So you’ve taken the plunge and adopted a new kitten – congratulations! Get ready to be entertained, delighted, and perhaps a little frustrated… at times. Most of all, if you haven’t already, be prepared to fall head over heels for your adorable new friend!
These early days and weeks with your new little furball are fleeting and at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center, we want to help you get a great start by sharing some of our favorite kitten care tips. After all, making sure your kitten is a happy, healthy, and a well-adjusted member of your family is a top priority!
Kitten Care 101
Our understanding of what kittens need to grow into thriving adult cats has come a long way in recent years. You can set your kitten up for success by making sure you have the following basics set up in advance:
Feeding – We stay up-to-date on pet food research and only recommend the kitten (and cat) foods we trust, so we will advise you on this important choice when your kitten comes in for its first visit. Our veterinarian can guide you on what food to feed, how much to feed each meal, and the number of meals to feed each day (instead of leaving out a full bowl). We can also help you decide if canned food or dry is best for your kitten’s needs. These recommendations will start your kitten on a the feeding schedule that will help it grow into a healthy adult cat, and avoid unnecessary weight gain or other health-related problems that can develop over time.
Housing – We always recommend that kittens and cats live exclusively indoors. It is a well-know fact that indoor cats live longer lives, as they are protected from outdoor dangers such as cars, attacks by dogs or other cats, wild animals, and environmental hazards and toxins. Provide your new kitten with several safe indoor scratching surfaces, as well as a cat tree or perches to climb and explore. If you want to take your cat outdoors for a special treat, we recommend leash-training your cat and allowing outdoor activity only on leash with you.
Elimination –The rule of thumb we use is two litter boxes per cat in a home (one main litter box, and one additional). For a kitten, provide a litter box on every floor of your home, and be sure to keep it clean by scooping waste daily. Once per week, thoroughly wash the pan with soap and water and fill with fresh litter. If possible, use the same type of litter that was used in the kitten’s previous home for an easy transition. You can change to another product (if you have one you prefer) by mixing it in with the existing litter, and increasing the amount of new litter gradually over time. Ideally, we recommend using litter that is unscented.
Travel Preparation – It is more important than you may think to help your kitten adapt early on to its travel carrier and see it as a comforting, non-threatening place. We recommend a carrier with a removable top and comfortable bedding, and using it in your home for play time and treats. Once your cat seems to have accepted the carrier as a non-threatening place, try taking your cat on short car rides in the carrier. Always end the trip with happy playtime and treats once back home. Not only will these efforts make trips to the veterinarian much easier for you and less threatening for your companion, it will allow your cat to arrive less stressed when you reach any destination all throughout its life.
Veterinary Visits – Make your kitten’s first appointment to see us as soon as you bring it home. The first few weeks and months are an important time for us to evaluate your kitten’s overall health by making sure he or she is disease and parasite free, starting the vaccination protocol, and discussing other care, including the time frame for spaying or neutering.
The First Days at Home
Introducing a new kitten or adult cat to your home should be done with care, especially if you already have other pets.
- Prepare a safe, kitten-proofed room for your pet to stay in during its first few days. This should include food and water bowls, a comfortable bed, and a low-sided litter box (placed away from food and bedding). This is where your kitty will acclimate to the sounds and smells of its new environment.
- If you have a dog, introduce it to the new kitten slowly. Always keep your dog on a leash and supervise all interactions. Provide treats and praise for your dog’s polite behavior around the kitten. If there is the threat of aggression, you may need to seek the help of a professional. Our certified dog trainer specializes in helping pets live well together and would be happy to assist you in this process.
- Adult cats tend to tolerate kittens, but be sure to supervise the early meetings. Make introductions during feeding or playtimes to help create a positive association. Try spraying or diffusing an artificial cat pheromone such as Feliway to help ease the process. We carry this product in our lobby and online retail store.
- Always supervise interactions between children and kittens, and use this as an opportunity to teach your kids safe pet handling techniques. Equally important is to teach them an overall respect for animals, and to be kind and gentle with their new friend.
Socialization is Key
The first six to twelve weeks of your kitten’s life are critical when it comes to socialization. This is the time to gently handle your kitten, touch its paws often, and encourage fun, yet gentle play. Do not allow your kitten to bite, scratch, or engage in other forms of aggressive play, as this could set the stage for future negative behavior. Introduce your kitten to new people, and start the crate/carrier training process now!
We wish you many wonderful years of companionship and enjoyment with your new feline friend! As always, please do not hesitate to contact us at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center with any questions you have about your kitten or your adult cat.