Bringing home a new kitten is an exciting time, but you also need to be prepared. Knowing what to expect and what you’ll need to buy ahead of time will make introducing your kitten to your home go as smoothly as possible.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to prepare for getting a kitten.
Seven Things You Should Know Before Getting a Kitten
1: Which Supplies You’ll Need
Before you bring your kitten home, first you need to gather all of the supplies you’ll need to take care of them. Here’s a short list of essentials:
- Nutritious kitten food
- Food and water bowls designed for cats
- Kitty litter and a shallow litter box
- Several scratching posts or pads
- A brush, nail clippers, and other grooming products
- A cat carrier for safe travel
- A cozy bed or blanket
- Something fun to play with—kittens need lots of playtime!
2: How to Train Them to Use a Litter Box
Proper litter box training is crucial for a kitten’s hygiene and health. Kittens typically learn how to use a litter box when they are around 5-6 weeks old, so yours will probably be at least a little bit trained.
Follow these steps to ensure that your kitten continues to use the litter box properly:
- Choose a litter box with low sides for the kitten to access easily
- Use a kitten-friendly, unscented litter (cats have sensitive noses and paw pads)
- Make sure to place the litter box in a quiet, easily accessible location
- Show your kitten the litter box and place them inside it after their meals or naps
- Clean the litter box daily to prevent health problems and keep your cat happy
3: What Behavior Is Normal
You should never try to suppress your kitten’s natural instincts. It’s normal for kittens to jump, claw, bite, scratch, and climb. Obviously, these behaviors can be frustrating when your cat uses them on your drapes or favorite pair of shoes. However, you can support their instincts and protect your belongings by providing healthy outlets with hunting toys, chew toys, scratching posts, climbing trees, and window perches.
4: How to Kitten-Proof Your Home
Speaking of destructive behaviors, your next step in getting ready is to kitten-proof your home. Cats are naturally curious, and they can easily get into things that can hurt them. They can also jump surprisingly high, and crawl into tiny spaces.
Here’s how to keep your kitten safe at home:
- Remove houseplants that are poisonous to cats, such as lilies
- Place dangerous items like toothpaste, medicine, and cleaning products out of reach in cabinets or drawers
- Put away small objects, hair ties, and string—these things can all cause intestinal damage if swallowed
- Secure loose wires and cords
5: What Vaccinations They Need
Another way to keep your kitten safe is by getting them vaccinated against common feline diseases. Kittens should typically get their first vaccinations when they are around 8 weeks old.
Kittens need the following vaccines:
- Rabies—required by most veterinarians
- Feline distemper, feline herpes, and calicivirus (FVRCP)
- Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)—crucial for outdoor cats
The vaccination schedule for kittens typically runs until they are around 16 weeks old. After that, your cat will need a booster vaccine once a year for some (like rabies) or every few years for others.
6: How to Feed Them a Proper Diet
Kittens need a balanced diet to help them grow into healthy cats. Kittens over 8 weeks old should eat dry food, wet food, or a mix twice a day. A mix is often best because dry food helps keep a kitten’s teeth clean, while wet food helps keep them hydrated. However, you should speak with your vet about the best type of food for your kitten.
Make sure to choose high-quality food that is specifically formulated for kittens, and follow the instructions for feeding. Check for toxic ingredients such as BHT, BHA, ethoxyquin, meat by-products, and carbohydrate fillers. You should also avoid giving your cat human food, which can be harmful and can lead to obesity.
7: When to Get Them Spayed or Neutered
Finally, it’s important to get your kitten spayed or neutered, even if you plan to keep them indoors. Spaying and neutering not only prevent unwanted feline pregnancies, they also reduce your cat’s risk of certain diseases and cancers. The ideal time for spaying and neutering is between 16 weeks and 5 months old, but it’s wise to consult your veterinarian about the best timing.
Cat & Kitten Veterinarian in Gilbert, Arizona
We’ll help you keep your kitten safe and healthy and answer all of your questions at their first wellness exam. If you’re planning to bring home a kitten, make sure to bring them to Anasazi Animal Clinic for a checkup.
We’ll evaluate your kitten’s health and recommend the vaccines they’ll need to stay healthy. Feel free to ask us any questions you have about food or toys, spaying and neutering, or caring for a new kitten—we’re here to help!
To schedule an appointment, just give us a call at 480-497-0505 today.