Guide to caring for a new kitten
Your brand new kitten may be scampering about the house as if it owns it, but there a number of important things that you should keep in mind to make their introduction to their new home as easy as possible. While they may be just the cutest bundle of fur you’ve ever seen, toilet training, socialisation, sleeping arrangements and feeding schedules are all things you’ll need to get sorted early to avoid frustrations down the track.
Early on, and if you haven’t done it already, make sure you organise to visit a good veterinarian. They will be able to give you all sorts of information from the health of your cat to their own tips on toilet training and diet. Make the most out of your first visit to the vet by asking about vaccinations and other health schedules; discuss deworming options and other parasite threats; ask about other illnesses that commonly affect kittens and ask for recommendations when it comes to food portions and diet.
Consider pet insurance so you are in a position to afford any treatment that your pet may require throughout the course of its life.
You will require vaccinations against Feline Chlamydia, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), Feline Respiratory Disease and Feline Enteritis. These vaccinations will be administered over three visits.
If you’re buying a kitten from a pet shop they will tend to be aged about eight weeks or so and may already be litter trained. If not, you’ve got some work do. Check out our guide to litter training here.
When bringing your kitten home for the first time, it’s important to introduce them to a calm and quiet environment, free of stress. A kitten’s first impression of an environment is often a lasting one and it’s essential you get things right.
Here are our tips for making your kitten feel at home.
Encourage exploration, supervised exploration. An important part of getting your kitten to adopt this new environment at their home is to allow them to run free and explore.
Cats are very territorial creatures and need to develop an understanding of their environment to truly adopt it as their own turf. You’ll notice that your kitten will scratch and sniff and climb all manner of objects to better familiarise themselves with their surroundings. Encourage this behaviour, but keep them under strict supervision at all times.
Sort out the toilet area early – kittens don’t like change. When setting up your kitten’s litter box, make sure you choose the location carefully. Once your kitten is used to the idea of going to the toilet in the laundry for example, they won’t like it if you change litter location to the back door.
When setting up your kitten’s litter box, remember that cats need privacy when they go to the toilet. Putting the litter box out in the open and moving out around often may well result in a number of accidents. Privacy and consistency are needed in this regard.
Promote healthy eating for a healthy kitty. If you have experience with cats you’ll probably agree with just how fussy they can be when it comes to food. A good tip is to ask your vet for a recommendation and stick with it. There are a number of dry as well as wet cat foods out there that provide you kitten with the required level of nutrition.
Remember, if you’re attempting to change you kitten’s diet, do it gradually. A sudden change can result in diarrhoea and other stomach upsets.
Setting up your kitten’s sleeping arrangements. If you’re bringing home a very young kitten or a kitten from the pet shop, chances are they will miss the company of their litter. While it’s important to encourage your kitten’s independence, providing them with comfort is important.
To help them settle of a night time it’s a good idea to set up a bed in a quiet and controlled environment. The laundry, bathroom or spare bedroom are all good places. Be sure to fill the basket with soft, comfortable bedding your kitten can snuggle into.
It’s also a good idea to provide them with some warmth to take the place of their mother and siblings. Try filling a hot water bottle with warm water and burying it under, or amongst the bedding; this should all help your kitten to sleep in comfort.
Socialise them while they’re young. If you’ve got another cat at home or a dog perhaps, it’s important to socialise your kitten early while they’re young and extra receptive to strangers.
The best time to introduce a kitten to unfamiliar animals is under the age of 14 weeks. This period is also the recommended period for humans to interact with the kitten as much as possible, getting them used to human touch and play.
At the age of 7 or 8 weeks (usually the age you’ll buy them from a pet shop) kittens have developed a good level of hand-eye coordination and are great little playmates. Be sure to supervise them, however, especially around dogs as they can test a pup’s patience pretty quickly at this age.
We hope this gives you some idea of what it requires to make your new kitten feel at home. Raising a kitten is one of the most rewarding things you can do and, if you go about it properly, armed with as much knowledge as possible, it can be a relatively easy experience too.
Good luck. Have Fun. And be sure to let us know how you’re getting on with your purring, bounding bundle of fur.