Cute, playful, mischievous, cuddly, adorable: a kitten is many things but most importantly a kitten is a baby. Like any new parent, it’s your job to keep this bundle of love happy, healthy and safe. It’s a big responsibility and there’s a lot to think about, but nothing worth having is ever easy. That said, it’s all in the preparation. We wouldn’t go as far as saying that we’ve done the hard bit for you, but we like to think we’ve made it a little easier with the following guide.
Vaccinations, microchipping, desexing and flea and worm prevention are all things that you need to consider when you adopt a kitten. They’re also all things that you should discuss with that trained professional, the vet.
Between four and seven months your kitten will start to get its permanent teeth. Giving your cat raw bones to chew on during this time can alleviate “teething” pains and also provides several important health benefits including healthy teeth and gums. These raw bones should be introduced gradually and should be big enough so your kitten can’t fit the whole thing in their mouth at once. Always supervise your kitten when they’re eating bones, in case they decide to get ‘creative’.
Just like a human baby a kitten's diet is progressive and you should try and establish a routine. A kitten’s diet should contain the right balance of vitamins and nutrients which include proteins, fats and oils, minerals, vitamins and water. Feed your furby a combination of high quality dry and wet kitten food supplemented by the occasional healthy treat. By 12 months your kitten should be ready for adult cat food.
Make sure that your kitten always has access to fresh, clean water. Despite the adorable illustrations in children's books of cats blissfully lapping up a saucer of cream, in reality most cats are lactose intolerant, and are more likely to barf than burp.
It’s natural that you should want to protect your kitten from potentially stressful experiences but by introducing them to uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations early and rewarding them with treats your kitten will grow into a confident cat. Use the principles of training found in this guide. Handling your kitten regularly will get it used to you as well as forming a bond between the two of you. Kittenhood is the ideal time to introduce them to new sounds, smells, people and animals, since older cats have a harder time learning new tricks.
Playing with a kitten is probably the most enjoyable thing about owning a kitten, possibly in the whole world. It may sound simple, but daily play sessions will provide you with some essential bonding time. We recommend interactive toys that will appeal to your kitten's natural curiosity and allow them to expend some of their (infinite) energy. A scratching post is also a great idea as it will not only keep your kitten's claws in good condition but help protect your furniture from these little leather-shredders.
The Great Outdoors
Your kitten will have a natural desire to go outside and explore but it can be a dangerous place, try keeping them in a secure outdoor enclosure instead. This will allow them the freedom and outdoor experience they desire and give you the peace of mind that your kitten is safe. However, keep your kitten housebound until it has had its first round of vaccinations.
Regular grooming provides you with another ideal opportunity to bond with your kitten - if you can get them to sit still for long enough! Weekly grooming is usually enough, but may vary on the breed you have. See our Ultimate Guide to Cat Breeds to find your furbaby.
Most kittens will be toilet trained by their mother, but if not, you may have some work to do. Cats like their privacy so place their litter box in a quiet, private place where they can pee covertly.
While it’s tempting to let your new kitten sleep in your bed it’s important that they have a bed of their own with warm, dry bedding. Make sure it’s somewhere quiet and private so they have a cosy little haven they can go to after playtime.
Now that you’ve wrapped your head around the nitty-gritty, why not indulge in something a bit more lighthearted with these awww-inducing videos. They should tide you over until you bring your new kitten home.
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