A family playing with their new kitten

First Kitten? 9 Things You Need To Know

I vividly remember the day I got my very first kitten. Watching that tiny bundle of fur explore their new surroundings and then fall into a deep sleep in your lap is quite special!

At the same time, a first kitten also brings a lot of responsibilities. This creature is looking toward you for love and attention. You are effectively their new mom.

There are plenty of to figure out if you want to successfully raise your new friend, and they’re not all that obvious. Catpointers has prepared 9 new kitten tips to set you off to a fantastic start:

1. Make your home cat-friendly

Two cats hanging from a scratching post cactus

Upon leaving their family of origin and being brought into the new home, your kitten will likely go through moments of anxiety and loneliness. Rest assured that these will be short-lived, as kittens are very flexible and can easily adjust to their new environment.

“Catifying” your place is a great way to reduce stress and turn the whole thing into less of a frightening experience. Start by removing any dangerous items, and take it a step further by setting up interesting furniture like cat trees, tunnels, perches or lounge beds. All provide an excellent stimulus for your kitten to explore new territory and practice their climbing skills.

Tip: It is wise to plan ahead when buying cat furniture. That tiny cat tree looks super cute, but it may not last you into adulthood. Breeds like the Maine Coone and Abyssinian require some sturdy furniture, especially once they are full-grown.

2. Kitten food

When it comes to buying food for your new kitten, the flavor doesn’t really matter. What’s really important is the contents! The rapidly developing body of a kitten needs a lot of protein in order to grow, and premium food tailored to kittens has everything in the right proportions.

Buying food from a good brand ensures your kitten will be getting all the proteins and other ingredients to set them up for an amazing start in life.

Tip: When you’re out shopping, check the bags. Cat food is almost always specifically tailored to kittens, adults or seniors.

3. Nap time

Baby cats experience so many things for the first time; They discover your home, meet other family members (and perhaps other animals), and they have to hide from your roaring vacuum cleaner! On top of these emotional highs and lows, they’re also expending tons of energy by running around and playing with everything in sight.

This energy obviously needs to be replenished, which is why your tiny bundle of joy takes quite a few naps throughout the day.

It is not exceptional for kittens to sleep for up to 16 hours. Try not to disturb your kitten during naps, as they are vital to healthy development!

4. Running water

While the traditional water bowl works great for dogs, scientists have discovered that cats actually have a hard time recognizing still water. A running water source is therefore an excellent alternative to encourage your kitten to drink plenty of liquids. Water fountains have become quite affordable in recent years, and they have the added benefit of keeping the water supply fresh for longer.

5. Toilet training

With a bit of persistence, toilet training should come easy. Cats are very clean animals! You can nudge your new kitten towards their litter tray to see if they want to explore it. If that doesn’t work, just gently lift them up and drop them in.

This is a great time to experiment with different litters. Read up on all the different types of cat litter, since each has its own distinct pros and cons.

Tip: As a general rule, aim to have at least one litter tray for every cat or kitten you own, plus one extra.

6. A gentle touch

Kittens are very fragile creatures, especially during their first few weeks. As they mature and grow into adults, their bodies will be able to withstand a bit more physical stress. But cats should always be handled with a gentle touch, as they are easily scared and hurt. Do you have children in the family? If so, be sure to explain the fragility of a kitten properly before it arrives.

7. Meet & greet

If you already have other pets in the family, it’s a good idea to set up a proper introduction. Have this take place on neutral grounds and before taking your new kitten home. Doing so creates a sense of familiarity, which will help the newcomer be accepted into the family by other members.

If you skip these introductions and have your residing pets meet the kitten at home, this could be viewed as an invasion of their territory. This is obviously not ideal, as your kitten will probably experience fear and perhaps even aggression on the day of its arrival.

8. The first vet appointment

We’d recommend taking your kitten to a vet right after you get them. A first appointment typically involves checks for general health concerns and unwanted parasites. If your kitten hasn’t been vaccinated, the vet will also administer their first dose and discuss potential boosters with you.

This first visit is a great opportunity to learn from your veterinarian, so try to prepare a few questions ahead of time. Is there anything you’d like to know about topics such as nutrition, desexing, microchipping, or others? Now would be a great time to pick the brain of your vet!

9. Bond over rituals

Most cats love rituals, so they provide an excellent opportunity to bond with your new pet. A recurring event gives a kitten something fun to look forward to every day. There are plenty of options, but here’s a few quick suggestions:

  • Every day at noon, introduce your kitten to a new toy. Rotate items to keep things from getting too predictable.
  • Playing with your kitten in the morning, right after waking up, is a great way to set the mood for the rest of the day!
  • A ritual can also be as simple as cuddles and a recurring treat every time you get home from work.
Tip: Kittens need a lot of stimulation in their new home, so be sure to schedule in some playtime, a few times a day.

Final words

Raising a kitten is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have as a cat owner. Watching that cute little bundle of joy grow into a majestic cat is something quite special and precious.

By applying these tips, your kitten is off to a great start. Feel free to drop a comment if you have any questions after reading this article.

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