So you’re bringing home a kitten! There is nothing that will infuse more energy into your household than a roly-poly, light-chasing, box-loving, ball-bopping, itty-bitty kitten. “This kitten is so boring,’ said no one ever. Of course, they are a handful by nature but, with the proper preparations, your tiny ball of fur will be a happy and healthy member of your family in no time! So what’s on the new kitten checklist as far as essentials and other items that will simply make your life easier? We'll explore just that in the kitten care blog post below:
First and Foremost: The Kitten Essentials
Those matching outfits you got for you and your kitten are sure to make you an Insta star, but you can put that on the back burner for now. There are things that you’ll need right away to make sure your wee kitten is able to thrive in your home environment.
Some of the things you’ll need for your cat for the first week or two are as follows:
- Cat food - if your new cat has been eating a certain brand of food already, perhaps at a foster home, stick with that, for now, to avoid tummy upset. If you care to transition later on, do so gradually to make sure your kitten tolerates it - our office recommends transitioning slowly over 10 days.
- Cat food and water bowls - when your cat gets older, you’ll want bowls that are a bit higher up for easier access, but for kittens, pretty much any bowls will do. Make sure to get a mat to go underneath, as kittens aren’t known for their table manners! Hydration is crucial so you may consider a water fountain to encourage drinking. Even if you don’t buy this, though, make sure to put a bit of distance between food and water bowls, as this is how kitties prefer it.
- Kitty litter and litter box - your inclination will be to go for the heaviest scent you can find when it comes to cat litter but, unfortunately, most cats prefer the unscented variety. Experimenting with different kinds is the key, as kittens and cats are much pickier about their litter than you might imagine! And if you’re bringing two kittens home, make sure each has their own litter box. The rule of thumb is always at least one litter box per cat, and some say to add an extra to this. Because kittens understandably have a bit of a litter box learning curve, you should probably pick up some stain remover and odor control spray as well. And don’t forget the scoop!
- Cat carrier - you might be tempted to forego this, but trust us, you’ll need this to keep your new furry feline safe, not just on the way home but also to and from veterinary appointments.
- Cat collar and ID tag - even if your kitten is to be solely an indoor cat, you’ll want these in the off chance someone leaves a door or window open. Even the happiest indoor cats have been known to “escape” here and there. You should also talk to your vet about when to microchip your new pet for the same reasons.
- Cat trees or scratchers - you might not think these are essentials but if you’ve ever watched a kitten in action, you know that this is a top priority purchase! Cats like to condition their claws, so if you don’t provide an appropriate place for this, you can bid adieu to your curtains and quite possibly your brand new couch. Kittens and cats love to gaze outside, so place your cat tree near a window and in a high traffic area in your home so they don’t miss it!
This checklist will change as your kitten grows into an adult and then a senior cat, so talk to your veterinarian about what you’ll need as your faithful feline grows older.
Kitten Checklist For the Long Haul
There are some things that you might not need right away when adopting a kitten but you’ll definitely want to eventually add them to the list as the weeks go on. Some of these are as follows:
- Flea and tick preventatives - once your cat is about 14 weeks, you should have them on flea and tick control. Talk to your veterinarian about which types they recommend for your particular lifestyle. During this appointment, you’ll also want to get your kitten on a good vaccination schedule.
- Cat treats - as we all know, kittens can be rascals, so you might consider getting them treats to encourage good behavior. Dole them out sparingly, though, to avoid having them gain too much weight.
- Toys - particularly of the hunting variety. As we all know from the rabbit hole that is online cat videos, kitties love to play! And they are also natural hunters, so some can get depressed being indoor cats only. Cater to their natural instincts with toys that help them feel as though they are on the hunt but also helps them exercise.
- Dental products - taking care of your kitten’s teeth at home should become a ritual that you should embrace early and often, as unpleasant as that sounds. Find a toothbrush and toothpaste that your kitten likes, and get them used to reaching in their mouths to clean their teeth while they are young. Consider dental treats as well!
- Catnip - this has more uses than for taking silly videos of your kitten being a bit of a nut! You can actually place it on the scratching tree to encourage its use to - once again - help you with Project: Save the Curtains.
- Cat Grooming supplies - yes, kittens and cats are (typically!) impeccable groomers, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use a hand here and there. While you don’t need to bathe them, you should definitely brush them regularly. If you don’t get nail caps, you should also get trimmers for weekly nail trimmings so they don’t hurt you or themselves while playing!
- Cat beds - this is optional, as kittens won’t always use these, but you can try to encourage this in the special safe haven you’ve created for your bitty kitty. If you do get a cat bed, buy one that’s easy to wash.
How to Prepare Your Home For Your Kitten
While we wanted this article to be mainly about what to buy when you’re bringing home a new kitten, we’d also like to briefly mention some things about kitten-proofing your home.
The following are some quick things you can do to make your home safe your kitten:
- Hide electrical wires - everything is seen as a potential toy to a kitten, so taping these to walls or figuring out other ways to get them out of sight is a must.
- Consult the ASPCA about plants in your home that may be toxic to cats and remove them.
- Secure cabinets, as, just as with kids, kittens can be surprisingly strong when it comes to knocking heavy things over!
- Secure your windows and make sure screens are secure.
If you notice your kitten is having trouble adjusting to your home, feel free to give us a call. There are behavioral things we can assist you with, including creating a safe space for your kitten complete with pheromones and other scented items that make them feel right at home!