New kitten parents are the envy of most people. Firstly, they have a new baby. Secondly, the baby is fluffy with cuteness measuring off the radar. Thirdly, the baby can walk, talk (albeit cat) and eat all on its own.
However, there’s still the issue of the new kitten pooping inside (on the floor, on the sofa etc). In addition, new kitten parents may discover their furniture’s had a retrograde 80’s hairdo makeover (i.e.: ripped to shreds).
Also, there’s the cute but exhausting zoomies, at night. Not to worry, your star pupil will soon find their niche.
Here are the top 5 things new kitten parents need to know…
1. New kitten-proof your house
First order of business is to kitten proof the house before kitty arrives. This will keep your cute fur baby safe and happy. In addition, it will give you the space to get to know each other without having to worry about possible hazards.
There are dozens of seemingly safe household objects that can be a danger to a new kitten. For instance, electric plug sockets and washing machines. Similarly, even some apparently innocuous household plants can be poisonous to cats, like hydrangea and aloe vera.
Save your new kitten and yourself potential pain by proofing with this list:
- Cover electrical outlets with safety plugs from the hardware store
- Pack away loose breakable objects like glassware, vases, candleholders etc
- Consider boarding up your fireplace if you aren’t using it
- Close doors to out of bound rooms
- Lock cupboards where possible (some cat breeds can open doors, find out more with 5 different cat breeds and their personalities)
- Don’t leave wires, cords, long potentially tangly threads or plastic bags lying around
- Always check before you close drawers and doors, once your kitty has arrived
- Close all washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, fridge, etc (with a lock if possible)
- Remove things that can poison your pet – toxic food and plants
In addition, kitten proof a small area/room specially for your kitten to arrive into, i.e. a den. This will give kitty a chance to observe you and familiarise his/herself with your smell without running and hiding. Kittens instinctively hide and you may find your kitten hides a lot in the first few days.
2. Stock up on the right supplies
In addition to pet proofing your home for a new kitten, you’ll need to stock up on some basic supplies. Get yourself a cat carry box or soft sided carrier to bring your fur kid home in. This will also be essential for taking mittens for visits to the vet.
Here’s a list of new kitten essentials to help welcome your fur baby:
- Cat scratcher and/or cat tree – cats need to sharpen their claws, play and climb. A cat scratching post/tree will offer an alternative to your furniture and curtains, although you may have to redirect your new kitten’s focus from your household goods back to it. Scratch posts aren’t always enough to dissuade kitten from doing that 80’s hairdo to your furniture. As a result, you may need a fool proof solution in the form of anti-scratch stickers for your couch.
- Collar with a bell – the bell is an optional add-on to help you locate your kitten around the house. Kittens can fit into surprisingly small spaces and sometimes do get lost even in a safe environment.
- Ceramic/stainless-steel water & food bowls – ceramic and stainless-steel are hardy and easy to clean. You can also get a place mat to prevent your kitten’s food bowls from sliding around the floor as she/he eats.
- Litter box, cat litter & scooper – there are different types of cat litter on the market, including wood and clay. Try out your options before settling on one. You may find some types leave paw marks around the house. Ingredients in litter also vary and some do include chemicals. After sampling different batches see what works best for kitty and your household. Find out some toilet training tips in this article on pet proofing your home for a happy household.
- Toys, especially string toys – kittens have a healthy appetite for play and will home in on your hand as the object of fascination. While this may be cute, your kitten’s bites will get deeper and stronger as they grow, so get him/her started on toys right from the beginning.
- Grooming supplies – if you’re getting a long-haired kitty, brushing their fur is part of the spoils. Speak to your vet about whether to invest in nail clippers and a toothbrush for your new kitten too. They can also help you try these out for the first time, which can be tricky. Read more about grooming your fur kid with these 5 routine pet care focuses for your new puppy or kitten
The above is not an exhaustive list, and you’ll likely make some nips and tucks to what you choose. But hopefully it helps you head in the right direction.
Whether you’re still deciding about getting a new kitten or you’re ready to adopt a cat then read this first. The more you prep beforehand, the better a parent you will be.
3. Plan a new kitten diet
Cater to your new kitten’s baby teeth by making sure at least 50% of her meals are wet/tinned food. It’s important to choose a kitten food that will provide the best balance of protein, fats, minerals and vitamins.
Not all pet foods will give your kitten the optimal nutrition. Therefore, you should give your fur kid a good start with a kitten food recommendation from your vet. In addition, fresh water should be available at all times.
Initially, plan your kitten’s diet around what they’ve been used to eating. You can make the transition to new foods by giving each food in a separate bowl. Gradually increase the new food while giving smaller portions of the original kitten food. It’s important to keep the foods separate. This is because if you mix the foods and mittens disapproves of one of them, she may be turned off both.
Some people like to use a feed toy to make mealtime more stimulating and slow down eating. This can be important as overeating, and obesity can lead to pet diabetes. Find out all about diabetes in dogs and cats – what you need to know.
Kittens have extreme energy levels and growth spurts. While adult cats can eat twice a day, kittens need their food portioned into four feeding times.
4. Schedule playtime
Cats have a reputation for being low maintenance. Although this is largely true kittens need lots of stimulation. They’re fantastic playmates. They’ll play with your furniture, your vases, your plants and anything that smells, moves, opens and closes. In addition, a lot of this happens at night.
That’s right, kittens and cats are nocturnal.
Plan a care routine to allow your kitten to synchronise with you. For instance, plan an hour of playtime near the end of your day. This can be enough to tucker out your new kitten, so they snooze at night. At the very least he or she will enter a calm beta state so you can maintain your beauty sleep. Some first-time kitten parents opt for two kittens – so they always have a playmate.
If you’re a don’t touch my stuff kinda person, now is the time to end that cycle. Kittens need to fully grasp, know, understand, and climb into every part of their environment. Until they have snooped every nook and cranny in their new home, they are like a pent-up Sherlock Holmes.
In other words, restless with anticipation and eager to solve the mysteries of boxes, shelves and high up places. Be prepared to have your cat investigate your crockery, cupboards, shelves, bed and bath.
If you’re welcoming a kitten into a world of a CEO’s schedule, it’s worth considering getting two kittens. It’s double the fun and they can keep each other active and happy. The importance of playtime for dogs and cats is a basic necessity.
5. Visit your vet
If this is your first pet, this will also be your first visit to the vet. Vet bills can be alarming if you’re not prepared. Consider a cat insurance plan which covers vaccinations, medication, vet visits, accidents and more.
Your fur kid will hopefully already have a healthy dose of natural immunity from drinking their mum’s milk. The next step in keeping and building this immunity is to vaccinate against cat diseases like feline leukaemia virus.
You will need to find out from the previous owner if kitten has had their first round of vaccinations. First rounds ideally take place at six–eight weeks as this is when natural immunity begins to wear off. Round two of vaccinations takes place at 12 weeks – exactly the ideal age to settle into your home. Your vet will help you schedule which vaccinations your new kitten requires.
Your primary vet visit should include the following:
- Tick/flea medication
Some pet parents prefer to wait for their kitten to have their first litter before desexing. However, it’s worth noting that the overpopulation of unwanted pets is a great concern in New Zealand.
In addition, the health benefits for your kitten can be of great value. For example, desexing before going on heat reduces the likelihood of your cat ever having mammary tumours.
New kitten! Over to you
OMG OMG OMG! Did you get your new kitten? Are you still prepping? Feeling nervous and excited all at the same time? We completely get you. Let us know if you found this article helpful and tell us about your new kitten in the comments.