Adopting a kitten can be an exciting time for the whole family, but just like bringing a human baby home for the first time, it helps to be prepared. We discuss basic kitten supplies, the importance of kitten proofing your home, your kitten’s first night and how to deal with homesickness, plus food and nutrition.
Basic Kitten Supplies
Before you bring your new kitten home, there are a few things you’ll need which you’ll be able to find at your local pet supplies store.
Your kitten will need a warm and comfortable bed where she feels safe and secure. If you’re short on time or money, you can make your own from a cardboard box. Just cut one of the sides down low so your kitten can get in and out, and line the box with a towel or fleecy blanket.
Food & Water Bowls
Small pet bowls with non-slip feet on the bottom are ideal. We recommend ceramic, glass or stainless steel, not plastic (which can harbour bacteria and cause feline acne).
Playtime is important for health and wellbeing and it’s a great way to strengthen the bond you have with your kitten. You can purchase cat toys, but often it’s the simple, homemade toys that kittens enjoy the most.
Litter Box & Litter
You’ll need a plastic litter box with a low enough side for your kitten to get in and out easily and a litter scoop. The trick with choosing the right litter; is to use the one preferred by your kitten, even if it wouldn’t be your first choice.
Encouraging your kitten to use a scratching post is one of the best ways to prevent damage to your furniture and home. You may need to use toys, catnip or scratch your fingers on the surface to show your kitten what the post is for.
Kitten Proofing Your Home
Kittens have a habit of getting into everything – just like a toddler learning to crawl, so we recommend that you remove any potential safety hazards before your kitten arrives in your home, and take common sense precautions at all times.
Everyday dangers include electrical cords, unsafe cat toys, medicines and household chemicals, common household plants, toilets (keep the lid down) and appliances and other places where kittens will hide, which can become death-traps.
Your Kitten’s First Night
On your kitten’s first night in your home, we suggest creating a comfortable, secluded space so she can settle in and get used to the sights, sounds and smells of her new environment. A quiet room can be especially important if you have a noisy household, with active kids and other pets. Your kitten’s room should be set up with a comfy bed to sleep in, food and water, and a litter box.
All kittens are different, some will settle in almost immediately, others may take a week or longer to feel at home. When your kitten is comfortable in this room you can allow her to explore the rest of the house and introduce her to the family including the kids, other cats and dogs.
It’s common for a kitten to cry (meow) in the middle of the night initially, as she misses her former home and family. You can settle your kitten by picking her up and comforting her with gentle strokes, but you may also like to try an old-fashioned ticking clock alongside her bed to imitate her mother’s heartbeat, or place a warm hot-water bottle wrapped in a towel in her bedding, to mimic the comfort of sleeping with other kittens.
Food and Nutrition
Growing kittens need small regular meals for the first few months, reducing this to three meals a day at six months of age. It’s also worth noting that any changes in your kitten’s diet should be gradual as sudden changes in food can cause stomach upsets.
Your vet or breeder will likely have recommendations on the best food for your kitten, and there are many kitten foods suitable for the delicate digestive systems of growing kittens.