Caring for your Cornish Rex

Questions on care?

Care and Training of kittens and cats
Leaving "mom"

Whether you purchase a kitten or an adult cat, teaching your new companion will be something that needs to have a good solid beginning as unlike the cats of outdoors, your companion will be expected to respect the "house rules" which cover everything from what and where he/she will eat to where they will sleep.

Believe it or not, much of their early beginnings will help make your lifestyle with this kitty a success or failure. You don't necessarily want an ornament otherwise you would have bought one... I would assume you wanted a companion and as such you would expect your companion to want to be harmonious with you which will happen quickly or can be a very slow process ...depending on the early beginnings. For this reason it is imperative that your kitten be no younger then 12 weeks of age or at the best, 16 weeks of age, as those first weeks are very important in obtaining the training they need from their mother. You can not teach a kitten how to use the litter pan like it's mother can nor can you teach it affection without it's mother being affectionate.

There are exceptions to everything but the rule of thumb for our cats is "mom knows best!" and we want our moms to guide her kits to a lifestyle that was taught to her by her mother and human companions. Then everyone will be happy.

A negative alternative is to get a kitten who is still immature and although litter trained.. still needs training. The kitten moves into it's new home and within a week or two, soils the carpet. The family assumes it's because of the newness of the family and/or the move when in fact great weight can be placed on youth and a lack of training from the kitten's mother.

Solution: I don't believe I can give a short-term solution... however start right... get a mature kitten. After all, you do expect to live many years with your companion so a few more weeks in the beginning can only help start a long term relationship off the right way. The earliest age you should consider bringing kitty home should be no less than 16 weeks of age.
Your responsibilities...

When a kitten first comes into the house it is imperative that the human family take on the training task of showing the new kitten where the litter pan is located and bringing the pan to the attention of the kitten. Although the kitten has been trained to use a litter-tray before leaving it's former home, the new home is one of exploration and carpets must be protected from accidents as feline urine has an unpleasant odour and is difficult to clean from mats and carpets. Regretfully if not done properly a soiled carpet can be repeatedly soiled regardless of solutions used.

Our suggestion is to treat the kitten carefully and lovingly but with firmness as to it's new housing rules. An area must be established that will be comfortable for the human family to live with but highly accessible for the kitten. Adjustments can be made as the kitten grows and becomes more secure in it's new environment but until then accessibility is critical.

We ask that the kitten be given a litter box wherever it will reside which means that until the kitten or retiree knows where the litter box is don't make it difficult for them to find the box.

If your floors are cool or cold the kitten (and the adult cat) will not want to walk on them... take that into consideration as well when planning on the site for the litter box.

It will be very hard to not let the kitten sleep with you.. Cornish Rex love to sleep under the covers... a rare cat it would be, to sleep elsewhere! They do make excellent foot warmers too. Well anyway, since this new kitten would be lonely anyway, it will want to be with you and you with it. So our suggestion in the beginning is to provide a litter box in your room. If you are fortunate to have a bathroom adjacent to your bedroom then that will solve the problem some may have of having a litter box in the bedroom. In any case, drape a vinyl tablecloth or some other form of mat such as piece of vinyl (never use an area rug), under the box to collect any stray pieces of litter. Actually, we use a "bath mat" the one with the suction cups underneath, great for collecting litter!!

Once again, if you have a tile floor in a suitable area... then that's where the pan should be.

I use Tidy Cat Unscented LIGHTWEIGHT formula. We have also used crystal litter in the past although with our having more than one cat found it difficult to keep clean. Clay litter is quite suitable as well as (not our preference though) a "lightweight scoop able" although many families don't like the dust associated with clay. An alternate to clay litter (which is the most common form of litter sold) is the new "crystal litter" which absorb odors best and the dust doesn't seem to "stick" to the paws as does clay litter. Problems we have found with some of the "chunky type of litter" such as crystal litter is that the cat doesn't like the feel on his/her paws and refuses to use the litter box or straddles the outside of the box.

The "pine" litter breaks down too fast, in other words, becomes a type of sawdust once the cat urinates onto it. Pine is a soft wood however, we have discovered a way to use PINE litter pellets without all the mess associated with it. There is a link on youtube showing how to use this. Personally it takes research as to your likes and dislikes.. a good covered litter box or even one with a high back is a necessity and you'll figure out which litter is best for you and your cat (or vice versa) .. The kitten or adult coming from us will have used the tidy cat litter and Pretty Litter or comparable crystal litter.
Feeding do's and don'ts

Now we also have definite feelings about food. Although we would prefer the new home provide a natural diet it is impossible to give every nutritional need to a growing kitten, soon to be adult cat, with a homemade meal. So the alternative is the prepared food diets readily available at most pet stores and now even at the grocery store. So how can you be sure your kitten is obtaining the best you can give? You will know shortly, within a few weeks if the food is suitable - the coat will show the difference. We have requested those who live with a Mykro Cornish Rex to supply a well balanced dry mixed with at least cod liver oil as a vitamin supplement. I know we are told prepared pet food is a complete and balanced diet for your feline however we have seen the difference in those we have fed just dry or just wet and without supplements. NOW - If you feed just dry you may run the risk of FUS or Feline Urinary Syndrome that basically is a bladder/urinary tract infection and can be fatal if not recognized and treated. If you will be very selective in the dry food choice, confirm it doesn't have a high ASH content. That has been a leader in forming urinary crystals. Additionally, we ask you to make sure your feline diet does not include any grain products YOU are allergic too.

We have been asked about providing milk for our kittens and cats. Milk is not produced for cats... it is produced for cows. Cats can and do get diarrhea from cows milk so if you feel you must give your feline a drink of milk do so with one of the many milk substitutes available at most stores that carry pet products.

When a cat (whether be a domestic or pure-bred) shows signs of chronic skin problems like hair falling out (lack of coat), dandruff, poor coat or rashes, the causes are almost always dietary. Feeding a preservative free diet and inclusion of a fatty vitamin such as cod liver oil or fish oil, which provides vitamins A, and assuring your cat obtains vitamin C is very important. Hair loss, eczema and rashes are often signs of a deficiency in vitamin E... you can include one capsule of vitamin E daily and prevent that without much effort at all.

Most feed manufacturers did not have sufficient vitamin C in their food products during the early 1980's and we witnessed hundreds of felines losing their teeth (sounds like scurvy doesn't it)... we also noted that this FeLV or Feline Leukemia Virus and FUS seemed non-existent to those cats fed diets with a good vitamin program included yet those felines both domestic and pure-bred fed exclusive dry food diets suffered from either tooth loss and/or FeLV. Now the FUS thing is something else that we have never had a problem with and feel that it's because we have always asked our families to be very selective with their new kitten or cat's dietary program.

Well I could go on and on about this as I did when I published "Natural Pet Magazine" in the 80's and 90's but for the purposes of this page I will only state that we know what works best for our "kiddies" and hope their new families follow our suggestions. I would also state that if you can find a veterinarian from the American Holistic Veterinary Society in your area and can have that option for health care... then take it.
Bathing and Allergies

Bathing a cat is something of a human desire and not one of the average feline. Now what I mean by "average" is that there are those kittens and cats who just love water... and, it has not been uncommon for us to have a kitten step into a source of water, be it while filling the bathtub or running the shower. Oftentimes it was just a curiosity... like, "Why is my human in that stuff?" Once the tip of the paw got wet a decision would often be made to quickly leave but then again there have been many instances where the kitten just didn't quit! It wanted to either get in with you or wanted to get you out.

Now when it is necessary to bathe a kitten you will find that they then have a different feeling about whether or not they wish to be bathed so our suggestion will first be proceeded by, you had better start while it is young. Cats are naturally fastidious and clean themselves well however since they are indoors they have very little exposure to the factors that would cleanse them naturally and could have an odour you might find offensive and want to bathe to remove. It is this odour that can cause a form of allergic reaction if the human is sensitive to mold, dust or other allergens. Bathing can help and it would be necessary to get a non-tearing shampoo and to use very little, especially during the early years.

Prepare the kitten by assuring it with soft words and touch. No harshness here at all otherwise you will never be successful in achieving your goal of bathing. Put warm water into a sink or other water holding facility and have a bottle or large cup of warm water available for the rinse. In all instances do not... repeat... do not run water while the kitten/cat is in the bathing area. The first bathes should be very rapidly done with very little shampoo - make it an introduction to bathing rather then a bath. I would use approximately two inches of water (2" - 50mm) and just place the kitten into the water gently assuring it that all is well. Depending on the reaction of the kitten I would then proceed with some form of bathing such as putting shampoo around the underside, washing the paws and maybe even splashing water around the back end of the kitten all to show that there isn't anything wrong with what is happening, that it doesn't have to be afraid of what you are doing. You should then remove the standing water and slowly pour the clean rinse water around and over the kitten avoiding the face and ears. It is important to remove all soap residues as quickly as possible and not stress out the kitten during the process.
Questions? One of the reasons a family may wish to bathe the kitten/cat would be due to household odours accumulating on the cat's coat such as dust. Well I wouldn't think that dust would remain anyway as the cat is constantly cleaning itself but as I mentioned above, if there are allergies in the household it might be well to eliminate any odours that would cause concern.

Will owning a Cornish Rex prevent allergic reactions to cat dander? I doubt that a Cornish Rex would have anything to do to cause or prevent an allergic reaction. Indeed, most reactions are caused by more then the dander of an animal.. .it might be the litter, the food and yes, the dander.

Actually, over the course of thirty-four years we know of two reactions... one with a family in Florida who eventually did get a Cornish Rex but first had to establish guidelines in the home (no sleeping with the kitten as an example). The second incident was by an individual who just held the kitten. When the second reaction happened we discovered that the individual was allergic to the type of kitty litter we were using and as the litter residue was on the paws of the kitten - well that took care of that.

We have since discovered that bathing a kitten as soon as possible upon arrival at it's new home did wonders in preventing any reactions early on. Another thought we had was the possibility of the kitten giving off odours due to the stress of moving to a new home. So in summary, keep things simple, use a wipe instead of bathing especially with a new kitten. That will remove any shipping/traveling odor and keep everyone happy.