So, you’ve given in to the pitiful mewing and have taken that stray kitten into your household. While cats do make wonderful low maintenance pets, there are a few things you’re going to need to make kitty feel entirely at home. Relax – while the initial start-up expenses may seem high, they pale in comparison to the amount of joy and love you’ll be getting from your
– Find a veterinarian you trust. With some luck and care, this relationship will last 15 to 20 years, so it pays to seek good care at a quality practice. There is a lot to cover during the first few “well kitten” visits, including vaccinations, de worming, and future plans for spaying or neutering.
– Invest in ceramic or stainless steel food and water bowls, which are easy to wash and disinfect. Select a shape that is difficult for the kitten to tip, as they have a tendency to bat at everything. Many bat their food out of the bowl and eat it “on the run” as it were.
– Grooming supplies are essential for any kind of coat, as even shorthaired cats need some help removing loose hairs. A bristle brush, metal-toothed comb, or chamois mitt will be very useful. Slicker brushes are very good at removing loose hair, and many cats adore being brushed with them.
– Talk to your vet about the best choices for kitten-formulated diets, as well as a suggested time frame for switching to an adult food. The variety of commercially available foods is staggering, and some professional guidance can go a long way in reducing the confusion. In general, the vet-formulated brands, but it’s also tough to go wrong with any of the major name brands.
– Next to food and water, your kitten’s most important accessory is the litter box – or, better, boxes. Litter boxes should be as long and wide as possible. Kittens do best when they have a choice of at least two, both of which should be easily accessible and nearby. Keep in mind that some cats are allergic to scented litter, or are uncomfortable with covered boxes.
If you have two boxes, see which they prefer and stick with it. And clean it frequently – cats won’t want to use a badly soiled litterbox.
– Start your kitten with clumping-style litter. Research has shown that cats prefer clumping litter to other types. Make sure you scoop the clumps at least once a day. Remember that many brands of clumping are not designed to be flushed, so read the package carefully.
– To prevent damage to carpets and furniture, provide scratching posts made of sisal rope or horizontal strips of corrugated cardboard. Kittens and cats need to scratch with their front claws – this instinctive behavior serves to groom the nails as well as to mark territory. You can’t break them of the scratching habit, so give them an “authorized” place to scratch.
– If you’re concerned about any behavior problems, including persistent play-biting, litter box problems, or fearfulness, pay attention to your instincts. And don’t hesitate to ask your vet for behavioural help or for a referral to a behavioural specialist. Problems are much easier to resolve when intervention is early in both cats and dogs.
– Take lots of pictures and start a kitten scrapbook. Your new best friend is going to grow up very quickly!