How to care for a new kitten?
Welcoming a new cat or kitten into your home can be an exciting time for you and your family. By planning ahead and anticipating the problems and problems you may encounter, you can make the arrival of your new cat or kitten at home as easy as possible. Let’s learn how to care for a new kitten with love and proper attention.
Purchase a sturdy pet carrier
A good pet carrier will protect the interior of your vehicle, as some cats will vomit or urinate when nervous. Your shelter or breeder may be able to lend you a pet carrier for your first return home.
Ask your shelter or breeder to put the blanket or towel your cat used to sleep on in the carrier. The familiar smell will put your cat at ease on the way home.
Buy feeding and litter box supplies.
These include food and water dishes, a litter box, and a supply of kitty litter. Kittens grow vigorously in their first year of life and require specific diets and nutrients. If you adopt a kitten, be sure to purchase specially formulated kitten food. Talk to your shelter or breeder about choosing the same type of food and bedding your cat or kitten is used to, at least for the first few weeks.
Invest in comfortable bedding to care for a new kitten
Choose a bed and blanket to keep your cat warm while sleeping. If you have more than one cat, having a bed for each will help prevent territorial issues. You may have to move the location of your cat’s bed several times before finding a spot that your cat prefers.
Get toys and scratching posts for the kitten
Make sure to keep rubber bands and elastic away from your cats as well because they can swallow these and choke on them or sustain intestinal injuries from them.
Find a veterinarian.
You will want to make sure your new cat or kitten is in good health as soon as it becomes yours, so find and schedule a visit with a veterinarian as soon as possible. It is best if you can take your cat to the veterinarian before you even bring it home. Your veterinarian will check for pests like ear mites, fleas, and worms.
Spaying and neutering
Spaying involves removing the uterus and ovaries of a female animal, and neutering removes the testicles of a male animal.
Keep in mind that kittens can be spayed or neutered as early as eight weeks, but ideally before 6 months of age. However, spaying or neutering is a wise idea at any age after eight weeks.
Take your new kitten to the vet to get vaccinated
Animals can easily transmit parasites or diseases to one another. To prevent this from happening as much as possible, make sure your resident pets are up to date on their vaccinations before introducing a new cat or kitten to your home.
Decide on a temporary home for your cat to help ease this transition
Consider placing your kitten’s food and water bowls and litter box in a quiet space in your home, maybe even a room with a door that can be closed.
How long you keep the cat in this temporary location is up to your pet. Often, cats are comfortable exploring the rest of your house after a few days, but some cats may take more time. Carefully watch your pet to see when it is ready to explore.
Remove any risks from your home.
Welcoming a cat or kitten into your home is like bringing home a curious toddler. So remove any breakables or items that can be easily knocked over before bringing home your new friend. Keep your toilet covers and dryer doors closed. Check the dryer before putting the laundry in. Use covers for your electric outlets and bundle and stow away electric cords so your cat won’t chew on them.
Teach your children important safety tips.
Your children will be more excited to have a new kitten at home. In that excitement, they may harm and threaten the new member. So, it’s your responsibility to make sure your child is ready to interact with this new family member so that everyone remains safe.
Remind your child to be gentle when petting the cat and always wash their hands after playing with the cat to avoid transferring germs.
How to care for a 0 to 4-month-old kitten
Feed your baby kittens a milk replacement.
Powdered cat milk replacer is the cat equivalent of infant formula, with the same composition as mother milk.
Do not feed cow’s milk to the kitten as the lactose is likely to upset the kitten’s stomach.
Use a kitten feeding bottle to feed milk
In an emergency use an eyedropper or a small syringe to drip the milk replacement into the kitten’s mouth.
Burp the kittens after each meal.
You do this much as a kitten would a baby. Hold it up straight against your shoulder, or place one hand under its belly. Gently pat and rub its back.
Follow the kittens’ meal times.
In the first two weeks of life, the kitten feeds every two to three hours around the clock. The kitten will tell you it is hungry by crying and wriggling around as if hunting for a nipple. After two weeks, the feeds can be stretched out to every three to four hours, with a gap of six hours overnight.
Never feed a cold kitten.
If a kitten’s body feels cold, you need to warm her up gradually. A kitten is cold if her ears and/or the pads of her feet feel chilly to the touch. It can be life-threatening.
Warm her up slowly by wrapping her in a fleece blanket and holding her next to your body, rubbing her gently with your hands for one to two hours.
Provide them with water.
Kittens do not need water until they start weaning, roughly around four weeks old. Any kitten above this age, however, should have constant access to a full water bowl. Change this water whenever it gets dirty.
Put down kitten food for hand-reared kittens.
If you’ve been bottle-feeding the kittens yourself, the weaning process is similar. It sometimes helps to put some milk replacer in a saucer and put your finger just beneath the surface to teach the kitten to lap first. Then, it’s a matter of mashing up some wet kitten food with the milk replacer to make a porridge for the kitten to lap. As she gets the hang of that you can thicken up the porridge until she’s happily taking most of her calories in solid form.
Get ready for litter training.
Cats bury their waste by nature, so training your cat to use its litter box will be easy. You can place your cat or kitten in the litter box every hour or so, or after meals or naps, to show it where it is.
Remember cats do not like to eat next to their litter box, so allow some separation between the two.
If you have a dog, keep the litter box out of its reach so the dog doesn’t eat the cat’s feces or scare the cat from relieving itself.
Socialize your kittens by introducing them to new things.
Socialization is crucial during the three-to-nine-week window. From two to three weeks of age, handle the kittens as much as possible every day. Introduce them to different sights and sounds, such as the vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, and children.
During this six-week window, the kitten is most open to new experiences, and what she encounters now she will accept without question as an adult.
Bringing a new kitten into your home is an exciting time, but caring for it is so much more than just feeding and cleaning it up. How you treat your kitten when they are young will shape your friendship as an adult.
Mental stimulation is also important, so play games such as hide-and-seek and try training your kitten. For example, have your kitten come and pick you up when you call. But make sure to keep training sessions short, so a kitten keeps growing and learning.