There are fewer things in this world as soft and inviting as a box of kittens. They are downy soft and capable of melting even the stoniest of hearts.
But if you’ve only ever raised adult cats, kittens are quite a change of pace. Raising a kitten is a huge responsibility as what you teach them at this young age will develop who they become as adults.
Make sure you know how to care for a kitten properly before choosing to bring one home with you. Our tips below should help.
How to Care for a Kitten | Before Bringing Them Home
When considering how to care for a kitten, you must create a plan. Your plan should include:
- How to prepare yourself and your home for a kitten
- How to care for your kitten
- How you and your kitten will grow together
If you go through and plan all these aspects out, you’ll be much more successful at raising a well-adjusted kitten.
Know Your Kitten’s Age
When you are scouting out possible kitten candidates, you should make sure their old enough before bringing them home. You will want your new kitten to be about 12 weeks of age before you take them from their mother. That’s only if they have been socialized with humans beforehand.
If you know your kitten hasn’t been around many people and many experiences, you’re going to want to try and get one who’s younger. A younger kitten will give you the time to socialize them correctly. On the other hand, a kitten that’s under eight weeks of age is still going to rely heavily on their mother. If you get a kitten that young you should be prepared to spend almost all your time with this kitten. Be sure this is part of your plan when bringing a new kitten home.
Plan Out Veterinary Care
Do you already have animals in the house? Or is this your first pet? Make sure you know where you will be taking your kitten for veterinary care.
You should feel confident that this vet has your cat’s best interest in mind, and they should put you at ease. You should talk to them about the kitten you plan to bring home and what they recommend regarding food and preventative care.
A competent vet will not hesitate to discuss their recommended care schedule, as well as things to be on the lookout for when you bring home your first kitten.
Prepare the Menu
You can even consult your vet regarding their thoughts on feeding. This will obviously change depending on the age of the cat. Something to keep in mind though is that growing kittens sometimes need as much as three times more calories and nutrients as an adult cat.
Make sure you find a high-quality food that is formulated specifically for kittens. Most vets also recommend feeding your kitten three times per day. Again, you should consult your trusted vet if you’re unsure of how much or how often to feed your kitten.
Bringing your Kitten Home
Once you are ready to bring your new kitten home, it is recommended to let them get used to one room of the house first. This room should be where you feed and drink them; it should also have access to their litter box.
Cats have a natural urge to bury their waste, so just keeping the box in the room with them should be training enough. You may be able to speed the process by placing your kitten in the litter box after meals and after you’ve spent some time playing with them.
You should also keep a close eye on your new kitten. The room you use should have previously been kitten proofed. Almost all cats are naturally curious. And the tiny little package of curiosity you have just brought home is going to sneak all around whatever they can. They’ll get behind the couch, hide behind appliances, fall into the toilet. Just think to yourself, ‘this cat will never get lost there.’ They’ll find a way to beat your expectations every time.
You also must introduce your cat to as many new experiences as possible. This is how your kitten will build their understanding of the world. One of the best things you can do for them is let them experience everything, under your watchful eye of course.
Get them used to walking on many different surfaces. Let them play with that paper shopping bag you just brought home. Take them in the car when you go pick up the kids from school. Whatever you can let them experience, encourage them. It will lead to a much more well-developed adult cat.
Care Going Forward
Learning how to care for a kitten who’s young is very important, but their care doesn’t end once they mature. You put all that hard work in up front so you can enjoy your time with them into adulthood.
One very important step to take with your cat in neutering or spaying. A cat who’s been fixed will not go into heat, and of course this also means your cat will not bring home a surprise litter of their own. Your vet will be the best judge of when the appropriate time is. Kittens can be spayed any time after two months, but most vets prefer to wait until they are about six months.
You’ll also want to keep up with all preventative care. This includes regularly checking for worms or parasites. Fleas are a common issue for cats as well, especially if you allow your cat outdoors. A topical preventative can be administered by the age of eight weeks.
You should also consult your vet on what they recommend when it comes to vaccinations. Most vets will recommend a rabies and distemper vaccine. Just make sure that whatever vaccinations you give your cat, you follow up with all boosters to ensure full effectiveness.
Remember, learning how to care for your kitten builds your relationship and allows you to live happily with an adult cat. The hard work you might have to do will lead the way to a lasting and joyous partnership.