Getting a kitten can be exciting and fill your home with happiness. However, without the right preparation that joy can quickly turn into panic. Making sure you have all the right things to welcome your feline companion into your home is essential in ensuring a good start to their new life with you.
Table of contents
Food and water
Most kittens by the time they arrive at their new home will already be weaned onto solid food. Ask the breeder, shelter, or previous owner if they could provide you with a small supply of the food they’ve been using. This is so your new kitten can transition without an upset stomach. Slowly mix this food in with whichever new brand you decide on, over the course of a week. Commercial kitten diets are a good choice – they are packed with the calories and proteins a growing kitten will need!
It is also important to always provide a fresh water source (milk is not a substitute!). Leaving a water bowl out will work just fine. But some cats prefer to drink running water (like a water fountain), while others might enjoy drinking from a mug. Take some time to figure out what works best for your kitten.
A place to sleep
Running, climbing, playing and exploring – life for a kitten can be exhausting! Setting up a cat bed can provide somewhere for them to nap, as well as act as a safe space for your kitten. The location of the bed is important. It should be in a quiet area of the house, away from the hustle. If possible, try and set up multiple cat beds or resting areas, especially ones at a height. Your kitten will appreciate being able to lounge and watch everything happening down below!
As for the cat bed itself, there really is no right or wrong. As long as it is a comfy, warm den for your cat to enjoy it will work. In fact, many owners will often find that their cat frustratingly refuses to use the new cat bed. So hold back on splurging for a fancy design! Most round beds, cat caves, perches are appreciated by felines of all kinds, so try giving those a go instead.
Kittens will normally have stayed long enough with their mothers to learn to use a litterbox. Try and use the same type of litter material the kitten is used to, to encourage them to use the toilet. Any clumped areas should be removed at least once a day (or change out the whole tray daily if you’re using non-clumping litter). Once a week, empty the litter tray and wash it with a mild detergent and water. Keeping a clean litter tray is the key to having a happy cat – no one likes to use a dirty toilet!
It is also a good idea to get a scratching post for your kitten. Cat scratching is normal behaviour, as it helps them maintain their claws, exercise, and mark their territory. Many cats will start this from a young age. Introducing your kitten early on to the idea of using a scratching post will help them gain all these benefits, and more importantly, it’ll save your furniture from those dreaded claw marks.
Grooming should become part of your routine, especially if you have a long-haired breed, as they will probably need daily brushing. For starters, you could use a softer brush, and just allow your kitten to get used to the idea of settling down and letting you run a brush over them. The aim of the game is for them to relax as you do this, so that eventually everyone can sit comfortably on the sofa and enjoy this activity.
Toys and treats
Play is an essential part of a kitten’s life. Spending time playing with your kitten will provide them with great mental stimulation and exercise, as well as nurture that bond between you and your pet. Try to get a wide range of toys, including toy mice, pole teasers, and balls. Make sure to have different ‘batches’ of toys to rotate between, to prevent your kitten from getting bored!
Finally, stock up on some treat options. Not only will this delight your kitten, using treats is also a great way to help your kitten learn what they should or shouldn’t do around the house. For example, you could reinforce litterbox use by giving a treat as soon as they’ve used it or encourage them to use the scratching post by placing treats around it.
Make sure you’re prepared for any emergencies
You could get a first aid kit, for minor bumps and scrapes. But the most important thing in it will be the card with your vet’s details on!
Lastly, the love
In the end every kitten is different, and you will slowly learn your kitten’s favourite toys or treats, or their preferred sleeping places. The one thing all kittens and cats share however, is the love of your attention and affection. Give them a comfortable, safe environment and, with a bit of love, they will soon thrive and become a part of your family!