Bringing a new cat home can greatly enrich your life. These little balls of fur are an unflagging source of love and laughter. Whether a kitten is your first pet or an addition to your current pet family, it is always exciting and fun. You’ve suddenly got a cute, cuddly, and incredibly curious new friend!
The essential kitten supplies you should have ready for your new cat’s arrival:
- Collar and ID tag
- A litter box
- A cozy bed
- Food and water dishes
- A scratching post
- Safe toys
- Grooming supplies (shampoo, brush/comb, furminator)
How much time do you need to spend with a new kitten?
Said Dr. Hanen Abdel Rahman Your new kitty should spend at least its first day or two in its own room. This is particularly important after spay/neuter surgery; when activity and stress should be limited. A quiet bedroom or bathroom with a window is ideal.
Here are 10 things to do when raising a cat:
1. Handle Your Kitten Regularly
Kittens who receive human contact around 10 to 12 weeks old are more likely to get along well with people than kittens who don’t receive regular contact, according to the American Animal Hospital Association.
Help your new kitten get used to being petted, groomed, and picked up. Do not shy away from holding and grooming your kitten, even if he appears skittish. With regular, gentle practice, he will grow comfortable with the handling.
2. Avoid Overprotection
Sounds, movement, and new surroundings initially might frighten your fur baby. However, it’s important to gradually introduce your kitten to new sounds, sights, and smells so he will grow to be comfortable around any sensory stimuli, says Pam Johnson-Bennett, owner of Cat Behavior Associates in Nashville, Tennessee.
Expose your kitten to different environments, including a variety of floors such as wood, tile, and carpet. Your kitten also should be familiarized with a mix of cat toys offering various textures, colors, and shapes.
3. Restrict Your Kitten’s Space
“Do not give a new kitten free reign of the entire house right away,” Dr. Hanen Abdel Rahman says. “Kittens are easily overwhelmed, and giving them space stresses them out.
“What they actually prefer is a very small world to start, until they adjust, and then you can increase their range,” she continues. “If you give them too much space too soon, they will be stressed, hide, and can even develop litter box issues as a result.”
Instead, Dr. Hanen Abdel Rahman recommends the “slow-release plan.” This means the kitten is stationed in one room where he has everything he needs: food, water, litter box, toys, scratcher, etc. Let your new kitten mingle or wander from the room with supervision, but when you leave or are sleeping, return him to the room and close the door.
After a short time—usually, a week or two depending on the cat—the kitten can navigate a bit more and know where his “safe place” is, Dr. Hanen Abdel Rahman says. Should he become overwhelmed or stressed over something, he can return to that safe place when on his own as needed. All cats need a safe place where they can go to adjust and feel safe, and where no other animals will intrude.
Kittens can be raised to be well-adjusted, kind, and sociable pets with the right guidance from knowledgeable owners. Start training as early as possible to project them in a promising direction for years to come.
4. Wait for it to take it home
Do not take the kitten away from its mother and siblings before they are 8 weeks old. The first months are essential to starting a healthy and normal life
Kittens receive some protection against disease from their mothers through nursing, according to the American Animal Hospital Association. Experts recommend kittens stay with their mothers until they are weaned, which is around 8 weeks.
They also learn how to socialize with each other by interacting with their mother and littermates. Proper socialization can help prevent behavioral issues down the road. More on that later.
5. Provide Proper Nutrition
During your kitten’s third month, refrain from feeding him anything but veterinarian-approved kitten food and kitten wet food. Kitten food is specially formulated to provide kittens with the extra nutrients they need to grow into healthy cats. Most experts recommend feeding your kitten specially formulated kitten food until the age of 1.
Don’t forget to provide your kitten with plenty of freshwaters.
6. Socialize Your Kitten
When raising a kitten, socialization is crucial in providing proper kitten care. Exposing your kitten to new people, animals, and experiences will help build a foundation for a lifetime of positive behavior. A kitten who hasn’t been properly socialized may develop fear aggression and avoid human contact.
The main socialization period for kittens occurs between 3 and 9 weeks of age, but socialization opportunities should continue to be provided through the first year of life, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. During this time, safely and gradually expose your kitten to people within your household, as well as friends and family members who do not live with you, to other pets and to general life experiences, such as being groomed or going to the vet.
7. Use Cat Toys, Not Hands
To prevent cats from attacking human hands later in life, teach kittens that hands are not playthings.
“Do not play with the kitten with your hands, allowing him to claw or bite them,” says Said Dr. Hanen Abdel Rahman, “Kittens learn to play rough if you allow it, and they will not just grow out of it. You should use only toys to play with your kittens and have a zero-tolerance policy for your kitten putting his mouth on you.”
If you do allow this behavior, you will have a kitten that bites and scratches—both for fun and out of frustration or anger. If you have a single kitten, he will overuse his mouth and claws because he has not experienced the other side of it since he has no siblings. This bad habit also can cause problems with vet visits as well as introducing children or new people to the pet.
8. Kittens are usually weaned by eight weeks and are ready to meet their forever families.
From then on, they’ll continue to explore their new surroundings and start to figure out where they fit in in the hierarchy of your household.
By 6 months old, your kitten should look more like an adult cat and this is the time when the bond between the two of you really cements in place. Every cuddle is crucial!
9. All vaccinations should be given every 3 years.
At 9-10 weeks, your kitten will get the “three-way vaccine,” which takes care of everything except rabies (that one has to be done separately) all given in one dose. He will then need to return at 12-14 weeks for a booster, and for the rabies vaccine.
10. How to feed your new kitten.
Unless you’re adopting an orphaned kitten that is younger than eight weeks old, yours will eat four times a day.
Much like infants, kittens require special food for the first portion of their lives to ensure proper growth and nutrition. But there are so many brands out there, each one claiming to be the best, so it can be overwhelming when trying to choose the actual best one.
The veterinarians at videoscats.com recommend looking for the phrase “Complete and balanced nutrition for kittens based on AAFCO feeding trials” on the bag. The AAFCO is a group of state and federal officials who regulate pet food, so their stamp of approval is always best.
t’s also important to make sure your kitten gets at least some canned food every day and isn’t regulated to only the hard stuff. A small kitten has proportionately small teeth and will have a tough time chewing through hard food and may not get enough nutrition to support his rapid growth.
When it comes to the decision between set feeding times and free feeding (meaning food is available all day), it is dependent on your cat. If yours is getting up there in weight, it may be better to regulate things. Otherwise, Jennifer Larsen, nutritional consultant and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of California, believes that free feeding has benefits of reducing stomach distention from eating too quickly and can also help underweight or slow-growing kittens.
So again, just like with infants — you have to do whatever works best for you and yours.
Vet Visits And Vaccinations
Your new kitty is home and all settled in, and now it’s time to stress them out again with a trip to the vet and a few shots. But to ensure only one of you is stressed, we’re going to break down exactly what to expect.
Get that cat carrier handy, because you’re going to need it. Lay a soft blanket or towel down inside the carrier to keep your cat warm. Apologizing for the whole ride to and from the vet and promising him extra treats later helps, too.
On your first visit, your veterinarian will want to get the full run-down on your kitten and will likely do the following (and possibly more):
- Test muscles and joints for mobility
- Check eyes and ears
- Comb for fleas
- Ask you questions about the cat’s behavior
- Check baby teeth and mouth (to help determine age)
- Take temperature
- Palpate organs
What do cats like to play with?
cats love to hide, chase, pounce and climb, so any of these activities will keep your young cat entertained. Cardboard boxes, tunnels, and empty paper bags are fun to hide in, while feather teasers and “fishing rods” are perfect for chasing and swiping.