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Taking Care of a New Kitten

Now that ‘Santa Claws’ has come and gone, you may have found yourself in the company of a small bundle of joy; a bundle of joy with cute whiskers and very sharp claws! Whether it’s a stray that’s wandered into your life’s journey or a personal undertaking after years of pining from your children, a new kitten is an exciting addition to any family home. Although, your new furry friend has needs and wants that must be satisfied in order to keep them happy, healthy and safe. With that in mind, we’ve made a list of some top tips for new cat owners; from toilet training and litter trays, to beds and toys. We encourage you to read-on and prepare yourself for the fun that lies ahead! For further reading, why not visit our Village Vets website.

Adoption and Bringing them home:
Adopting a cat or kitten is a vastly different affair compared to adopting a puppy. It is important that you understand that every pet’s personality is different, and it’s no different for cats! Of course, pick a cat or kitten that you think is cute, but give some thought to the cat’s personality and temperament. At this early stage it can be hard to tell how a kitten will turn out, but it will help you decide whether your new friend will be an indoor cat, outdoor cat or a nice mixture of both.

Now that you’ve chosen your forever friend, check with the shelter or adoption centre and see if your new pet has gotten their vaccinations and boosters. If not, don’t panic, we offer a huge range of health services for new kittens and cats; from worming and fleas, to vaccinations and neutering.

Once you have a health plan in place for your new pet, it’s time to get them home! For this you’ll need a carrier box or transport crate and a nice, warm blanket for them to rest on. Getting home is where the real fun begins!

My Kitten’s Home, What’s Next?:
To start, you’ll need something to store their food and water in. Non-slip, stainless steel bowls with a low height are perfect for this. Alternatively, you can choose a ceramic option, especially if you plan on feeding them wet food. In terms of food, you can keep feeding your new friend whatever the shelter was feeding them, or you can try them on small samples from your local pet store. At this early stage it is important to find a food they don’t want to leave behind (seeing as some cats can be fussy).

Next, you’ll need a bed or soft blanket for your cat to sleep in/on. As unfortunate as it is, kittens do eventually get bigger, so don’t focus on buying expensive things that your new pet will grow out of. If it’s cosy, safe and closed off, your kitten is going to love it (99% of the time). Finally, you’ll need treats, toys and stimulating items for your new pet, things that will help keep their mind off of using your couch as a claw sharpening tool. A sisal post or scratching tower might be no harm to invest in, but as the old saying goes: If it looks stupid and works, it’s not stupid! Gauge your new friend, find out their likes and dislikes and change their part of the house accordingly. If they like a cardboard box, let them have the box!

Litter Trays and Toilet Training:
Cats are proud animals. As such, they instinctively wish to remain clean at all times. To this end, toilet training your kitten can be a breeze, but there’s a reason why ‘can’ was in italics... If your cat or kitten is struggling to bury their waste or simply won’t, you may need to literally show them.

After your kitten has done their business, scoop some litter onto their hard work and let them see. You might have to go as far as burying the waste for them, but they will learn. If your kitten has no interest in the litter or the litter tray, it may be too small for them. Err on the side of caution and get a tray that’s a little too big. It won’t do them any harm, especially when you see how high kittens can actually jump! The most important thing to remember is that your new friend must feel safe when going to the toilet, so make sure the area in which they do is comfortable, secluded and away from prying eyes.

Cats, Collars and the Great Outdoors:
As a cat owner myself, I always get apprehensive when it comes to picking a collar for my cat. Most of the time Shadowfax has no issue with a new collar, but he has a penchant for getting out of them whenever I’m not looking. When fitting your kitten with a collar, allow them to get used to its feel and weight, making sure that it’s not too tight or too loose on them. Cats don’t like collars, but they do tolerate them over time. Besides, if you wish your cat to be able to roam the great outdoors (or back garden), a collar is a necessity.

So, once you feel your kitten is big and bold enough (at least 6 months old, neutered and vaccinated) for some time outside, do some research into your local area; find out if there are any other cats around or if there are any predators in the area such as foxes and hawks. Cats are capable warriors in their own right, but anything bigger than them will see them as food. Be vigilant during your cat’s outside time, but allow them to explore. It’s what cats love best!

Final Tips and Farewell:
There’s no right or wrong way to bring up your kitten. Most of the time, you will find yourself ‘winging it’, but this isn’t cause for alarm. As long as your new friend is healthy, happy, safe and satisfied, there’s not much else you can really do (except enjoy their company!). Cats are certainly funny creatures (just ask the Internet), but there’s a reason why the Egyptians revered them. Not only do they make great company, they are a friend for life. Of course, if you do need any advice or Veterinary assistance with your new kitten, don’t hesitate in lifting the phone and calling us! We’re always on standby to help you and your friend in any way we can.

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