How to look after a kitten
Preparing for your new arrival
Before you bring your kitten home for the first time, there are a few things that you can plan and buy ready for the big day.
- Your kitten will need a cosy bed, and they will only need a small bed for now
- Food and water bowls – think about where you would like to feed your kitten and remember they will need access to fresh, clean water at all times
- A few toys and a scratching post
- Litter tray – this should be sited away from the feeding bowls
- Check your home carefully for any hazards. Move any poisonous houseplants away. Kittens are also extremely good at hiding themselves in the tiniest of spaces! You will also need to make sure that they can’t get into or behind the washing machine or tumble dryer
- Find a good local vet to register with, and arrange for insurance to be in place as soon as you collect your kitten
Bringing your kitten home
Kittens are so tiny it can be easy for them to feel overwhelmed when you first bring them home. It’s a great idea to keep them to just one or two rooms to begin with, so that they can build up their confidence and learn where their bed, food and litter tray will be.
This will also really help with house-training, although many kittens are already well used to litter trays, having watched their mums.
You’ll need to make sure that windows and doors are kept closed so that there’s no risk of your kitten accidentally escaping from your home.
During these first few weeks together, it’s the perfect time to establish your kitten’s routine, with regular mealtimes, and also to introduce some basic rules, such as where the kitten is – and isn’t – allowed! You can also continue your kitten’s socialisation process by introducing short grooming sessions, getting your kitten used to being handled, and also used to their cat carrier.
Introducing the family
One of the most essential parts of your kitten’s socialisation is introducing them to your family, pets and other people. The key aim is to keep all introductions positive to help develop your kitten’s confidence. When introducing your kitten to children, remind the children to be calm and to let the kitten come to them, no matter how tempting it is for them to want to hold the kitten!
If you’ve already got other cats or dogs in your home, introductions need to be done really carefully so that they become friends.
How to feed your kitten
When you bring your kitten home, keep them on the same kitten food they have already been eating. Sticking to the food that your kitten is used to will help avoid an upset stomach. Your kitten will need regular meals and will probably need their daily food split across four small meals. The feeding instructions on the kitten food will clearly show how much you should give your kitten each day as they grow.
If you are feeding your kitten pouches or tinned food, clear away any uneaten food after a short time as it doesn’t keep well, whereas if you are feeding your kitten on dry food, you can leave this down longer. The exception for this is if you have other pets that may want to help themselves – in this case you’ll have to supervise the food carefully!
As your kitten begins to grow up, you’ll be able to reduce the frequency of the meals – down to three per day by around three months old, then two per day at around six months of age.
Don’t give your kitten cow’s milk to drink, as it can cause diarrhoea.
Cats are generally very quick to learn how to use their litter trays, and you may well find that your kitten is already confident with this. However, if they’re not quite there yet, it’s best to keep them to one room while they get the hang of it.
You’ll need a simple plastic tray filled with the cat litter of your choice - but never earth from the garden as it may contain bacteria from other animals. This needs to be deep enough for them to dig a little, and it’s a good idea to place the tray on top of some newspaper to catch any litter that falls out. Keep the tray in a quiet place, away from the food and water bowls.
As your kitten grows up and starts going outside, you will probably find that the litter tray is used less. However, if your cat continues to use the litter tray as they grow up, you might like to upgrade to a larger tray, perhaps with a cover, to give more privacy and to help prevent smells and mess.
If you have any concerns regarding your kitten’s development or behaviour, always consult your vet for advice.
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