We all know that kittens are cute.
Whether they’re a fluffy Persian or a hairless sphynx, the adorableness of a kitten is unrivalled.
But how do you know a kitten is the right pet for you?
Since we’re half way through ‘Adopt a Cat Month’, let’s give you the ultimate kitten care guide featuring the do’s, the don’ts, and the stuff that most people won’t tell you.
- Adopt, don’t shop.
With the rise of the internet, a worrying amount of people are buying pets online without researching where they come from. Kittens are okay to leave mama cats from when they’re weaning at 8 – 10 weeks old. They need time with their siblings and mother to learn cat behaviour skills so any missed time with mum could result in long term problems for your kitten. Our friends at the PDSA recommend adopting a kitten from a shelter or buying from a friend or family member. Catteries check their kitten’s health and temperament to ensure that you get the best match for you while a friend/family member will be someone you trust who you know has looked after the kittens properly. Surprisingly shelters have a high number of pedigree cat breeds, so if you’re looking for a specific breed, keep an eye out at your local cattery.
- Neuter your kitten.
With so many kittens and cats in shelters needing a loving home, it’s vital we stop this overpopulation by neutering our pets. Cats can be neutered at 4 months old, it’s incredibly important that they’re recovered and healed before you let them outside. After all, do you really want an oops litter?
- You’ll envy their freedom to take long naps everywhere.
Cats sleep up to 16 hours a day so your kitten is going to be spending a lot of time in the land of nod. Some kittens will fall asleep on your knee for a cuddle. Be warned though: they will look as cute as a button so you’ll have permanent pins and needles because you don’t have the heart to move them. Kittens have a natural talent for sleeping in unusual places like the radiator, in the middle of the stairs, or on the kitchen counter. Just make sure you check the washing machine and bath before use otherwise kitty may have a rude awakening!
- But you also need to prepare for the crazy.
Forget the crazy cat lady stereotype - cats are the real crazy ones! Your kitten will chase after non-existent objects, be fascinated with plastic carrier bags, hide behind steps to pounce on you, and generally exhibit baffling behaviour. Just think of this as entertainment that’s one of the perks of being a kitten owner.
- Keep up with vaccinations.
It’s so important to vaccinate your kitten and keep up with their regular booster jabs. It’s good for your cat and your bank balance in the long run!
- Make some noise.
No, we don’t mean blast out the heavy metal for your kitten! One common mistake people make when they get a kitten is stopping all of life’s normal activities for fear of scaring their new addition. Get your cat used to everyday noises like the hoover, television, and the dishwasher instead of staying very quiet. For your kitten to grow up in to a well-adjusted cat, it’s vital that they socialise with the people coming and going from your home as well as getting used to life’s daily routines.
- Kittens need a lot of stuff.
Even though cats have a reputation for being independent and aloof, kittens need a lot of toys, accessories, and attention. Get your little fluffball toys that bring out their natural hunting instincts like fishing rod and ball toys. You’ll get to watch your kitten act like their ancestors and the difference is incredible. A choice of cat beds of varying textures is also great for when your kitten wants a well -earned snooze after all that playing and jumping.
Make sure you have plenty of scratch posts that are sturdy enough for your cat to lean against to scratch their claws. If your scratch posts aren’t stable enough, you could end up with the common complaint amongst cat owners of their beloved pet sharpening their claws on the sofa!
- They’ll eat a lot…
You’re already jealous of their nap opportunities so prepare to be green with envy because it’s recommended that kittens should eat 4 to 5 small meals a day! Kittens begin being weaned at approximately 8 weeks old when they can start to leave their mother. Cats are true carnivores so they must live on meat, a vegetarian diet would be incredibly dangerous for their wellbeing. When your kitten is 6 months old, it’s time to go to a standard two meals a day. Never feed them cow’s milk as this might give them a bit of tummy trouble, while treats should be monitored to avoid a podgy pussycat!
- You’ll be eager to let them outside…
Your kitten will reach the stage where they get cabin fever. They’ll look longingly out of the window while meowing and you’ll be counting down the days until their release. Kittens can explore the outside world after their first vaccinations are complete at 13 – 14 weeks old. It’s important that your cat is neutered and recovered from surgery before they start going out to ensure there aren’t any accidental pregnancies. Your kitten might feel excited, scared, or overwhelmed when exploring your back garden so it’s important to supervise them on their first outing. Make sure your garden is safe by covering ponds, checking for anything sharp, and avoid putting products on your lawn.
- But you’ll also worry about them going too far.
Some cats don’t like to leave their territory, while others will venture far and wide. It can be scary for first time kitten owners when their beloved pet goes wandering away. Before you let your cat outside, get them microchipped and begin to practise recall with them indoors. Reward them with treats when they come back to you and repeat these steps on their first outing so they know it’s important to return when called. If you’re a nervous wreck at the thought of letting your cat outside, try calming your nerves by using a lead and harness on your kitten on their first outing? You’ll be able to supervise where your kitten goes, get them used to being in the garden, and if they’re rusty on their recall there’s little chance of them running off.
Want more pet tips? Visit our friends at the PDSA here.
Find your nearest Poundstretcher store here to get all your kitten care essentials from food, litter trays, toys, and more!