Once you’ve chosen your new kitten it’s essential that you prepare well for its arrival.

Caring for a new kitten, however, begins long before you’ve got it home and I hope in this article to give a few important pointers in caring for your new kitten.

Whether you choose a pedigree, or a moggy, it’s essential that your new kitten is health checked, wormed and inoculated at the correct stages. Your kitten should have been wormed by the breeder at around 4-6 weeks (for roundworm) with a liquid wormer and its coat should be clear of fleas. If you have other cats, it’s even more important that your new arrival is given all its vaccinations and a health check before it’s introduced to your other cats. Kittens are usually initially vaccinated at around 8-9 weeks and the secondary vaccinations given at 12 weeks.

The importance of vaccination cannot be over stressed. At 9 weeks old their immune systems are still very vulnerable to disease. The type of vaccinations given by a vet will depend on the risks in any given locality, but the most common ones are: cat flu, feline leukaemia virus and feline enteritis.  The best peace of mind that your new kitten is in good health is to ask the breeder for the Vets vaccination certificate. If your kitten is a pedigree you should also ensure you get the signed pedigree registration papers from the breeder.

Wherever you get your kitten from, remember – worming (4-6 weeks), initial vaccination (9 weeks), secondary vaccinations (12 weeks), microchipping, neutering, yearly booster vaccinations and a health check are all absolutely essential for your kittens good health and safety. If in doubt at any stage of your kittens development, please consult your veterinarian.

It’s very important that you prepare well for the arrival of your new kitten. First on the list should be a cat collar and ID tag, a bed, food and water bowls, a litter tray with litter and appropriate kitten food. It’s a good idea to ask the breeder what your kitten has been fed so that you can have some ready for its arrival. It’s also a good idea to ask the breeder for their own blanket as this should help them to settle into their new surroundings a little better.

Your kitten will need time and space to adjust to its new surroundings. Creating a private space for your kitten is essential so that it can retreat to a safe warm place whenever it feels overwhelmed or anxious. On arrival, it’s a good idea to take your kitten to its new bed, where it will be able to access its litter tray and food & water bowls easily. If you already have cats it may be a good idea to introduce you new kitten slowly, by keeping it in a cage or a small private area away from the rest of your cats. This will allow it to become familiar with its new surroundings in peace and adjust to life with your existing cats without getting over-anxious. It’s also an idea to place the toys of your existing cats in with your kitten and vice-versa, so that they can get used to each others scents before they meet.

A kitten has different nutritional requirements from adult cats, so it’s important to feed it a suitable feed for kittens, which will ensure it gets all the essential proteins and nutrients it needs to grow into a healthy adult. In the first few days it’s a good idea to continue with the diet the breeder was giving your kitten and only change its diet slowly, gradually mixing old with new, over the space of around 10 days or so. Most pet shops will be able to offer a high quality kitten food to help your kitten grow up healthy and strong. It really is better to spend a little more on their food as you really do get what you pay for. As well as a good diet, it’s essential to ensure that your kitten has a permanent supply of fresh clean water and it may even be an idea to give it kitten milk which is full of essential vitamins and minerals.

Essential to a kitten’s good health is the ability to play. Kittens and cats love to scratch so we always recommend purchasing a good scratching post suitable for a kitten. The need to scratch is built into all cats and a scratching post will not only keep your kitten’s claws in good condition, but will also save your sofa from being ripped to shreds!

As your kitten settles in to your home, they will inevitably have their mad half hours where they tear around at full speed. It’s important that you allow your kitten to do this as it’s a natural way of letting off steam. Outside they would release their energy by hunting and so it’s important not to curb their enthusiasm for a good dash about the house. It is, however, important not to pay too much attention to their mad half hour, as this can lead to some behavioural problems. If a kitten knows it can get your undivided attention, this can lead to unwanted behaviour such as biting and running away, which is of course undesirable. If a kitten does bite you during play, you should stop and introduce a toy which keeps your hands out of harms way!

Toilet training is a very important part of your kittens training. It’s a good idea to place your kitten’s litter tray in a private, easily accessible place, well away from its bed and food. If your kitten seems to be ignoring its tray it’s a good idea to take it to its tray in the morning and at night to encourage it into a routine. Please ensure that you poop scoop their tray regularly and that you wash it with a suitable cat friendly cleaner (ordinary detergents can be harmful and put your kitten off using their tray). Kittens and adult cats can become stressed if their tray isn’t regularly cleaned and the scent of unsuitable cleaning products can really put a cat off using their tray.

Once your kitten is settling in, it’s a good idea to consider having it microchipped which only costs around £20-£30. This can easily be arranged at the next visit to your vets (often at second vaccinations) and will give great peace of mind in the event of your kitten going missing. Even if you only intend to keep your cat indoors, it’s still worthwhile microchipping. If you move house, please always remember to update the microchip database provider with your new address. It is also worth at this point considering pet insurance. The cost of vet treatment can be very high and you never know what’s around the corner. If you’re not keen on insurance, it would still be very wise to put aside money every month for future vet bills.

When your kitten reaches around 20 weeks old, it’s essential to consider having your kitten neutered to avoid pregnancies, disease and anti-social behaviour in Toms. Unneutered cats are more prone to disease and can live shorter lives as a result. Toms mature at around 10 to 14 months and Queens as early as 6-7 months. Kittens will not be neutered under three months old and the guidance of your vet should be taken as to when it’s proper to carry out.

Keeping your kitten free of fleas and worms is very important. Treatments are very straightforward and your veterinarian will always be pleased to recommend what to give and the timescales involved. Luckily, modern flea and worming treatment are easy to use spot on treatments, the best of which your vet will be happy to recommend. Please be aware, however, that some treatment are unsuitable for kittens under six months – so check the labelling or ask your vet first.

There’s a lot to consider and prepare for when introducing a new kitten to your home. I hope this general run down is of help to new owners. Please don’t hesitate to consult your local vet if there’s anything about your kitten which worries you.

In my next post I will be exploring the world of cat litter. There are so many different types to choose from that it can be confusing deciding which is best for your cat.

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