Your new kitten will give you great fun but also brings new responsibility. Remember that getting a kitten does involve a big commitment. After all, you are getting a companion who may be with you for the next twenty years. You might have to plan someone to look after him when you go on holiday, you will have vets bills and cat food to buy, you will be cleaning out smelly litter trays and you might even have to get new curtains if he likes to climb!
So . . . . once you have decided that you want to go ahead and get your new kitten, you need to consider where to find him. We always recommend you approach your local animal rescue centre. They will often have kittens who have been given up or abandoned who need to be given a second chance of having a loving home.
How young is too young? It is important not to take a kitten away from mum until eight weeks. Although the kitten will be weaned, it really helps its general behaviour and confidence to be with mum and brothers and sisters till then. Also, very young kittens are much more likely to suffer from diarrhoea which can be dangerous at such a young age.
Essential supplies to have ready for your new addition to the family include a sturdy cat carrier, litter box, kitty litter and scooper, cat food and water dishes, grooming brush, cat bed or cat blanket, good quality kitten food and some toys.
Please remember that kittens are very fond of climbing and jumping, and they will have no consideration for your valuables. You’ll enjoy your new kitty’s antics a lot more if you move your breakables to a safe place for the time being.
You might also want to move any houseplants that are situated at floor level. Kittens (and even adult cats) are very attracted to plants, and they might chew on the leaves, try and climb up the plant or dig. Some common houseplants are actually poisonous for cats and should be removed from your home. The most common plants to avoid are Azalea, Cactus, Ivy and Poinsettia.
Collecting your new kitten
Unlike dogs, most cats really do not enjoy travelling in cars, so it is safer for them to be in a cat carrier, preferably lined with a washable towel or sheets of newspaper.
Home at last!
Once you have arrived home, there are a few things you can do to help your new kitten settle in.
It is best not to leave your kitty alone at home for the first few days as he will be feeling lonely and missing his mum and brothers and sisters.
How your kitten will react to being in a strange environment will depend entirely on his character and whether his arrival in his new home is calm and relaxed. Territory is vital to all cats, so if you can prepare a room for the kitten in a quiet place in your home, like a spare bedroom. It should be a place where the kitty can get away from the hustle and bustle of your home, particularly if you have children or other pets. Don’t force your kitty to come out of the carrier, just open the door and let him come out when he is ready to explore. Leave the open carrier in the room so he can go back into it if frightened by something and wants a safe place to hide. But don’t be surprised if he takes up residence under furniture or a sofa during those first few days. Initially sit near him and if necessary sit on the floor to get down to his level and call his name and wait for him to come towards you (even if it is just out of curiosity). It is worth trying to get him to play with a toy which will boost his confidence. To help him settle at night, you can put a small ticking clock at the bottom of the kitten’s bed or put in a small hot water bottle, but please make sure it is not too hot and is wrapped in a blanket.
Once your kitten starts exploring his new home, please remember small kittens get into very small spaces/holes so be sure that it cannot get stuck round the back of the dishwasher, washing machine etc. It’s very easy for him to get into a tight space, but not always so easy to get out!
Feeding your kitten
Feed your kitten at least three or four times a day from a small shallow dish. Remember, they’re tiny things and so they need to eat little and often. In addition to shop bought kitten foods, small amounts of high-protein foods like cooked egg yolk, boneless fish, and cooked or raw liver will help to build strong bones. Make sure you include both wet and dry food for a happy balance. Always make sure there is fresh water within easy reach that is available throughout the day. Kittens should not be fed cow’s milk because it lacks nutrients and has too much lactose which may upset their tummy.
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