Bringing home a new kitten is an incredible and life changing experience. It can be helpful to have a guide that will teach you the next steps to take, common issues that new kitten owners face, and advice for the different nutritional, medical, and lifestyle requirements your new feline companion will have. In this article, you now have an easy and informative resource to help guide you through ownership of your new cat!
Step 1 – The New Kitten Exam
The very first thing you should do once you adopt your kitten is to schedule a physical examination. If you have yet to do that, just call us now at (904) 757-4254. This first step is very important, as we can test for any potential health issues such as congenital defects, feline leukemia, parasites, etc. Each of your cat’s major bodily systems will be thoroughly examined in order to make sure there are no irregularities or potential health issues.
We also need to set up a preventative medicine plan for your new cat, and will educate you on important issues in your cat’s health. This will include educating you on the appropriate vaccinations for your new feline friend (along with establishing a schedule for those vaccinations), a parasite control plan, and will teach you about which common illnesses and symptoms to look out for in kittens and young cats. We can also make nutritional (and brand) recommendations for your cat’s diet, as kittens have unique dietary requirements.
If your cat is not spayed or neutered, we can talk to you about the procedure and schedule it. There are significant health and behavioral benefits to spaying or neutering your cat, and it will also help prevent overcrowding in animal shelters (which is an important problem).
Step 2 – Setting up the home
You’ll want to find a quiet area in your home that you can designate as your cat’s area. You want a place where they can feel comfortable and safe. Here, you’ll put their food and water dishes, comfortable bedding, and cat toys (nothing small enough for them to swallow). It’s also a great idea to put a scratching post here. At least several feet away, put their litterbox (cats don’t like their litterbox to be too close to their source of food and water).
Make sure your cat’s litterbox is easy for him or her to access. Place your cat into the litterbox, and gently take their front paw and help them scratch at the litter a couple times. Don’t worry if your cat jumps right back out. Place your kitten in the litterbox during the times they’ll likely want to eliminate – first thing in the morning, after meals or playtime, after waking up from a nap, and before bed. Felines prefer privacy when eliminating, so leave them to do your business once they’re in it.
Accidents happen! When they do, don’t scold your cat – they won’t be able to connect the two events, and it will just introduce anxiety into their relationship with you. Instead, use an enzymatic cleaner on the stain, and just go back to the beginning – keep placing them in the litterbox during typical bathroom times. If your cat continues to have accidents for a long time, contact us so we can rule out any underlying medical issues.
Step 3 – Bonding
You want to allow your cat to explore its new home and socialize with all of its residents – including children and other pets. Don’t let anyone (especially dogs!) chase your cat – if this happens, interrupt it immediately. Allow your cat to begin bonding with its new family. To do this, physical touch and playtime are both very important.
Kittens are naturally curious and playful creatures. Make sure to designate three playtimes a day with your cat, about 15 minutes each. Sit on the floor with your kitten and use toys, such as feather wands or wicker balls. You’re trying to stimulate the way that cats instinctively learn and bond as youngsters. One way to do that is to bounce a ping pong ball slowly against the wall, and allow your cat to chase it. You can also dangle string on the ground, moving it slowly, allowing your cat to “hunt.”
Grooming is another important way that cats bond. Put your kitten on your lap, and allow them to sniff the brush. Start brushing very gently (beginning with their back, and moving to the sides of their body). Every few minutes, swap the brush for your hand and give them affectionate strokes. Once your cat is comfortable with the brush, you can begin brushing more sensitive areas over time, such as their belly, tail and ears.
Make sure to bookmark this guide so that you can always come back to it as a reference. And if you have any questions at all, please call us at (904) 757-4254! We are always here for you and your cat.