Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Bringing Home a New Kitten

Today is National Kitten Day and what better day to talk about bringing home that adorable ball of fur!
Truffle - 8 weeks old - 2011
Photo credit - Terry Rogers

The day has come and it's time to bring home new bundle of kitten. Have you prepared in advance for your new arrival? Is your home kitten-proof? Do you have the necessary supplies? Are you ready?

Planning and preparation prior to bringing your kitten home will help ease the transition from the shelter or breeder and will allow your kitten to be happy and healthy. Bringing a kitten home shouldn't be a "spur of the moment" decision. Kittens required special care, just like human babies, those first few days or weeks while adjusting to the new home. Below are a few tips for bringing your kitten (or cat) home. 

Kitten Proofing Your Home 

Truffle and Brulee were very curious and mischievous as kittens

Kittens are very curious, so it's important to kitten-proof your home. You should get down on your knees, at kitten level, and check your home for places a kitten may hide and search for items that could strangled or choke your kitten. Be sure to anchor drapes or blind cords. Bundle electric and phone cords with a cord manager and fasten away from your kittens’ reach. Rubber bands, dental floss, jewelry, holiday decorations, balloons, and other small items should be put away in a safe location (remember, kittens can climb and jump).  Remove poisonous plants and make sure any roach or ant traps are gone. Keep toilet lids, cabinet doors, refrigerator doors, and dryer doors closed. Pay close attention when using recliners.


Truffle inside Sleepypod® Mobile Pet Bed

Kittens (and cats) should not travel in a vehicle unless they are restrained in some type of carrier. There are so many choices for carriers now, but the main two types are a soft-sided carrier and a hard-sided carrier. When choosing a carrier, be sure to select a carrier that is sturdy and safe. Ensure your kitten cannot escape the carrier by checking how the kitten is secured inside - zippers, latches, or Velcro. Ideally, you should get a carrier that has two possible ways to open the carrier (from the side and the top). The choice of a carrier determines how your kitten will be transported. If your kitten will travel by air, make sure to purchase a carrier that meets all the requirements of the airline. When traveling by car, the carrier should be able to be secured with the seat belt. Our carrier-of-choice is the Sleepypod® Mobile Pet Bed and Sleepypod® Air.

Litter Box and Cat Litter

Truffle checking out her litter box

The rule of thumb for litter boxes is to have one more litter box than the number of cats in the home. A kitten may need a litter box with low sides at first, for easy access, and the litter should be the same type of litter that was used in the previous home. The litter box should be placed in a corner or secluded spot. There is debate among cat owners as to whether the litter box should be covered or open. You may want to try both types and see which your kitten prefers. The litter box should be placed away from the food and water dishes. Continue using the same type of litter the kitten has been using at first. Litter should be low-dust, unscented, and scoopable. Don’t forget the scoop! You will need to adjust the size and type of litter box as your kittens grow into adult cats.

Scratching Posts

Truffle had a unique way of using her scratching post

Kittens and Cats are going to scratch! Make sure you provide an appropriate scratching device for your kittens. There are a variety of scratching devices made with carpet, sisal rope, and cardboard. The scratching devices can be a tall pole or a flat surface. Cats like to stretch when they scratch, so make sure the device is long enough for your kitten as she grows into a cat. If your kitten is attracted to a piece of furniture, place a scratching post near that furniture. Consider having some type of scratching device in every room of the house.

Veterinary Selection and Care

Brulee being examined by Dr. Keisler in the scale because she was more comfortable there

Before bringing home your kitten, research the local veterinarians in your area. Call and ask for a visit and consultation with the veterinarian and staff to determine if this is a place you want to take your cat for wellness visits and illnesses. Search for a veterinary hospital that is accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).  Search for veterinary hospitals who are identified as a Cat Friendly Practice by the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the International Society of Feline Medicine and veterinarians who are certified as a Fear Free Professional. The kitten should be taken to the vet within 1-2 days after arriving to your home if she is an only pet. The kitten should see the vet prior to bringing her home if you have other pets in the house (or isolate your kitten in a separate room until a visit can be arranged). The veterinarian should test for feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, ear mites, and parasites. Vaccinations and treatments for intestinal parasites or external parasites may be given if examinations warrant it. Kittens should be spayed or neutered by six months of age. Consider microchipping your kitten when he/she is spayed or neutered.

Cat Trees, Beds, and Furniture

Brulee and Truffle enjoyed resting and playing on their cat tree

Many cats like to climb and rest above their world so they can see what is happening around them from a safe place. There are so many types of trees available. A cat tree should have a safe place to rest at various levels, a secure place to hide, and a scratching surface. Ideally, you should place the cat tree near a window and where you will spend a lot of time.

You should prepare a bed for your new kitten where she can stay warm and feel secure. Cats like to sleep off the floor. The bed can be a cardboard box with a blanket or a fancier bed purchased from a pet store. The bed should be in a quiet location, away from household traffic. You will need to decide in advance if you will allow your kitten to sleep in your bedroom with you. Some kittens will choose to sleep on their cat beds, while others prefer sleeping on the bed with you.

As your kitten gets older, you may choose to bring in different pieces of cat furniture where she can hide, rest, and play. 

Introducing Your Kitten to Other Animals

Brulee and Truffle were buddies from Day 1

Ideally, you can bring home your kittens together. However, if there are already pets at home, you should have all current pets checked by the veterinarian to make sure they are disease-free. The kitten should be placed in a separate room away from the other animals to allow time for them to get used to the smells of the new kitten. Once the kitten feels comfortable, you can begin short introductions between the animals, but make sure you stay in the room. There is no set time frame for when it’s safe to leave them alone together. Some kittens will be comfortable immediately and want to be around the other animals, while some may need several days. Always supervise interactions with other pets until the kitten is fully grown.

Food and Water

Truffle beside the water fountain and Brulee eating kitten kibble

Select food and water bowls that are appropriate for your kitten. Stay away from plastic because it can harbor bacteria that may cause feline acne or illness. Consider purchasing a water fountain to encourage your kitten to drink plenty of water. Continue feeding your kitten the same brand of food she was eating at her previous home for the first few weeks. You can change brands later, slowly over the course of a week by mixing the new brand with the old brand. Choose a food that is appropriate for a kitten. Proper nutrition is especially important for kittens because they need two to three times as many calories and nutrients as adult cats. Feed a high quality, name-brand kitten food with the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement on the bag or label until she is approximately nine to twelve months old. The AAFCO seal indicates that the diet has been shown to contain the proper nutrition for kittens. There is much discussion about feeding kibble, wet food, homemade, or raw. Do your research to determine what is best for both you and your feline. If your kitten is already eating kibble, it's important to feed her wet food to help provide appropriate hydration. Don’t give kittens milk.

Additional Cat Supplies

Praline loved feathers
Toys: Kittens have a high energy level and need to play. Choose cat toys carefully, avoiding buttons, bells, or other small parts that can come off and be swallowed. You should not leave string, yard, or ribbon out for the kitten to play with because they are dangerous if ingested. 

Collars: If you decide your kitten will wear a collar, it should be a breakaway collar with an identification tag, Decide early if you'd like to harness-train your kitten to walk with a leash. Research the various types of harnesses available for cats. Make sure your kitten cannot "back out" of the leash.

Grooming. Cats are fastidious in keeping themselves clean. However, when you bring a kitten home, she will need assistance with some of her grooming care. A kitten's nails will grow, so you should purchase nail clippers and clip her nails on a regular basis. Dental health is important, so start early brushing your kitten's teeth with a cat toothbrush and toothpaste. Purchase grooming tools appropriate for the type of coat your kitten has. You may need a comb, brush, and slicker brush. 

Lifetime Companion

Truffle exploring her environment
A kitten will grown into a cat and will be your furry companion for up to 20+ years. She is a lifetime commitment and you shouldn't take her care lightly. A kitten and cat can bring laughter, joy, comfort, companionship, and tears. Preparing your home for a life with her will be well worth your effort.

I hope this list of helpful hints will help you as you bring your new kitten(s) home.  What tips can you add to the above?

Would you like to comment?

  1. I wish I knew more about Ellie's kittenhood! And Bear's too before I met him. It can be a trying time - but I wish I'd been there all along the way. I truly miss Bear kitten. He kept me on my toes!

  2. This is so much awesome information! I shared on Twitter.

  3. What a pawsome post!
    Even for cat owners that get kittens. You forget what it's like having a kitten around.
    Good info for new cat owners and people with older cats getting a kitten :)
    Purrs Georgia,Julie and JJ

  4. Pawsome post ! Great tips and great advice ! Purrs

  5. Truffle and Brulee were such adorable kittens! Love these photos. :) I guess what I would add is that you should include a lot of interactive play with kittens. My Dexter absolutely loves his ball track, but when he was a kitten, I had to teach him how to play with it.

  6. Such a terrific post and a totally wonderful look back at those sweeties!

  7. Mom says, "As always, wonderful content and beautiful photos to go with!" Mom didn't know me when I was a kitten, but she raised the two white kitties before me as kittens. She remembers that one of them liked to chew on indoor plants. Purr purr purr.

  8. Kittens are so much fun but like puppies can get into the most curious predicaments! These can be life-saving tips.

  9. Nice Post! This will help a lot of folks looking to adopt or rescue a kitten. Very helpful tips for traveling safe and keeping them safe in their new home.
    I agree with the idea of introducing the new kitten to any new fur-siblings at a gradual pace to help ease in the transition. (from Dachshund Station)

  10. Kittens are SO cute. I find myself getting kitten fever occasionally, and wishing I could adopt one (or two), but my fiance has pretty bad cat allergies.

  11. Great post and like any child or pet one should do all the research before getting one plus child proof the house to be safe rather than sorry

  12. This is probably the most comprehensive and thoughtful article I've read on bringing home a new kitten! Thank you for also highlighting the 20+ year relationship ahead! Sharing this!

  13. Great guide. Very thorough. I love the pictures of your girls as kittens too! Persian kittens are so cute. Most of my cats were adopted as adults so I don’t have baby pictures.

  14. These are great tips. Baby-proofing is important no matter what species you are bringing home! I've never had a kitten, my one and only cat was an adult when we brought him into our home. Since my cat had some neurological issues, he wasn't a jumper or climber, and my house was already toddler-proof because my youngest was two years old.

  15. I can't even imagine where I'd start trying to kitty-proof a home. Dogs at least stay close to the ground, for most part :-)

  16. Oh my gosh, Truffle and Brulee were such adorable little kittens! The photos say it all - gorgeous. Your advise on adding a kitten to your family is fabulous - and I'm going to bookmark it - you just never know! :)

  17. We had a lot of fun with our foster kittens, including finding out a crate will not hold a determined safe breaker * cough cough * aka small determined kitten!!

    I love seeing kitten Persians they are simply gorgeous bundles of FLUFF!!!

  18. Such beauties! Great post - Pinning to share on my Mews News board. Such great info for folks looking to bring home a kitty, especially when there are other pets in the house.


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