Welcoming a new feline fur-ball into your family is an exciting time!
Here are our top tips for making the transition as smooth as possible for you and for your kitten.
Bringing Your Kitten Home
When you first bring your kitten home, he or she may be fearful or overwhelmed by the sudden change of environment and new people.
- Separate them in a quiet room for the first few days, giving them access to a safe place to hide such as a cat igloo or box.
- Show your kitten the location of their food bowls, litter tray and bedding.
- Keep other pets away, gradually introducing them after your kitten has had time to settle in.
- Ensure windows are closed and chimneys are inaccessible.
- Hide electrical cabling to prevent chewing.
- Remove any potentially dangerous house plants such as lilies, poinsettias and cyclamens.
Whether you allow your cat to go outside or remain indoors is a matter of choice, however we recommend that you keep your kitty indoors as much as possible. Even if your cat is sterilised there can still be fights and encounters over territories when cats are on the prowl.
There are a number of excellent options available for cat enclosures and devices that prevent your cat from climbing over fences. At a minimum, we recommend that you curfew your cat at night.
Baskets and beds should be kept away from draughts and high traffic areas.
Cats like to sleep up high and will look for different places dependent on temperature and activity. Don’t be surprised if you find your kitten asleep on top of a bookshelf or perched on a window sill in pursuit of a warm sunny spot!
Place the litterbox or tray in a quiet position out of the way of foot traffic, noise and dogs. You want your kitten to feel safe and secure so that they see the litter tray as their first port of call.
When choosing a litterbox for your kitten, ensure that you have the correct size. Your cat needs to fit comfortably within the box or tray with room to move after they are fully grown, and they should be able to turn around and dig without having to step outside the tray.
High sides on the litterbox will help to contain the contents if your cat is a ‘kicker’, however the sides will need to be lower for kittens. Some litterboxes have high sides with a lower entry at the front.
There are many varieties of cat litter available in your average supermarket. You can choose between clumping vs. non-clumping and you should also consider the disposal method and environmental impact of the material you use.
To train your kitten to use the litter box you may need to show the litterbox to them several times. If they are indicating they want to go outside to the toilet (vocalising or scratching at the door), pick them up and take them back to the tray.
Kittens should be placed in the tray straight after eating or napping, or if you see them crouching or digging in the wrong place.
Reward your kitten with a treat or a pat whenever you see them using the box or tray. Never punish them or tell them off for toileting in the wrong place. This will only cause anxiety and make training more difficult.
Physical exercise and mental stimulation are important for your kitten’s health and well-being, particularly if your kitten is an indoor cat.
Scratching posts and access to higher areas provide security as well as surfaces for flexing and sharpening claws.
Provide plenty of toys and remember to indulge your cat with plenty of human interaction and playtime. Toys don’t have to be expensive. Often a balled-up wad of paper, a piece of string or an empty toilet roll will provide hours of fun!
Food and Water
Cats have a very high requirement for protein including a number of essential amino acids, one of which is taurine, found naturally only in animal tissue. We recommend a premium wet kitten food or kibble diet that gives them all of the nutrients they need for a healthy active life. Speak to one of our vets or nurses to help you decide which food is best for your kitten.
If changing their food, don’t change their diet suddenly. Instead, gradually introduce the new food by mixing it in with the previous diet over the course of a week.
Always ensure that your kitten has access to a fresh bowl of water or a drinking fountain.
Contrary to popular belief cats are lactose intolerant, so do not feed milk to your kitten. Lactose-free cat milk can be found in your local supermarket or pet supplies store.
Regular vet visits are an important part of your kitten’s healthcare routine.
- Vaccinations - Kittens are routinely vaccinated against feline panleukopaenia virus, feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus. Initially, there are two injections given three to four weeks apart followed by an annual booster to maintain immunity.
When your kitten visits us for their vaccinations, we’ll also give them a full nose to tail physical examination.
- Dental Care - Many changes occur during teething so regular checkups with our vets are vital.
It’s important to check and act quickly if you notice any abnormalities or changes in your kitten's mouth.
- Parasite Prevention - Cats can become infected with fleas, worms or ticks by licking themselves or other cats when grooming, or from their environment. Regular parasite protection is essential to prevent illness and/or transmission to other pets or humans.
- Microchipping - Microchipping is required by law. The Western Australian Cat Act 2011 requires that all domestic cats six months and older be:
- microchipped (kittens must be microchipped by 12 weeks of age)
- wearing a tag in a public place
- registered with the local council it is kept in
If your kitten goes missing, a microchip is the surest way to be reunited. We scan all strays that are handed into us and we’ve celebrated many happy reunions as a result!
As with microchipping, Western Australian cat laws state that all cats must be desexed.
There are a number of health benefits for desexing your cat, including lower rates of health problems such as uterine, ovarian and breast cancer in females, and prostate and testicular cancer in males.
Additionally, desexing can help to reduce the incidence of roaming, fighting and territorial behaviour when male cats may be roaming and looking for mates.
Ask our friendly nurses for information on spey and neutering for cats.
Regular grooming with a soft brush is recommended once a week to prevent ingestion of furballs which could potentially cause digestive issues.
Living with a cat can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Watching a kitten pounce and play can make even the toughest day seem better! Cats make wonderful companions and will reward you with a life-time of love and smooches.
There’s a lot to learn about rearing a kitten, however we’re here to help you along the way.
If you have any questions, call us on 9300 2727 or pop into the clinic for a chat with one of our nurses.