After a couple of years living with a number of cats and trying various products, here is a list of products we have found to work best for our purposes (so far). Of course everyone has their own opinion based on their own experiences and needs, so we welcome constructive feedback! Let's start with products very near and dear to my heart (and nose).
With so many brands and types on the market, choosing a kitty litter can be a dizzying process. We have surely not tried them all, but we have tried quite a few, and have settled on these two for the time being...
- Purina Tidy Cats Clumping Litter for multiple cats - 24/7 Performance
Why we like it: No dust
Clumps stay together while scooping
Light, pleasant scent with good odor control
"Staying Power" -tightness of clumps means less soiled litter in the box means more time between full litter change
Low cost (very important when you have a lot of cats!)
Small containers are easy to pour, large yellow bucket containers are useful in collecting soiled litter
Cons: Clay is heavy
Clay is not as environmentally friendly as some products
Some kittens may eat - can obstruct digestive tract
- Pine Wood (sawdust) Pellets. These are marketed for many different purposes, but they all work pretty much the same. Our current brand of choice is Royal Wood Shavings Bedding Pellets. This particular brand of pine pellets are marketed as horse bedding, but it is basically the same product as the cat litter "Feline Pine," at only a fraction of the price! (40lb. bag bedding pellets cost under $7/bag at Agway while a 10lb. bag of feline pine retails at Agway for $18!) The same wood pellets are also marketed as pellets for pellet stoves, but are only available seasonally in this form.
Why we like it: No dust
Light, pleasant pine scent provides good odor control when scooped daily
Very low cost - don't mind throwing it away
Kittens don't eat and not likely to obstruct digestive tract
Cons: Not effective for use by more than 2 cats
Slightly more difficult to scoop - need to shake out used sawdust which can be messy, also takes getting used to.
Next in series: Surfaces that satisfy: Scratching posts
In one word? No. In many more than one word? Slight. There is, however, a definite difference in the physical size and physique of male and female Burmese. I expect my male Burmese to be between 7 and 9 pounds with a thick, stocky frame, whereas my females are typically between 5 and 7 pounds with a more delicate frame and bone structure, though they are still compact and by no means skinny. But as for personality, this tends to vary more between individual cats than by gender. With that said, every once in a while I will get a male kitten / cat who has definite "swag," or swagger, which basically mean he tends to strut around as though he owns the world. Though not all males do this, I have never had a female exhibit this very particular strut.
Typically the biggest difference that I see in kittens is whether they are a dominant personality or a submissive personality, and these split pretty evenly between the genders. Both of these traits start to emerge as early as 4 weeks, when the kittens start to walk and explore their environment. The dominant kittens typically can't wait to get out of the nest, and will roam far and wide as soon as they are able. Dominant kittens love to spar and wrestle, and will typically paw at and annoy their littermates until they can get into some kind of wrestling match that they engage in with great vigor. More submissive kittens will tend to stay in the nest and will explore much more slowly, typically until they find a nice cozy place to curl up for some pets and a nap! Although they will respond to dominant littermates when "attacked," they aren't typically the instigator of the tussle. Dominant cats are typically first at the food bowl, and are much more likely to try and engage a human hand in wrestling / play biting.
Cats do have a definite social hierarchy based on the level of dominance of each cat's personality, and this should be considered when bringing a new cat into an established cat's home. Typically males will accept any new kitten regardless of dominance because if the male cat is dominant, a kitten of any gender will come in at the bottom of the social structure. If the male cat is submissive and the kitten is dominant, the kitten will assume dominance. Established females, however, can be a bit more tricky. Typically a dominant female will accept any male as she will retain dominance, even over a dominant male kitten who will eventually dwarf her in size. A submissive female will also welcome dominant or submissive males. Bringing in a new female, however, is typically NOT advisable, even if the new female is a kitten. Females typically do NOT adjust well to the addition of another female, and this "cat fight" can continue for months or even years. Though there have been times I have seen two fairly submissive females learn to get along rather quickly, this is not something I would count on when deciding what gender of kitten to bring into a one female household! If you have questions in this regard, please do not hesitate to discuss them with me in regard to your specific kitty household.
What I do not see is one gender being more affectionate / attached. Male Burmese are not more loving, more companionable, or more easy going as a GENDER than female cats as quite a few people have assumed or been told. In the same way, female Burmese are not more tempermental, prissy, shy or stand-offish than male Burmese. Most important here is that they are BURMESE, and BURMESE absolutely adore people, so male or female, I guarantee you will be delighted!
I just got another great question from a visitor to our website, and thought it would make an interesting topic for our blog...
I strongly recommend visiting a cattery because it tells you a lot about the environment that the breeding cats are kept in and the social experiences the kittens have had. It is one of the best ways to ensure that what is advertised (a healthy, sociable kitten) is what is being cultivated.
When you physically go to a cattery, you can see the breeding cats. Cat lovers who have never seen a Burmese before are often surprised by how small they are in comparison to a typical household pet. They take note of how friendly and curious they are, greeting them at the door, following them from room to room, and sitting on the lap of a virtual stranger. You can also observe the overall health of the cats. Do many of the cats have runny eyes? Are the cats sneezing? Do they have a shiny coat? What is their weight like?
Visiting a cattery gives you an idea of how the cats are kept and what a typical day is like for them. Are they kept in cages all the time, some of the time, or allowed full run of the house? How big are the cages? Is the cage / household environment clean? Is there a separate area for studs and/or newborn kittens? How do they get exercise and stimulation? Do they have access to clean food and water? Is the litterbox changed regularly? While I don't want anyone to come and do a "white glove test" on my home / cattery while visiting (I do have 4 kids, 2 dogs, and quite a few cats, after all!!!), and everyone has their own idea of "clean," you should feel reasonably comfortable with the kitten environment.
Finally, visiting a cattery also gives the breeder a chance to meet you and feel comfortable that you will take good care of the baby they have poured so much time, knowledge, effort, and affection into raising. In the same way you want to see how your kitten has spent its first months, we want to know with whom they are going to spend the rest of their life! When you visit, we have a better sense of you and your current lifestyle, and helps us make the right recommendations in regard to which cat/kitten is right for you.
If a breeder is hesitant about having you come for a visit or insists on meeting you in a parking lot to give you your kitten, I would recommend that you RUN, don't walk, THE OTHER WAY!! This smacks of the rare but well known "kitten mill." Good breeders don't have anything to hide and WANT the opportunity to meet you before handing over one of their babies. This is not to say that breeders who are willing to ship a kitten or offer to drive part way are all greedy and unethical. Some breeders ship because they are located in very remote areas or breed a very rare breed of cat and ship by necessity. At that point you may want to ask for a reference from another breeder or client. If this is not readily available, buyer beware!
Unfortunately, there have been and will continue to be some very rare times when prospective cat owners go to pick up a long awaited kitten from a "breeder" only to discover lots and lots of poorly kept cats and kittens roaming loose in a very dirty, smelly, overcrowded house. This is very likely a hoarding situation, and action needs to be taken to protect the cats and address the issues of the owner. If you encounter such a situation, DO NOT ADOPT any cat or kitten, no matter how much money you paid. Leave the premises and contact the animal welfare authorities in that area. You can also contact the CFA breed club of that breed and make them aware of the situation. Although there is nothing they can do legally, they can be a wonderful resource in rehoming cats if that becomes necessary.
The great news is that in my few years as a CFA breeder, I have met a lot of wonderful breeders and visited a lot of immaculate catteries. Although every breeder does things just a little bit differently, I am happy to make recommendations for the outstanding breeders with whom I have the pleasure to work.
I just received a great question from one of my friends from the waiting list, and I thought I'd start my blog by posting my answer here. While I often don't find time to update the website as regularly as I'd like, I do try and answer individual emails sooner rather than later! Maybe this will be a good way to do both. Please take the opportunity to ask additional questions, and I will post answers back.
Question from Lisa of Sturbridge, MA:
How much do the kittens usually weigh at birth?
Newborn kittens weigh anywhere from 56 (my smallest ever) to 95 or so grams at birth, and don't look like much more than tiny, furry mice. Their eyes and ears are closed. In this litter of four kittens (born 11/22/13 to Treya and Comet), they were all between 70 and 85 grams, which is great as there was no real runt. Sometimes they lose 2 or 3 grams in the first 12-24 hours, but mostly I like to see them gaining at least 10 grams a day, and ideally they should double their birth weight by the time they are a week old. This doesn't always happen, and is more a guideline than an absolute. The champagne male started off very slowly in the first 10 days, but has now eclipsed everyone and weighs over 310 grams, where the smallest (initially the biggest) is still hovering at 241. I know grams are not what we typically think of in terms of weight, but pounds and ounces just aren't useful when you are talking in such miniscule amounts. Usually I switch over to the English/American system once everyone tops 300 grams, which equals about 9 or 10 ounces if I remember correctly, and I don't weigh them as often - more like every 3 days. Also with kittens less than 10-12 days old there is really not much I can do if they start going down hill. Lord knows the vet and I have tried, but we do not have a single success with a newborn kitten once it started to fail. Long time breeders have also cautioned me not to go to extreme measures to save a failing newborn. So sad, but seems to be nature's way of culling out those that are born with major defects and ensuring the survival of healthy litter mates.
As they grow, they should ideally gain about 1 pound per month. So at one month they weigh roughly 1 pound, two months = 2 pounds, three months = 3 pounds, and so on. Females tend to be smaller, however, and a good weight for them at 3 months is closer to 2 1/2 pounds.