Congratulations on the recent addition to your household! Now that you have a young kitten to care for there are several things you will need to consider. One of the most important things to do is to arrange to take your kitten to the veterinarian for a general health check. Your vet will be able to give you advice regarding basic care for your kitten as well as give them any vaccinations and worming treatments that are needed.
Place a litter tray in a quiet and private area for your kitten to use when they need to go to the toilet. Kittens are very playful and curious and love to expend some of their energy chasing cat toys and interacting with their owners.
Start grooming your kitten early on so that it becomes an enjoyable bonding activity and part of routine care. Occasionally games can get a bit intense and rough make sure play time ends if they scratch hard or if there is biting. Cats instinctively need to scratch things to keep their nails in good condition and to express natural behaviours.
Talk to your vet about annual health check-ups, vaccinations, microchipping, desexing and flea and worm prevention.
How do you take care of a kitten for beginners?
Nutrition. Kittens should be fed a combination of both a high quality commercial kitten food and some natural foods to ensure a balanced diet is provided. ….Bedding. ….Litter trays. ….Play time. ….Grooming. ….Reward-based training. ….Scratching poles. ….Health care.
Can a kitten be left alone during the day?
Kittens under 4 months of age can be left alone for up to 4 hours. A kitten 4 to 5 months old can be left alone for up to 5 hours. A 6-month-old kitten can be left alone for up to 8 hours. So if your kitten is less than 6 months old, do not leave it alone for 8 hours.
What are the do's and don'ts of a kitten?
Do keep food bowls and litter trays separate. ….Do block off nooks and crannies. ….Do provide materials or posts for it to scratch. ….Do get it microchipped. ….Do get your kitten spayed or neutered. ….Don’t let it out too soon. ….Don’t yell or hit your cat.
Caring for a kitten is about more than providing food, warmth, and a comfy bed (although this is important). You must also love her and provide preventative healthcare (vaccination, deworming, and parasite control) along with meeting the kittens emotional and behavioral needs.
Bring the kitten home to a quiet room set up for her comfort, with her own food and water bowls, bed, hiding places, litter box, and toys. Hiding is a coping mechanism and once shes sussed out that her new home is a good place to be, shell come out to play.
OK, so a kittens basic needs are straightforward, but to raise an adult cat that is friendly and well-adjusted, takes a little extra thought. These include natural actions such as scratching with claws, scent marking, hunting, and defending territory; and all these instincts are still present in the house cat. Plan ahead with a youngster and teach her how to use a scratch post, along with giving her safe outlets for all her other instincts such as climbing.
Make the post irresistible by wiping her paws on it and spritzing it with Feliway (a synthetic form of feline pheromone). Provide secluded places (such as a cardboard box lined with a fleece) for her to snuggle down in safety. Provide an outlet for this urge by giving kitty a tall cat tree , preferably one with several raised platforms for her to perch on.
Unfortunately, its not just the vet that comes a cropper, but the owner may never see their scared kitty (because she hides all the time) or the cat may be liable to lash out at children. Invite different people round to play with the kitten, and expose her to the vacuum, hair dryer, car journeysand as many different experiences as you can think of. Of course, this needs to be a good experience for the kitten (or the opposite will happen and shell learn to fear strangers.)
If shes in two-minds about a stranger then have them sit quietly on the floor with their eyes averted (a direct stare is an aggressive signal to a cat) with some tasty treats in front of them. Socialize the kitten on a daily basis, and shell grow into a confident, cuddly, well-adjusted adult cat. On a more mundane level, the kittens physical needs must be met, such as providing food and caring for her coat.
The dry texture has a slight scrubbing effect on teeth and reduces the risk of dental disease Its convenient and can be left out without spoiling Easier to store More concentrated calories, which can lead to weight gain in greedy cats Linked to urinary tract problems in some cats Leaving kittens food out all day for her to graze on mimics eating behavior in the wild. The latter tastes scrummy to the kitten who thinks its great that youre spreading yummy pate in her mouth.
And yes, daily brushing is the gold standard if you want your kitten to grow up with perfect pearly whites! They will thoroughly examine her to make sure she is healthy (and is indeed a girlIt wouldnt be the first kitten named Lily who turns out to be Billy.) There are many options for deworming ranging from pills to spots ons, so speak to your vet about which is best for your kitten.
Vaccines are divided into core or essential and non-core or optional, and which to give is based on a risk assessment of each individual cat. Not only is this great fun, but it teaches kitten co-ordination, alleviates boredom (and therefore bad behavior) and helps socialize her.
Adding a new kitten to your family is an exciting time! Raising a kitten to adulthood can be an incredibly rewarding way to bond with your pet. From the time they’re born up to their first birthday, these easy care tips can help you keep your pet happy and healthy throughout their first year.
Mix a little canned cat food formulated for kittens in with the formula and try serving it on a tablespoon or a very shallow dish . This is also a great age to get your kitten used to having his nails trimmed , using a scratching post , bathing , grooming , and traveling in a carrier to the veterinarian’s office.
Litter Box : These essential items now come in a wide variety of styles and sizes, so pick one that works for you and your kitten. You’ll need to make sure you clean the litter box daily, scooping out solids and disposing of them to ensure your kitten stays healthy.
Adopting a kitten or just thinking it over? Theres probably nothing better than taking home a wide-eyed, velvet-nosed ball of fluff (hey, whos rescuing who?) but even if youve had a kitten before, its wise to review the basics.
Anchor window cords, cap outlets and bundle electronic cords Call the Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435) for a list of deadly plants to avoid Lock acetaminophen (Tylenol) away; its deadly to felines Hide roach or ant traps Close toilet lids, washer and dryer doors Close kitchen and bathroom cabinets because household items like bleach, detergent, antifreeze can be very harmful Open her carrier and place it nearby along with her food, water bowls, litter box and toys.
Dangling string, yarn or ribbons may drive cats batty, but watch that they dont tangle or choke Kitty. A kitten can take up to two weeks to fully relax, so limit human interactions those first few days, then introduce her to family members slowly, one at a time, so she learns everyones touch. Other household pets will sniff out their new sibling immediately, so introduce Kitty on her turf; dont let her have free run of the house because thats their territory.
As for Fido, be sure hes properly leashed when he meets her, plus keep Kitty from running off, otherwise he may think its time to give chase. If she starts kneading your expensive duvet, put her back on the floor gently to teach her that your bed is off limits. The rest of Kittys diet should come from high-quality dry and wet foods , packed with protein and essential amino acids to help give her wholesome nutritional support.
Unlike pups, kittens dont wolf down all of their food in one sitting so you can conveniently set up an all-day/night buffet. Youll also want to keep siblings like Fido from stealing Kittys food by putting her bowl in an area others cant reach. Its wise to pre-schedule a veterinarian visit prior to bringing Kitty home so shes checked within a few days of her arrival.
Kittens should be fed a combination of both a high quality commercial kitten food to ensure a balanced diet is provided. Please see the article titled “What should I feed my kitten?” below for more detailed information about kitten nutrition. Avoid giving cows milk to kittens but always ensure they have access to fresh, clean water at all times.
Although your kitten may want to share your bed it is important to provide them with a comfortable dry bed of their own as well. Use bedding that is safe, can be easily cleaned and dried and place the bed somewhere cosy and private.
Place a litter tray in a quiet and private area for your kitten to use when they need to go to the toilet.
Play time is important for bonding between you and your kitten. Kittens are very playful and curious and love to expend some of their energy chasing cat toys and interacting with their owners. Try rotating a variety of different types of cat toys and try different games so your cat doesn’t get bored. Toys may include chase and catch toys; toys that you can put tasty food treats in and puzzle feeders.
Regular grooming (gentle brushing) is important particularly for medium-haired and long-haired cats. Start grooming your kitten early on so that it becomes an enjoyable bonding activity and part of routine care. Positively reward your cat with a tasty cat food treat, verbal praise and patting for allowing you to groom them. This way your cat will associate grooming with positive things, making it easier for both of you.Grooming removes dust, dead skin, loose hair, grass seeds and tangles and shed fur, which can help prevent your cat experiencing ‘fur balls’ – some cats will swallow fur when they self-groom, especially long-haired cats, and this can build up in the stomach to eventually be vomited.Grooming should always be comfortable for your cat. Avoid any hair pulling or jerking movements. Fur mats and tangles may need to be carefully trimmed off using blunt-nosed safety scissors. Always point scissors away from your cat and ensure the skin isn’t touched.In general, cats don’t need to be bathed and most cats can find it quite stressful. Therefore generally avoid bathing unless recommended by your vet for medical reasons.
The RSPCA supports reward-based training which is the most humane and effective way to train pets. This type of training involves rewarding your cat when they perform a ‘desired’ behaviour. Rewards can be in the form of a tasty cat food treat, verbal praise or patting. ‘Rewards’ positively reinforce the desired behaviour and make it more likely your cat will perform the behaviour again.Reward-based training also involves generally ignoring ‘undesired’ behaviours. For example, play time is a good opportunity for you to teach your kitten good manners. Occasionally games can get a bit intense and rough – make sure play time ends if they scratch hard or if there is biting. In this way, your cat will learn quickly that they don’t receive any attention for ‘undesired’ behaviours such as scratching hard or biting, and they will tend to stop doing these behaviours quickly.If your kitten does scratch hard or bite, never punish your kitten physically or yell or spray with a water bottle, as this will scare them. Cats are also unlikely to associate the punishment with their behaviour leading to confusion. The best thing to do in these situations is to generally ignore the behaviour. Talk to your vet for advice about behaviour.
Cats instinctively need to scratch things to keep their nails in good condition and to express natural behaviours. It’s important to provide a scratching pole or several scratching poles around the house. This will help to prevent your cat scratching other objects such as furniture etc. If your kitten does start to scratch furniture, cover the furniture with protective material and provide plenty of appropriate alternative things for them to direct their scratching behaviour towards. Some cats may prefer a scratching mat.
Talk to your vet about annual health check-ups, vaccinations, microchipping, desexing and flea and worm prevention.Desexing, prior to sexual maturity effectively prevents unplanned and unwanted litters of kittens, helping to reduce the number of unwanted cats and kittens in the community. Desexing also provides health and behavioural benefits. Desexing commonly reduces behaviour problems such as roaming and urine marking. Reducing the desire to roam to find mates also reduces the risk of cats being in cat fights (where they may be injured or catch infectious diseases) or a traumatic accident such as being hit by a car.Remember that some commonly found plants, such as lilies, are toxic to cats and it is important that you familiarise yourself with these and remove them from your garden and house and avoid purchasing them in floral arrangements.
First impressions count, so let the kitten settle in slowly and don’t overwhelm her.Bring the kitten home to a quiet room set up for her comfort, with her own food and water bowls, bed, hiding places, litter box, and toys. Take her out of the cat carrier and place her in the litter tray so she knows where it is. Then let her explore at her own pace.Sit quietly on the floor and let her explore. If she wants to hide, then that’s fine let her do so. Hiding is a coping mechanism and once she’s sussed out that her new home is a good place to be, she’ll come out to play.See some more details on how to handle the first night at home with your kitten in our article: First Night Home with a New Kitten: What to Expect.
Scratch Posts and Scratching
Give your kitten a couple of scratch posts (minimum). Chose one that lies flat on the floor and one that’s vertical, to see which one she prefers. Put one of the posts beside her bed, as cats like to stretch their claws and toes when they wake up. If you are feeling abitious and wnat to try to make one, we have a good article on how to make your own scratch post.Make the post irresistible by wiping her paws on it and spritzing it with Feliway (a synthetic form of feline pheromone). This spreads her own scent which is then amplified by the Feliway, making it her go-to place to scratch ….saving the carpet and furniture
Litter Box and Toileting
Get the litter box right and you’ll avoid problem toileting in the house. Start out using a cat litter she is used to. Locate the tray in a quiet corner, away from food and water, and where she won’t be disturbed by other pets passing through or machines that make a noise (so avoid a tray next to the tumble dryer.)Keep the tray clean by pooper scooping daily, after all no-one likes using a dirty toilet. Some more advanced techniques are discussed in our article on toilet training your cat.
Toys and Play
Kittens love to play, which is all about practicing their hunting skills. Provide a range of toys that allow her to pounce, swat, toss, and chase. But remember, cats are sprinters not marathon runners, so play with her for 5-minutes at a time, but regularly through the day. This gives her vital exercise and prevents boredom. Also, make sure that the toys you got for the kitten are safe.
Sleep and Safety
That baby cat has a lot of growing to do and needs her sleep. Provide secluded places (such as a cardboard box lined with a fleece) for her to snuggle down in safety. Don’t disturb her whilst sleeping, and wait for her to come out to you for playtime. Kittens need lots of sleep, so don’t be surprised if they spend a lot of their day snoozing. For more information about how often your kitten should be sleeping, we recommend this article on how much should your cat should be sleeping.
Climbing and Perching
Cats have a reputation for getting stuck up trees, which is because they love to climb. Provide an outlet for this urge by giving kitty a tall cat tree, preferably one with several raised platforms for her to perch on. This will save your curtains from being climbed, and satisfy her natural urge to be up high.
Vets dread them…the cat that was poorly socialized as a kitten. These cats are fearful of strangers and new places, which make them hiss, spit, and lash out to protect themselves. Unfortunately, it’s not just the vet that comes a cropper, but the owner may never see their scared kitty (because she hides all the time) or the cat may be liable to lash out at children.The trick to avoiding this is to handle the kitten lots in those early weeks. Invite different people round to play with the kitten, and expose her to the vacuum, hair dryer, car journeys…and as many different experiences as you can think of.Of course, this needs to be a good experience for the kitten (or the opposite will happen and she’ll learn to fear strangers.) So keep the meetings low key and praise kitty when she is brave. If she’s in two-minds about a stranger then have them sit quietly on the floor with their eyes averted (a direct stare is an aggressive signal to a cat) with some tasty treats in front of them. Then quietly praise the kitten when she comes out of hiding to investigate. We have a more detailed overview of the power of socializing your kitty.Socialize the kitten on a daily basis, and she’ll grow into a confident, cuddly, well-adjusted adult cat.
Basic Physical Needs
On a more mundane level, the kitten’s physical needs must be met, such as providing food and caring for her coat.
Dry food or wet? Adlib or mealtimes?These are deceptively big topics, with arguments for and against the different options. The decisions are largely one of personal choice and which suits your kitten and your lifestyle best. Let’s take a quick look at the major pros and cons.
Introduce your kitten to a brush and comb from a young age. Allow her to play with the grooming tools, so she becomes used to them. Then gently stroke the cat with the tool, whilst praising the kitten. Again, do this for a short time regularly, and your kitten will grow up loving the attention.
Yes, you really can teach a cat to have her teeth brushed, especially when you start young with a kitten. The secret is to purchase pet toothpaste. The latter tastes scrummy to the kitten who thinks it’s great that you’re spreading yummy pate in her mouth. Get her used to the taste first, then slowly introduce the toothbrush.And yes, daily brushing is the gold standard if you want your kitten to grow up with perfect pearly whites!
Last, but certainly not least is healthcare.Once the kitten has settled in, get her checked by a vet. They will thoroughly examine her to make sure she is healthy (and is indeed a girl…It wouldn’t be the first kitten named Lily who turns out to be Billy.)This is also the moment to start her preventative health care regime.
Deworming and Parasite Control
Even indoors kittens and cats need regular deworming. This is because they acquire worms’ eggs from the mother’s milk and pick up worms from fleas. There are many options for deworming ranging from pills to spots ons, so speak to your vet about which is best for your kitten.Parasites such as fleas, ticks, or ear mites are unwelcome visitors on any kitten, but more serious still is the potentially deadly heartworm parasite. For outdoor cats then year round protection is required, and for indoor kittens and cats, speak to your vet who can risk assess the individual for a tailored parasite control strategy.
Again, even indoor cats need protection against viruses which you can walk in on your shoes.Vaccines are divided into ‘core’ or essential and ‘non-core’ or optional, and which to give is based on a risk assessment of each individual cat.Vaccinations should start from 6 – 8 weeks of age, and be repeated every 3 – 4 weeks, until the kitten is 16 weeks old. This initial course will needs boosting in a years’ time, and then at intervals after that (as recommended by your vet.) We also prepared a more in-depth look at the cat vaccines.
Neutering, spaying, desexing, call it what you want, but this should be done preferably before the kitten becomes a mature adult who could have kittens. The timing varies, from 10 – 12 weeks for some rescue kittens to around 5 ½ months for home-grown kittens.
How To Care for a Newborn Kitten
A mother cat will provide everything a young kitten needs until he is about 4 weeks of age. All you need to do is keep the family warm, dry, and in a dark, private location. Mom will do all the feeding and cleaning. Sadly, however, sometimes the mother of a baby kitten is not around or unable to care for her little ones. If that’s the case, you’ll need to step in to help keep the kitties warm and fed.One of the most important things you can do to keep a kitten alive in his first few hours is by keeping the kitten warm. If a young kitten has cold ears, lips and paws, slowly raise his temperature by wrapping him in a blanket and holding him close to your body. Once he warms up, you can begin feeding him milk replacer formulated for kittens.
Love On Your New Kitten
Every interaction you have with your new kitten helps socialize him, says Carlene Strandell, Director/Founder of Smitten with Kittens, a non-profit, foster-based kitten rescue that operates in Tallahassee, Fla. “Hold your kitten, play with [him], interact with [him],” she says. Consider adopting multiple cats so your kitten has a friend. “Two kittens are better than one,” says Standell. “Kittens don’t like being alone. They love companionship,” she says. “We encourage people to adopt two.”
Caring for Your Kitten’s Hygiene
Kittens are generally kept clean by their mothers. And once they are weaned, they are fairly fastidious. But if they are overzealous eaters, you can wipe off their faces with a fragrance-free wet wipe. If they’ve gotten into something really messy, you can give them a bath.