- Kathlyn Lawrence of All Jazzed Up Pet Services LLC
Preparing For A Kitten
Welcoming a new pet into your family is an exciting time. Kittens are a bundle of fun bringing happiness, companionship, and many laughs. Having all the right supplies and support system in place is important for a smooth transition.
How To Prepare Your Home For A New Kitten
Kittens are curious by nature, so it's important to kitten-proof your home. Kittens view everything as a potential toy. Kittens often get themselves into trouble by squeezing themselves into the most unlikely places. Take your time going room to room kitten proofing. Get on the ground at kitten level. There are things in every room that you wouldn't think would be harmful, but could potentially be. You'll be surprised at what you'll find that your kitten may get into.
Prepare a safe space.
Your home is a big unfamiliar area for you small little kitten. Your kitten's life just changed big time. It can be a lot for them to adjust to. It is recommended to set up a safe room for them to adjust to before introducing them to the whole house. Plus, your kitten is still learning. It will be easier for them to have all their things (litter box, scratching posts, hiding places, food, water, bed, toys, carrier, etc) in one convent location.
When your kitten gets settles in, you can introduce your kitten to the rest of the family in the kitten's room. If your kitten is timid, add only one person at a time. It is said that the best way to create a bond with your kitten is through play. Other pets in the house can be introduced gradually in short positive introductions. The next step, you can allow your kitten to explore the rest of the house under supervision. If you can not watch them, put them back in their room.
Clean up wires.
Playing with wires is a big no-no. Remove all unnecessary wires and secure all electrical cord, so they don't dangle and entice your kitten. Coat all wires with a bitter or anti chew product to prevent play.
Kittens tend to have a strong desire to be vertical and view curtains, cabinets and bookshelves as playgrounds. Secure cabinets and bookshelves to the wall to prevent injury. Also always check drawers and closets before closing.
Outside is full of eye catching critters. Birds, squirrels, rabbits, bugs, you name it, it probably caught your kitten's attention. It is important to make sure your window screens are secure. Your kitten is still learning you and your house. The last thing it needs is to fall out a window and get lost.
Secure trash can lids.
Kittens find the craziest places to sleep. Using a trash can that has a lid will help prevent your kitten from playing or sleeping in the trash. This will help prevent getting your kitten into things they shouldn't, but also prevent them from getting harmed or lost by getting taken out with the trash or by getting suffocated in the bag.
Keep out of reach.
Keep out of reach medications and household cleaners. These can be very deadly to a kitten of such a small size.
Check your washer and dryers before & after use.
Washer and dryers tend to call kittens to them due to their warm boxy shape. Always put each piece of laundry into the washer and dryer separately. Also, double check the washer and dryer before turning them on and before closing the lid when done.
Check for gaps.
Kittens can fit in the tiniest of places. Check for opening and gaps where a kitten could wedge themselves into and block them off. Think behind furniture, washer/dryers, the refrigerator, etc.
Keep yarn, ribbons, and string out of reach.
Cats have backward facing barbs on their tongues. These barbs are what gives your cat's tongues that scratching feeling when they lick you. In the wild, this helps detach meat from the bones of their prey. Now a days, these barbs are used while grooming to trap dirt, hair, parasites, etc from their fur. Because of the way the barbs face, anything that gets attached to the tongue gets swallowed, since cats can't spit. Swallowing yarn, ribbon, string, rubber bands, thread, etc can potentially lead to intestinal blockages, which calls for a vet visit and possibly surgery.
Remove or secure breakables.
Use earthquake wax to secure breakables if you are not able to put it away.
No open flames.
Even with a candle high up on the shelf, kittens are curious critters and will find their way up there to investigate a flickering flame. Make sure to use a fireplace screen when using the fireplace and use supervision. Keep in mind that cats also have a very sensitive scene of smell too.
It is a well known fact that cats have an obsession with boxes. Always check your boxes before throwing them out to make sure no one is hiding in there.
One thing that most people don't realize, is that a lot of plants are not cat safe. View the list here.
New Kitten Checklist
If you are not sure where to start, here are some of our recommendations.
Cats generally prefer unscented soft clumping litter. Texture is a biggie for cats, but not as big of a deal as smell. Cats have an excellent sense of smell. The stronger the smell the bigger the turn off is for your cat....this goes for both your litter scent and making sure you keep the box clean. Some litter options offer an attractant that will help attract the cat to the litter box.
Clumping- Make litter box cleaning easy and mess free.
Non-Clumping- Doesn't clump together and will have to change the litter often.
To make litter box training as easy as possible for your kitten, a low sided uncovered box is best in an easy to find location. This will allow your kitten to easily get in or out of the litter box and make them feel like they can easily escape, if needed. Keeping the right amount of litter in the litter box is important. Try to keep about 3 inches. As you scoop the soiled litter, add in some fresh litter to help maintain the appropriate level. This will also help cut down on the smell. Scooping the litter box twice a day is important. No one likes an unflushed toilet, so why would your cat. This also allows you the chance to check for potential health problems. Completely scrub out the litter box a minim of once a month. If you use a non-clumping litter you will need to scrub your litter box out more often. If your litter box still smells after be scrubbed, its time for a new box. Do not use litter box liners as they can catch your kitten's claws and pool urine in the corners causing more odor. As your kitten grows, you will be able to change out the box for a larger one. Generally, the rule of thumb is the box should be one and a half times the length of your cat from base of tail to nose.
As your kitten gains access to more of your home you should add more litter boxes around the house. Make sure the litter box locations are not near any air fresheners. Air fresheners can actually act as a deterrent. Be sure to show your kitten the location of these new boxes. It may even be a good idea to include some kitten waste in the new box/es to help attract your kitten to the new box/es. It is best to provide your kitten with different box and litter options. Reminder that kittens are young and are still working on bladder control. Supplying multiple litter boxes around the house allows for a better chance of making it to the closest litter box. Typically, the rule to go by is one litter box for every cat plus an extra.
Uncovered or Open- your typical litter box
Hooded or Enclosed- Great for cats that are messy litter box users
Electronic or Automatic- Designed to take a chore off your list. They have a sensor that tells them to clean the box shortly after your cat leaves the box. Just remember that this option does not mean you can neglect deep cleaning in your cat's litter box.
It is best to communicate with your vet on what treat option is best for your kitten.
Crunchy- Your typical treat option
Freeze Dried- Great high quality treat option
Wet/Puree/Squeeze- Great for helping create a bond
Chew Sticks- Great for those baby teeth
All of these options come in a plethora of flavors such as: Chicken, Turkey, Beef, and Fish
A high quality kitten food is important for a growing kitten. It is best to communicate with your vet on what food option or a mix of food options that is best for your kitten.
Dry/kibble food- a good free feeding option
Wet food- a good hydrating option
Raw- a moisture rich food similar to what your kitten would eat in the wild
Freeze Dried- similar to a raw diet, but a lot less moisture and is easier to store. Also a good topper option.
All of these options come in a plethora of flavors such as: Chicken, Turkey, Beef, and Fish
Food & Water Bowls
Cats are solitary hunters and not social eaters so your kitten will need their own bowls. Make sure the size of the bowls are not too big for your kitten. Too big of a bowl will make a comfy bed or make it too hard to eat/drink if the sides are too high. Avoid double feeders as many cats do not like the food and water bowls close to one another and they do not like eating next to one another.
Ceramic- a fun decorative easy to clean option. Keep in mind that ceramic can be easily chipped or cracked. These cracks, even less visible cracks can allow bacteria build up.
Plastic- an inexpensive less breakable option. Keeping mind that plastic is easily scratched allowing a place for bacteria to build up.
Stainless steel- the most durable and inexpensive option.
Slow feeder and lick mats- these feeders help slows down your kitten while eating and helps them digest their food easier. This is also an easy way to add enrichment to your kittens life. Note: younger kittens may have trouble navigating this type of feeder.
Automatic feeders- these are designed to keep your pet's bowl filled as long as food or water is in the storage compartment. Some feeders are programmable allowing you to set a specific time for feeding. Keep in mind it is important to keep track of how much your kitten eats as it is young and growing. Just a reminder that this option is not a replacement for a pet sitter when away.
Cats can be known to be picky drinkers. Making sure your cat stays hydrated is an import part of making sure your cat stay healthy. As mentioned before, cats have a sensitive smell. Using a water fountain can enhance the taste and smell of the water making it more appealing. Make sure the fountain isn't too high up allowing your kitten easy access. Always provide a water bowl too just incase.
Exercise is the most obvious benefit to play. It helps keep cats in good body condition, helps with mobility, works off build up energy, and help prevents behavior problems.
Solo play- play they do on their own
Interactive play- play that you do with your kitten. This is a great way to bond with your kitten. Make sure you play with your kitten at lest twice daily allowing them to catch and bite the toy to simulate hunting. When playing with your kitten wind down the action, so the "prey" starts to die. This will help make your kitten feel satisfied.
Enrichment- these activities add interesting and complex activates to the animal's daily routine. The purpose of enrichment is to reduce stress and improve well-being by providing physical and mental stimulation, and encouraging species specific behavior.
Cat nip and other cat friendly scents
Toys that move
Trying new treats
Scratchers and cat tree
More than likely, your cat will prefer a rough texture scratcher. The purpose of scratching is to help remove the outer shell from your cat's nails and to mark their territory. Did you know that cat's have scent glands on their paws? All cats want to feel secure in their homes and marking their territory, helps them do that.
Scratching post- Typically made of carpet and Sisal. Sisal is typically the better choice, however you may find that your cat likes to scratch wood.
Scratching mat- A horizontal version of your typical scratching post. Typically made of woven sisal, but can be made of carpet too.
Scratcher pad- Typically made of corrugated cardboard. Comes is a variety of shapes and sizes to help find your cats preference.
Indoor cats have the same territorial instincts as outdoor cats. In multi cat households, cats must overlap and share areas. The best way to increase the size of the territories in your house is to add vertically, like cat trees. This is an easy and less crowding way to add more space for each of your cats.
Not only are these a comfy spot to hang out, but these locations also offer a spot for visual enrichment. Provide a variety of spots for your cat to hang out at a variety of heights (by a window, on the floor, on a shelf, etc). Cats are typically a fan of high up places to help prevent ambush from behind. In a multi cat household, it isn't uncommon to find the highest ranked cat in the highest location.
Self warming houses
When selecting a carrier there are somethings you need to take into consideration. Cats feel secure when they feel their backs up against something. This give them the feeling that no one can sneak up behind them. Using a carrier that is too big is uncomfortable for the cat because they will slide around. Even if you have multiple cats, they should each have their own carrier. This will prevent potential aggression towards one another if travel becomes too stressful. Keep your carrier set up and ready at all times. This will help desensitize your kitten to the carrier, but it is also helpful incase of an emergency. You can also take carrier training to the next level by leaving some yummy treats in the carrier for your kitten to find or even feeding your kitten in their carrier. Always check your carrier before use for signs of wear and use zip ties to extra security when using an air line hard shell style crate. Typically, the rule to follow when selecting a carrier size is that the carrier should be one and half times the size of your cat and should allow room for them to stand up and turn around. If you have a kitten, it is recommended that you purchase a carrier you think your kitten will grow into.
Front opening carrier- your typical carrier
Top opening carrier- for easy access
Sliding carrier- newer style of carrier that allows for easy access
Collar should be properly fitted, so that you can fit two fingers under their collar. This will allow your cat enough movement without them being able to paw it off.
Breakaway- safety feature that prevents cats from getting hung up on things
Snap- easy and quick release, but wont release on its own
Form of ID
The traditional form of ID is having a tag on your cat's collar. Microchips provide an additional method to reuniting with your lost pet. An ID tag can fall off, microchips are permanent and can not be removed. Microchipped cats are 20X more likely to be reunited.
Technology has made it even easier to keep an eye on you pet with the use of a GPS tracker or an Air tag.
Owning pets comes with a lot of messes!
Trackless litter mat- To help prevent litter from spreading all over the house
Fur remover rake- To help clean up hair off of furniture
Fur remover broom- To help clean up hair off of floors
Stain & odor eliminator spray- To help clean up accidents and hair balls
Litter box wipes- To help deep clean the litter box
Blacklight- To help find hard to find pet accidents
Litter Pail- The cat version of a diaper Genie
Grooming you cat is a great opportunity to do a quick health check. Look for bumps, skin irritation, injuries, etc while looking in the ears, mouth, and checking eyes. Look for fleas and ticks while brushing.
Nail trimmers- Trimming your cat's nails help protect you, and your furniture.
Quick Stop- Just in case you clip too much off while cutting your cat's nails
Brushes- For short to long hair cats
Comb- For medium to long hair cats
Grooming restraint bag- For extra hard to groom cats
Cat muzzle- For extra hard to groom cats
Adopting a cat can be a stressful situation. These aids can help your cat transition to their new home especially if they are entering into a multi cat home.
Calming pheromone diffuser
Calming pheromone spray
Calming pheromone collar
A Second Kitten
Two kittens are easier than one. Adult cats are territorial and the introduction process requires a lot of patience. It would just be easier adopting two kittens at the same time. Adopting two kittens allows your kitten to have a friend to play with while you are at work. Kittens are still learning and learn through kitten to kitten interactions. This interaction helps develop important skills that they will need later in life (such as bite habilitation, sharing, signals, etc). Plus, two kittens allows for twice the amount of love, cuddles, and entertainment.
It is important to establish a good client vet relationship. Most rescues and shelters require your new kitten to be seen by your vet a certain amount of days after being adopted anyway.
Teach your kitten to come when called. Not only is the a fun trick, it can be life saving in the event of an emergency such as fire, or if they get out.
100% always do a kitten check before leaving the house!
In a multi cat household it is important to have enough resources (food, scratching posts, bed, toys, litter boxes, etc) for each cat, so no one has to compete. This is key to a peaceful coexistence.
In a multi cat household, keep an eye out for cats blocking access to resources. This could be as subtle as a cat laying in a hallway.
Whiskers have the ability to detect the smallest of movement, changes in the air and temperature.
A cat's purr can be compared to a human's smile. Just like people cats purr for variety of reasons such as when they are happy, nervous, unsure or when trying to make someone feel comfortable.
Kathlyn Lawrence of All Jazzed Up Pet Services LLC is a Certified Professional Trainer (CPT) with years of experience training dogs and working with animals. For more information on our Pet Services please visit our website.