Bringing your new kitten home: 10 Top kitten tips for pet owners
- by DR Roxanne Jones
Congratulations on your new kitten! It’s such an exciting time – and a bit daunting too. Your new baby is likely to be feeling a little out of sorts in this new and strange environment. Away from his mom and family, he’ll be counting on you to make him feel safe and at home.
Here are 10 things you can do to help him feel happy, secure and confident.
10 kitten tips for new cat owners
- Don’t rush it
A four or six-week old kitten might be adorable, but this is far too early for him to be separated from him mom and siblings. If possible, try to wait until he’s at least eight or 10 weeks old. Mommy cats help to socialise their babies and teach them vital life skills like litter box usage and confidence.
- Get stocked up
Here are some of the things you’ll need for your new kitten: a cat carrier; a breakaway collar; a litter box, a scoop and cat litter; food and water bowls; good quality kitten food; a few toys… and the box that the cat bed comes in! Instead of buying a cat bed at the start, before you know if he’ll like it, you can simply line a cardboard box with blankets and put it in a quiet part of the house.
- Invest in a scratching post
Kittens (and cats) love to scratch – especially things they’re not supposed to! Invest in a scratching post and teach him early on that this is where he should sharpen his claws – not on your furniture.
- Smells like home
Smell is extremely important to cats, so if possible, try to bring the blanket he’s been sleeping on with you to your home, or a beloved toy he’s been playing with. You can arrange this with the breeder or shelter.
- Give him room
Cats need to be totally familiar with a new environment before they feel comfortable. Letting them loose in an entire house or apartment can be overwhelming, so rather do it bit by bit.
Start by keeping him in his own room for a few days so he can familiarise himself with the sounds and smells of his new home. This is especially important if you have other pets or a busy household.
If your cat is overwhelmed, he’ll get stressed out. Rather put him in the room you’ve designated for him, with his food, litter and toys. Monitor him and see when he’s ready to explore further. Cats are curious and he’ll let you know when he’s ready!
- Meeting the family
Introducing a new pet into a household can be stressful for humans and pets alike, particularly if you have other animals. If your new kitten is entering a home with other pets, chat to your vet about the best way to introduce them. Getting this right is critical to establishing a long-lasting and positive bond between your pets.
- Meeting the doctor
Your new kit should meet his vet as soon as possible, preferably within 72 hours of coming home. Even if the breeder or shelter gave him all his requisite health checks, your vet can ensure that he really is 100% healthy – tests like FIV and FLV are critical. She’ll also be able to microchip him at the same time. this is also a perfect time to find out about the necessary vaccinations and deworming schedule to keep your kitty in tip top health, to prevent any harmful diseases. My recommendation for the absolute minimum vaccinations for a kitten is at 8 and 12 weeks with a booster between 1 to 9 months later and then yearly boosters.
- Play time!
Great news: playing with your kitten is the best way to help him bond with you. Stroke, pet and play with him often to help him become socialised and happy around humans.
- Eating and pooping
Cats don’t like to eat near their litter box, so make sure there’s enough space between the two that your kitten isn’t put off his food, or develops a dislike of his litter box.
- Spaces and places
Cats love to explore, and in no time at all, your kitten is going to be crawling into tiny crevices and leaping onto curtain rails. Make sure there are no awkward or hard-to-reach places that he could become trapped in, and also that there aren’t things on shelves or on top of cupboards that could be knocked off and damaged. He might be tiny, but you’ll be amazed at how acrobatic he can be! Consider creating fun hiding places, nooks and crannies for him out of boxes and crates – he’ll love it!
Within no time, your kitten is going to rule the roost! Be aware that as a human, you are his slave and he’ll be calling all the shots. Also, he’d like some treats – you can find delicious, healthy snacks at our online vet shop. Alternatively, get more cat and kitten tips via our blog.
Have fun with your new furbaby!