my safety and general wellbeing. I mean, it may not seem like it because I have still massively struggled, but I do believe that if it weren’t for the exciting thoughts around getting Ruby, things would actually have likely been a whole lot worse!
So, I was cement in my decision and after making that huge decision to get a pet, I’d say that the next largest is in deciding whether to adopt or to find a breeder/private seller. Aside from Pixie (who, as I said earlier, I got from Pets at Home) and Emmy (who, I mentioned earlier, was from a rescue/adoption centre), I’ve used the same method to find/buy my pets. Whilst I love the idea of providing a home for a pet who has had a rough start in life and giving them a ‘much-needed second chance’ (as Cat’s Protection label it), I really recognise that this might mean adding a pet to the family who might be more vulnerable than one who has come straight from a safe and loving home. And I think that the main consideration in deciding how to get your new pet should be on the fact that no matter what their background, they all deserve a kind and nurturing home and so I think it’s more important that you focus on the life you’ll be able to provide for them.
Another big factor in making the decision to use a breeder, is the fact I have Gracie and Luna so the kitten will have some level of challenge in joining our home/family and I would be concerned to get one who might have already experienced some sort of trauma or distress in their life. And even though I went with this line of getting a kitten, I stuck to the Cats Protection advice on all of the questions you need to be asking the breeder and what to look for with the kitten when you visit them before making the final decision: Buying a Kitten
The charity also have a lot of information, tips, and advice if you do choose to adopt instead: Adopting a Cat - What You Need to Know | Cats Protection
After choosing my kitten – Ruby – and going through all of the tips on confirming I had chosen a reputable breeder, I began preparing my home, booked her in with the Vets (Cats Protection actually also have some advice on choosing a Veterinary Practice for your new pet: Finding a Vet - How to Choose a Local Vet | Cats Protection) I use for Luna and Gracie, and made plans around what I was going to do when I first brought her home in terms of introducing her to the bunnies etc.
I had the thought that I would keep Luna and Gracie in the Kitchen when I brought Ruby home and that I’d let her explore the house for a few hours before my Mum planned to pop in to meet the new addition(!). Then, I thought I would give her a few more hours to settle after having a visitor and then bring the bunnies in for the evening and then put them back in the kitchen for the night-time – they used to be free roam at night, but since Ruby will need to go through other rooms for access to the litter tray and her water bowl and scratching furniture etc, I started keeping them in the kitchen. I did it gradually too by putting them in on alternate nights for the two or three weeks prior to bringing Ruby home so that it wasn’t an additional massive and sudden change for them at the same time they were getting a new sister!
I decided to look at a lot of different websites/stores in choosing the essential items Ruby would need (I used this link from Cats Protection where they have a ton of information on how to prepare your home for a kitten – including a list of the necessary products you need to be buying and advice on ensuring your home is a safe environment for them: Preparing Your Home For a Cat | Cats Protection) and kept a budget in mind when comparing products. In case you’re curious or are looking for ideas on where to buy things for your own cat, here’s a list of everything I do actually have for Ruby and after that, there’s a little shopping guide tailored to both ‘high’ and then ‘low’ budgets for each store/website I’ve purchased from:
Ruby’s Collar: £6.99
Ruby’s Customised Blanket: £7.95
Cats Protection’s Cat Care Collection (ad):
Fleece Blanket: £5.99
Donut Bed: £11.99
Pets At Home:
Cloud Swatter Toy: £10.00
Ruby’s Scratch Furniture: £40.00
Rainbow Blanket: £8.00
Claw ‘n’ Roll Cat Scratcher: £2.99
Catnip Unicorn Toy: £1.97
Ruby’s Activity Mat: £18.95
Caticorn Toy: £3.85
Drum Scratch Toy: £2.89
Hello World sign: £5.99 from Phoenix Cove – to celebrate the launch of this series, this amazing Etsy store have offered my readers an exclusive discount code for 10% off their incredible products, just type in: HEREFORTHEKITTENS10 at the checkout! Also, you should go follow them on Instagram: Personalised Gifts, Decor, Wood Signs & More! (@phoenixcove.co) | Instagram
*Discount code valid until June 17th 2023*
5 in 1 Cat Toy: £27.99
Tunnel Bed: £37.99
Wooden Cat Tree: £109.99
Enclosed Litter Box: £39.99
Floral Travel Bag: £39.99
Ceramic Bowls with Wooden Stand: £24.99
Feather Wand Set: £8.49
Tent House: £7.20
Blue Litter Tray: £5.35
Cat Scratching Post: £10.99
Mason Bowl: £3.50
Cardboard Scratcher: £7.99
Cat Care Bundle: £9.98
Radiator Hammock: £12.99
Pop Up Tunnel: £7.99
Grooming Arch: £9.99
Fun Cat Bundle: £12.96
Treehouse Furniture: £150.00
Corner Hooded Loo: £31.00
Faux Suede Cat Bed: £45.00
Cat Massage Centre: £10.19
Navy Pet Carrier: £26.00
Play & Scratch Toy: £5.00
Vibrating Mouse Toy: £3.00
Bow Cat Collar: £5.00
Spotted Clamshell Cat Bed: £14.00
Grey Saucer: £4.00
Pom Pom Chaser Toy: £4.00
Two Level Stool House: £49.99
Multi-Level Activity Centre: £79.99
Rattan Effect Litter Pan: £24.99
Cat Fountain: £29.99
Teepee Bed: £32.99
Electronic Spinner Toy: £21.99
Self Groomer: £3.29
Scratching Cardboard House: £12.99
Litter Scoop: £2.99
Double Bowl: £9.99
Sheepskin Cat Den: £9.99
Feather Teaser: £4.05
Personalised Collar: £13.39
Cat Teaser Wand: £11.50
Knitted Catnip Macaroons: £21.60
Rainbow Scratcher: £25.00
Pet Teepee: £76.35
Personalised Pet ID: £12.34
Catnip Kicker and Ribbon: £2.50
Crochet Catnip Ball: £2.80
Sleeping Sack: £13.50
Collar Initial Charm: £2.00
Personalised Toy Storage: £9.95