Prepare for your new pet
Bringing home a new kitten is exciting, but it can also be a little intimidating. Cats have a reputation for being aloof and self-sufficient, but that’s not entirely accurate. Kittens, in particular, need a lot of care and guidance in their early months.
To make your home safe and fun for your new kitten, it’s important to prepare ahead of time. Help your kitty feel comfortable by creating a space that’s just for them. Fill it with treats, toys, and necessities to help the kitten acclimate to its new home while it learns life skills and bonds with you and your family.
Kittens are curious creatures and your house is about to become their playground. Follow our simple steps to help prepare your house (and yourself) for the bundle of joy coming your way.
Kitten-proofing your home
Take a few minutes to make your house as safe and welcoming for the new kitten as possible. Make sure other people in your home understand the ground rules for interacting with the kitten, both to keep the kitten safe and to minimize its stress.
Start with a single room
Your kitten is going to be a little scared when it first arrives at your house. Avoid overwhelming it by designating a single room in your house, such as a small bathroom, to help it adjust to its new surroundings. You can also use gates or playpens to create a space for the kitten if you can’t give up an entire room. Just make sure other pets can’t access it without supervision. Make sure the room has bowls for food and water, a litter box, a comfy bed, and some toys. Allow the kitten to leave its carrier on its own time when it’s ready to explore.
After a week or so, start introducing your kitten to the world beyond its room, and within a few weeks, it should be comfortable with the rest of your home.
Clean up potential hazards
If you thought cats were naturally curious, just wait until your kitten starts exploring. Eliminate as many dangers as you can ahead of time. Things like charger cables, blind cords, hair ties, and anything sharp or swallowable should be removed from the kitten’s space or secured. Put trash cans in a different room, and make sure there are no harmful or toxic plants within reach. Cover accessible ductwork, and make sure any cabinets and closets are securely closed to prevent the kitten from accessing spaces it shouldn’t.
Supplies for kittens
Give your new kitten a great start with all the basic supplies a growing cat needs.
Provide food and water
Place food and water for the kitten and wash the dishes daily. If you want to spoil your kitten, consider a pet fountain, which can remove contaminants while helping cats stay hydrated. Cats prefer to eat and drink away from their litter boxes, so keep some distance between where your kitten eats and where it uses the bathroom.
Finding the right bed for a cat can be a case of trial and error since cats have different preferences. A shy kitten may prefer a covered cat cave where it can have some privacy. Others may be fine stretching out on a simple mat.
Let your kitten discover the bed on its own. Forcing it could cause the kitten to become averse to the bed. If you think your kitten needs extra encouragement or if it doesn’t seem interested in the bed, try placing a few treats on or inside the bed.
Set up a litter box
If your kitten is old enough to be adopted, it should already have learned to use a litter box. If possible, fill yours with the same type of litter it’s familiar with to help ease the transition. Place the litter box in an area where the kitten can use it in privacy so it feels comfortable using the bathroom in the box.
Stock up on toys, and play games with treats
Toys aren’t just for fun. Playtime helps your kitten develop musculature and bone strength. It also provides an outlet for instincts to hunt, pounce, scratch, and climb. Playing with your kitten encourages good behavior and helps your kitten bond with you.
Choosing toys for your kitten
Just like with cat beds, cats have individual preferences for toys. Some may enjoy kicking a soft plush toy, while others prefer high-energy interactive toys. For fun interaction with your kitten, choose a wand toy that encourages them to stalk and jump. Soft toys that are too large to swallow are generally safe to leave in the room for the kitten to play with on its own time. However, toys with strings or ribbons should be put away when you’re not around to supervise playtime.
Scratching and climbing outlets
A small scratching post is a great tool for both your kitten’s health and the health of your furniture. Attract your kitten to the scratching post with treats, and reward it with praise and treats when it scratches where it’s supposed to. Safe scratching posts and cat trees also let your kitten explore new heights and sleep on elevated platforms.
Interactive feeder toys
Feeder toys help ensure your kitten is eating enough while also helping develop important play and pouncing skills. Pick large, soft food puzzle toys that aren’t too difficult to figure out. Use them to dispense treats or the kitten’s usual dry food.
Kitten food and treats
Growing kittens need specially formulated food to fuel their playtime and ensure healthy growth. Kitten food should have more calories and higher protein content than regular cat food. Growing kittens also need more vitamin A, fatty acids, and amino acids than adult cats.
When choosing food for your kitten, look for high-quality ingredients, such as whole meats or meat meal as one of the first three ingredients. Avoid animal by-products and grain fillers. Offer your kitten four small meals per day until it reaches 6 months old. After that, you can feed it twice daily. To prevent future behavioral and health issues, avoid free-feeding your kitten.
Wet kitten food
Generally, wet kitten food contains more meat and fewer carbs than dry kibble, and its higher moisture content can help prevent dehydration and kidney or urinary issues. It can also be easier for young kittens to eat, although it may also be messier. A major drawback to wet kitten food is the price, as it can be more than twice as expensive as dry food.
Dry kitten food
It’s hard to beat dry kitten food when it comes to convenience: It doesn’t need refrigeration, it’s easy to feed, and it’s affordable. However, dry kitten food tends to contain more fillers and carbs than wet food, and since it has a lower moisture content, your kitten will have to be monitored more closely to ensure it’s drinking enough water.
Treats are effective training tools for helping a kitten learn new behaviors. Use treats as rewards for good behaviors, such as using the litter box or the scratching post. Place treats near new toys or the cat bed to encourage play and exploration.
Look for protein-rich treats in kitten-sized kibbles. To help coax a shy kitten out of hiding, try squeezable, lickable tube treats. Just make sure treats make up no more than 10% of the kitten’s daily calories.
How do I introduce my kitten to my other pets?
A. Your kitten should be introduced to its new siblings gradually and carefully. Use leashes and harnesses for both dogs and cats to ensure you can separate the animals quickly if one of them becomes aggressive. Allow both pets to investigate each other for a few minutes, then return the kitten to its temporary room.
Be prepared to spend a week or two helping your pets get to know each other. Consider feeding them separately for much longer to avoid resource competition. In the meantime, spend quality time with your older pets to help ease any anxiety they may have over the new arrival.
How do I get my kitten to listen?
A. Stopping inappropriate or unwanted behavior early is critical. There are a few tactics you can take to reward calm behavior and avoid aggressive activities. If your kitten is scratching furniture or being overly aggressive, say “No!” in a sharp voice or clap your hands to distract them and stop the behavior. If you can, leave the kitten’s room, and do not interact with it until it has begun a more appropriate behavior.
How long will a new kitten hide?
A. A particularly stressed or scared kitten may hide from you. It may also refuse to eat or use its litter box. To reduce the stress the kitten may be feeling, be consistent about your routine. Spend time with the kitten regularly, feed it at the same time each day, and engage in playtime to try to draw your kitten out. You can also try using a calming pheromone product to help it de-stress. Don’t try to drag your kitten out of hiding because its stress will just get worse.
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Laura Duerr writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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