BEFORE YOUR KITTEN ARRIVES
Your kitten will need
A warm bed
Burmese do not need hot house conditions, however unless your house has day and night central heating, or a boiler or stove which is always on during cold weather the kitten will need a heated bed or electrically heated pad with a covered flex, which you can buy from any good pet shop. An expensive basket is not necessary as it may be scorned in favour of a supermarket cardboard box with a warm blanket or Vetbed is adequate in a warm room and is completely replaceable if the kitten chews it up! Ventilated plastic storage cartons are easily cleaned and draught proof and can also make acceptable beds.
A litter tray
A litter tray should always be available whether your cat goes out or not (see later) and must always be kept in the same place. Various types of litter are available but initially the type the kitten is used to will ensure success.
Trays should be cleaned as used removing solids and wet matter and should be thoroughly disinfected once a week as necessary.
A bowl for fresh water changed daily should always be available. Each cat should have its own food dish made from easily cleaned material.
A carrying basket is essential for collecting your kitten and also later for trips which you will need to make to your veterinary surgeon. Various types are available from pet shops. The best ones are easily cleaned and draughtproof. The cardboard types are not safe and are unlikely to survive the journey home with a curious kitten! It is not safe to carry a kitten or cat loose in the car, and if you order a taxi reassure the company that the cat is in a basket.
Find a veterinary surgeon now
Burmese cats are as healthy as non-pedigree cats but, as a precaution try to find a veterinary surgeon who is interested in cats. Your kitten should have been thoroughly health checked by your breeder’s vet before leaving them.
COLLECTING YOUR KITTEN
You will have already seen your kitten before you take it home.
Vaccinations against Feline Infectious Enteritis and ‘Cat Flu’ are normally given at nine and twelve weeks of age. Some breeders also vaccinate against Feline Leukaemia and Chlamydia. Under GCCF recommendations kittens should not leave home until they are thirteen weeks old, and at least one week after their final vaccinations. You will be given the vaccination record which you will need in order to check for booster vaccinations which must be given regularly throughout the kitten’s life.
The breeder should also provide you with the kitten’s pedigree, a GCCF transfer document, and a sheet listing the diet and feeding times which the kitten is used to. If you follow these guidelines the kitten will be less susceptible to stomach problems in its new home.
Should you have any questions concerning the care of the kitten do ask the breeder, as he or she should be glad to help.
It makes sense to collect the kitten at a weekend or holiday so that you can give it plenty of attention to help it settle in.
Make sure all doors and windows are shut and that the chimney is blocked if you have an open fire (some chicken wire screwed up and pushed up the chimney will prevent escapes that way, and if you have a fire the smoke can still go up the chimney). Obviously any other types of fire, gas or electric, should also have secure fire guards around them. The kitten is probably best confined to one room for a short time and should be taken into the room where it is to settle with its litter tray and food and water at hand. Lift it gently from its basket and show it where the necessary items are then let it explore. Keep everyone quiet for now so there is no noise and excitement that may frighten the kitten. Explain to children that they must be quiet and still for this settling in period, and a Burmese kitten will soon be scooting around playing with the children as soon as it is used to its new surroundings and new family.
If you have another animal it should be confined to one room if necessary, until the kitten has fully explored the house then the kitten can be taken into another room while the existing animal has had chance to smell the new smell. It may be necessary to postpone introductions until the next day when the kitten is feeling more secure. Be understanding with the established animal while protecting the kitten. The best time for introductions is usually when both are hungry. Obviously use separate bowls. Most cats will accept a kitten after an initial displeasure which could last for 2 or 3 weeks.
For the first few nights when you put the kitten to bed talk to it and if it cries during the night come down and comfort it (a soft toy can often help with this initial loneliness). If you decide to take the kitten to bed with you remember the litter tray and a bowl of water!
Any sign of illness should be taken seriously. A temporary loss of appetite may just be due to the stress of changing homes, new people, and loss of mum and siblings but should not persist beyond the first day or so If you are worried about anything discuss it with the breeder and if necessary seek veterinary advice, although not all vets are familiar with the behavioural characteristics of Burmese kittens.
The kitten’s requirements
The dietary needs of cats are quite special and are distinguished from other carnivores such as dogs. The cat must have animal derived tissue in its diet and also has a higher protein requirement than many other mammals. In particular there are certain amino acids that the cat simply must have in its diet, if it is to be healthy. One of these, taurine, is found almost exclusively in meat, but it is not advisable to feed raw meat.
For this reason many responsible cat owners prefer to feed tinned or dried food supplied by reputable manufacturers. Much care and research has gone into the formulation of these foods and using those guarantees a correct balance. Hills, James Wellbeloved and Royal Canin are a few of these special dry foods.
A few breeders also like to use fresh food in the rearing of kittens and their advice is to be respected. When taking home a new kitten it is important to begin with a diet that the kitten is used to and only change this slowly if you need to.
Feeding the new kitten
Kittens and cats sometimes prefer food that is just slightly below body heat (about 35 degrees centigrade) so warming it slightly may make it more appealing if the kitten is initially reluctant to accept a new food. Tinned or fresh food must not be left down for any length of time especially to avoid flies.
Also, cats do like variety in their diet. Even if the decision is made to feed tinned food, changes of flavour or manufacturer will help maintain their interest.
Water is the single most important nutrient to sustain life. It is most important that fresh water is available at all times. Milk causes diarrhoea in some kittens and cats. Burmese seem to be prone to this and so the advice is to avoid feeding them milk.
Just as for toddlers the home is full of hazards for kittens, including hot baths, open toilets, open windows, unprotected fires, open chimneys, tops of storage heaters, cooker hotplates, hot irons, washing machines and tumble driers with open doors and unprotected flexes. If you are going to keep your cat indoors, which is highly recommended, you can get mesh screens to fit over open windows and doors from places online such as Cataire, which means in the summer months you can have windows open without fear of your cat or kitten falling out, and no flies or bees etc being able to get in the home.
Garden chemicals, slug pellets and antifreeze are poisonous, as are common household disinfectants which are extremely poisonous to cats. Some houseplants and flowers like poinsettias are also poisonous to cats, lilies, for instance are completely lethal and any part of a lily will kill a cat. Another household product is washing up liquid which is also a killer if it gets onto a cat and is then licked off.
Most common household disinfectants are extremely poisonous to cats – examples are Dettol, Jeyes Fluid, Lysol, T.C.P. and Iodine.
Use disinfectants which do not contain PHENOL or CRESOL. These are POISONOUS to cats. Most brands of household disinfectants contain them. A quick test is to see if it goes white when added to water. Parvocide GPC-8, Virkon, Peratol and Trigene, and Safe 4 Pets are safe. Always dilute a cleansing agent according to the instructions and make sure disinfected items are rinsed and aired afterwards.
IT IS DANGEROUS TO GIVE BURMESE FULL FREEDOM
The characteristics which make Burmese so charmingly inquisitive and friendly are those that also put them at greatest risk.
Do not let your kitten out until it has been in the house for at least two weeks and even then it should only be let out provided it is fully acquainted with the geography of the house and will respond to your call from any part. Accompany the kitten when it goes out and choose a time just before a meal. The kitten should not be let out when you are away or in semi-darkness, and certainly never at night. Do not let the kitten out in winter.
Proper holiday arrangements should be made. Cats taken on holiday and let out are frequently lost and the task of finding then is well-nigh impossible. If the cat is left at home for a neighbour to feed it, it should not be let out.
Although Burmese cats live perfectly happily indoors without garden access a completely wired run or balcony is preferable. If this is not possible one or two windows can have wire screens fitted. Cataire and Streme are two of several manufacturers of such screens. Cats seem to benefit from eating a little grass so keep a pot indoors.
If you intend to let your kitten to go outside, it should wear an elasticated collar and identity disc bearing your address or telephone number. A microchip is a lifetime identification which can be implanted by your vet.
The risks of allowing a cat out can vary according to locality. Cats do become victims of road accidents or cat thieves, or they may wander away or climb into cars. By far the majority of Burmese reported missing are never traced and one can only speculate what has happened to them. In certain parts of the UK they can even be attacked by seagulls.
STEPS TO TAKE WHEN A KITTEN OR CAT IS LOST
If you are unlucky enough to suspect that your kitten or cat has become lost, here are some suggestions for steps you can take.
- If you are not a member of the Burmese Cat Club, look at the club’s website:- burmesecatclub.com where there is a lost and found section. Check with all of your neighbours in case the cat has taken refuge in their shed or garage.
- Inform your breeder.
- Notify any animal welfare organisations in our area, e.g. RSPCA, Cats Protection, and any smaller animal rescue groups. Check for these in your local paper and the Internet.
- Tell your veterinary surgeon and ask to put up a notice in his waiting room. Inform other veterinary surgeons in the area as the cat may be taken into them.
- Tell the milkman, postman, paper boy, etc and ask for their help and contact local schools – children are much more observant, particularly of strange cats in the area. Local Councils will also now check for microchips on road traffic accidents involving pets.
- Notify the police. Although they don’t officially record lost cats they will mostly help where pedigree cats are concerned
- Advertise in the local press. Several weeks may be necessary.
- Put notices on trees and outside local libraries, shops, supermarkets, churches or similar places where people gather.
- Have a notice duplicated and put through as many letter boxes as possible of any houses in your district. People are more likely to read what comes through their door than a notice in the street which they may not see. Notices should have a description of the cat so people should be able to identify a Burmese if they see it, and a colour photograph will obviously help this.
- Search and call at night and the early morning and don’t give up too soon. Cats have been found after weeks and even months.
It is very sad to learn of the death of a loved pet but it is better than undergoing months of uncertainty. If your cat has some form of identification it will make things so much easier.
The Lost and Found service of the Burmese Cat Club is available to try to reunite lost Burmese with their owners.
Burmese cats are very affectionate so they should not be left alone for long periods of time. Where families are regularly out of the house for most of the day the problem of loneliness can be resolved by having two kittens, preferably litter mates. Some breeders will be reluctant to sell a kitten without assurance from the new owner that the kitten will have suitable company.
Burmese are good with children but no cat should be expected to stand up to rough handling or loud shrieks. They are very intelligent, inquisitive and playful. Provide plenty of toys for your kitten to play with and it will soon learn to retrieve a small screwed up piece of paper. Most Burmese will teach you how to play this game! Teach it to respond to its name and play with it often. If the kitten misbehaves do not confuse it, smack it or shout at it. It will quickly respond to a firm “no”.
Contact your veterinary surgeon immediately in case of sickness, don’t wait to see how the kitten is in the morning for it may be too late by then. Check for ear mites and flea and treat regularly for worms. Never resort to home remedies but consult your vet. Unless directed by him never give any medicine intended for human use. (e.g. aspirins, tranquilisers etc) as many of these are lethal to cats. Make sure your cat has regular booster vaccinations against Feline Infectious Enteritis and Cat Flu and FELV.
Indiscriminate mating of cats just adds to the number of unwanted kittens. A Burmese female kitten may start to call (come into season) when she is far too young to be mated. A calling queen will roll on the floor be very affectionate (particularly to males), tread with her back feet and is extremely vocal! If the kitten calls too early discuss the problem with your vet. If you do not intend to breed from her she should be spayed at about six months but not while she is calling. All male kittens should be neutered at around six months. Un-neutered males tend to spray and if kept in the house will probably spray and leave a very unpleasant smell.
HELP AND ADVICE
If you have to board your cat, failing a personal recommendation, choose the cattery from a reputable list and visit the cattery before booking.
If, for any reason, you are unfortunate enough to have to part with your cat, please contact your breeder first. If she/he cannot help in placing it in a good home, approach the Welfare Officer of the Burmese Cat Club. All telephone numbers are in the Club’s News, or online.
The Burmese Cat Club welcomes as members all those interested in the breed. Information and membership forms are obtainable from the membership secretary. All details are online.
We wish you many happy years of your Burmese cat’s companionship.
Burmese Cat Club – http://burmesecatclub.com/
Governing Council of the Cat Fancy – https://www.gccfcats.org/
International Cat Care – https://icatcare.org/advice/keeping-your-cat-safe/choosing-boarding-cattery
© The Burmese Cat Club 2018