Bringing home a new kitten is exciting! Many questions run through your head but definitely the most stressful is — What do I need for a new kitten?
I have created a quick and easy checklist for you to use before your bring home your feline friend.
3. Water bowls and a water fountain
4. Flea, worming and tick treatments
5. Bed and blankets
10. Litter tray
11. Grooming brush
Below I have added some very FAQ’s when it comes to bringing home your precious kitten.
1. Am I ready for a kitten?
Owning a kitten is becoming increasingly popular but it’s important to think through your decision carefully. While cats are very independent creatures, they still require plenty of time, love and care. If you are getting your kitten at 8–10weeks of age then you have a long journey ahead of you. The average lifespan for a cat is 10–15years and some species of cats can live 20+ years old!
Every year in Australia thousands of cats are surrendered to animal shelters and pounds, with many of these animals euthanised because a suitable home cannot be found.
Before heading to a pet store or breeder, consider whether you could instead offer a loving home to a puppy or adult dog in need. Cats, kittens and other pets are available for adoption from the RSPCA, Animal Welfare League, PetRescue and other local rescue organisations.
2. When can I take my kitten home?
Kittens gradually wean off their mother’s milk and begin to be able to eat solid food from about 8 weeks of age, so this is considered the minimum acceptable age for them to be removed from their mother.
When you bring your new kitten home, try to bring some unwashed bedding from their previous home with them so that they can smell their littermates and old familiar environment during this time of adjustment. This can really help them setting in.
Confine your kitten to a small, safe area of the house to begin with so that they don’t get lost or hurt themselves and can easily access their food, water and bed. As your kitten’s confidence levels grow you can begin to allow them to explore more of the house and yard. Introduce your kitten carefully to any existing pets in the house to help get their relationship off on a positive footing.
3. Indoor, outdoor or both?
The RSPCA recommends keeping cats exclusively indoors for many reasons, which mostly focus around safety from cars and other dangerous animals. Whichever decision you make, try to implement the living arrangements early on as cats are much more likely to cope if they’ve been trained from a young age. Cats that have always had access to the outdoors can quickly become distressed if suddenly kept indoors, which can lead to behavioural issues.
4. How much sleep is healthy for my kitten?
It’s perfectly normal for kittens to sleep 15–20 hours a day! Remember that your kitten is doing a lot of growing and developing, which means that he or she will need plenty of sleep at night and daytime naps.
5. Do I need to microchip and register my kitten?
Your kitten should already be microchipped before you adopt them. In fact, most states require all pets to be microchipped prior to re-homing by law.
Depending on where you live, your cat may also need to be registered with your local council or you could receive a fine. Note that council registration often requires a microchip number but does not happen automatically when your pet is microchipped. To find out more about whether your cat needs to be registered contact your local council.
6. Do I need to vaccinate my kitten?
Typical vaccinations for kittens involve 3 injections spaced approximately 4 weeks apart. These usually occur at 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks of age, However, this can vary depending on your location and the type of vaccine your vet uses.
7. Worming, flea and tick prevention for kittens?
Kittens should be wormed every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age. Then, monthly until 6 months of age. After 6 months of age, intestinal worming should be done at least every 3 months.
If your cat is 100% indoor, or you live outside of a tick area, you generally don’t need protection against paralysis ticks. If your cat does spend time outdoors and you are in a high risk tick area, prevention is recommended.
8. When should I desex my kitten?
Most vets will recommend desexing your kitten at about 5 to 6 months of age, although in some cases kittens can be desexed as early as 8 to 16 weeks depending on the size and breed of the cat. RSPCA Australia supports early age desexing as an effective way to reduce unwanted pregnancies and re-home cats as soon as possible.
9. How do I look after my kitten’s teeth?
Tooth brushing is the best way to help prevent dental disease and reduce the number of trips to the vet for dental procedures. Try to get your kitten used to having their mouth examined and handled from an early age.
Once all their adult teeth are through (usually by about 6 months), you can then upgrade to a brush and pet friendly toothpaste to get into the habit of a good dental routine.
10. Is pet insurance worth it?
20 years is a long time! We never want anything to happen to our pets but sometimes traumatic events happen which leaves us paying for it at the vet. There are heaps of options for pet insurance out there these days, and they can be a fantastic way to ease the financial stress of an expensive, unexpected illness or injury such as cat bite abscesses, snake bite or cancer. Just like health insurance for your family, do your research and pick what’s right for you.
11. When do I take my kitten to the vet?
If your kitten appears lethargic, off their food, has vomiting or diarrhoea or you suspect they may have eaten something they shouldn’t have, contact your local vet or after hours emergency centre as soon as possible. In many cases early treatment offers the most successful outcomes. Keep your vet and their recommended after hours service’s phone numbers on the fridge or in your phone so you can access them quickly when you need them.
12. What do I feed my kitten?
As a cat lover and owner, i’ve found that Grain Free kitten and cat food to be the best! Protein is especially important in cat food because, unlike many other animals, protein is a cat’s primary energy source. When you look at the ingredient list on the back of your non-grain free food, you will notice a lot of fillers in the form of rice, corn, wheat or other carbohydrates. Cats are carnivores, requiring up to twice as much protein as dogs of the same size. In the wild, you would find them hunting their prey for protein and they need this protein for lean muscle, strength, and energy and development in kittens.
What many people don’t realise is that cats are also very good at digesting and absorbing nutrients from high-quality, plant-based ingredients. Plant ingredients can be an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals needed for support your kitty’s health and wellbeing.
Cats can be proud and very particular when it comes to their food. Fussy cats can be hard to deal with but there are a few things to do that may help. I would start by trying lots of different grain free protein sources to see what your kitten or cat likes. I would also suggest getting smaller bags to start until your kitty is happy with the type of food, then get the bigger bag size to save money per serving size.
13. What are the best toys for my kitten?
Our four-legged family members need mental stimulation, daily activities, and exercise, all of which responsible pet parents can provide by choosing the right toys. Interactive toys also provide valuable bonding time with your fur family.
14. Can you toilet train kittens? Which cat litter is best?
Cats naturally value cleanliness so toilet training is usually fairly straightforward. It’s worth asking the breeder or shelter whether your kitten was using a litter tray prior to adoption, as this will allow you to select a litter tray and litter they are already familiar with.
When kittens are first weaned and are still learning to use the litter tray, it’s common for them to attempt to eat the litter. For this reason it’s recommended to use biodegradable alternatives such as those based on plant material or recycled paper which are much less likely to do harm if taste tested.
15. Do I need to groom my kitten?
Grooming your new kitten is a great way to spend time and bond with them. It also helps to control shedding, particularly during the warmer months and reduces the development of hairballs. Long haired cats are particular prone to the development of matts which can quickly become painful and difficult to remove, so best stay on top of this!