Preparing for a kitten

Getting a new pet can be an exciting time for any home. As a new pet owner, it’s important to help your new kitten settle into their environment and ensure they experience a stress-free introduction to their new home.

Any new pet is a commitment and as their owner it’s important to understand their needs so you can manage their quality of life. Kittens require time and patience and it’s important to do your research and understand the cost and responsibility of owning a cat.

There are many things to consider before getting a kitten, which include:

Cost – can you afford the essentials that a kitten would need, as well as any unplanned costs, such as vet bills or cattery costs if you go on holiday.

Environment/space – do you have the right home environment for a cat? Will they fit in with your lifestyle?

Time – do you have the time to commit to a new kitten? Can you take time off work to settle your pet into their new home?

Existing pets – do you have any other pets? Have you thought about whether they will get along? Cats can be territorial, and some don’t like sharing their environment with other cats, this can cause stress.

Have you considered adopting a rescue cat? – kittens can be cute and entertaining, but they aren’t for everyone. Have you thought about adopting an older cat? There are hundreds of cats looking for new homes in rescue centres up and down the UK.

There are many things to consider and prepare before bringing your new kitten home to help make the process as stress free as possible. Here are a few tips: 

Kitten proof your home

Ensure your home is kitten proof and you have all the essentials for your new pet. Remove any poisonous plants and tie up any hanging cords or cables to prevent your kitten from chewing or choking on them. As cats are inquisitive, keep places you don’t want them to go out of bounds, keep the washing machine and tumble dryer doors closed, as well as windows shut to stop them from jumping out.

Cat toys

Provide your kitten with toys to play with to encourage exercise. Although kittens sleep a lot, they do have short bursts of energy, so be sure provide them with something to play with so they don’t get bored. Kittens also love to climb, so remove any breakable objects that they may be able to reach to prevent any accidents.

Diet

Your new kitten will need a specific diet, which will ensure that they get the essential nutrients and vitamins they need for their growth and development. Kittens have small stomachs and have to be fed little and often. Set up a feeding schedule to prevent your kitten from overeating and gaining any unwanted weight. If you have more than one cat, be sure to feed your cats separately to prevent one stealing food from the other.

Grooming

Be sure to start grooming your cat straight away to get them used to the routine early. If you start handling their paws and trimming their claws early, this will help to make it a less stressful experience.

Keep your kitten indoors

For the first few weeks and until they have been vaccinated, keep your kitten indoors. This will help them to get used to their new environment. Make sure you get your kitten micro-chipped when they are old enough in case they escape or get lost.

Exercise

It is important to train your kitten to play without being aggressive. They should learn early that play with claws and biting is not acceptable behaviour. Any exercise for your kitten should incorporate their natural desire to climb and hunt.

Be patient

Give your kitten time to adjust to their new environment. Give them space and limit the amount of time you handle them in the first few weeks. Always supervise children when they hold your kitten. For safety and until your kitten gets used to their new surroundings you could limit them to just one room of the house.

Bedding

Provide your kitten with a comfy and warm cat bed. Most cats sleep where they like but having a bed will get them used to a routine and prevent them from sleeping in places you don’t want them to. Place their new bed close to their food bowls and within easy reach of their litter tray.

Litter tray

Be sure to place this in a quiet area, away from food and water bowls. Make sure that the litter tray is cleaned each day. Kittens usually pick up on how to use a litter tray from their mother, but you may need to offer some help and encouragement at first. If you have more than one cat, you need at least one litter tray per cat in the home.

Scratch posts

These are important to relieve stress for your kitten and to make sure they don’t scratch at furniture. Cats naturally scratch before they settle, so make sure it is in an accessible place. You could place a few around the home.

Food and water bowls

Cats prefer to eat in a different place to where they drink, so make sure you place their food and water bowls away from each other. Provide your kitten with fresh water each day.

Register with a vet

Make sure you register your new kitten with a vet. Regular health checks with your local vet are important to ensure that your kitten is receiving the best possible care. They will be able check their overall health and advise on important vaccinations that they will need, as well as offer advice on diet, flea and worm products.