When you first adopt a kitten, you will need to help them gently settle in to their new home. A change of environment is always, so it will often take a few weeks for them to feel relaxed in their new abode. There’s nothing like the thrill of knowing that you are going for to bring a new cat baby home. You’re looking forward to spending lots of quality time with your kittens and want to get her off to the right start. This post is all about 10 kitten adoption essentials.
Kitten Proof Your Home
Before your new bundle of joy even steps paw into her new forever home it is a very good idea to do a complete and total kitten proofing of your living space. Kittens are super curious, very naive and do not have the same skills as an adult cat does. Kittens will climb, jump and fall into anything that looks like fun! If you are a cat person, you may be used to the ‘cool as a cucumber’ attitude most felines give off, but not so for the clumsy little fur ball about to turn your work upside down! You will love every minute of it, but the more prepared you are the more you can enjoy these fun kitten months and even years ahead.
- Cover all cleaning products and poisonous products; store them safely away from your pets
- Close everything including cupboard doors, drawers, toilet seats, garage doors, windows without screens, washer dryer doors and storage containers
- Throw away any and all toxic plants and flowers
- Remove glass ware, vases, breakables from counters and shelves
- Prepare curtains (they will be climbed like a monkey climbs a tree!)
- Cover cords and store away electrical devices (they like to chew wires)
- Prepare a kitten area (with blanket and toys)
Preparing for Adoption
Whether or not you intend to put your kittens up for adoption or keep them, you want to socialize the newborns. The Nest suggests gently handling your kittens one at a time starting once they’ve reached their first week of age, letting mama kitty sniff you first if she’s present. Baby kittens love to nip and paw at their humans, but once a kitten is grown this behavior could be problematic. Socializing a kitten allows her to be comfortable and secure during interactions with people and other animals, which in turn prepares her to adapt to a new environment when she is adopted. Kittens that don’t mind being handled will also have an easier time with necessities like toothbrushing, vet visits and meeting new people.
It’s difficult to imagine anything cuter than a pile of tiny newborn kittens. These fragile yet active little creatures depend upon you, their pet parent, for everything, and investing in the care and well-being of a baby cat will warm your heart.
Quality Kitten Food
Before kitten adoption, you need to find a quality food for her. Young kittens need to eat at least 3 to 4 times a day. Hard food can be left out all the time if it is in an area where other pets in the house do not have access to it. It is important to make sure all kittens are eating regularly. If the kittens do not seem to be eating, try warming up and watering down soft food. You can use commercially produced kitten formula to add calories to wet food. If possible, grain free is ideal!
Occasionally kittens may need to be force fed with a syringe. A kitten that is not eating will deteriorate very rapidly, so in this case visit a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Find a treat that your kitten goes crazy for. Fresh chicken diced in tiny cubes, bits of tuna, meat-flavored baby food, and commercial kitten treats are all good choices. Once you’ve identified treats your kittens likes, follow the basic steps of positive reinforcement training (reward-based training) to teach him the behavior you want.
Food and Water Dishes
Your kitten has lots of energy, so before kitten adaption, you need to select bowls for her that won’t tip over too easily.
Some kittens are allergic to plastic, so opt for a different material like easy-to-clean stainless steel. You’ll want to wash her food and water bowls daily to keep things fresh. Plenty of clean, fresh water on hand is key for a kitten too.
Place your kitten’s food and water dishes away from foot traffic and noise, in a place which is comfortable and easy for him to reach. Putting newspapers or a plastic mat under the dishes will make cleanup easier. Feed in the same place all the time, and always keep dishes clean and stocked with fresh food and water.
Make sure the box is roomy to prevent scattering litter around the house. You’ll also need to buy kitten litter and a scoop or strainer to remove soiled bits. A clean litter box is key because your kitten will avoid using a messy, smelly one. Wash her pan once a week with soap and water.
It is best not to use strong disinfectants (containing ammonia); they aren’t necessary and may offend your kitten’s sensitive nose. Use a mild disinfectant such as bleach and water on the litter box about once a month, putting the box outdoors to dry in the fresh air, if possible. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling.
Our favorite litter box cleaner for urine, vomit etc is Rocco and Roxy!
IMPORTANT: Humans may contract an organism called toxoplasma from cat feces while cleaning out the litter box. Wear gloves while changing your kitten’s litter and always wash your hands afterwards.
Pregnant women should be especially cautious and consider asking another family member to clean the litter box. This is because toxoplasmosis can cause severe birth defects. We recommend that a non-pregnant family member clean and change the litter box.
Most kittens like to have their own place to rest, but don’t be disappointed if she chooses to ignore her new bed. Until you see what your kitten’s preferences are, you may not want to spend a lot of money on a fancy wicker basket or plush bed.
Begin with a simple, cardboard “bed.” Get a roomy cardboard box with sides high enough to keep out drafts. Cut out a doorway. Line the box with an old cushion and cover with soft, washable material for warmth. If possible, use an old sweatshirt for a lining. Your scent will be comforting and encourage her to use her new space. Cats are very particular, so make sure the bedding is always clean. Place the bed in a quiet, draft-free corner away from the main traffic in your house. This will be your kitten’s corner.
Collar, Harness, & Leash
A cat harness or leash can be a great training tool for your kitten, though they’re not a must. If you’re already thinking along these lines, a harness is probably best, as kittens often dislike the feeling of a leash. However, make sure your kitten always wears a collar made of lightweight material and an identification tag. Have her wear one early on, to get her used to the sensation.
Grooming helps keep your kitten healthy and beautiful. Before you go for kitten adaption, you need to think about her grooming tools. You’ll need both a flea comb and a brush, though the type of brush you use depends on the texture and length of your kitten’s coat.
Brushing her coat and trimming her claws are two important elements of newborn kitten care, and the sooner you start routine cat maintenance, the easier it is for both of you. Regular brushing or combing removes excess hair (thus reducing hairballs) and keeps her coat clean and shiny, while nail clipping lessens her chances of a claw snag.
Don’t forget about her toys, when you are thinking about kitten adaption. Kitten is naturally curious and needs toys that are safe and fun to play with.
Choose toys made especially for cat’s ones that cannot be splintered, torn apart or swallowed. A celluloid ball that rattles, a catnip mouse or a hard rubber mouse is perfect. To avoid accidents, some kitten toys should be used only when you are playing with your kitten.
Treat puzzle toys are great for teaching your kitten problem solving. Always stow the toys safely away so your kitten doesn’t play with them when you’re not watching.
The earlier you introduce your kitten to circumstances she’ll likely encounter throughout her lifetime, the better whether it’s meeting children, dogs and other felines to being transported in her carrier and having her nails trimmed. Use healthy, natural food and treats from your positive-reinforcement arsenal to teach and reward good behavior. Most of all, give her plenty of time to adjust to new situations. Toys don’t need to be store bought. Use your imagination. Some great play-things include:
- Table tennis ball
- Empty wooden thread spool
- Unshelled walnut
- Balled-up waxed paper
- Cardboard toilet paper tube
- Empty shoe box
Some items you may be tempted to give your kitten could be harmful. Keep the following away from your kitten:
- Balls of string
- Spools of thread
- Rubber bands
- Balls of aluminum foil or cellophane
- Wire twist ties
Also avoid anything with hard sharp points that can break off. Be wary of toys (or items that a kitten may see as a toy) that can break, such as Christmas tree ornaments for example. Be careful not to give her anything small enough to swallow, like buttons, beads or paper clips. Keep your kitten away from children’s toys made of soft rubber, fur, wool, sponge or polyurethane. If your kitten swallows even a small particle, it could cause digestive problems. Avoid all toys with squeakers that could be swallowed.
Contrary to popular belief, kittens do not use a scratching post to sharpen their claws. They use it for exercise (to stretch out to their full length), to clean away dead scales from their nails, and to mark their territory, both visually and with their scent.
Get a scratching post right away to help train your kitten early. The scratching post should be sturdy and tall enough to let your kitten stretch out, full length.
Train your kitten to use the scratching post as soon as she comes home. Encourage her to use her post by playing with her often, near or around it. She’ll get the idea quickly. Then when she gets the urge to stretch, hopefully she’ll use the post instead of your furniture.
Try to place your kitten’s bed and scratching post close together so she learns to use it when she first wakes up and needs a stretch.
For kitten adaption, you also need a kitten pen, to accommodate the kittens in a confined area while allowing plenty of human contact, can be bought or built from wire mesh on a wooden frame. Its walls should be about 75 cm. tall, so the kittens cannot escape. (Once they are able to climb, however, a roof may be needed).
Within the pen are the kittening box for sleeping, a litter tray, feeding bowls, toys and so on. (Cats and kittens are instinctively extremely clean and will automatically use a litter tray which should be cleaned daily).
Kritter Kommunity Contributor