Feeding Your New Kitten
Kittens have specific nutritional needs that must be met in order to allow them to grow up healthy and happy. Avoid using generic brand foods as they may contain inferior ingredients. Feed your pet food that is specifically recommended for kittens. In choosing a good quality cat food, meat or fish should be the first ingredient listed. Avoid feeding table scraps as they will fill your kitten’s stomach without providing the appropriate nutrition. Never feed your cat raw fish, chicken or meats as they may contain parasites or harmful bacteria. Avoid giving your cat milk to drink; it is not necessary to a healthy diet and may cause diarrhea. Your new kitten’s stomach is tiny so it will need frequent small meals to remain satisfied. Kittens 8-12 weeks old require 4 meals a day. Permanent teeth come in at 4-5 months of age and you can reduce feeding to 3 meals a day. By the time your cat is 1 year old it should be eating 2 meals a day. Fresh drinking water should be available at all times. Ceramic or metal bowls are best for feeding your kitten. Food and water bowls should be washed on regular basis with hot soapy water. Water bowls should be wide at the bottom to help prevent tipping. Placing a mat under the food and water bowls can make clean-up much easier.
“Kitten-Proofing” Your Home
Kittens are curious little creatures that need protection. It is the responsibility of the owner to keep the kitten’s surrounding as safe as possible. Kittens can squeeze through very small openings. Secure any areas where your kitten may become trapped. Check your screens to make sure they are in good repair so that your kitten can not escape to the dangerous world outside. Keep kittens off balconies to prevent a fall. Keep toilet lids down to prevent drowning or the drinking of water that may be poisoned with cleaners. Close the dryer door after use; cats love warm quiet places to sleep. Keep all pets from fireplaces and lit candles. Place cleaning chemicals, cosmetics and medications in tightly closed closets or cabinets. Some common houseplants are also poisonous to pets.
Cats do not require bathing; they are very clean animals that groom themselves constantly. It is, however, a good idea to brush or comb your cat’s fur on a regular basis. The earlier you introduce your kitten to brushing, the quicker he will become accustomed to it. Cats generally love the attention while being brushed and it affords a special bonding time for you and your pet. Regular brushing will also reduce the amount of fur on your carpets, furniture and in your cat’s stomach. Trim your cat’s nails regularly to keep them blunt. Dry food can help keep your cat’s teeth clean, but occasional brushing is also beneficial in fighting plaque, keeping tartar build-up to a minimum and freshening breath.
Be sure to use a cat carrier when you bring your new kitten home. You will need this piece of equipment every time you transport your pet. Keep in mind when you purchase your carrier to buy one large enough for a full grown cat. A cat carrier also makes a quiet refuge for your kitten. Simply place the open carrier in a quiet, draft free location with a cozy blanket inside. Introducing your new kitten to your home should be a gradual process. Children should be supervised with a new pet to avoid unintentional injury. Remember that your new addition is not a toy and requires a lot of rest and quiet as he becomes accustomed to his new environment. Kittens usually adapt well to any house or apartment. It is not safe, however, to allow your pet to roam freely outside where there is danger from cars, animals and disease. Your cat should have an ID tag with your name, address and telephone number on it. If your cat does accidently slip outside, it will be easy for someone to return your pet. Hang you ID tag from an elastic collar; these collars allow the cat to escape easily if the collar gets caught on something.
Most kittens are litter trained by their mothers. When bringing home a new kitten, it is a good idea to place him in the litter box after meals and each time he wakes from sleeping. Choose a litter box with low side for young kittens so it is easy for them to get in and out. The litter box should be larger than the length of the cat’s body plus the tail. As your kitten grows, change to a litter box with higher sides to prevent litter from being pushed out. Do not place the litter box near your pet’s food. The litter box should be filled with about 2 inches of litter and scooped every day; a cat will not use a dirty litter box. Change the litter and wash the box with mild soap and water once a week.
Kittens love to play! Provide your pet with an assortment of items to keep him happily occupied and to provide exercise. Look for toys that your kitten can chase, push and pull. Anything tied to a string on the end of a stick makes a wonderful toy for chasing. Avoid toys with small pieces that can be swallowed if they become detached such as bells and buttons. Another good idea is a scratching post as scratching is a natural, basic behavior for cats.
Take your new kitten to the vet as soon as possible after you bring it home. Your vet will schedule the vaccinations needed to protect your cat from several serious diseases as well as screen for intestinal parasites and ear mites.
Spaying and neutering is the safe and common practice of surgically removing the animal’s reproductive organs. This will not only reduce the population of unwanted pets, but it also reduces the risk of reproductive cancers and can make your pet calmer and more affectionate. Contact your vet for an appointment or check your local S.P.C.A. to locate a low cost clinic in your area.
Supplies to Have on Hand
- kitten food
- food bowl & water bowl
- litter pan, litter & scoop
- stain & odor neutralizer
- pet carrier (for traveling)
- bed or mat for sleeping
- collar and ID tag
- scratching post
- cat toothbrush & toothpaste
- hairball paste
- ear cleaner
- flea prevention medication