Kittens are tiny, adorable, and playful. They have been known to soften the toughest of men, and melt ice cold hearts. If you have fallen in love with one of these magical creatures be comforted in knowing that they can be a wonderful addition to your family if you prepare yourself, and your home, for their arrival.
Top Tips for the First Time Kitten Owner
Choosing Your Kitten
Most importantly ensure that everyone in your household is in agreement about a new addition. Don’t get them as a surprise or a gift for someone. Secondly make sure that no one is highly allergic. Allergies are one of the most common reasons cats end up in shelters.
Male or female, tabby or tuxedo? The truth is all cats are individuals, so personalities will vary regardless of gender and colour.
Adopt kittens in pairs, even if you have cats or other animals. Kittens learn through play with other kittens. They keep each other company. They provide one another with a sense of security, and they learn important social skills from one another.
It is always a good idea to have your new kittens checked out by a vet.
Kitten Proof Your Home
Kittens are like children. They don’t understand boundaries, they don’t comprehend danger, and they get into everything. Kittens will scale your curtains, scratch your furniture, and devour your plants after using the pot as a kitty litter. There are products on the market with specific odours and textures that make your valuables unattractive to felines. Gently reprimand your kittens if they become destructive. Be consistent and they will learn eventually.
If you have other pets introduce your kittens gradually. Give them a space in your house where they can retreat for safety, and then slowly introduce the other animals while you supervise. It may take some time so be patient.
Basic Care and Needs
Kittens will need a permanent place for their food and water dishes. Find a spot that is not too busy, or accessible to other pets. Keep the water clean and the food fresh. Your kittens should be fed high quality food for all life stages, or kitten food until they are a year old, and they should be getting wet food at least twice a day. Follow the feeding guidelines on the food’s packaging as a simple way to start.
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In a perfect world each cat should have two litter boxes. However, two litter boxes per cat can be too much for the average household, so make sure each cat has their own box. When you first bring your kitten home confine them in the same area as their litter box or show them the litter box several times a day, so they know exactly where it is. Keep your litter boxes very clean. Litter issues are common in cats, so keeping their box clean and accessible will ensure they don’t develop problems in the future.
Playtime, Socializing, and Grooming
Playtime helps to tire your kitten out, keeps them from being destructive, and helps socialize them. Make sure they have lots of toys. You don’t need to spend a fortune, there are many household products that can be turned into cat toys. Empty cardboard boxes are always a hit.
Introduce them to everyone that visits you. Allow them to be handled as much as possible, even by small children if you supervise. Introduce kittens to various sounds, smells, and textures. The more exposure they have to the world around them the more confident they will become, and thus more equipped to deal with stress and change. If you want a cat that doesn’t require a sedative to have their nails trimmed start them early. Touch their paws, withdraw their claws, and brush them. Get them used to grooming from day one.
Cats tend to be nocturnal creatures. This can have a significant impact on your sleep schedule. The trick is to teach your cat to go to sleep when you do. Create a nighttime schedule, such as vigorous playtime, followed by a snack, lights out and then bedtime. Eventually your kitten will adjust to your schedule if you are consistent and stick to it. Some people suggest you don’t allow your cats into your bedroom at night, but I think that’s only needed if you have mild allergies to your cat and need an allergy free zone. Otherwise social, happy cats like to sleep with their family just like the rest of us.
Kittens will bring endless joy and amusement to your home. I will not lie to you the first few weeks can be trying, but if you stay positive, consistent, and patient you will be rewarded with unconditional love and a constant bathroom companion.