A family playing with their new kitten

First Kitten? 9 Things You Need To Know

Congratulations on adopting your new kitten! Watching that cute little furball discover the world is such an amazing experience. With these ten tips, you and your kitten will be 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 as they 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. Interesting cat furniture like scratch trees, tunnels, perches or lounge beds, provide an excellent opportunity for your kitten to explore their new territory and develop 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, the flavor doesn’t really matter. What’s more important is the content. The rapidly developing body of a kitten needs a lot of protein in order to grow. Premium food tailored to kittens has all the nutritional building blocks in the right proportions for growing cats, meaning your kitten will get all the right ingredients to set them off to an amazing start in life.

When you’re out shopping, be sure to examine each bag as it should clearly indicate whether the contents are meant for kittens or adults.

3. Nap time

Young kittens experience so many things for the first time; They discover the world, meet new people and animals, and have to run 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 new baby 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 those naps, as they are vital to healthy development!

4. Running water

While the traditional water bowl works great for dogs, scientists 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 neutral territory, and before taking your new kitten home. Doing so creates a sense of familiarity, which will help your new kitten be accepted into the family by the other members.

If you skip the introduction and have pets meet for the first time at home, your already residing pets could view the new kitten as an invasion of their territory. This is obviously not ideal, as it means your new kitten has to deal with fear and aggression on the day of its arrival.

8. Checkups and vaccinations

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

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

9. Bond over rituals

Cats are very fond of rituals, and they provide an excellent opportunity to bond with your new kitten! A recurring ritual gives your kitten something to look forward to every day. You can try tons of things, but here are a few ideas:

  • A ritual can also be as simple as cuddles and a recurring treat every time you get home from work.
  • 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!
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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