New Kitten? No Problem.

Getting a new kitten is absolutely exciting, but can also be stressful as you try to introduce your new feline friend into your home. Here’s a simple checklist to help you get ready for the new kitten in your life!

1)  “Kitten Proof” Room: Before you bring your new family member home, be sure to set up a quiet, simple room away from other pets or children where your kitten can become comfortable.  Once your kitten has become acclimated to this room, you may supervise them exploring the rest of your home.

2) Litter box:  At first, you will want to set up the litter box in your “Kitten Proof” room.  Show your kitten where the litter box is by gently placing him or her in the litter box.  Many kittens will need little to no prompting to use the litter box and prefer to be left alone when “doing their business.”  That being said, your kitten may have an accident.  Rather than punish your kitten for having an accident, reward him or her with a treat when the litter box is properly used.  Be sure to place the litter box away from any loud appliances or the food bowl.  When your kitten has access to the rest of your home, you may want to move the litter box to a quiet, secluded place.  Just be sure to show your kitten where the new location is!

3)  Comfy bedding:  Make sure your kitten has some comfy bedding in the kitten room.  Make sure there are enough blankets if it is cold or enough air conditioning if it’s hot out.

4)  Kitten food:  Also kept in your “Kitten Proof” room (at least at first), we recommend keeping your kitten on the same food he or she was already being fed from the previous family or shelter.  If you’d like to change brands, we recommend doing it slowly by gradually introducing the new food by mixing it into the old food.  Canned food is also recommended for cats over dry food as it has a higher percentage of protein that cats need.

5)  Kitten toys:  Be sure these toys are meant for kittens and only a couple are needed at first in the kitten’s room.  Since the kitten will already be a little overwhelmed in your new home, tons of new toys can may just add to that overwhelming feeling.

6)  Cat carriers, collars, harnesses, etc.:  Getting your kitten used to these kinds of items now will make taking them to the vet or on walks (if you desire) a lot easier when he or she is older.  Leaving carriers out all the time (rather than just when Kitty is going to the vet) and placing some comfy bedding in there may allow your cat to view it as a safe place and will allow you to get him or her in the carrier more easily when it is indeed time to go to the vet.  While we recommend not taking your kitten outside on a walk before your veterinarian gives you the clean bill of health, practicing putting on a harness and leash and walking around your home will get your kitten used to the feeling of going for a walk.
7)  Schedule Your First Veterinarian Appointment:  The sooner you can get your kitten into the veterinarian, the better.  Sometimes, your veterinarian may even have a same day or next day appointment!  Be sure to ask about your vet’s food recommendations, portion sizes, and feeding schedule.  Also inform your vet of previous medical records your kitten (if you have them) and report any signs of illness.  Your veterinarian will be able to tell you your kitten’s age and will recommend that you bring a fecal sample for testing.  Discuss your kitten’s vaccine schedule, worm treatment, flea and heartworm prevention, and spaying and neutering options with your veterinarian.  Once the veterinarian finishes the last set of your kitten’s vaccines and gives him or her a clean bill of health, you can try to socialize the kitten with other pets or children.
Hopefully, this checklist will help soothe any nervousness you have before bringing a new feline member into the family!  Still have questions?  Let us know in the comments below or shoot us an email at contactus@emeraldanimalhospital.com and we’ll do our best to answer them!