Our Veterinary Blog
Everything You Need to Know About New Kitten Care
Kittens are cute, rambunctious little fluffballs that need a lot of care in their early days. If you are thinking about adopting a kitten, there are some important things to know before bringing one home.
Wait to Bring Your Kitten Home
Kittens need to be with their mothers and siblings for the first eight weeks of life. This is extremely important for their physical and social development. Kittens who are unable to remain with their mothers and siblings before they reach eight weeks old will need special care, such as bottle-feeding every 2-4 hours.
Whenever possible, it is best to leave the kitten with its litter until it reaches eight weeks old. Once a kitten is eight weeks old, it will be weaned, able to eat high-protein kitten food, and able to be neutered or spayed.
Discuss neutering or spaying with whomever you are adopting the kitten from. They may have already taken care of this step, or they may be expecting you to take care of it. Ask them questions about the kitten’s health, behavior, and genetics; they will have important information about the kitten’s first eight weeks. This will help you to provide good care for the kitten from eight weeks onward.
Prepare Your Home Ahead of Time
Just like with new puppy owners, you’ll need to prepare your home for your new kitten – even though you may think cats don’t need much attention compared to puppies.
Kitten-proof your home before bringing a kitten home with you. This is an important step in keeping your new kitty safe and healthy. Choose one or two rooms to keep your kitten in for the first few days.
Select rooms that do not have small spaces where the kitten could get stuck. Secure windows, screens, cabinets, and doors. Then, remove anything from the area that may harm the kitten.
Plants, thin strings, electrical cords, cleaners, chemicals, and small objects are just some of the things that can be hazardous to kittens. Have a friend or family member help you with this process, as they may notice something you missed.
Over time, allow the kitten access to more and more areas of your home. Before doing this, check each room for any potential hazards. Block off nooks and crannies by stuffing them or covering them, check windows and doors, and remove any items that could be harmful to your kitten.
Get into a habit of finding your kitten before you go to sleep, when you wake up, and when you get home.
Get All Your Supplies Ready Beforehand
Purchase and set up all the essential pet supplies before bringing your new kitten home. You will need a food dish, a water dish, kitten food, a litter box, litter, cat toys, a bed, a scratcher, and a carrier.
Set up the food and water dishes, the litter box, and the bed in the first room you plan to introduce to your kitten. Scatter the cat toys and place the scratcher in an accessible spot. Use the carrier to pick up your kitten and transport it home. Keep it in a closet to use for any future travel, such as to vet appointments or a cat sitter’s home.
Show your kitten where the litter box is by placing it in the litter box a few times a day for the first week. Clean the litter box out every day; your kitten will be more willing to use the litter box if it is clean. Most potty-related accidents in cats are due to a dirty litter box.
Schedule Preventative Care Appointments
Schedule an appointment with a trusted veterinarian for an initial check-up within the first few weeks of bringing your new kitten home. The vet will examine the kitten’s health and tell you what vaccinations are required. New kittens are particularly susceptible to parasites, so it is a good idea to provide a fecal sample to the appointment for testing.
Lakeland Animal Clinic also offers wellness plans for cats! These plans will help with your cat’s routine health maintenance while keeping the costs down for you as much as possible.
Cats with long hair need regular grooming. Without it, their fur bunches into painful mats over time. You can groom your kitten yourself by purchasing a cat brush and gently combing their fur. You can also have a professional groom your cat.
Cats with short hair do not have the same grooming needs and can generally maintain a healthy coat via self-cleaning.
Provide Adequate Stimulation and Enrichment
Kittens have a lot of energy, and it is the job of the owner to help direct that energy. You can provide your kitten with proper stimulation and enrichment by playing with them for at least 30-60 minutes a day. This should be spread out into smaller chunks of play and should involve the kitten’s toys.
A laser pointer is an excellent toy for kittens and adult cats. Be careful to avoid shining the laser into the kitten’s eyes. Avoid toys that have feathers or strings that could be broken off and eaten.
Kittens love to run, chase, pounce, and attack. By playing with your kitten and their toys, you can teach the kitten to direct its energy at the toys rather than household items or people.
Provide one or more scratching pads or posts for the kitten. This is the best way to prevent your cat from scratching up your furniture. Cats have a natural drive to scratch, which is essentially filing and sharpening their nails, so you need to provide your new kitten with an appropriate place to scratch, such as a scratch pad, scratch post, or cat tree.
Socialize Your Kitten
Carefully introduce your kitten to new people and animals. If you have other pets in the home, keep your kitten separated from the other pets for at least the first few days. Read articles and consult your veterinarian on how to properly introduce a new kitten to preexisting pets.
It is a good idea to regularly introduce your kitten to new people but be mindful of your kitten’s stress levels when doing this. If the kitten is having a hard time, have less people over for shorter periods of time and allow the kitten to come out (or not) on its own. With repeated exposure, your cat can learn how to appropriately interact with new people.
We’re Here for You Along the Way
At Lakeland Animal Clinic, we are here to help you be your pet’s hero. If you’re in the market for a new kitten or already have it all lined up, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions!
Family is family, whether it has two legs or four. At Lakeland Animal Clinic, we've spent the last 40 years healing and caring for your pets. As a family-operated practice, we know that family is about more than simply being related. Animals give us the ability to develop strong bonds and feel great compassion for a fellow living creature.