A Guide To Kitten Care

Getting a new kitten is an exciting idea but potential cat owners must be ready for the care and responsibility required when raising a kitten.

Taking Your New Kitten Home

When you bring a kitten to your house he will probably be scared of his new surroundings. Set up an isolated room or section off an area of the house where the cat can live for a few days. Try to set up this area where the kitten's litter box will be placed permanently to create a familiar environment in the future. Put a bed, litter box, separate food and water bowls, scratching post and toys in the room (or section of the house).

Kitten-Proofing Your Home

Once your kitten is comfortable in his isolated area and is using the litter box, let him explore the rest of your home. Keep any small children away from the kitten as he gets used to his new home. Once he is free to roam the entire house, keep your kitten safe by following these steps:

  • Make sure there are no dangerous objects or substances the kitten may get into on shelves, kitchen counters, cupboards and hidden corners and nooks.
  • Secure window blinds cords and curtains to prevent the kitten from tangling himself up or scratching at curtains.
  • Vacuum the floors and look out for any small objects a kitten might eat.
  • Keep the lids on garbage bins.
  • Cover unused wall outlets and all electric cords.
  • Use insect repellents that are safe for pets.
  • Use child-proof cabinet locks on cupboards, drawers and cabinets.

Caring for Kitten with Proper Nutrition

Growing kittens need food with quality protein ingredients and vitamins and minerals to prevent future health problems and to grow to their full potential. Try to find out what food your kitten was eating before it came to your home to prevent digestive problems. Mix the old and new food together to gradually transition to their new diet.

For weaning, kittens from 4 to 8 weeks old should be eating wet food like canned, semi-moist or dry food mixed with water. By the time kittens are 8 to 12 weeks old they should be independent from their mother and eating solid food.

Litter Box Training

Cats generally will use a litter box naturally without much training. When your kitten first comes home, keep the litter box about 6 feet away from his food bowl or at a smaller distance if he is less than 14 weeks old and more forgetful. Make sure the litter box in the kitten's area is low enough that he can get into the box. Keep the box and surrounding area clean or else the kitten may not go to this spot.

Kitten Health Care and Vaccines

Visits to the vet's office and vaccines are an essential step towards building up a healthy immune system and protecting your kitten from common diseases. One common vaccine is FVCRP, which protects against feline panleukopenia, feline viral rhinotracheitis and diseases caused by feline calicivirus. At 6 to 8 weeks old, the first FVRCP dose is usually given, followed by booster shots at 3 to 4 week intervals until the kitten reaches 16 weeks. After this, boosters can be given annually or every few years, depending on what vaccination schedule your vet sets up.

If the kitten hasn't been to the vet and immunized, keep him isolated from the other pets to prevent the spread of parasites or diseases like kennel cough.