How to Take Care of a New Kitten
This information is for people who have just brought home a new kitten, that being one between the ages of 6 weeks and 12 months of age. If you are caring for an orphaned animal under 6 weeks of age, you need to follow advice for care and feeding of orphaned kittens. It is never recommended to bring home a kitten that is under 6 weeks of age, and generally a minimum of 8 weeks old is preferred.
How to Transport a New Kitten
Your new kitten should be brought home in a cat carrier, or cardboard box. The kitten should not be loose in the car. They scare easily can could get under your pedals, or could run out if the door or window is opened.
Veterinarian Care for a New Kitten
If your new kitten has not seen a veterinarian, been vaccinated, and wormed, it should be taken to a veterinarian straight away. It is never a good idea to pay for a kitten that has not been seen by a veterinarian already and vaccinated. It is never a good idea to bring home an unvaccinated kitten to a home where you have other cats, even if they are vaccinated. You should realize that vaccinations take 3 days to be somewhat effective, and most still need to be boostered.
What Supplies are Needed for a New Kitten
Your kitten will need to have a litter box, litter, food bowls, food, as well as toys and cat furniture.
You should buy the same kind of food the kitten is currently eating because a sudden change of diet can cause tummy upset and diarrhea, which can make a kitten quite ill. You can switch later, but if you do change to a different kind of food you will want to do so gradually.
Your kitten should have dry food and canned (wet) food. The dry food will be left out all day, and the canned food may be fed in several small meals throughout the day.
You will want to use stainless steel or ceramic bowls. If you use plastic bowls you will need to replace them every 6 months as plastic can contain bacteria. Click here to read more tips on feeding a kitten.
The kitten will need a litter box. You should not use clumping litter if the kitten is under 10 weeks of age, but after that may find that most cats prefer non-scented clumping litters. The silicone chip litters tend to do an excellent job controlling odor. Use a simple litter box at first, one that is not too deep for the kitten to get into and out of on its own.
Your kitten will need many toys. They like to have a mix of toy toys, jingle toys, soft toys, crinkle toys, and so forth. Most kittens will not be interested in cat nip toys until 6 months of age, but will often enjoy honeysuckle toys before that.
String toys should be used with caution, and never left for a kitten to play with unsupervised as they could wrap the string around their neck or paw. Kittens like toys best if they have not seen them for awhile, so buy enough toys that you can keep some hidden and can swap them around often.
Cat furniture can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. Cats like to sleep up high so your kitten will enjoy it best if you purchase a cat tower with a sleeping area on top. You may want to place this near a window for entertainment. Remove any dangling toys if the cat tower has any.
First Weeks with a New Kitten
The first week with your new kitten should be geared towards helping the kitten adjust to your home. For young kittens this can be especially confusing. As such it is best to establish a living area for your new kitten in a bathroom or other small room. The food, water, and litter should be in this room.
If you have no other cats at home, the kitten can be allowed out for short, supervised, times to explore the house, but should be put in its room at night or when you are not home to watch it. This will also help to remind it about using the litter box. A small kitten may not be able to find its litter box in time when given the full run of a house too soon.
If your kitten is over 3 months of age, and you have no other cats at home, it can be let out of this room sooner than if its young, or if you have other cats at home, in those cases you should keep it in the room for at least 2 weeks.
When Can Kittens go Outdoors?
Your kitten should be kept inside only until fully vaccinated, and spayed or neutered. Many people will let their kittens outside soon than this but there are many risks involved. Also your kitten should have some sort of identification before it is allowed outside. Be aware that in some areas you may let your cat out, but it cannot be off your property.
Kittens who go out can have problems with fleas, ticks, and parasites, so you may want to talk to a veterinarian about these concerns.
Kitten Care Tips
Kittens sleep a lot, they wake up and are very playful and tend to be claw aggressive. If you are not prepared for the normal clawing behavior of a kitten, you may be happier with an older cat instead of a kitten. Declawing should never be done, and may have many side effects.
Milk should not be given to a kitten, many are lactose intolerant and will suffer from diarrhea or an upset stomach.
If you have children do not allow them to mishandle the kitten, make sure the kitten gets a break.
Female kittens should be spayed at 6 months, male kittens should be neutered at 10 months.
Take lots of pictures, kittens grow fast, and the pictures will be handy in case your kitten gets outside by mistake and goes missing.