How to Care for a New Kitten
Bringing home a cute and cuddly ball of fur can be exciting, but keeping him happy and safe will take a team effort from the entire household. Your kitten will be completely dependent on you while transitioning in to his unfamiliar new place. Unlike adult cats, kittens require a lot more care and supervision because of their curious and active nature. Here are several tips on how to care for a new kitten and make your new kitten’s arrival easier.
Must Have Items
- Food and water bowls
- A litter box
- Break away collar
- A lot of small safe toys and a cat tree to promote exercise and safety
- Bed lined with a warm blankets
- Grooming items like a brush & nail trimmer
- Cat carrier
- ID tag or implanted microchip
Choose a Veterinarian
The first thing you should do is have your new kitten examined by a veterinarian to make sure there are no health issues. Intestinal parasites are very common in kittens and determined by fecal examinations. Treatments are administered and repeated until two consecutive fecal examinations are negative. External parasites, such as fleas, ticks and mites, are treated with kitten safe remedies. Kittens do receive some immunity from their mothers at birth and through nursing, but this immunity slowly wears off. Therefore, at eight weeks your kitten should be vaccinated as well as be ready to be spayed or neutered. It is also a good idea to have your kitten micro-chipped.
Provide High Quality Food
Your kitten’s diet should come from high-quality dry and wet foods that are packed with protein and essential amino acids to provide nutritional support. At six to seven weeks of age, kittens should be able to chew dry food which is convenient because it doesn’t spoil. Since kittens do not devour their food in one sitting, food can be left out. Talk with your veterinarian to determine to right type of food for your kitten.
Always Provide Fresh Water
Make sure fresh, clean water is available to your kitten at all times. The bowl should be low enough for the kitten to be able to drink from it easily. Because kittens sometimes like playing in the water a heavy bowl maybe required to prevent tipping.
Designate a Room
You will want to set up a secluded room, away from other animals, for kitty to adjust to his new home. This room should have a door, litter box, water and food bowls, toys and warm bedding. If your kitty is having a problem sleeping, try wrapping a ticking clock in a blanket near his bed to remind him of his mothers heart beat. Make sure kitty has lots of blankets in his bed because their bodies are too small to retain body heat well. Always place the litter box as far away from kitty’s food as possible because even kittens don’t want to eat near their toilet!
Establish a Feeding Routine
Depending on age, kittens should be feed between 2–4 times a day. Generally speaking, if your kitten is between three and six months old you can feed him three times per day, and once he turns six months old, you can feed him twice daily. It is essential that you monitor your kitten’s eating habits to keep him healthy. A decrease in eating means you should seek medical advice.
Do not be alarmed if your new kitten is not eating or drinking right away. Be sure and have food and water available for him at all times in a calm, quiet place and eventually they will start eating and drinking. Sometimes it takes kittens a day or two to start eating due to stress.
Introduce the Litter Box
Your kitten’s litter box should be placed in a secluded corner of his room and the sides should be low enough for him to get into. Anytime your kitty has finished eating, or awakened from a catnap, put him in the litter box. If he doesn’t take to it naturally, take a paw and show him how to dig. Praise him if he uses the litter box and never punish him if he doesn’t. Use regular litter, not the clumping kind because kittens can lick and swallow the clumps causing blockages in their digestive track. When your kitten is 3 months old, they can safely use the clumping litter. Remember to keep the litter box clean to encourage your kitten in good litter box habits.
Play time is very important for your kitten’s social and physical skills. Try to provide him with gentle interaction and refrain from rough play which can lead to aggression. Offer your kitten rolling ping-pong balls, dangling feathers or a toy on the end of a rod. Your kitten may even enjoy a laser pointer toy or remote-controlled toys. Kittens like to hide and retreat at times which makes cardboard boxes and paper bags ideal. Consider getting your kitten a scratching post made of carpet or cardboard to discourage him from using furniture or carpet. Providing the right equipment and training to your kitten will help avoid a lot of future damage and frustration.
Kitten Proof Your Home
Kittens are clever and curious which means their owners must keep them safe from harm. To kitten proof your home, start by placing all house plants out of reach and making sure all cabinets with household cleaning items are locked up. Prevent chewing on electric cords by bundling them up with a cord manager and fastening them away from your kitten’s reach. Items like rubber bands, string, jewelry, holiday decorations, plastic bags, balloons and other small items can be dangerous if swallowed. In the laundry room, keep washer and dryer doors closed so that your kitten does not climb in for a warm nap. The toilet seat lid should always be kept down to prevent your kitten from drowning or being poisoned by drinking water that may contain cleaning chemicals.
Introducing Kitty to the Family
Limit handling your kitty for the first few days while he adjusts and introduce one family member at a time. Children under five should not interact with kittens alone because children can be rough and sometimes tragically. Older children should be taught how to hold a kitten with one hand just behind the front legs and the other supporting his hindquarters. They should be taught never to grab a kitten’s tail or ears, or pick him up by its scruff.
If you have other cats, be sure they have been checked by your vet and are disease-free. While your kitten is in his room, allow your other cat to sniff around the doorway. Be sure and give your cat extra attention to ease his own anxiety about the new kitten. Once your kitten seems comfortable, allow the two to meet in small increments. Allow them to sniff and explore each other while supervised. Hissing and growling is normal but if one cat shows aggression, separate them and try again in a few days.
If you have a dog in your home, do not leave him alone with the new kitten. Make sure your dog is leashed when you introduce him to your kitten. This will allow them to learn each others scent safely. Try to prevent the kitten from running away or it may become a game of chase for the dog. Reward your pets for good and calm behavior.
This can be a fun and exciting time as you get to know you new furry family member. If this is your first experience with a kitten you may want to take the time to read a book about kitten care that can provide far more details than this article provides.
Amy is the founder of Cat Mania and a life long cat lover. She also writes for various other pet related websites. She is passionate about helping pet parents create a healthy and happy lifestyle for their fur-babies.