Bringing home a new kitten can enrich your life immensely. 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!
Cuteness aside, taking care of a kitten is a huge responsibility. Like human babies, kittens require special attention. Knowing how to take care of a kitten is crucial, as bonding, training, and providing proper care will help ensure your newest furry family member grows up to be a happy kitty.
If you’re unsure how to care for a kitten, this comprehensive kitten care guide will make raising a kitten seem like a breeze!
Provide a welcoming space
Whether you’re adopting your cat from a shelter or taking one in from your neighbors across the road, their first day in their a new home will be a big day for them, and for you as well. This is the moment when all the things you learned about how to take care of kittens pay off!
Your kitty will be curious, confused and excited — all at once. As much as it’s tempting to let them roam, they’ll adjust better if you limit access at first. Having a smaller secure area to explore initially will help your fur baby get comfortable with the new place.
Prepare the necessary supplies
As usual, having the right tools always makes the process easier! Here are all the essential kitten supplies you should have ready for your new cat’s arrival:
- A litter box
- A cozy bed
- Food and water dishes
- A scratching post
- Safe toys
- Grooming supplies (shampoo, brush/comb, furminator)
- Collar and ID tag
Make sure to keep the litter box away from the other items — even kittens like their privacy when it comes to bathroom functions.
Create a Safe Atmosphere
Your kitty may hide at first, but it will explore when no one is watching, becoming more comfortable in their new home. Making sure the room has hiding places will help your furball feel secure. If there isn’t furniture to hide beneath, place paper bags or cardboard boxes near the walls or cut holes for doorways into them — they won’t notice the difference.
One of the best new kitten tips you’ll get is to resist snuggling and petting as soon as you welcome them into your home. You need to let them come to you, and avoid overwhelming them with emotions in the beginning. Sure, it won’t be easy resisting cuddles with a cute kitty, but hey, nobody said that learning how to raise a kitten is all fun and games!
Schedule a Vet Visit
The sooner you bring your new family member to a veterinarian, the better. Your vet should:
- Check for parasites
- Test for diseases like FiV and FelV
- Examine the possibility of hereditary or other medical conditions
- Provide appropriate vaccines
If your new four-legged family member isn’t going to be the only pet in the house, you need to make sure it isn’t bringing anything in that could get the rest of the household sick.
The vet visit plays a crucial part in new kitten care. It not only helps uncover health issues, but allows you to ask all of the important questions about caring for kittens from a pet care professional, including advice on litterbox training your kitten, establishing a daily feeding routine, or having your cat microchipped. Once your vet has cleared your fur baby as being free of disease and parasites, it’s safe to let your new tiny feline explore its new surroundings and other pet roommates.
Ensure proper nutrition
Taking care of kittens means you’ll need to think twice about everything, including the food you give them. Kitties are growth machines in their first year and they will need an appropriate diet:
- Two to three times as many calories and nutrients as adult cats.
- Extra protein for muscle and tissue development,
- Fat and fatty acids
- Plenty of calories
Steer clear from food that can harm them
Specially formulated kitten foods fitting their nutritional requirements should be given until they are at least a year old.
You may assume your cat needs or wants milk, but it shouldn’t have any. A mother cat’s milk provides everything a kitten needs during the first four weeks of life. Once a kitten is weaned, don’t offer milk, as it can give them diarrhea. Additionally, milk should never be given as a replacement for water because it can lead to dehydration.
Kitten-proof your home
To a playful kitten, your whole house will be a toy, and it could be dangerous. Before you give it free run of the house, make sure it is safe for raising kittens. Put away or cover up anything that could possibly hurt them: electrical cords, yarn, string, medications, poisonous plants, and toilet lids. Keep kitchen and bathroom cabinets closed so your kitten doesn't encounter bleach, detergent, dental floss and other household items when exploring.
You never know where their natural curiosity will lead them, so it’s crucial that you go through your house room by room. Washers and dryers may seem out of reach but some resourceful kitties can easily find their way in there. A kitten may climb into a warm dryer for a nap or crawl into a pile of dirty laundry and hide there. A recliner can be another hiding spot for a mischievous feline. Keeping it in the upright position can keep your little kittens from danger.
Read more: 8 Amazing Facts About Kittens
Train your kitten
Most people believe that cats can’t be trained because they are so independent. Cats do respond to training but the process of training can be a bit more challenging. After all, raising kittens is not an easy feat by itself, let alone when training is included!
However, felines are extremely intelligent and can be trained to use litter boxes, obey commands and even perform adorable tricks. Begin training your kitten as soon as you bring it home. Your tools are patience and providing positive rewards. You can train your cat to sit, lay down, enjoy their crate and even flush the toilet!
Bond with your kitten
If you want to raise kittens to become loving, happy members of your family, human contact is important from an early stage. Nap with your kitty, hold it while watching TV, or find other times to snuggle. Handling and playing with your kitten a few times a day will help your furry little friend form a strong emotional bond with you. And, let’s face it, kitten love and snuggles will be good for you too!
Make sure that all human interactions with your cat are gentle. Kittens are especially fragile before 12 weeks of age. If you have children, monitor their introduction to the new pet to make sure it’s a positive experience for both the cat and child. Your kids might not know how to care for a kitten, but they need to know they have to be careful. When your furry bundle of joy is comfortable, it should start purring. That’s when you know you’ve got a winner.
Don’t Leave Them Alone For Too Long
If you are away at work for most of the day, invite a neighbor or a pet sitter to keep your fur baby company. A Petcube Play interactive pet camera can also be a creative solution for taking care of a kitten even when you’re not there. This pet camera lets you watch, chat, and play with your kitten during the day, ensuring your kitty gets all the love and entertainment they need. Even if you can't play with your pet one-on-one, the auto-play mode can give your pet a game of laser tag when they're feeling active.
It’s no doubt that raising a kitten can be a lot of work. Keeping them safe and happy takes planning and patience for everyone in the household, but the tips in this kitten care guide will help make the process a whole lot easier.
Importantly, even if you learn all there is to know about how to care for kittens, without a lot of love and commitment, you won’t raise a happy kitten. By keeping experiences positive from day one, you’ll be laying the foundation for many years of happiness and will help your kitten grow into a confident adult cat, making life more enjoyable for you both.