Who doesn’t love kittens? They are tiny, fluffy, and adorable. Kittens are hilarious when they jump around and heartwarmingly sweet when they snuggle in for a nap. If you are planning to add a new kitten to your household, you are probably very excited and eager to watch your new little one play, discover, and grow as she becomes a full-grown cat. Before you bring her home, however, you should make sure you have everything you need to ensure her health and safety and to maximize your enjoyment of your new pet. Check out these suggestions, and for more comprehensive and in-depth preparation, download and print our New Kitten Checklist for a complete list of everything you need before bringing your furry feline home.
Why You Should Prepare for Your New Kitten
It might be tempting to bring a kitten home on a whim, particularly if someone you know has a litter of kittens who need good homes. Unfortunately, not being prepared to bring home a little ball of fluff can turn into some major regret later. You need to be sure that you have the time and energy to devote to taking care of your new kitten. In addition, there are some items that you will need to have on hand to make sure your new furbaby is safe, happy, and healthy.
If you don’t have what you need, your kitten can get into trouble. For example, neglecting to provide her with things to do can lead to boredom, and a bored kitten will tend to take out her feelings of frustration on your new leather sofa or freshly painted walls. Not having the right kitten food can make her sick. It’s important to prepare yourself and your family ahead of time so that your new little family member can thrive.
Keeping Your Kitten Safe
Before your bring your kitten home, you will want to go through your home (or at least the areas she will have access to) and kitten-proof it. Particularly if you have never had a kitten before, you might be surprised at what she can find to get into and how dangerous everyday items can be.
While you might picture your kitten getting tangled in a ball of yarn and consider your mental image hilariously adorable, the truth is that if she starts to swallow string, she will keep on swallowing it, potentially choking or even creating a blockage in her digestive tract. Kittens don’t know how to avoid swallowing pieces of string, so it is important to remove any access to yarn, ribbon, and similar items. Instead, provide her with safe kitten toys.
You will also need to check your plants to be sure they are not toxic to cats. Since all baby animals love to mouth and chew on items, your new kitten is likely to find your plants to be irresistible. (In fact, many adult cats also like to chew on plants.) Because a kitten is so small, even a couple of small bites of a toxic plant such as an Easter lily or tulips can make her very sick – or worse. Check out these pet-proofing tips for more tips on keeping your kitty safe at home.
Meet Her Basic Needs
Here are things you will need:
- A litter box/tray/pan
Again, size matters: Make sure she can get in and out easily. Most kittens will litter-box train easily. You need to keep it clean and dry or else she will stop using it and will find a nice, clean corner of your carpet or your closet to relieve herself.
- A cosy bed
It is not just the shape, size or fabric of a bed that matters, it can often be simply the position of the bed that will either attract or deter a cat from using it. Cats feel better higher up from where they don’t have to worry about what’s above and can see what’s happening below. There are lots to choose from and the top favourite will probably be your own bed!
- Safe places
Cats need to have high places within a house to retreat to or just retire to for a safe, quiet nap, or to get out of the way of some household activity or visitor (person or dog). For more nervous cats this can be a godsend – somewhere to relax. Of course, cats also love cosy warm beds and often those which they can hide away in, especially if the cat is a little nervous. Private places are important for cats to escape from any perceived dangers. Owners need to respect that and not disturb cats while they are choosing to remain hidden.
- Kitten pen
If you are getting a kitten then the purchase, hire or borrowing of a kitten pen can be a godsend. You can use one of the cages people use for dogs in the back of a car or purpose made kitten or puppy pens which are roughly about 1m x 0.75m x 0.75m. Inside there is room for a bed and a litter tray and to put food and water. If you haven’t had a kitten in the house for some time you will have forgotten how they get into everything and how their curiosity drives them into sometimes rather dangerous situations. If you can put them in the pen when you go out or at night you can be sure that they are not getting themselves into trouble. The pen also gives them time out if you have dogs, other cats or children as kittens do need a lot of sleep. They feel safe inside and soon learn to snuggle up in their bed. It is also brilliant for making introductions to dogs, cats and children so the kitten is protected but other animals can get used to it.
- Carrying basket
Essential for trips to the vet or cattery and of course for bringing your new cat home. There are lots of different designs but the most important thing is to choose one that is secure and is easy to get the cat in and out of.
Cats love to play and anything from a scrap of paper to a cat activity centre can be the trigger. It is a great way to interact with your cat and also to give it an outlet for energy and instincts. However, there can be problems if owners play in the wrong way with their cats.
- Identification is important
Especially if your cat is going to go outside. At International Cat Care we recommend that all cats are microchipped but you may also want your cat to wear a collar for visible identification or to carry a ‘key’ to the cat flap.
- A cat flap?
The cat flap has been the making of cat keeping – it allows the cat free access to the outdoors without having to leave a door or window open, so the house is still secure and the cat doesn’t have to live outdoors until it’s let in. There are now a wide range of flaps available, simple flaps that are also lockable in or out, flaps that are locked until opened by a magnet or an electronic key on the cat’s collar, and cat flaps that are triggered by the cat’s microchip (or can be programmed for several microchips if you have several cats). In areas where there is a high population of cats, International Cat Care recommends that the cat flap/door chosen is one which can exclude strange cats from coming into the house.
- Scratch post
A cat will instinctively sharpen its claws and mark its territory by scratching. Most cats will do this outside but may do it inside as well. A scratch post will give the cat a place to do this and prevent it from using the furniture.
Now you are ready for your new cat or kitten! Make sure you take your cat basket to pick up your new feline and do not have it loose in the car.