Karen Cornish | Admiral | June 7, 2022
Welcoming a kitten to your family is exciting. If you’ve considered the responsibilities and costs involved, it’s time to learn how to care for your new feline friend.
To make sure it’s a positive experience, you need to choose the right kitten from the right place and familiarize yourself with care basics.
Caring for a kitten: the first steps
Find the one for you
Firstly, you’ll need to do your research to find a responsible breeder if you’re buying a pedigree. Start by asking your vet or local cat owners for recommendations.
If you choose a breeder, check their premises is clean and well-organised, and use this time for questions.
Ask if you can see any kittens they have, as well as their mother and other relatives. This shows you a good indication of the kitten’s temperament when they grow up.
A good breeder will have as many questions for you as they want to make sure you’ll provide the best home for one of their kittens. If a breeder doesn’t seem interested in learning more about you, be suspicious!
Responsible breeders won’t let kittens leave their mothers until they’re around eight weeks old and will have started the process of socialization with them.
Socialization involves gradually introducing a kitten to new experiences such as meeting people, being handled and exposing them to household sounds. If a kitten is socialized, it’ll mature into a confident adult cat.
If you’d prefer to rescue a kitten head to your local rescue center to find a cat or kitten that’s right for your family.
Before you bring your kitten home
Go shopping for all the basics before bringing your new kitten home so that you have everything ready. You’ll need:
Water and food bowls
Kitten food – preferably what they have been used to eating to avoid an upset stomach
A cozy bed and blankets
A litter tray with the same type of litter they are used to
A scratching post
A soft brush for grooming
A sturdy pet carrier to transport your cat safely
A variety of toys
Once you’ve got everything, it’s time to kitten-proof your home. Keep toilet and bin lids closed, hide electrical cables and look out for places where your kitten could get stuck when exploring.
Choose a warm, draught-free spot for your cat’s bed and place their litter tray in a quiet, secluded location.
Cats like having high vantage points, so find places where your kitten might be able to perch safely. You could also place a few cardboard boxes around the house for a place to hide.
Keep their water bowl away from their food bowl as they don’t like smelling their food while drinking.
Bringing your kitten home
Get a sturdy cat carrier for your kitten’s journey home. When you get home, place the cat carrier on the floor and open the door. Let your kitten explore your home at their own pace.
It’s natural for kittens to want to hide in a strange environment so don’t force them to interact. Speak to them gently and wait for them to come to you.
How to look after a kitten once it’s home
Once your kitten is confident with you and is settling into the home, you can introduce them to new people.
Follow your kitten’s pace, waiting for them to approach guests to say hello. Children should be told how to greet the kitten in a quiet, gentle way beforehand to avoid frightening or overwhelming them.
Other pets should be introduced gradually. Believe it or not, cats and dogs can actually live in harmony if meetings are managed correctly. If your dog is easily excited, take them out for a walk to get out some energy before introducing them.
Stairgates are useful when two pets are meeting as they can still see and smell each other while being kept safely apart.
Read our piece on how to introduce cats and dogs for more information.
Kittens need feeding little and often at first. You should replace their food four times a day and use kitten food that they’re used to.
When your cat is one, they can gradually transition to adult food.
Always give your kitten has access to fresh drinking water. Some cats can be quite fussy drinkers, preferring running water, and may enjoy a pet drinking fountain.
If your kitten has come from a breeder, they’re probably an expert litter tray user. If not, they may need a bit of guidance.
Make sure their tray is large enough for them to feel comfortable and put it in a quiet location for a bit of privacy. Find out what litter your cat has been used to, if any, and clean it out regularly.
If your cat still doesn’t seem to know what to do, gently direct them there regularly throughout the day. We have more tips on keeping an indoor cat safe and healthy.
The great outdoors
Don’t let your cat out before they’ve been neutered, microchipped and fully vaccinated. Then, join them on their first trips out to keep an eye on them. Go out at a quiet time, before a meal so they’ll want to stay near their food bowl.
You can try walking them with harnesses and leads if your home is surrounded by busy roads or you don’t have a private garden. If you want to try, start young to increase the likeness of your kitten accepting it, but stop if they seem uncomfortable.
If you want to teach your cat to use a cat flap, use treats as an incentive to encourage them to come and go as they please.
Keep your new best friend safe
With a bit of preparation, your kitten will settle into their new home. Remember to have the right cat insurance, too. We cover for eight-week-old kittens to senior cats, so your new feline friend can get help for life.
This article originally appeared on Admiral: https://www.admiral.com/magazine/guides/pet/getting-a-kitten-what-you-need-to-knowLeave a reply