How to take care of a kitten
It is Kitten Season! Well the middle of it actually but definitely at the point when all these cute little kittens are ready to go home. So let us dive right into our guide on how to take care of a kitten! So you can be the best kitten owner you can be!
Kittens: Mischief and Adorableness
If there were two words that accurately describe how to take care of a kitten they would be mischief and adorableness. At eight weeks old, they are cute but they require care – from litter training to playtime to supervision. But they are fun! You will find some good information here how to take care of a kitten.
Kittens are inquisitive – they will get into every inch of every room in the house; whether it is into cupboards, up curtains (that’s not just in cartoons), on the counters and tables… The point is this: they get EVERYWHERE! Before you bring a kitten home, you will need to ‘kitten-proof’ your house.
Kitten proofing your home
The first stage in how to take care of a kitten is getting your home ready for them!
Lets talk Kitten proofing your home! The cupboards. The easiest, quickest, and most effective way to make sure your kitten does not cause any trouble in the cupboards is to put child locks on them. The things in cupboards are more than likely things you’d have to replace (toilet paper, paper towels, even dishes [we’re talking delicate china]). That would be frustrating and expensive. But more than that, there could be things in there that could be harmful and potentially fatal – cleaning products such as bleach and windows could definitely cause harm to your little one. So whats an easy fix for kitten proofing your home? Child locks! Very easy to install and are only $11.95 for 8 of them on Amazon.com:
And don’t forget! Do NOT assume your kitten can’t get into the top ones. Where there’s a will, there’s a way – and your kitten will find a way!
Introducing a new kitten
An important topic indeed in how to take care of a kitten is introducing him/her to your family. If this process does not go smooth you can be in for a world of problems down the road so here we go.
Lets talking introducing a new kitten to both pets and children, especially pets!
If you have other pets in the house, make sure your kitten is introduced to them properly: slowly and with close supervision. Just because your new kitten is super cute and cuddly does not mean that your other pets will share that opinion. In fact I can almost guarantee most won’t although there are a few rare circumstances as can be seen here with Cain and Tigger on @Lady_Dani_Cat page on Instagram.
The first step to introducing a new kitten should be what is called a “scent exchange.” All animals, especially cats, use scent to get to know each other. Keep the kitten in a separate room to start. Take a clean towel and hold the kitten in the towel and take a piece of the towel and rub it on the kitten’s cheek. You know how your other cats will rub their cheek against everything? That is the cat putting their scent onto that thing (furniture, other pets, people, etc). There are scent glands in the cat’s cheeks (also paws pads, their head and anal glands. That is why you need to rub the kitten’s cheek on the towel. The next step is to let your other animals smell and interact with that towel. This technique is very effective because it’s a slow introduction to their new family member. It isn’t a blast of a new sight and smell of a possible intruder. Watch carefully to see how the pets react to this new smell. If there are no negative responses, then you can proceed to the next step. Some negative reactions include hissing and spitting from the cats, and growls and barks from the dogs. If this happens give it some time before you continue to the next step.
The next step in introducing a new kitten will be to use a new towel and rub the scents of the current pets’ smell on that towel and then let the new kitten smell it and get familiarized with it. It is normal for all the pets to start rubbing their own scent on top of the new scent. This is how the animals interact with new smells.
The next step is the moment you’re waiting for: the actual introduction. Put up a baby gate and give them short time periods to have some interaction. The baby gate is a precaution to protect all the pets: this way, if someone has a negative reaction, nobody gets clawed and/or bitten. This has to be with you present so you can close the door if they become anxious or aggressive. Do this for a couple days, slowly increasing the time they to spend together.
If everything continues to go well, and then proceed to take the baby gate out of the equation and let them interact. Carefully monitor them, but give them the opportunity to get to know each other. Under no circumstances should you skip any of these steps because of impatience or busyness. If you need to go out, keep them separated. Find a room for the kitten that isn’t a place your other pets frequent; definitely not a room they sleep or eat in. Give the kitten a bed, toys and food and water. They must remain occupied while you are away. In a best-case scenario, there is someone there to entertain and take care of them at all times. The first couple of months of owning a kitten try to not have 8-10 hour periods where the kitten is alone. He/She will get bored and start engaging in destructive behaviors, such as clawing, scratching and biting things.
With children, follow the same rules as with pets: make sure the interaction is always slow and supervised. As you will need to teach your kitten manners and the right away to play, you will need to teach your children how to interact with a kitten. Teach them to not pull their hair or tail and to handle the kitten carefully and with respect. Teach them how to pick them up and hold them carefully. It is a gradual learning process in how to take care of a kitten with children as they will be overcome by the adorableness of them.
Need a quick goto summary of the above information? Here is an introducing a new kitten overview for you:
What to feed kittens?
The next step in how to take care of a kitten is food!
There are very many brands and flavors of food out there, so many in fact you will be asking yourself, What to feed kittens? How do decide between Blue Buffalo, Wellness, Neutro, Purina, Pedigree, Science Diet, etc.? First and foremost you will need to take your kitten to the veterinarian for a first visit where they can determine the kitten has all the vaccines she needs at their age and make sure she is healthy and doesn’t have some kind of illness that she might spread to your other pets (fleas, ticks, worms for example). Your veterinarian will recommend some brands of food for you. Keep in mind these are always recommendations of what to feed kittens, and if your current kittens have been on a specific diet at the shelter you will not want to move them off it to fast.
Some things to stay away from: grocery store foods, too much corn, and purely by-product meat ingredients. As a rule of thumb, grocery stores do not carry high quality food. These brands include Pedigree, Purina, Beneful and Alpo. These brands have a lot of by-product and fillers such as corn. Look at the ingredients! The kitten needs high quality food to grow up properly and cats are carnivores – they need meat!
Make sure the food is strictly kitten food. This food will have extra ingredients (such as higher protein and fat content) that the kitten needs to grow up into a healthy cat. As far as wet food, this will be up to your veterinarian. Some vets will recommend no wet food as wet food is bad for the teeth, and some will say a little bit is okay. However, every vet will say that only wet food is not healthy for your kitten.
As far as quantity goes, look at the bag. It will tell you how much to feed your kitten daily. It will go by weight so a small scale would be helpful! Again, consult with your veterinarian. They are very knowledgeable in general care as well as medical care.
As a straight answer of what to feed kittens, or at least what my three are growing up on, they are a big fan of this:
This was the food of choice they had grown up on at the shelter and was recommended not to take them off it and risk them getting upset stomachs. So feel free to try it out!
Water is important for every species! Not just for how to take care of a kitten! Make sure to change the water every day, and wash the bowl out every day. Cats are prone to Urinary Tract Infections and kidney problems so it is a good idea to use a fountain that circulates the water and uses filtered water. Some pet parents buy already purified water. That is a bit overkill in my opinion, but it is up to you. Here’s a link to a good water fountain:
This is what all my kitties use, both kittens and adults!
Best toys for kittens
Well enough of this how to take care of a kitten stuff! I want to know about kitten toys! What are the best toys for kittens! I want to play!
OK already! Everyone knows kittens love to play so why not know what the best toys for kittens are. And lets face it, toys are very important for your kitten! They teach them to play and claw at their toys and scratching posts versus your hands and feet. Kittens and cats are going to play, chase and gnaw on various things by nature: it’s better for that to not be your skin! Consider things like wands with a toy at the end of it, toys with catnap in it, toys that make a noise when it is bitten, and little mice they can hunt. Hunting is their natural instinct so giving them these toys will entertain them and satisfy that behavior.
Or lets face it sometimes who needs a toy I will just roll around and attack myself!
In all seriousness here, or at least as serious as you can get with the best toys for kittens, you can’t go wrong here. Your kitten will love whatever toy you bring him and especially if you get interactive toys and play with him. The best part of how to take care of a kitten is playing with them. They will love you for it and you will bond faster with them! So go to your nearest pet store and get some fun interactive toys!
Best scratching post for kittens
You will thank yourself over and over again if you introduce the scratching post at a very young age. Kittens and cat like to claw things: remember there are scent glands in their paw pads and that is part of the reason why they want to claw things. The scratching post is an excellent substitute to your skin! To discourage scratching at furniture, redirect the kitten to the scratching post: put them in front of it, and sprinkle some catnip on it. This will entice them to scratch on it. Is there a best scratching post for kittens? There are so many out there. There are small stand up ones and there are ones that are circular with cardboard in the middle and a little ball that goes round and round. Those are very fun! Supervise your kitten to make sure they don’t think the cardboard pieces are tasty.
If the kitten still thinks the couch is their scratching post, which is definitely not the best scratching post for kittens, first try to put a scratching post in front of where they are clawing the couch. And use positive reinforcement! If they start on the scratching post instead of the couch, give them a treat. This is an important step in how to take care of a kitten! Pets respond very well to positive reinforcement and it usually doesn’t take much time to train them. It just takes time, patience and consistency. Make sure all family members are on board.
Finally, cat trees! Cats love to climb things and cat trees are perfect for that. There are ones that are 5 feet tall, and some 10 feet tall. It depends on your budget of course, because the larger ones are more expensive, but they’re worth it! A lot of them include scratching posts and toys hanging from different levels which keep the kittens entertained and occupied. Here is a link to one on Amazon:
Just look at how fun it is! There are ladders and scratching posts and toys! You just can’t go wrong. There are also places for naps, and naps are brilliant!
Litter train a kitten
Down to the last step in how to take care of a kitten! You have made it! After this you are all set to bring your new friend home.
In this, you are lucky! It takes A LOT less work to litter train a kitten versus potty training a puppy. Most of the time, all you have to do is put the kitten in the litter box and they understand – it is instinct to find a sandy type texture and then bury it. Cats are very clean creatures. They will not want to have their urine and feces laying around. A kitten might still be learning so it is not abnormal to find a couple accident. If you find feces elsewhere, pick it up, and put it into the litter box. Then take your kitten and place her in the litter box to show her where the feces should be. Let me clarify – place her very gently into the box; do NOT throw her in or on top of the poo, do NOT rub her nose in it.
If there are other cats in the house, even better! Pets learn very quickly in social situations – if he/she sees the other cat(s) going in the litter box, he/she will learn that is the acceptable behavior. Just remember, they can pick up negative traits as well!
As far as litter and litter boxes: first, make sure the litter box is easy to get into. Get a litter box that has low sides so that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to get in. If it takes too much effort, the kitten might urinate or defecate outside of it. For a kitten, do not buy clumping litter. Kittens (just like puppies and babies) will want to taste everything. If they ingest clumping litter, the litter can clump and cause a blockage – and a very expensive surgery.
As far as the number of litter boxes – the rule of thumb is the number of cats plus one. Make sure it is placed in an area where it isn’t loud or there’s a lot of traffic. Cats are very private and won’t want to do their business where everyone can see. Laundry rooms can be a tricky place because the washer and dryer machines can be loud and scare the kitties. Bathrooms are a great place. Remember to clean the litter boxes often; take the feces and urine out once a day, and clean the box once every week or two. Of course, it depends on how many cats you have. More cats equals more messes.
All of the above is some general and good information on how to take care of a kitten. Do lots of research, talk to your veterinarian and other pet professionals. And, most importantly, have fun!!