Many new cat parents feel lost before getting a kitten, and they don't know where to start from; even people that had cats before can feel a bit nervous when they are getting a new cat or even more if they are getting a kitten. So, we are going to summarise some of the most important things that your kitten is going to need as soon as s/he arrives home:
- Bed and hiding location
- Scratcher post
- Preventive care
#1. Bed and hiding location
Cats, and especially kittens, need to sleep quite a few hours during the day. It is important for their correct development to ensure that nobody bothers them during their sleep time.
They need a warm, cozy, comfortable bed, where they can feel safe and at the same time, they have some control over the environment.
Some shier cats prefer to sleep in an enclosed location, under the bed, or inside the closet. We should be able to provide a location that offers this safety, and the opportunity to withdraw if they need to.
#2. Food & Water
When choosing cat food, we might feel confused having so many options out there to choose from. In short, you should select one complete dry food and one complete wet food that is adequate for your cat's life stage: growing if it is a kitten, adult, senior, etc.
A general recommendation is to offer approx 50-66% of wet food and 50-33% of dry food, divided into small but frequent meals.
Offering, for a few days, the same food that s/he is eating at the moment, and start weaning it progressively to the diet that we have decided, is a safe option to avoid gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea. It is also a way to make the accommodation process smoother for our cat keeping some familiarity between so many changes.
Cats are not good drinkers, but we need to offer water available to drink all the time. To encourage them to drink, we should separate water from food and other resources such as litter boxes, beds, etc. Also, we can offer a cat waterer like Kittyspring that can provide clean water for 2 long days because clean water tends to be more appealing for cats.
#3. Litter box
One of the good parts of owning a cat versus a dog is that they are easily trainable to use a litter box indoors, so we don't need to walk them three times a day.
Many kittens are litter box trained before going to their new homes, but of course, we need to be patient with them if they have some accidents in the house. To make sure that the kitten uses the litter box in our home, it is advisable to use the same kind of litter that s/he was using before, and try to change it progressively if we want to use a different substrate.
Locating the litter box in a quiet, safe zone is crucial for the cat to use it. At the same time, this zone should be far away from food, water, beds, etc.
Cats and especially young kittens have a great need to play. We need to ensure that s/he has the opportunity to play alone and with us, using appropriate toys and avoiding common mistakes such as using our hands to play with them. We should offer a few different toys and keep rotating them to prevent boringness. If we are away from home most of the time, a suitable option for our new cat could be automatic, interactive cat ball toys like our Cheerble ball or Ice cream ball, to entertain your cat to play while you’re away.
#5. Scratcher post
If you never had a cat, you might be wondering if all the cats need a scratcher post or how to choose it.
The reality is that scratching is necessary for the cat's welfare. All the cats should have the opportunity to scratch safely. And if we don't provide a suitable location, they will ﬁnd one, which might not be ideal for us. So, to prevent undesired scratching from the ﬁrst day, we need to have a large and sturdy scratcher post in our home, located in a busy, visual location, where the cat and the family spend time. Alternatively, or at the same time, we can use horizontal scratchers such as our Board Game, in this matter, the cat is going to decide what s/he prefers!
#6. Preventive care
Taking care of our cat's health is essential. Our vets will give us crucial information about cats, kittens, and timing for vaccinations, parasite control, etc.
Some cats might need an adaptation period in our home before their ﬁrst visit to the vets, while some others might need nearly-immediate attention if they are ill or they have parasites. Each cat and situation is different, and your vet will give you wise, personalized advice.
Are you surprised about this? Cats can be trained! And we should train them to make our (and their) lives easier and better. We are not talking about teaching them funny tricks (which we can do if we want to), we are talking about training them to use the cat carrier, to accept their claws trimmed, their coat brushed, and useful things that we are going to need during the rest of their lives.
Written by Dr. Monica Grau
Vet surgeon and Feline Behaviourist from Barcelona working worldwide! Founder of www.catvetbehaviourist.com and offering online behaviour consultations for cats! You can find her on social media and teaching cat parents on Youtube!