Loving Your Pet: Caring For Your First Kitten
Your New Kitten
There’s nothing cuter than a kitten! So as an owner, if you’ve just bought one of these fluffy bundles of joy, you must ensure that you look after them properly.
If you provide your kitten with a loving home and you care for them each and every day, you will build a strong relationship with your pet.
So before you learn how to successfully look after your new animal, remember that by displaying a caring attitude, you’ll share many great memories together!
Right, let’s get started…
What Equipment Will You Need?
As with any new pet, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got all of the relevant equipment in place to look after them properly.
Here’s a list of some of the most essential items you will need for your fluffy four-legged friend:
- Food bowls/dishes
- Drinks bowl
- Flea spray
- Cat carrier
- Cat furniture
If you don’t have any of the abovementioned items already, visit your local pet supplies store or purchase these online from a reputable business.
Kitty-proofing Your Home
As kittens are small and inquisitive creatures learning about the world around them, it’s in their nature to explore their new surroundings. As a result, it’s easy for them to find their way into small gaps and spaces. So before you bring your kitten home, you should carry out a few basic checks to make sure that they will remain safe. These include:
- Checking that all wires are out of reach and there are no split or open cables on display which could shock your pet
- Keeping washing machine and tumble dryer doors shut at all times, so your kitten can’t jump inside
- Making sure that any cleaning products, medications, and other toxic items aren’t left on display
- Ensuring that the toilet lid is down in the bathroom (you don’t want a soggy moggy!)
- Tying up hanging cords for curtains and blinds so that they aren’t a strangulation hazard
- Making sure that you use a secure bin for your rubbish so that items such as sharp cans, tins, and bones are out of reach
- Clearing valuable items from shelves and bookcases to stop your cat knocking them over and injuring themselves
If you were a kitten, imagine which parts of the home you would explore and this will give you an indication as to the areas you need to make safer.
Registering With a Local Vet
Once your home is nice and safe, your next port of call is to register your kitten with a local vet.
The vets are there to help you with the caring, well-being and health of your animal, so it’s important to register with them at the earliest stage possible.
When you go to see them, they can give you advice on a suitable cat care programme and also answer any questions you have about your kitten.
You will also use the vets to ensure your pet has the required vaccinations too.
Mental and Physical Stimulation
As a young kitten, your pet will need plenty of mental and physical stimulation to really thrive and develop into a competent adult cat. Without this, your pet can become restless, bored and even depressed.
As the infancy and learning stages of a kitten’s life are hugely important, make sure you aid their development by carrying out the following:
- Engage in a regular pattern of playtime to keep them active and entertained
- When you are out, leave toys and treats around the house so they can use their instinct to hunt for them
- Purchase a scratch post so they can clean their paws and release energy whenever they desire
- Use toys and even long pieces of string or ribbon during playtime to keep them energized
- Make sure you encourage people to visit your house so they can interact with them too
(Ref *2 and *3)
Your kitten must be vaccinated at the earliest stage possible to avoid any unwanted illnesses, diseases or infections. This will also ensure that they can roam freely in the outside world when the time comes to open the doors and let them explore.
After you have registered with a local vet, it’s best to check with them how frequent the various injections need to be issued. Remember that initially, your kitten will require vaccinations at the age of nine and twelve weeks.
The injections your kitten receives will protect them against a number of diseases, including feline leukemia and the herpes virus too.
Without the required dosage, if your cat does fall ill then they will experience pain and in some instance, the outcome can be fatal.
Meeting Other Kitty’s/Adult Cats
If you have other cats or kittens in your home, then fear not – successful integration can easily be achieved.
You may need to be a little patient before your kittens and cats bond as they get used to each other’s company, but it can be done. The same principle applies if you end up bringing another kitten into the home at a later date.
In a scenario where there are other cats in the household, it’s advised to keep your kitten in a separate room for a few hours. This will allow them to adapt to their surroundings without being too startled by multiple distractions.
If they are playing by a closed door with your cats on the other side, then this will help them to quickly learn that there are other animals in the house.
After a while, integrate both or all cats within the same space so they have a chance to see and play with one another. If they display positive behavior, then it won’t take long for them to mix comfortably with other cats.
Initially if any negative behavior is displayed, separate your pets and try the full process outlined above later on in the day.
Roaming In the Outside World
The world is your cat’s oyster, but they should only venture safely outside once they’ve had the required injections.
Once this is complete, there are a few additional things that you can do to make their environment less harmful and danger free.
- Ensuring there is no rat poison or harmful spays on your lawn
- Removing certain plants, such as lilies, azaleas, and daffodils as these can be toxic
- Making sure that there are no kittens on the driveway before you reverse your car
- Keeping a close eye on them when they return home to see if they have any wounds or injuries
- Adding a cat flap to your house so they can leave and gain access whenever they want
- Making sure that there are no chemicals in the garden that your kitty could taste
- Ensuring that your pet has a collar and tag which clearly displays your own address or phone number
- Removing any sharp or hazardous items from the garden
- Covering your pond - if you own one of course
Keeping Fleas at Bay
Just like young children, small kittens are more susceptible to catching infections and diseases as their immune system develops.
Therefore, to avoid the threat of pesky fleas, they will require regular treatment. Speak to your vet first and foremost to establish a sufficient programme for your fluffy friend.
The tell-tale signs that your pet has caught fleas include itching, red inflamed skin and small flecks on their fur too. It’s advised to monitor them closely at all times – this way if you observe fleas at the earliest stage, then they’ll be much easier to kill off.
Fleas can cause you one big headache, as you’ll need to treat your pet and thoroughly clean your home as well so they don’t breed again.
Please note - If you do spot fleas on your animal, then refrain from using dog flea treatments as this can be fatal.
Reducing the Threat of Worms
As well as fleas, you don’t want your kitten to catch the parasite known as worms. Again to reduce the threat of this infection, you should follow a strict worming programme.
As it’s better to be safe than sorry, always seek medical assistance from your vet if you have any questions relating to worms.
Between the ages of six to 16 weeks, your pet should be de-wormed once every three weeks. After this period, it’s best to de-worm them every three months.
If you’re unaware of the symptoms of worms, these will include increased appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, pot belly, and pale gums.
The spread of this parasite can even transfer to humans, so this is why it’s important to wash your hands after interacting with your kitten.
The Purr-fect Kitty Diet
Just like any other animal, a kitty’s diet is hugely important. The key to getting this right is to give them what their body needs through a balanced, healthy and varied diet.
In contrast, you should avoid providing them with lots of treats and sacks, as this can lead to obesity issues.
Your kitten can start to consume solid foods from the age of three weeks and will become fully weaned at roughly two months.
Until they become an adult cat, it’s advised to feed your kitten five small meals a day up to the age of six months. After this period, two meals each day will suffice.
Dry, wet and specially formulated kitten food can be used initially, but remember that meats will form an important part of their diet.
Labels will always detail if the food you are buying is suitable for younger cats and if you’re struggling then the shop assistant or online retailer can advise you.
The following list specifies the foods that your kitten can eat and the ones that you should avoid feeding them.
Foods in the second list can cause more damage than an upset stomach and in some cases, the outcome can be fatal.
Your kitten can eat:
- Cooked lean meats
- Scrambled eggs
Your kitten cannot eat:
- Dog food
(Ref *9 and 10*)
Alongside a solid and stable diet, it’s equally as important to make sure that a regular supply of drinking water is available. Top up water bowls or dishes when they are low and clean them once every two days with warm soapy water before refilling their supply.
You should also keep an eye on how much food your pet is consuming. If you notice that food is being left, or they are always hungry, this could be the sign of an illness that requires medical attention.
References and Resources