Exotic Kitten Care Manual


Your new exotic kitten from R-Zu-2-U has been hand-raised from about 24-48 hours after birth. We always try to let each exotic kitten nurse their natural mother for a 24 to 48 hour period, depending on the mother's attitude toward the kittens and the quality of her nurturing instincts. If the mom is a good mother, we let her keep the kittens up to 48 hours. This way they develop good sucking habits, are used to being cleaned and stimulated and have had a good supply of the mom's colostrum. Colostrum carries antibodies to diseases the mother is immune to - even vaccinated against.

Your exotic kitten will have received the following medical treatments, immunizations and de-worming prior to shipping:

Fecal flotation and giardia check at time of declawing as well as a culture for intestinal organisms.

Precautionary pre-ship de-worming with pyrantyl paomate.

6 weeks and 8 and 10 weeks - Fel-O-Vax Lv-K IV. This aids in the prevention of diseases caused by:
  • feline leukemia
  • rhinotracheitis
  • calici
  • panleukopenia virus
  • feline Chlamydia psittaci
  • At the appropriate age in your state (usually 4-6 months) feline KILLED rabies vaccine is recommended for the protection of your cat and your liability however, your veterinarian should be the one to guide you on your decision to vaccinate or not.

    De-worm or have fecal flotation check as recommended by your vet, especially if you have any other animals. Normally 3-4 times per year.

    If it is necessary to use chemicals for flea control, extreme caution must be exercised with all cats, domestic or exotic. Be sure your animal is never put into a room or enclosure that has been sprayed with a chemical that is not safe for cats. Many chemicals for flea control in dogs will KILL cats - PEROID!

    For application on the cats themselves, We have been using Advantage. This is a topical application that is placed on the back of the neck. It comes in packages for both cats and dogs in a couple different doses. I believe the cat and dog chemicals are exactly the same. We use the dog one because that is what we have on hand and it was the same ingredients as the one labeled for cats. I do not recommend that you do the same, but just telling you what we have done. Our major recommendation here is that it is placed just where the skull meets the back of the neck. If it is put any lower, the cat can lick it off and ingest the chemical. The exotic kittens have not had any flea control and have been flea-free up to shipping. It is recommended by the manufacturer that Advantage is not used on kittens under 12 weeks of age. Check this with your veterinarian to be sure. There is also a brand new spray product out that takes a couple squirts and is supposed to work for 2-3 months. I have e not tried it or found out information about it yet. Just remember, cats lick alot so I am concerned about ingestion of chemicals.

    Bringing the kitten home:
    If you are picking up your kitten, it will be handed to you by me and will make the transfer easily, depending on the age. If it is being shipped by air it can be traumatized by the ride in the car, plane and once again the car. You will need to exercize good judgement and patience with the kitten who can be very frightened. The earlier you get the kitten the easier the transition will be for both of you. If you 5-6 weeks is optimum depending on whether the kitten is declawed or not. If it is to be declawed, it will be 6 weeks before it is healed and ready to go.

    Kittens are introduced to litter boxes here and are usually using them 100% by 6-7 weeks. To assure they are using the litter pan in the new environment, the kitten should be confined to a small room when you are not home that has a litter pan with the same ingredients I was using at the time the kitten left. Depending on the age and stage of healing I use shredded paper, corn cob bedding and regular kitty litter. NEVER, NEVER use clumping litter with a kitten under 6 months! It sticks to the hair of their feet and their rear - licking it off is a killer since the particles can become lodged in their ureter or compacted in their digestive tract. This will kill!

    The kitten should not be confined to the small room except when you are not home but you must monitor its behavior continually.

    Begin by watching the behavior of the kitten in the crate. Let it come out on its own as it will be frightened by the long trip. Many people will have been peering in the crate and it will be frightened. Remember that this is a baby and it needs time to adjust. Its first instincts to a strange person or place will be ‘wild’ and that is to protect itself by retreating or maybe even biting and striking at you with its paws. Respect the kitten’s feelings and give it time to adjust with soft, soothing words.

    These are not stuffed animals that will behave as you wish them to. Their instincts are strong and you must take the time and not get discouraged quickly. If you are this type of person, you are better off with a domestic cat. The rewards will be great if you take the time.

    If the kitten is friendly when it comes out, you have it made. But if it is afraid, close the door to the small room, and get down on its level, even laying down on the floor. Let the kitten come to you. Spend a long time with it letting itget adjusted. It is a good idea to let it stay in thecrate for 30 minutes before letting it out if it has retreated to the back of the crate. The main thing here is to watch its attitude and not to ‘push’ it. Do not pick it up to early or it’s defense will be to protect itself unless it is not afraid.

    The first couple of weeks take time for the kitten to adjust to the new home and people. Be patient and loving. If you are you will be rewarded with a special companion. If you are impatient and expect too much of this tiny infant, you will be frustrated and the kitten will pick this up and become more unfriendly.

    Most exotic cats are exceptionally clean animals and frequently clean their fur. In the process they ingest hair which collects and balls-up in the intestinal tract. Sometimes it is passed in the feces and sometimes it is 'barfed' up. To lessen the possibility of digestive disturbances (could be a cause of poor appetite) we do the following: Our hair-ball remedy consists mainly of mineral oil and a flavor enhancer like a special canned cat food. Check with your veterinarian for the exact dose of mineral oil because an excessive amount can cause real problems. We feel prevention is the best remedy. Teach your little exotic kitten from a young age to enjoy or at worst - tolerate brushing. At first, use a very soft bristle brush. At first, some individuals might not enjoy handling and touching from the shoulders back or underneath on tummy or near the genital area until they are very strongly attached to you and trust you with their life. A stiff brush will not be tolerated at first and using one will cause them to mistrust you. Even a baby type hair brush is good for the initial brushings. As the kitten learns to tolerate and eventually enjoy this attention, use a slightly stiffer brush and obtain one of the small shedding 'blades' at a pet store. These are a strip of serrated of metal bent into a circle and inserted into a handle. If the blade reminds you of a hacksaw blade that is because some bright horse devotee figured this out years ago.

    At this point, your cat will be either loving the grooming or still be trying to get away. In any instance always be sure the cat has a collar on when you are going to groom or bathe. There is way to hold a ticked off exotic cat if you do not have a collar on it. I personally am very firm with the cat at this point because it knows you are not going to hurt it but is just 'holding its own'. But if it tries to get away, I scold it by speaking gruffly, and hold it by the collar. Watch so you do not incur a bite during this process. It is a manner of timing, your mental attitude and your cat's willingness to let it be groomed. Be very gentle with any new tool you use on the cat. When it is comfortable with the shedding blade, you can press a little harder. You will be surprised at the billows of hair that are pulled out. It does not hurt the cat because it only pulls out loose and dead hair. If you do this once a week and daily when the cat goes through a shedding time, you can cut the time for loose hair around the place from 2 weeks to about 3-4 days. They do not shed profusely, so do not be paranoid - but they do shed.

    Feeding your exotic kitten:
    Exotic kittens are eating well when shipped. They rapidly go from bottle to food. One day they are spitting out food, and screaming for the ba-ba and the next meal they are scarfing up the food as if they have been eating all their lives. When they are ready, they are ready. I can have them eating at 5 weeks if I let them have raw meat, but our exotic kittens are never given raw for personal feelings about sanitation and health risks for humans and cats. Also, because it is nearly impossible to convert them back to processed food from raw. Exotic kittens on a raw meat diet have virtually no odor to their stools and urine. On processed food, there is some, depending on the flavor - So NO FISH!

    We feed Mazuri "feline formula". Mazuri is a division of Purina that has dozens of zoological formulas for many animals - from sharks to flamingos. We order it from a Purina Feed dealer. We pay $23.00 for a 25 lb. bag. There is virtually no waste and we do not feel the need to supplement. Cats have very specific vitamin and mineral requirements. We have seen cats have neurological difficulties when fed improper foods. They will lose control of their muscles and act as if they have muscular dystrophy. Proper diet will bring them back after initial dosing with injectable vitamins by your vet.

    Exotic kittens have the Mazuri added to their formula in tiny amounts at 3-4 weeks so they get used to the flavor. Once it is time to wean, we have been increasing the Mazuri diet in their formula and add Gerber baby rice cereal to a soupy consistency to get them started lapping. At the beginning of weaning ,we feed them 2-3 times a day. Sometimes the fewer times a day, encourages a better appetite.

    We add water to dry food and microwave for 3 minutes and let it stand until soft.

    Cats prefer food at blood-warm temperature - 101 degrees. Sometimes even a finicky eater will try 'hot' food that it would otherwise pass over.

    We have found, in the last year, by observing hand-raised kittens fed all processed, all raw and a combination of raw and processed food that the kittens that have some raw meat added to their diet from the beginning (at weaning time) show less food aggressiveness than those that are NEVER fed raw meat at all. We find this very interesting and think that the kittens that are introduced to it at an early age seem to be more contented in general.

    Because of these findings, we are offering all our kittens now, and recommending that your kittens be introduced to SOME raw meat at about 8 weeks. We feed as follows, at weaning time:

    Ground chicken, bones and all, with all excessive fat removed. Fed blood-warm with a formula made from 1 part KMR, 2 parts water and 1/2 part pulverized Purina Mazuri Feline formula noted above. We pour the formula over a mound of raw meat that we take the chill off in the microwave. We feed this twice a day. We let the kitten have a chance for one hour to eat the food. It is then removed to prevent spoiling. For the evening meal, we feed at dark and do not remove the dish until morning. It is usually licked spotless.

    Since we have used this method, we have NO fighting over food and the kittens are very gentle.

    This goes entirely against what we had always thought - that feeding an non-raw diet takes the 'edge' off. It does quite the opposite. As I have mentioned elsewhere, we are always learning. Food should always be offered warm. Refrigerated foods will not be appetizing to the kitten.

    Quantity depends on several things: age of cat, metabolism of the individual, activity level, state of health, and etc. I do not recommend free-feeding of exotics. Moist foods will spoil rapidly.

    Adults eat 6-8 % of their body weight a day in moist food. Growing cats may require 20-25% of their body weight. We feed three times a day until about 3 months, then twice a day until they begin to slack off one of the meals (6-8 months) and then once a day afterwards. Portion size will increase as times per day are decreased.

    Some cats do not eat every meal, every day. In the wild they fast every few days. Cats do eat some greens so some chopped leaf lettuce of fresh young tender grass once a week is okay. I like to give the grass in between meals because it often makes them vomit. Cats often seek out houseplants if you do not provide greens for them. This is the way they clear their digestive tract - often barfing up the hairballs. Karmen seldom barfs up a hair-ball, yet her brother that lives with a friend, has does regularly.

    Notice changes:
    If your kitten has a high temperature and/or is off feed, listless, depressed, dehydrated: This can be something as simple as teething or a serious problem. We cannot emphasize enough to get this animal to the veterinarian for rehydration and diagnosis. Not often, but occasionally, exotic kittens have exactly these symptoms when shedding deciduous teeth at 4-6 months. Just like a human child, a high temperature and dehydration can cause serious problems and even death - from a simple thing like teething. This happened to my own human son and a friend's exotic cat. We could have lost both of them. Watch your animal closely during this time and take very change in attitude seriously.

    Chewies help during teething and throughout their lives and curb destructive natures by directing those chewing urges towards something acceptable to us. Exotic cats often need to chew something up. We use rawhide chew pieces - put a bunch in water and microwave for about 5-10 minutes depending on quantity and let stand until about 1/2 soft. Then one to the cat and refrigerate the rest in a closed container. They are not able to chew dry rawhide very well. If you have knotted bones, un-knot the ends before giving to the cat. We recommend the larger flat chips so it takes them longer to go through one. Narrow strips are gnawed off in hunks and swallowed. We have never had a case of impaction but knotted bone ends and large quantities of big chunks could cause a blockage in the intestinal tract. We have also used 'pig ears' that can be purchased in pet stores.

    Exotic cats are relentless hunters. They will hunt bugs in the house and will jump 6 feet in the air to catch a June bug or a fly. Be careful about using pesticides or rodent baits that will kill or debilitate insects or mice. The cats will have easy pickings and eat the poisoned animal. - Need I say more? We have virtually no mice anymore that used to come in from- who knows where - and raid our parrots' cages. Karmen once presented me with a mouse she had just tortured - broke 3 of its legs and then executed it. She placed it on my bare foot as I way surfing the net. EEEEEEK! Another time, she ate a couple leaves from a pony tail palm and barfed up 2 freshly killed mice. That was the last mouse I have seen in here. I think the reason she knew she had to barf them up was because years ago, we had put poisoned mouse pellets in some inaccessible places. The mice may have eaten them and were rather sluggish, or at least one of them and she nailed them. Somehow, her system realized all was not right and she ate the leaves to vomit. In any case - if you have mice, put traps in cupboards but no poison.

    Let the cat pick out a place for its hangouts and bed and litter pans. Places they like are
  • Behind the couch
  • Bare shelves they can easily jump upon and preferably by a window that they can look through at outside activity
  • They love to curl-up in dishpan type containers, especially if they have a piece of fake sheepskin material in it. Some are destructive to pretty cat or dog beds, some are not.
  • Inside cupboards and closets
  • On most shelves where there is room to light.
  • They may pick a place for their 'latrine' in a far away place that they consider out of the territory - such as the utility room, behind something, etc.

    Exotic kittens can jump 8 feet. Karmel jumped up on a shelf we have 1 foot from the ceiling for books. Servals seem to have no limits to their heights.

    To discourage them - I use the flyswatter, lightly if I am around. If you are not around and they are continually jumping up where you do not want them to, sticky tape all over the shelf/counter with sticky side up, (not double-sided) will freak them out because they will have tape stuck to their feet and the harder they struggle and jump around, the more they will get 'stuck-up".

    Must be firm the first time, and above all, fair. You must not hurt the cat, only discourage it from a situation that it will now considerate unpleasant.

    Scruffing can be used on exotic kittens until they become heavier. I have, in an emergency, scruffed an adult, but you must remember that only a adult that already respects you can be scruffed with out injury to you, and a serious breach in your relationship.

    Socialize the exotic kitten well so it will accept your friends into your home. Exotic kittens can get pretty protective of their family if they are not socialized. Have lots of people come over and pet and play with your cat after you have established your bond.

    Cats must play to exercise and develop a bond with you. Be sure all family members play with the cat so their will be bonding to some degree. Cats that have heavy duty play time every day are rarely destructive to other things.

    Toys: Sheep-skin balls, stuffed toys for animals, tennis balls, etc. They usually do not like hard rubber balls or rubber toys as much as stuffed ones. They can be washed in your washing machine. Sturdy toys hung from above by an elastic cord.

    Soccer, golf, football, catch, kill the toy, some degree of retrieve, etc. They can leap into the air to catch a thrown, bowled or suspended toy. It is great fun. You can play 'cat' or you can play 'people'. You must make an early decision. When you play with the cat, to what degree you will allow it to put its teeth on you. Once you have made that decision, do not deviate back and forth and confuse the cat. It CAN and will learn if you are fair and firm just how far it can go with you.

    Barricades and ambushing places:
    These cats love cardbord boxes to hide in or behind. You can also make a baracade from a long portion from a large box such as a refrigerator, etc. You can stand it on edge and form it into a half circle. They will enjoy jumping in and out and around it chasing and ambushing their toys.

    Training notes:
    Remember you will get out of your cat only the effort you put into it. The more you play and have fun with it, the more devoted it will become.

    Start early with a collar and a leash. After you receive it, it has had its second shot. Do not take it where it can come in contact with other cats, dogs or where either of them have been. You must try to teach it to walk on the leash. As a young kitten, it will be less resistant than a 4 or 6 month old. Never pull or drag the cat. At first, it will go where it wants to when it is a kitten. Just follow it like a peasant - someday you will take a regal walk with this stately cat. It takes time and patience but they are so much more intelligent than a domestic cat. Let this work for you instead of against you.

    Your cat can learn voice praise and discipline. It takes repetition and consistency. All members of your household must be on the same wavelength as the main caregiver to the cat when it comes to discipline.

    The Declawing Debate:
    The following is a direct copy of information I found most descriptive on a feline list about declawing:

    There are pros and cons to declawing. Here is a partial list -- I am sure there are more points on both sides.

    If you are going to do it at all, do it early - we prefer to do them at about 12 weeks in domestic cats- (at R-Zu-2-U we only declaw at 5 weeks because there is no 'lick' reflex yet in the kitten and healing takes place in 2-3 days in most cases) as it cuts way down on post surgical complications. Also, I do not recommend declawing the back feet -- these are used mostly for defense and do not generally cause nearly as much damage to furniture etc as front claws do.

    1) The surgery as it is done now does not require stitches or extensive bandaging as it did in the old days. A surgical adhesive is used to seal the tiny blood vessels in the skin so they don't bleed. If bandaging is needed at all, it is usually only for a few minutes -- all bandages should be off by the time the patient goes home. (We usually keep the patient overnight after a declaw just to be sure there is no bleeding and to make sure he doesn't start racing around right away).
    2) It protects your person and furniture to some extent, although hind claws and teeth are still available if they need to protect themselves.
    3) It may improve your relationship with the cat if you now don't have to chase him away from something he wants to sharpen his non-existant claws on. (Cats hate to be told "NO!") He can then happily "sharpen" to his hearts content without destroying your furniture. (Yes they still do the behavior even though the claws are no longer there).
    4) It may have a calming effect on the neighbors to know that the cat is declawed. (If you don't tell them it could still easily kill their precious miniature poodle).
    5) It may allow the cat more freedom if he doesn't have to be confined to indestructable quarters at all times.
    6) It may allow the cat to participate in educational programs with the public.

    1) Declawing a cat can sometimes lead people into a false sense of security -- you may take more risks thinking that the cat can no longer hurt you or your other pets -- wrong. I have seen declawed cats catch and kill houseflies and mice with their bare paws. If the cat wants to hurt you, be assured that he still can!
    2) Like any surgery, there can be complications (with young declaws, maybe one in ten have a problem that needs to be taken care of afterwards) -- infections, inflamations, or irritations which would then require treatment to prevent the cat from damaging himself by chewing or licking the feet. A common cause of complications is accidentally getting tissue adhesive on the fur -- this causes the cat to try and "groom" the stuff out, and in the process they pick and pull on the hair around the surgery site. This picking can cause the incision to bleed and or get infected.
    3) Complications are more common in older cats as the nail is bigger and more a part of the cats "lifestyle" -- ie he is used to using them, and may hurt himself before he adjusts to the loss of his "grippers".

    Note: Some people are grossed out by the idea that the surgery involves removing the last bone in the toe that the claw is attatched to. They equate this with removing the fingertips in a human being. This is not accurate. The anatomy of a cats paw is such that the "toe" that the cat walks on is the second to the last bone. The last bone has shrunk down to a small sliver whose only purpose is to serve as a fulcrum to slide the claw up and down. In the relaxed position the last bone is not in use at all as the cat walks -- it is rotated up and out of the way with the claw.

    I hope this information is of use to you in your decision whether to declaw or not.
    Neutering is strongly recommended for all exotic cats to be kept as pets. It takes off the wild edge and helps them to remain satisfied when they would normally be fighting raging hormones during breeding periods. Cats interested in SEX make terrible companions. If you wish your exotic kitten neutered we can have it done at the same time as declawing for you.

    White sex is best?
    Two questions I am asked often are which species/sex makes the best pet. Based on our experience these are our opinions. Either sex is equal - IF YOU NEUTER! If you do not neuter, all males will mark every stick of furniture AND you except caracals which do not mark (at least none of ANY of our males ever has). All Males will become more aggressive and possessive of their territory and things. Whole females will be miserable, very moody and downright boring if not neutered. They will lust over the neighbor's tom cat or the lions on the Discovery channel. Neuter in all fairness to both of you. You cannot have a duel purpose house cat in the exotics. (For pet AND breeding)

    Species differences:
  • Bobcats and Canadian lynx are the least expensive of the cats we raise. The Lynx are taller, with thicker, heavier coats, cute big feet and awesome eyes. Bobcats are stockier. We do have huge bobcats - as big as our lynx. They can be nice pets but take a lot of patience. They must be socialized as youngsters and most will not accept outsiders after about 16 weeks of age.
  • Servals are the most expensive and are beautifully spotted and elegant. They must reside with someone who does not spend days away from home. Servals tend to be one person or family bonded and can easily forget you if you are gone for long periods of time. They do not take your absence lightly.
  • Caracals are slightly less expensive than servals. They resemble a miniature cougar with pointed ears. They bond to their family well and socialize well if done at a young age. They are not thrilled if you leave home for a couple weeks, but readily accept you when you return.
  • I do not recommend any exotic cat to be around or to live with families that have children under about 42 inches tall. This height is just a guesstimate, however and my personal feelings on the subject from what I have seen.
    Final notes:
    I hope this has given you some insight into the differences. Physical attributes are discussed on their FAQs pages.

    If you decide on an exotic kitten for a companion, sit back and enjoy the adaptations this marvelous creature of nature has developed to survive in the wild - until man came along and persecute them ruthlessly. Certain African species are slaughtered in their native homeland because the poor residents have little food for themselves and blame the cats for poultry losses. Probably in many cases they are right.

    Soak in the privilege you have of owning one of nature's most successful animals with finely honed skills that can only make you feel more appreciative of our wild creatures.

    Watch this link for information about training your cat to do tricks. Exotics excel in many games like "hall soccer", catch, paw hockey, hide and pounce, and more. They are 1,000 times more fun than any domestic cat but they must be neutered, properly fed, well-trained, well socialized and most of all - loved.


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