Cat Behavior 101: The Meaning of a Meow

Simple Steps for Taking Care of a New Kitten

Nothing is more adorable than a fluffy little kitten. Kittens are cute, for sure, but they can also be quite a handful. If you’ve never raised a kitten before, you may be wondering where to start. Being a pet parent means providing for your pet’s basic needs in addition to being a friend and companion.

For kittens, this means providing a healthy and high-quality diet as well as routine veterinary care. You’ll also need to prepare your home for your new kitten and take the time to play with and bond with them. If you’re considering bringing a new kitten into your home, keep reading to learn the basics of what it takes to care for them.

Food for Thought

There are a few things you’ll need to do before you adopt a kitten. But the first would be to seriously consider whether a kitten is right for you and your lifestyle. Cats tend to live anywhere between 10-15 years, which makes them a big commitment. If you don’t have a lot of time and resources to dedicate to a new kitten, you might want to think about a pet that is lower maintenance. Other factors to consider are whether you have other pets who might not get along with a new kitten, any allergies you or your family may have, and if you have children, will they be able to handle a kitten appropriately?

Next would be deciding where to get your kitten. Options include a breeder, a shelter, or a pet store. If you don’t care about breed or pedigree, adopting from a shelter not only gives a kitten a second chance, but also frees up space at that shelter for another homeless animal. But, if you want a specific breed of cat, find an ethical breeder that you feel good about purchasing a kitten from. 

Stock up on Supplies

Kittens might be small, but they need plenty of stuff! Which is why you must get a few basics before your kitten arrives. That way, you know that you’re covered for a few weeks at least. If your kitten ends up needing new equipment or toys after that, you’re not going to feel rushed into buying them. 

Before you bring your kitten home, we recommend investing in:

  • High-quality food and treats
  • Food and water bowls
  • Litter boxes (two per cat) and litter
  • Collar and ID tag
  • Cat carrier
  • Cat beds
  • Scratching posts and toys
  • Grooming tools

Kitten Proof your Home

Your new kitten will get into everything – literally. They will have the urge to explore and their childlike energy can sometimes get them into trouble. At home, pets can get trapped in tight spaces, fall down stairs, encounter household chemicals, or eat any number of harmful items from socks to human medications. Fortunately, many of these accidents are preventable with solid pet-proofing methods. Check out one of our previous blogs on pet-proofing for an easy room-by-room guide.

Find a Good Veterinarian

If you don’t already have a veterinarian, ask friends or the shelter or breeder your kitten came from for a referral. It’s crucial for you to be in contact with a veterinarian early in your kitten’s life; especially since your kitten will most likely need a check up and more vaccines shortly after you bring them home. Your vet will also need to test for worms and start them on a preventative to ward off fleas and ticks when they’re old enough. This is also a great time to have a conversation about when your pet should be spayed or neutered if they aren’t already.

Feed a Proper Diet 

Your kitty needs to be well-fed, but there’s more to it than just keeping their bowl full. When they come home, your kitten will have specific nutritional needs that must be met for them to grow up to be strong and healthy. This is why research is key. Pet food brands are not all created equal, so you want to be sure you’re feeding your kitten the highest-quality food that your budget will allow. Compare labels among brands or ask your veterinarian what they recommend. 

Train your Kitten to use the Litter Box

Most kittens learn how to use their litter box with minimal fuss, most are even litter trained before you bring them home. However, as they’re getting used to their new home, expect them to have a few accidents. If your kitten is taking a little time to adjust, make sure you place a few litter boxes around the house, so they’re never far from one if they need to go. 

Socialize Them

If you want your cat to be outgoing as an adult, then socializing them while they’re still a kitten is crucial. Once your kitten has settled into their new home, consider ways to socialize them as much as possible. Get them used to being brushed, having their nails trimmed, being in their carrier, and invite your friends around to meet your kitten. If you have dogs and other cats, introduce your kitten to them slowly and allow them to get to know each other at their own pace. Keep in mind not to overstimulate, instead, allow your kitten time to rest in between these socializing sessions, and remember that they still need plenty of quiet time to process and adjust.

Your Pets are our Priority!

At the National Animal Supplement Council, our number one priority is to promote the health and wellbeing of your pets. That is why we created the NASC Audit Program and the Quality Seal, which helps you identify animal health and nutritional supplements that come from responsible suppliers committed to producing the highest quality, most consistent products available. Visit our website to learn more and to see a list of NASC members that have earned the Quality Seal.