Few things come close to the joy of bringing a kitten home. Just like babies, kittens too, need a lot of attention and care. If you’re not prepared for the new member’s arrival, this joyous experience can quickly become overwhelming. As a responsible pet parent, you must first identify if you’re ready to adopt a kitten. Once you’re ready, you need to start preparing your home and yourself to make sure the kitten stays happy, safe and healthy. So here are a few things you should know about kitten care.
Before bringing a kitten home, ask yourself the following questions
Is the kitten of the right age?
All creatures need their mother’s love and support in the first few weeks of coming into this big scary but wonderful world and newborn kittens are no exception. Most vets recommend adopting a kitten after 8 weeks of age while some suggest waiting until 12 weeks of age. There are two reasons for this:
- Life skills
When kittens grow up with their mother & siblings they learn life skills like- socialization where they learn how to play appropriately, when to not bite and how softly to bite and how to communicate with other kittens. For example, a mother cat will sometimes walk away if the kitten is playing too roughly, indicating to the kitten that this is not the right behavior. Apart from this, they also learn other valuable lessons like- burying their waste, grooming, hunting and defending themselves.
For the first two weeks, a newborn kitten should solely drink their mother’s milk. The first milk that the kittens drink from their mother is called colostrum which is highly rich in maternal antibodies. These maternal antibodies protect the kittens from various infections and help build their immunity. Canned food can be given to the kitten from 6 weeks of age but they still require their mother’s milk along with other food to get stronger.
*If you find a kitten who is motherless, abandoned or won’t survive without your help, we urge you to help them out.
Are you ready for a kitten?
Getting a kitten home is one of the best things that can happen to you. But before you commit, ask yourself some questions:
- Are you going to be around?
Cats can become lonely and unhappy if left alone for long hours. Kittens and cats are likely to land themselves in trouble in your absence because of their curious and playful nature. Although adult cats can be left alone for a few hours a kitten requires constant attention and care.
- Are you allergic?
Are you or anyone from your family allergic to cat hair? Make sure you’re not allergic to cats before bringing one home.
- Are you patient?
It’s not as easy as just bringing a kitten home, giving them food and cleaning the litter box. Some kittens may be untrusting and distant in the beginning. You need to be patient to understand the cat’s needs and nature, and then wait for them to come around.
- Can you make a long-term commitment?
Cats tend to develop an attachment with their pet parents the more they stay with them. Giving up an older cat can lead to depression and other behavioral issues.
- Are you ready to put in the work?
Taking care of a kitten is not easy but definitely rewarding. You need to be ready to regularly clean their litter box, keep their vaccinations and deworming up to date, provide a healthy and nutritious diet, groom them, look after them when they’re ill, visit the vet for regular check-ups and give them lots of treats and love.
- Is everyone in your family ready to welcome a new member?
The people and pets living in your house should be okay with welcoming a new kitten. Every pet is different and your resident pet may not be very happy upon the arrival of a new member and that’s normal. But are you ready to work towards socializing the two pets?
7.Are you ready for some bite marks and scratches?
Some kittens can be non-trusting, scared and cautious especially if they are rescued. This can cause them to sometimes scratch or bite you, they can also do this when they’re playing with you. But in time your kitty will learn how to communicate and behave with you if you’re willing to put in time and effort.
- Can you stay with the kitten even when it gets hard?
When uncertain situations demand leaving the kitten behind, would you stay with them or would you leave them behind?
If your answer was yes to all of the above questions, then you should definitely bring a kitten home! But if your answer was maybe or if you felt unsure, you should rethink your decision of adopting a kitten.
Cat proofing your house
Now that you’re ready to bring a kitten home, it’s time to prep your home and make it safe for its newest member!
- Cover and net your balconies and windows especially if your house is located on the 2nd floor or higher. Use pet-friendly floor cleaners.
- Foods like- raisins, garlic, chocolates, coffee and grapes are toxic for cats. Keep them hidden and inaccessible.
- Other toxic substances like ashtrays, cigarette butts, alcohol bottles, soft drink bottles should be disposed off correctly and not kept lying around.
- Sharp objects like knives, scissors, screwdrivers, etc should be kept in drawers with baby-proof latches.
- No open sockets. With the help of a technician get all the sockets baby proofed.
- Medicines, creams, lotions, detergents, dental floss and the like should be kept in drawers locked with baby-proof latches.
- Kittens can get tempted to chew on or play with dangling wires. So tuck away your TV wires, mobile charger wire or any other hanging wires.
- House plants like Ivy, Aloe Vera, Crassula and Dumb Cane can be poisonous to your kitten. Remove them from your house or donate them to a fellow plant lover.
- Don’t leave cupboards, drawers, washing machines, refrigerators or dishwashers open, your kitten may get inside and want to hide.
- Don’t let the kitten jump from high surfaces. This can cause injuries.
- Keep an emergency kit handy. The emergency kit should include- medicines for diarrhea (kittens can get diarrhea easily if there is a sudden change in their diet), medicines for vomiting and other gastrointestinal problems, electral powder and basic first aid equipment.
- Babies, toddlers and resident pets should be supervised at all times while they are playing with the kitten.
- Lastly, keep a close eye on your kitten to avert any possible problems.
A good tip is to keep their food, bowls, bed, litter, litter box and scooper ready before their arrival.
What to do in the first few weeks of bringing the kitten home
- Keep the surroundings calm
Kittens are very sensitive to new places, smells, sounds and people. They will take some time to settle in your house as the transition from the old home to the new home can stress them out. So keep your home calm, let the kitten explore, keep an eye on them but give them their space. Do not forcefully cuddle them and lift them if they are unwilling.
Introduce them to their bed, toys and litter box on their first day of coming home. Their bed should be comfy, warm and in a quiet space because kittens can get a cold and be startled by sudden noises easily. Use non-clumping litter as some kittens may try to eat their litter after defecating.
- Vet check-up
It is advisable to visit the vet a few days after the kitten has settled in your home. However, If you notice any visible signs of illness, take them to the vet immediately.
The vet will conduct a general health check-up to make sure everything is okay, they will also check for any skin diseases or any other kind of ailments your kitty might have. Your vet will also help set up a vaccination and deworming schedule. Kittens are sensitive and prone to infections when young. To avoid any bacterial or viral infections, ask your vet about immunity-building supplements that can help your kitty fight diseases.
Call a vet at home if your kitten is afraid of car rides.
- Diet and Nutrition
For the first week give your kitten the same food as they were eating previously. Then introduce the new food in small quantities along with the previous food and gradually keep increasing the quantity of the new food until they are completely accustomed to the new diet.
Keep the food bowl away from the litter box to avoid contamination. A bowl of fresh water should be available at all times. Do not give your kitten milk or table scraps.
You can give your kitten commercial food specifically made to suit a kitten’s dietary requirements. Be sure to give them a mix of dry and wet food if you keep them on a strict commercial diet.
Home foods such as scrambled eggs, cooked meats like chicken, lamb or other lean meats, cooked rice, room temperature buttermilk & curd, pumpkin, broccoli are some good foods for the kitten. Speak to a pet diet consultant to get a customized diet plan that suits your kitty’s nutritional needs.
Giving your kitten healthy food in their growth stage is of the utmost importance. A healthy diet will ensure your kitten grows up to be strong and fit.
Just like human babies, kittens learn very quickly at a young age so it’s a good idea to start socializing early.
- Rewarding their good behavior by giving them small treats acts as an incentive to repeat good behavior
- Playing with your kitten is the key to their socialization as playing with you creates a bond, keeps them physically active and mentally stimulated
- A kitten who has been around people, sounds and handled at a young age will be more confident. So, expose the kitten to new surroundings, sounds, smells and people under your supervision but don’t overdo it. If overdone, your kitty might start resenting new experiences
Keep your kitten active by playing games with them. Bring home some toys and engage with your kitten as they play. This helps them stay healthy and active, learn new skills, avoid health problems and create a bond with you.
- Be patient and nurturing
We kept the most important tip for the last! As mentioned before, in the first weeks of being home your pet kitten may be cautious and anxious because of this major transition that has taken place in their life. You as a pet parent need to make this transition as smooth as possible. Make efforts to become friends by hand-feeding your cat, playing with them, petting them if they let you, this lets them know that you are trustworthy. If your kitten withdraws, step back and give them their space. They will come around and learn to love you. And when they do, it will be the best feeling in the world.
Get our expert pet behaviorist's help if you require additional assistance in understanding your cat’s behavior, the cause for this behavior and the methods for correcting it.
If you’re having trouble bringing your kitten to the vet or grooming them, our vets and groomers can come home! We’re also available for any other pet-related questions you might have. Just call us on +91 8431620000 and we will be at your service!
*Disclaimer: This blog is vet-approved and includes original content which is compiled after thorough research and authenticity by our in-house team of vets and content experts. It is always advisable to consult a veterinarian before you try any products, pet food or any kind of treatment/medicines on your pets, as each pet is unique and will respond differently.