Feline Wellness

Advice for First Time Kitten Owners

April 01, 2024

It’s finally spring time again, which means it’s also kitten season. During the spring and summer, cats are mating and making so many babies. If you’re thinking about adopting a kitten or two, now is the time as there will be thousands of adoptable kittens in shelters and rescues in the coming months. Here is some advice for first time owners on what to expect when welcoming home a new kitten or two. 

Prepare Your Home for Kittens

Before bringing a kitten home, make sure your home is cat-proof. Remove small objects that a kitten could swallow, rehome any plants or flowers that are toxic to cats, and secure electrical cords.

When you bring your new kitten home, start by having them settle into one room in your house. This room should contain all your new cat supplies. By containing your new kitten in one room, you can help them settle in safely. This helps prevent anxiety and overwhelm during the transition and is extremely  important when other animals are already in the home.

Make sure your kitten is an indoor only pet. If you want your kitten to explore the outdoors, use a harness and leash or invest in a catio to ensure their safety. Windows and doors should always be closed and kittens should not have access to balconies.

Supplies to Buy Beforehand

  • Food & Water Bowls: Small and shallow metal bowls are ideal food bowls for kittens. Ceramic bowls are great for water as they are heavy and kittens hopefully cannot knock them over..
  • A Litter Box & Litter: Be sure to choose an uncovered, short sided  litter box that is easy for your kitten to climb into and out of. As they grow, you can get a litter box with higher sides. Start with a small bag of litter as you learn your kitten’s litter preferences. Non-clumping clay litter is good for kittens in case they ingest it as is pellet litter.
  • A Scratching Post: Scratching is a natural instinct for kittens that relieves energy, helps keep their nails healthy and provides entertainment. A scratching post should be tall enough that your kittens can stretch out entirely when using it. You can try vertical or horizontal scratchers and see which style your kitten prefers. 
  • Toys: Buy a variety of toys to help encourage exercise and activity and mental and physical stimulation. Springs, jingle balls, wand toys, kickers, the options are endless and your kitten will enjoy most - if not all - of them.
  • A Brush and Nail Clippers: Getting your kitten used to being groomed is very important as it will be much easier to keep them neat and tidy if they’re amenable! Monthly nail trims and daily or weekly brushing sessions - depending on coat length - should be part of your routine for keeping your kitten healthy and happy. Brushing reduces the risk of hairballs and keeps your kitten’s coat shiny and clean.
  • Treats: Treats can be used to reinforce positive behavior and create a bond between you and your new kitten. You can use treats to entice them into their carrier, to sit on command, or as a reward for a great play session. 
  • A Cat Carrier: Hard-sided top-entry cat carriers are ideal since they are very secure and easy to sanitize. Soft-sided carriers are not as safe as the zippers can sometimes be unzipped by the kitten inside! 

Choose the Right Food

Feed your kitten a high-quality kitten food formulated for their age and size. Wet food should be offered twice a day with a small amount of dry food available at all times along with their water.

Kittens need a high protein diet to support their growth .  

Keep Kitty Hydrated

Provide clean, fresh water at all times. Because cats are naturally drawn to moving water, you can even try a water fountain to entice your kitten to drink enough each day. Many cats and kittens don’t like drinking water, which is why wet food - with its extra hydration - is so important.

Schedule a Wellness Visit

Schedule your kitten for a thorough exam with your vet where they can get any needed vaccinations and you can discuss a preventive healthcare plan including dewormings, flea prevention, and a proper diet. Kittens are typically microchipped and spayed/neutered before being adopted, but if yours isn’t, definitely arrange to get that done too. Even if they appear healthy, cats should get annual exams at the vet..

Get Proper Play Time

Provide plenty of toys of all kinds and interactive play sessions to keep your kitten mentally and physically stimulated. This also helps build the bond between you and your kitten and helps them associate you with FUN. Rotate out their toys rather than leaving them lying around the house to keep your kitten interested in them.

Spend Quality Time Together

Spend quality time with your kitten, handling them gently and exposing them to various sights, sounds, and experiences to help them become well-adjusted adults. Invite friends and family over so your kitten gets to meet new people. Get them used to being picked up. Play with a wand toy or cozy up and watch TV to help establish a lifelong bond. 

Introduce Other Pets Slowly

If you have other animals in your home, introduce them to your kitten slowly. It’s suggested to keep animals apart for at least 10-14 days. This will give any pets in the home ample time to get used to the smells and sounds of your new kitten. Keep the kitten in one small room at first and once they are comfortable and doing well, grant them access to the other rooms in the home under supervision. Allow them to meet any other pets only under supervision and end each meeting on a positive note. Introducing pets is a process that takes weeks when done properly and it’s best to go slow to ensure everyone is comfortable with the new addition.

Consider Adopting Two

Kittens do best in pairs. Kittens have A LOT of energy and when they have a playmate, they can play together, tire each other out, nap and groom each other, and, perhaps most importantly, let each other know when they are being a little too much. Solo kittens can develop what is called ‘Single Kitten Syndrome,’ which is basically a set of undesirable behaviors. If kittens don’t have another cat or kitten around to tell them they are biting too hard or playing too rough, they won’t learn. If you adopt two kittens, they will hopefully have better manners and be a little gentler with their roughhousing. 

Be Patient

Remember that kittens are learning every day and experiencing many new things at once. Remember to be patient with them as they adjust to their new life in their new home with you. Shower them with affection, positive reinforcement, and plenty of treats to help them feel safe and loved.

By following these tips, you'll set your kitten up for a happy and healthy life. Congratulations on adopting your new family member!

Love, Nala