First time owners guide to raising a kitten
Adopting a new kitten is a really exciting time for anyone.
But before you commit, let's make sure you're ready to become a purrfect cat parent!
It's important to consider a few things before bringing your new furry family member home.
Are you okay with your furniture being scratched? Are you prepared to create a cat-friendly environment? Who will take care of the litter box?
And speaking of the litter box, did you know you'll need to scoop the mess out every day to keep your cuddly companion happy? But don't worry, it's all worth it for the love and snuggles you'll receive in return.
As a vet nurse and a proud owner of three rescue cats, I'm here to help you on your cat parenting journey. And the best part? It's all for free!
But before you bring your new kitten home, let's make sure you have the essentials!
- Litter tray and litter
- Water and food bowls
- Travel carrier
- Kitten food
- Scratch post
- Cat bed
Remember, taking care of your kitten's happiness and health is vital for their growth and well-being.
So, let's make sure you're ready to be the coolest cat mum or dad ever!
Vaccinations and microchipping
Regular vaccinations against infectious diseases will protect your kitten against cat flu, feline enteritis and leukaemia.
These diseases can cause serious illness and even death, so it is important to keep your kitten protected.
Usually, a course of two vaccinations a few weeks apart is necessary in kittens to make sure they are well protected, and one booster every year to keep them protected.
Microchipping isn’t currently compulsory for cats. However, this year, the government announced that in England all cats must be microchipped by the 24th of June 2024.
You could face a fine of £500 if you don’t comply. This is a positive move for all cats, whether indoor or outdoor in case of loss or accident.
Kittens are usually quite good at finding and using their litter tray. However, sometimes they may need a little assistance - or even a lot of assistance, as I know from personal experience!
If your kitten is not yet fully potty trained, there are a few steps you can take to help them. Firstly, try using smaller litter. Kittens usually prefer sand-based litter with a smaller grain size.
Avoid wood-based pellets, as they may be too uncomfortable for them and kittens may not understand their purpose, causing them to avoid it.
Once they are litter trained you can always gradually change to a different litter.
You can gently place your kitten in the litter tray as soon as they wake up, after eating, after play sessions, or even every few hours.
Lots of positive praise and fuss when they use the tray will encourage them to keep using it.
Use a shallow and small litter tray that your kitten can easily get in and out of without assistance. It is crucial to keep the litter tray clean.
Clean and change the entire tray at least once a day, and remove any soiling as soon as possible.
Scoop out poops and any small areas of urine regularly, as cats generally prefer to toilet in a clean tray.
Play and socialisation
It may take a little time for your kitten to adapt to their new home.
To help them adjust, it's best to limit their access to certain areas within the house and provide them with a smaller room where they can feel more secure and comfortable.
As they become more confident, gradually increase their access to other parts of the house. Make sure to provide them with safe places to hide, rest, and sleep.
Keep in mind that kittens sleep up to 20 hours a day, so provide them with a quiet, undisturbed area where they can retreat to when needed.
Encourage bonding with the family by playing with your kitten using toys such as feather wands and chase toys.
A cat tower or scratching post can also provide a safe and fun area for your kitten to play and retreat to.
Interactive toys can be used to keep your kitten entertained when you are not around to play with them.
Kittens can be playful and may sometimes bite or scratch during playtime. Encourage play with toys rather than your hands.
If your kitten bites or scratches you, gently remove your hand and redirect their attention to a toy instead. Walk away if necessary.
Avoid any rough play or belly rubbing as most kittens will not tolerate it and may grab you with their nails or teeth.
Use positive praise to encourage good behavior and direct their attention to the toy instead.
However, this does depend on whether you have an indoor or outdoor cat.
If you prefer not to give worming medication, you can choose the worm egg count test as an alternative.
This test involves collecting a small amount of faecal matter, which is then analysed in a laboratory under a microscope.
This helps to identify the species and any evidence of worm eggs or larvae, and you can discuss the results with your vet to determine if worming medication is necessary.
In addition, flea treatments are recommended for both indoor and outdoor cats.
Choosing the right parasite control method can be confusing, so we suggest booking a free parasite consultation with our nurses for further advice.
Alternatively, you can use the live chat via WhatsApp for quick responses.
Did you know that only 46% of cat owners have pet insurance for their feline friends? That's less than half! But as the cost of living continues to increase, so does the cost of vet bills!
One way you can avoid a big vet bill is with a pet insurance plan for your cat. However, it's important to check the policy's terms and conditions before committing to one.
Depending on your monthly budget and the specific illnesses and accidents you want to be covered for, you'll need to carefully check what's included in your policy.
Some policies cover specific diseases, diagnostic tests, surgeries, advertising for lost pets, behavior, dental care, and many other things.
Keep in mind that the more coverage you have, the more expensive your premium will be.
However, there are policies to suit every budget, with some covering only the basic vet bills like hospitalization and surgeries.
As veterinary professionals, we strongly recommend getting insurance for your kitten, whether it's an indoor or outdoor cat.
You never know what may happen, and we've seen first-hand how devastating it can be when pet owners can't afford emergency vet care.
When it comes to your kitten's diet, you have several options to choose from. The most common choices are dry and wet kitten food.
My professional recommendation is feeding a mixture of both. Dry food keeps kittens fuller for longer and reduces their need to beg for food.
Wet food, on the other hand, increases water intake and is a tasty treat that can be used to administer medication.
Since cats are grazers and prefer to eat little and often, you can leave dry food down for them to eat whenever they want.
However, some cats are little guzzlers and may eat large amounts of food in one sitting, so splitting their daily ration into multiple portions throughout the day might be necessary.
There are also fresh, prepared, frozen foods available for cats that can be a bit more expensive than dry food.
If you're interested in this option, make sure the food is suitable for growing kittens.
We offer free nurse advice to help you make the best decision for your kitten's nutritional needs.