Bringing Your Kitten Home
Congratulations on becoming the proud new owner of your very own ball of fur! Whether you're a seasoned cat owner or this may be your first kitten, you may have questions as to what to do to prepare before your new bundle of joy comes home and what to expect when the kitten arrives. I've put together this information to assist you with the process and give some pointers as to what to do to make the transition easier.
Before the Kitten Arrives: The Shopping List
Before you bring your kitten home, you will want to go out and make a few purchases so that you'll be prepared when the kitten arrives. This includes the following items:
A cat carrier is needed to keep your kitten safe and comfortable during transport. Whether it be a local trip to the vet or transport on a airplane cross country, it is a good idea to have one for your little one. When bringing the kitten home, it is highly suggested that a small blanket or plush towel lines the bottom of the carrier with the scents of the kitten's mother and litter mates. In addition, place a few of the kitten's favorite toys in there and you'll have a comfortable place for your kitten to travel in on the way to its new home.
Always ask the breeder what kind of kitten food that your kitten eats. You don't want to "shock" the kitten's delicate stomach with another brand but gradually transition to a different kitten food later on (if you choose to). You'll want to keep your kitten on kitten food for about a year and then transition to adult cat food. At Timberkatz Cattery, we always provide a small bag of kitten food that the kitten is already accustomed for the trip home.
Your kitten will need to be provided with fresh food and water daily. We suggest the use of ceramic dishes as opposed to plastic or metal. Plastic can be scratched and bacteria accumulate in those scratches. Metal can leave an after taste for both water and food. Ceramic doesn't scratch, no after taste and can be easily cleaned everyday so that's why we recommend it. Lastly, both the food and water bowls should be emptied and washed daily so that bacteria and germs don't accumulate on the surfaces.
A soft bristled brush, a grooming comb and nail clippers are the essential tools needed to keep your kitten in top groomed condition. You won't need to use all of these items right away but after the kitten has settled into your home, you will want to establish a weekly grooming regiment. By introducing a grooming routine early on, it will be much easier to groom your kitten when it becomes a cat.
Have a litter tray waiting that you will introduce to your kitten immediately when you bring him or her home. There are many types available but for now, I would just get the basic tray that's low to the ground so your kitten can easily get in and out of. In time, you'll need a larger litter box but for now, a basic one will do. If your kitten has an accident, wipe it up and place it in the litter tray. After a few times of doing this, your kitten will know the correct place to do their business and don't punish the kitten because this will not solve the behavior. Just place the accident in the litter tray and eventually the kitten will learn where to go.
The litter tray should be scooped at least once a day maybe twice if needed. Kittens are sensitive to ordors so keep the tray clean and your kitten happy! Some kittens will want to have two litter trays since some like to deficate in one and urinate in the other. Not all kittens or cats do this but we have met some picky ones while we've had the cattery.
Please do not use clumping litter, kittens sometimes eat their litter and the clumping kind can expand in their stomachs or intestines causing blockages. It's much easier to scoop some litter versus taking your little furball to the vet for emergency surgery.
Let's think of your kitten as a hotel guest and what do you do as a guest? That's right, check-in and check-out. That's what kittens/cats do when they enter a room and you want to provide them an area or two so that they may "check-in" or "check-out" whenever they want to without destroying your furniture. Provide at least one sometimes two good scratching post in the rooms where the kitten likely to be the most. Placement of the scratching post(s) should be out of the way for you and but accessible for your kitten.
Having problems getting your kitten to use the scratching post? Pickup some catnip spray or catnip at your local pet store and spray or rub some on the scratching post. Not all kittens like catnip but most do so try that to see if it interests them.
If you kitten doesn't seem to be using the scratching post or doesn't know how to use one yet, don't worry, this can be learned behavior. The next time you see you bundle of fur starting to scratch, gently pickup the kitten and place next to the scratching post. You can then gently place their front legs on the scratching post and see if they get the hint. Over time the kitten usually figures it out and your furniture is saved.
What can we say, play for the kitten prepares them for as they get older and in the wild teaches the young kitten to hunt. At the Timberkatz Cattery, we have gone though more toys than you can think of. The ones that have stood the test of time and made the Timberkatz Top 5 Cat Toy List are as follows:
Before the Kitten Arrives: Kitten Proof Your Home
Before your kitten arrives, it is extremely important that your home is kitten proofed before he or she gets there. Put all dangerous cleaning products, pesticides or antifreeze away and our of reach from your new bundle of joy. If you have loose cupboard doors, child locks are inexpensive and can be bought at any hardware store. Just remember that your kitten in many respects like an infant and doesn't know what is and what isn't dangerous in your home.
I've written an exclusive and thorough article titled: How to Kitten Proof Your Home which breaks down what to look for in each room of your home and what hazards to avoid your kitten getting into. Please read it and learn from it because the life you may save is that of your precious kitten.
Before the Kitten Arrives: Schedule The First Vet Appointment
Before you get your kitten home, you should schedule the kitten's first vet appointment. Schedule this visit within the first 48 hrs or whatever your kitten contract states of bringing your kitten home. This will give your vet an opportunity to meet your kitten and record the health information to date that you will receive upon your kitten's arrival. At this time, you may wish to schedule your kitten's spay or neuter appointment and/or schedule the last of your kitten's series of vaccinations. Any other questions about the care of your new kitten should be asked at this time, bring a notebook with you to write down important information.
Your Kitten Is Home: The Transition And Quarantine Period
Once a new kitten arrives in its new home, it takes time to transition from being separated from its mother and litter mates to becoming the newest member of your family. To help your kitten in becoming well adjusted to its new surroundings, we suggest that a separate area away from the rest of the family and any pets you may be setup BEFORE the kitten arrives. This allows the kitten to get acclimated to a smaller area of your home (a room) and allow for exploration in this "safe area". You should leave the cat carrier in this "safe area" with the door open and the blanket or towel with the mother and littermates' scent. This gives the kitten a base of operations so the kitten can sleep or hide in if necessary. At this time, you should introduce another blanket or towel with the scents of any other pets that you have in the "safe area" too. On the kittens behalf, you should rub a blanket or towel on your new kitten to get the scent to introduce to the other pets in your household to get them ready also.
During this time the kitten is in the "safe area", you should try to spend as much time with the kitten as possible, socializing and bonding by giving the kitten the needed attention it needs to thrive. This will be build the kitten's confidence in their new home and making the kitten feel comfortable in their new surroundings allowing for an easier transition.
In addition, the "safe area" should also be used as a quarantine area if their are other pets in the household. It is a good idea to quarantine your kitten for at least three to four weeks after their first vet visit BEFORE introducing them to other pets. Kittens can get stressed when they get into their new home and may develop symptoms of watery eyes, sneezing, respiratory distress or failure to eat. If any of these symptoms continue for 2 days or more, please take your kitten into the vet immediately to see if there is truly an issue. An Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) which have an incubation period of up to three or four weeks, thus even a reputable breeder may be unaware of this condition in a newly adopted kitten.
Your Kitten is Home: Introducing Kitten To Your Other Pets
Once your kitten's health is verified to be fine and the quarantine period is over, slowly introduce the kitten to the other pets in your household. Expect some hissing and growling at first but eventually over time your kitten and other pets will get to know one another. Just remember to do this in phases and that your existing pets have their own established territory and they probably won't like the stranger that has invaded it. It will take time for the all the pets to get used to one another so don't rush it because it won't work.
During the kitten's quarantine, the other pets in your home will have been made aware of new visitor in the "safe area" and have had an opportunity to get used to the kitten's scent. When it's time for the first meeting, you will want to actively monitor both pets and keep it short. Let both kitten and other pet get used to the scents of each other and let them make the connection of the scent from or in the "safe area". Be careful not to let your kitten become too frightened or the other pets get too aggressive since this will make it harder for the transition.
If you follow the above steps , within a few weeks time, you're kitten will become an accepted member to the other pets within your home.
Enjoy Your Newest Family Member
Enjoy your time with your new kitten and remember that the kitten will grow up fast so enjoy them while they're small.
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