So you’re planning to bring a new kitten home? Knowing how to raise a kitten can be challenging, especially for first-time cat owners. It can be daunting and overwhelming since kittens require more care and attention than a grown-up cat. Instead of doing guesswork, you can always consult the vet and keep the following points in mind:
1. Get the essentials
Before you bring the kitten home, make sure that you already bought the essentials. It would be best if you got a bed, feeding bowl, toys, crate, kitten food, treats, brush, and so on. This way, your new kitty will have an easier time adjusting to its new home. You should also get a scratching post and cat tree to prepare as your feline grows older.
If you’re raising kittens from birth, you should purchase feeding bottles and other necessary supplies. The vet can advise what to do in this case. I recommend creating a bringing home a kitten checklist so you won’t miss anything.
You don’t have to purchase all the cat items at the same time. Start with the essentials and work from there. Also, when buying kitten food, always consult the vet about the best option based on your new pet’s overall health.
2. Proper nutrition is necessary
Feeding is probably one of the biggest tasks of raising a kitten. The amount and type of food a kitten needs depend on its age and health.
Kittens that are two to three months old need to eat kitten food. At this age, a kitty needs to eat at least four times a day in small servings. Avoid serving kittens with a large meal because it will cause its tummy to become distended. But to ensure that your kitten won’t succumb to hypoglycemia, you can leave a small amount of dry food on the bowl for free-feeding once it gets hungry.
As your kitten grows older, you can reduce the feeding frequency and increase the amount per serving. Still, it would be best if you watched out for the possibility of obesity. When in doubt, the vet is always the best person to consult.
3. Don’t be overprotective
We all tend to become overprotective to our kittens, especially in its early months. I was guilty about this with our tabby, Watson. Upon consulting the vet, I was advised that being overprotective isn’t right. Shielding your kitten to sounds and stimulation will make it grow up a frightened cat. While keeping it safe is necessary, you should give the kitten the chance to explore around.
It’s essential to expose your kitten to different environments so that it will become a well-rounded cat someday. Of course, you have to do this slowly so your kitty won’t get stressed. Start with different flooring materials then sounds around the house.
4. Handle the kitten regularly
Another vital part of raising a kitten is handling it regularly. It would be best if you made the feline used to physical stimulation and humans’ presence for as early as 12 weeks. Still, it doesn’t mean you’re going to let everyone touch and cradle your kitten. As the owner, you should be the one to become the closest to your cat. Remember that the kitten will see you as its mother.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association, cats that receive regular contact in their early months get well with humans better than those that don’t. Still, it would be best if you were gentle because kittens have small bodies that can get hurt easily.
5. Always consult the vet
Even before you bring the kitten home, you should book an appointment with the vet ahead. This way, your newly adopted or bought kitten will be examined for potential health problems. This is crucial if you’re adopting from a local shelter because the kitten may not have the cleanest bill of health.
The veterinarian will weigh the kitten and check if its current weight is suitable for its age. Coat, lungs, ears, eyes, teeth, gums, and heart checks will be done as well. If your kitten is already 8 to 10 weeks old, it can be given the first series of vaccinations. The second set of shots will be administered 2 to 4 weeks after that.
Take note that it’s essential to have your new kitten checked before bringing it home if you have other cats. You wouldn’t want the new kitty to be the source of parasites and infections of your other felines.
6. Preventive care is best
Like babies, raising kittens always need preventive care. You should schedule vet visits to monitor the kitten’s health. If you suspect that your kitten has parasites, you should leave the deworming task to the vet. Parasites are a significant threat to kittens because it’s one of the leading culprits behind the notorious fading kitten syndrome.
Moreover, it would be best if you were on top of your kitten’s vaccination schedule, among other necessary treatments the vet deems appropriate.
7. Early training is necessary
To raise a kitten, you must dedicate some time to litter box training. Kittens can start learning how to use the litter box in as early as 3 to 4 weeks. Breeders will usually train the kitten even before it’s given to you. Still, it’s best to brush up on your little feline’s habits.
It’s essential to set the rules early so your kitten won’t reign on the household once it grows older.
8. You have to prepare other pets at home
If you have other cats or pets at home, it’s important to prepare them as well for the arrival of the kitten. It’s different when you’re raising a kitten with other pets. Make sure that your older cats are given more attention so they won’t grow jealous or anxious about the kitten’s presence.
If you have a dog at home, I recommend keeping it in another room, especially if it’s not tolerant of small pets.
Where should a new kitten sleep?
A new kitten will prefer being close to you for security. It’s best to keep the kitten on a bed close to you. That way, you won’t crush the little feline with your weight. Also, it would help if you kept the kitten warm and comfortable, especially on cold nights.
Keeping the kitten close to you at night will help it adjust to the new home. It will also let you feed the kitten in the middle of the night if it’s less than eight weeks old.
How long can you leave a kitten alone?
If you’re working and have no one to watch over your kitten, you should get a kitty that’s at least five months old. Still, it would be best if you had the kitten checked once while you’re away. Once your kitten reaches six months old, it can endure up to eight hours of being alone.
Each cat is unique, but in general, it’s not advisable to leave a young kitten for long hours. As you know, kittens need to eat about 4 to 5 times a day. A kitten left alone will also feel anxious and scared, which isn’t good for their health.
Are kittens good with babies?
Kittens and babies don’t usually mix until the feline reaches a certain age. If you have a baby at home, it’s not wise to let the kitten get near it. Please wait until your kitty is at least 6 to 8 months old before letting it roam the house. Also, socialization and training will help keep your cat used to the presence of humans.
Experts usually recommend that kids should be at least six years old before having a pet. This will ensure that they are old enough to understand the rules of handling the animal.
Knowing how to raise a kitten is a serious job. You have to be patient and careful to ensure that the kitty will grow healthy and disciplined. Nevertheless, you can always ask the help of a veterinarian if you have doubts. Raising a kitten might be daunting, but the love your get from the cat is truly worth the sacrifice.