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So, you went to your local animal shelter and found your new kitten and forever friend, that happens to be in the form of an adorably small and curious furball. Whether you’re new to cats or have experience owning them, preparing for your new kitten’s homecoming is the most important thing you can do to ensure a smooth transition and a happy cat.
It’s important to remember that even though cats have a bad rap, they are the most popular house pet in the United States. There are 1.8 cats and 1.6 dogs for every American household with pets. This is likely because cats are smaller and more independent than dogs, so doubling up is next to effortless.
These tips may seem obvious, but it’s essential to create a list of the necessities you’ll need for your new kitten and have them set up upon her arrival. When she does arrive, let her walk around and check everything out. Show her the litter box immediately, and then let her explore the rest of your home in a calm, quiet environment.
Food and water
Your shelter may provide you with a sample of the food the kitten has been eating while in their care. If so, it then becomes your choice to decide whether or not you’ll continue feeding it that food or if you want to switch to another diet.
Just like humans, the choice of food is essential and directly impacts your cat’s health and energy levels. It’s important to choose a food that is specific for kittens and is high in fat and protein.
When you look at the ingredient list, you want to ensure that meat and meat by-products are the first things on the list. Remember where your kitten descended from! Lions and tigers don’t primarily eat grains.
Having a fresh bowl of water is important. Some veterinarians and cat behaviorists suggest placing a couple of bowls of fresh water in different spots throughout the house because it is actually fun for the cat since it’s like hunting.
While an indoor life is much safer and recommended for your house cat, it can get stagnant and boring. Little things like changing the location of the water bowl are both vital and exciting for the cat.
It’s also very common for cats to “play” with their food and water. For this reason, we highly recommend you invest in a Neater Feed Elevated Cat Food & Water Bowl. Many cats like to paw at their water rather than simply dip their heads down and lap it up, as you might expect. This pawing action often creates a major mess and causes water problems, especially for wood floors and carpets.
The Neater Feeder is one of those “I wish I had known” items you’re much better off getting at the start than having to pay the price of a ruined floor or carpet.
One of the most fun things about cat ownership is watching them play with catnip. Unfortunately, your kitten will not be receptive to the catnip until she is about three months old. Luckily, there are many other ways to have fun with your cat and keep her active.
Toy mice, feathery wands, and balls that jingle are sure-fire ways to get your kitten’s attention quickly. Be sure to choose toys that don’t have choking hazards, just in case the toy pops open, and your cat gets too curious.
Many pet stores also have interactive games that can keep your cat busy for however long your cat’s attention span is. Jackson Galaxy, the famous and renowned cat behaviorist, has an entire line of cat toys that are meant to keep your cat stimulated and active.
Your house cat needs to stay active because obesity could become a problem later in life. An excellent way to avoid that is to encourage playfulness and movement at a young age.
Scratching posts and condos
Nearly 25 percent (40 million) of house cats are declawed because owners fear their furniture being ruined. Hill’s Science Diet, a famous food brand, claims that one of the most popular reasons cats are returned to shelters is because of bad scratching habits. If a cat is scratching in the wrong places, the owner does not provide enough suitable materials.
Simply put, declawing is inhumane and takes away an important part of the cat’s being and livelihood. If your cat scratches your furniture, you must reprimand the cat immediately from the very first time.
Have you ever heard of a cat being stuck in a tree? This is because cats like to be high up and see what’s going on by having as much of a bird’s eye view as possible. They feel secure and can understand their surroundings much better. Many cat condos come with scratching posts, which is excellent as a 2-in-1.
If she is scratching in unwanted spots, enforce the scratching post by providing treats or catnip if your cat is old enough to be susceptible to it. A product called Bitter Apple is great for realigning animals’ behaviors. Spritz Bitter Apple, wherever you don’t want the cat to scratch, and she will hate the smell and taste so much that she will not want to go back.
Litter and the litter box
Again, your shelter might give you a sample of the litter that she’s been using. This isn’t always the case as shelters often need necessities like this, so it’s better to prepare with a litter brand and type that you plan on using throughout your cat’s life.
We know cats are curious, but kittens are even more interested. Unfortunately, it isn’t unheard of to see a kitten nibbling at the bits of litter in her litter box. Some litter is so toxic and dangerous that cats have gotten stomach blockages and died from litter consumption.
While kittens like to taste test their surroundings, it’s a good idea to purchase non-clumping litter. Non-clumping litter doesn’t build up in the stomach, and though it’s not ideal, this type of litter is more passable for the kitten if she does get into a mess. However, if you see her eating any kind of litter, be sure to remove any litter from her mouth immediately. She may need to visit a vet if she consumes large amounts, especially clumping litter.
People often ask me about my favorite or preferred litter, and I have to say hands down that Purina Tidy Cats “Naturally Strong” with Activated Charcoal is it. You will sometimes have a difficult time getting this product, so I order it in bulk. Usually, I order 6 boxes at a time lasts me a little over half a year. I love this litter because it’s not scented and there’s virtually no dust at all. It also performs extremely well and my cats have never given me issues with it, they simply adopted it with no fuss (which is crazy if you know anything about cats!)
The litter box should be located in a quiet and somewhat private area. Many people put litter boxes in the bathroom, the garage, the basement, or the laundry room. The box needs to be accessible at all times and should be cleaned once a day. Turn it into a morning routine for best results. If you neglect cleaning the litter box, your kitten might get fussy over the mess and use the bathroom elsewhere.
Not too far off from child-proofing, kitten-proofing your home is important. Your kitten will be safe and will avoid many accidents and potentially hazardous encounters.
Exposed wires should be put away, though if impossible, they should be minimal and covered safely. Though many cat owners don’t face this problem, kittens have chewed on wires in the past, which could result in death.
Give your home a good clean. Vacuum and pick up any small pieces of debris around your home. Invest in animal-safe cleaners and put them away in a cabinet that your cat can’t get to.
Recliners have also worried owners of the cat community as cats have gotten stuck and died inside of a recliner. Some households have even gotten rid of their reclining furniture to ensure their cats’ safety. Hiding under couches and tables is a typical cat behavior, though some cats show no interest in recliners at all.
A few ways to get your cat away from this furniture:
- Use the Bitter Apple Spray or lemon juice spray to make the smell unappealing
- Reprimand your cat every single time she nears the reclining furniture
- Block off the accessible part with a piece of plywood
- Simply show your cat how scary and fast the movement is, prompting her to stay away
- Get rid of the piece
Enjoy life with your new friend
Cats are amazing pets. They are independent, playful, affectionate, and all-around silly. Set up the platform for a fantastic life together with your new kitten by preparing via the steps listed above.
Some extra vital tips include recognizing your cat’s behavior and feelings by her body language. For example, if your cat gazes into your eyes with slow blinks, it means she trusts and loves you. Head bumps, purring, and “making bread” (kneading on an exceptionally soft surface, like a blanket) are also key behaviors that mean your cat is happy and comfortable.
Remember that the key to an excellent pet-owner companionship is affection, patience, and unconditional love. You may also want to check out our tips for making traveling with your cat easier!