Looking after a new kitten

  • All the tips to help you raise a healthy kitten. From advice about vet appointments, how to litter train them and more

Arguably one of the most exciting times in a human being’s existence is deciding to bring home a new pet, and more specifically, a cat of course (cats > everything). Though as well as being exciting beyond words, it’s also a pretty anxious time preparing for what’s to come and learning the best ways to care for your kitten once they arrive home. Raising a cat is a huge responsibility, as is any pet, so doing your research and making the right choices is super important in ensuring your cat can thrive and live their best possible life alongside you, for potentially 15+ years to come. 

Kitten Proofing
If you’ve never owned a cat before, you’re in for a wild ride. Those clawy little babies can get into everything, you’ve basically just adopted a tiny furry ninja, so kitten proofing your home is essential to keep them safe from themselves. 

When they first arrive home, the best idea is to initially keep the kitten restricted to just one room. As overwhelming as this new responsibility could be for you, for this small fluffy baby they have been moved from their comforting home with mum to an entirely new environment and it may take them a while to adjust to the change. Keeping them in just one room at first will make the adjustment process a little less daunting and encourage them to explore their new surroundings, especially if the room remains a quiet and calm place for them to get comfortable in. Bringing something with them from their previous home can also bring them comfort through smell, as well as using plug-in pheromone diffusers.

It’s important to make sure your kitten is at least 8 weeks old before they come home with you. These first 8 weeks it is essential for them to stay with their mum and build up their strength before being able to go off into the big wide world. Once they arrive, having plenty of toys and entertainment for them to get stuck into will keep them busy, scratching posts are also a top investment to avoid them scratching any of your precious furniture. 

Making sure any hazards are out of reach is also necessary for keeping your adventurous new friend safe. Check over any house plants and flowers you have to ensure they are not toxic to cats and move them out of reach, screen off fireplaces, keep cupboard doors closed and tie up and hide any loose wires and cables so they don’t decide to munch on a shocking snack. Anything you think your kitten could get into they will most likely prove you right, so try to think of every possible situation that could need kitten proofing and do it – you are now essentially a kitten health and safety inspector, it’s a full-time job.

Kitten Handling
The urge to cuddle your kitten every hour of the day is going to be pretty overwhelming at first/forever. But like all of us, kittens have boundaries. The key to building their confidence would be to give them space to explore and approach you on their own – this will also build a strong bond between you.

They need a relaxed and calm environment to flourish. So if there are children in the home, your new arrival is a great opportunity to teach kids from a young age how to approach a kitten with a soft and gentle demeanour, so as not to scare their new bestie. We’re pretty sure with a little patience, your new family will form a lifelong bond and you’ll be snuggled up together in no time, just always take it at the kittens’ pace.

Kitten Food
Unfortunately, our delicious Republic recipes aren’t suitable for the tiny guys until they’ve had their first birthday, so as much as we’d love to have them as citizens, we’re not able to supply their suppers just yet. Finding the right fit for them will help them grow into strong, glorious cats ready to thrive through their 9 lives. A good start is to ask the breeder or shelter where you collected your kitten what they have been eating. Changing food for cats can be a big deal so starting with something they are used to will be a comforting way they can settle into their new home. 

From here, we always recommend a chat with the vet as to what they advise for your cat pal, a balanced and complete diet that will strengthen them up ready for the big wide world is essential. And don’t forget about hydration, water is all they need so make sure there is plenty available to quench your kitten’s thirst around the home. 

Kitten Healthcare
First things first, let’s talk insurance. Getting pet insurance for your new pal is essential to keep them safe throughout their life. Although a monthly expense, vet bills will hit you much harder, should anything go awry. Doing some research, comparing quotes, and finding a great insurer for your four-legged floofer should be top of the list when taking on a kitten.

After insurance is ticked off, it’s time to find a vet to register with. Your kitten will need their vaccinations and general health checks pretty much straight away, so doing your research and talking to other cat people to find a reliable friendly vet is the best approach. We love word-of-mouth recommendations when it comes down to our pet’s health so we can trust they are in the best hands. Kittens need vaccines around 9 weeks and then another one again at 12 weeks. Getting them vaccinated and fit to fight off any outside germs will also go hand in hand with getting them microchipped early on. This keeps your little ones protected once they’re ready to venture outdoors, in case they decide to wander a little too far. It’s important to keep any microchip details up to date if you move house with the little lion, so they can always find their way back home to you. Once you’ve built a good relationship with your vet, it’s a good time to talk about neutering your kitten. This can be done from 4 months old and is usually highly recommended by vets unless you have plans for your kitten to have kittens in the future!

Last on the list of healthcare is making sure your kitten is protected against those dreaded parasites. Fleaing and worming is required for your cat’s well being throughout their entire life, and generally, this will come as a monthly treatment available either from your vet, pet shops, or several online subscriptions – we even have our own in the Republic once they’re ready to join us on their 1st birthday. It’s easy to do, not too expensive, and will keep the pests at bay so your cat can explore the outdoors while protected against those little critters. 

Litter training
It may seem like a miracle, but a lot of kittens may arrive at the forever home already litter trained after copying their cat-mum for the first 8 weeks of their lives. They’re pretty smart cookies and have an instinct to do their business in the right place –  just one of the many reasons we’re cat-people over dog-people… Though this isn’t necessarily the case every time, so be prepared to lend a helping hand and give them a few poo pointers to getting it right. 

You’ll need to start with supplies, so get a good quality tray and plenty of kitty litter. Once you’ve set up their spot in the perfect place, pop your furball right on in there to get them used to the box. It’s important to keep the litter tray in one place so they don’t need to go on a quest to find the loo every time they need to go. Repeat this after meals, naps, playtime, anything that might require a loo break after, especially if they are doing a lot of sniffing. As soon as they hit the target, reward all the way! Treats or toys are the perfect prize and treating your teeny one will also reinforce good behaviour – hopefully to get them going in the good place in no time. Accidents will happen, but keep your cool. There’s no need to punish your pal if they get it wrong, they’re just babies, and learning new things can be tricky at first so scolding them will just raise their stress levels around getting it right in the future. It comes back down to patience and not trying to rush your new friend, practice really does make perfect so just keep it poop-positive whilst they’re still learning. Cats are natural clean freaks, so be sure to keep on top of scooping the poop and keeping their toilet sparkling so they are happy to make return trips.

It may seem a little overwhelming at first, but now that you’re armed with all the necessary knowledge to bring home your new kitten and raise them to be a thriving, well-rounded catto, you’ve got nothing to worry about! Preparation is key and keeping your zen during the tricky first few weeks will certainly pay off in the long run. A calm house will produce a calm-ish kitten… Well, we can’t promise anything, so no doubt prepare for some wall scaling, spider-cat antics, and the odd scratch here and there. Welcome to the wonderful world of being a cat person, it sure is worth it when you get to spend the rest of your evenings curled up with your furry, purry new best friend for life. Enjoy! 

The Republic x

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By Lois Roberts

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