(Family Features) - Adopting a kitten is especially exciting and can be a very enjoyable experience for the whole family. When choosing to bring a kitten into the family, explore all avenues to adoption, including humane shelters, breeders and rescue organizations.
- Look for kittens that are friendly, outgoing and do not struggle when gently handled.
- Be sure the coat looks shiny and the eyes are clear.
- If you can gather information about the kitten's parents, it may aid in understanding any long term health or behavioral concerns.
- Seek expert advice from veterinarians, animal welfare organizations, breeders and/or online kitten care resources like kittenchow.com.
By preparing ahead of time, you can welcome your new kitten into your life with confidence and get the most out of the life you share. Web sites, like kittenchow.com, make the preparation period easier by offering an informative kitten care video series called the "The Kitten Connection™." Hosted by Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist Dr. Karen Sueda, the 13 videos cover a wide range of topics from socializing your new kitten to understanding your kitten's transition to adulthood. The series is full of easy steps to help you enrich your relationship with your kitten and create a foundation of well-being for many years to come.
Choosing to adopt a kitten is a lifelong decision, so establishing a connection with your kitten right off the bat is very important. Kittens are only kittens for a year, but this short time is the most significant stage of a cat's development.
Watch Kitten Connection Videos
Here are some tips to get you and your kitten started down the right path:
Kitten Care First Days Checklist
From preparing a shopping list to introducing your kitten to existing pets, consider these easy tips for welcoming a kitten into your home and into your life:
What you need most.
A quick trip to the local pet supply store can help you find everything you need to keep your kitten happy, healthy and safe.
- A pet carrier for transporting your kitten in the car.
- Litter and a litter box.
- Food and water bowls.
- A supply of kitten food such as Purina Kitten Chow.
- Grooming tools, toys and a scratching post are also important to your kitten's socialization and in the development of routines.
The First Days Home
A kitten needs a safe place where she can rest, relax and not get into harm's way. Allow your kitten to acclimate to her new environment slowly. Choose a quiet, small room and make that "home base" for the first few days. This area should have the kitten's food, water, bed and litter box. Once your kitten feels comfortable and confident, allow her to begin exploring.
Kittens are curious and playful, but they can get themselves into trouble unintentionally. Take a look around your house and examine the world from your kitten's view. Consider wires, plants, sharp objects and small items that can be chewed on or swallowed and remove them from your kitten's reach. It is also smart to keep your new kitten indoors and out of danger.
When you introduce your kitten to existing pets, it is important to do so with care and caution. Introductions through a closed door will help each one become familiar with the other by smell. Then follow-up with a relaxed face-to-face meeting. Treats and playtime are great ways to encourage healthy interactions and pleasant associations. Keep litter boxes and food and water bowls separate in the beginning to maintain household harmony and alleviate competition.
Proper eating habits.
Kittens tend to be occasional eaters, and this can sometimes be interpreted that a kitten does not like a certain diet. Much like adult cats, kittens tend to graze and want to return to their food intermittently. Kittens, like babies, need their own special food. Establishing proper eating habits for your kitten helps prevent problems before they start and gives your kitten the best nutritional foundation for a long and healthy life.
Make litter box training a breeze.
Instinct will usually guide your kitten to develop good litter box habits, but you can help the process by establishing a private location for the box and cleaning it regularly. Many kittens prefer a smaller box with low walls, and then you can help them work up to a larger box in time. Place the litter box in a quiet, out of the way location away from your kitten's food and water, and when your kitten starts interacting with the litter in the box, then calmly praise her to reinforce the behavior.
First visit to your vet.
One of the first items of business with your veterinarian will be a thorough examination and schedule of vaccinations. This visit is also a good time to discuss spaying and neutering. Ask any other questions you have about health and behavior. Schedule follow-up visits, and in between appointments, do your own "home health checks," checking for any bumps or growths while petting or grooming your kitten.
It may sound a little overwhelming at first, but you will find that it all comes relatively easily and naturally when you love your kitten like you would any other member of the family. Taking the time to play with her, care for her and ease her into your home environment goes a long way toward ensuring that she has a happy, healthy and long life with you.