You’ve just welcomed a tiny, adorable ball of kitteny fluff into your home and whether as a new fur parent or pet carer you won’t be able to stop smiling when this cutie is in the room!
While cats are a relatively easy pet to care for, to make them feel comfortable and happy it is imperative to have these essentials in your home.
If you are new to owning or pet sitting for a cat or kitten, you may not know where to start but never fear as this crash course will help you prepare your home and life a furry friend.
A SPACE OF THEIR OWN
Your tiny kitten is about to come into a very big new home so it is important to start small.
When you bring the kitten into your home find a space which is small enough not to be overwhelming and somewhat out of the way which they can call their own.
For example a small bedroom or bathroom which the kitten can consider their safe space and will also be where you keep the kitten’s food, water and litter box.
For pet owners, ideally this room will be those items permanent home, but I you have to move them just know your kitten will need lots of reminding that these items are no longer where they once were.
Dr Carol Margolis, medical genetics resident at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia told PetMD, it should also be a space out of the way.
“If you end up bringing home a shy cat, you don’t want to be forcing interactions early on that could cause anxiety and make it hard for the cat to adjust to her new home,” Dr Margolis said.
However, Dr Ryane E. Englar, a assistance professor and clinical education coordinator of veterinary medicine added a new kitten doesn’t necessarily have to be confined to this space all day, every day.
“You should be letting the kitten out of the room to explore the kitchen, living room, or tother spaces in the new home,” Dr Englar said.
“You just always want them to come back to that home base.”
A WARM AND SNUGGLY BED
Now as any cat owner will know it’s actually more like a warm and snuggly place to sleep as most cats will ignore an actual beds in favour of a empty cardboard box, towel or blanket.
Cats and kittens have a mind of their own and will decide what they want and like best.
Dr Englar said if you’re going with a blanket cats prefer warmer sleeping environments than people so choose a blanket that retains heat well.
“Also, you want a blanket that can be easily washed so you can stay on top of fur buildup,” she said.
If you to decide to try your luck with a bed kittens tend to like round beds that they can curl up in or prop themselves up on the side.
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!
Experts agree that kittens should be fed kitten food, not food for full-grown adult cats.
It is also encourages to let little kitties try a variety of foods when they’re small, which ensures the kitten understand that food comes in different forms and may reduce the likelihood of a fussy adult cat and help if a change in diet is needed for health reasons.
Dr Englar agrees variety is a good thing.
“If a cat is only ever fed one type of kibble in one size, it’s really hard to get them to try news foods later on,” Dr Englar said.
Plus it will help you figure out which is their favourite as Dr Margolis notes some cats prefer wet food, some prefer dry.
“If it’s wet food, they may prefer the pate or they may really like the kinds that more resemble actual meet… you won’t know unless you try,” Dr Margolis said.
A LITTER BOX
When most kittens come to your home they will already be litter trained, so by simply making a little box available will ensure they use it.
To help a new kitten finding the litter box, whether they are in a new environment or the litter box has been moved, you need to constantly – every 15 to 30 minutes – bring the kitten to the box’s new location to remind them where it is.
If your kitten is too small to use a litter box for adult cats Dr Englar offering some easy solutions.
“You may have to start out using a cake pan, or trimming down the sides of plastic box so that the kitten can easily get in and out,” she said.
Having the appropriate number of litter boxes for the amount of cats is imperative and Dr Margolis recommends having one litter box per cat, plus one spare.
“If you have three cats, you’re going to want to have four littler boxes in your house,” Dr Margolis said.
“They don’t all have to be in the same place… in fact, having them around the house relieves some of the anxiety cats may have about hiding when doing their business, which is just part of their nature.”
SOMEWHERE TO SCRATCH
Scratching is one of kitten’s basic instincts so they are going to do it and you want them doing it somewhere they are supposed to, as opposed to on your nice dining chairs or couch.
When it comes to scratching post material there is twine, cardboard or carpet fabrics and not all cat’s prefer the same, so some trial and error may be needed.
Dr Englar also recommends to not get a scratching post with similar fabric to your couch as this may confuse them.
But it is definitely worth getting the right on for the sake of your other furniture.
PLAYTIME TOYS FOR MIND AND BODY
Of course there are the typical soft stuffed toys, cat nip mice and balls with bells, however having some puzzle toys for cats will keep them engaged for longer and stimulate them mentally and physically.
Dr Margolis highly recommend toys that can be filled with treats or kibble and have to be batted around to make food come out.
“Cats love to do two thing: hide and hunt,” Dr Margolis said.
“Puzzle feeders help recreate the hunting they would be doing if they were living in the wild, where they had to work for their food.”
You can buy puzzle toys from most pet stores, but some of these dump food too quickly so why not make them yourself at home using an old butter tub or chip can.
Experts also recommend avoid playing with kittens with just bare hands as it may be cute when they bite you as a kitten but as they grow a bite can really hurt and they will become confused as to why you don’t play with them anymore.
Dr Margolis recommends using a stuffed animal if you want to rub your kitten’s belly and rile them up.
“You can certainly play that way, but you want to do it with a toy that you are comfortable with them continuing to attack as they get older,” she said.
LONG-TERM HEALTH AND SAFETY
For a new kitten it is important to take you pet the vet to get them microchipped and to discuss vaccinations, de-sexing and pet insurance.
In regards to microchipping, cats find ways to get outside and this ensures that when they’re found you will be able to be contacted as soon as possible.
Lastly, you will need a reliable pet carer for when you go away on holidays or work trips and online pet sitting services like PetCloud have pet carers available across Australia who offer a range of services.
As cats are very territorial and prone to anxiety in new environments it is recommended to narrow your search to house sitting or house visits rather than relocating them to another house.