Your new four-pawed family member will arrive soon, and we’re sure that you’re already excited about this fascinating event. But how to get ready for a kitten’s arrival, especially if you’ve never had cats? The first months of a kitten's life are most important. The future health and behaviour of an adult animal depend on them, and your relationship with the pet depends on its first days in a new house. Just like a newborn baby, your kitten will need not only your attention and care, but also some necessary things and, of course, various toys to have fun with.
We’ll start this post with basic rules and precautions. Then we’ll proceed with information about cat-specific stuff that you’ll need for your new furry friend.
Before you bring the kitten home, run a safety check.
- Make sure that any small objects, especially sharp ones, stay out of reach.
- Make sure that the trash can is closed and the kitten cannot get to its contents. Some cat owners believe that the kitchen is not a place for a small pet, because it hides many dangers - prohibited foods, potentially traumatic objects, a hot stove, boiling water, etc.
- As cats like to hide in secluded corners and boxes, check to see if there are any places where the baby can crawl into and cannot get out.
- Don’t forget about the windows. Install a dense mesh on the windows - in this case, you can ventilate the room at any time without any risk of losing your pet.
- If you grow flowers at home, check if they are not poisonous for your pet. Plants such as geraniums, azaleas, hyacinths, and some types of cacti are harmful to animals. Some cats, as you can know, like to taste everything that grows in pots, and cases of poisoning are not so rare. So be careful.
- Check if the water that you use is safe enough for the kitten. Chemicals in many city water systems may upset the kitten’s stomach, so either use bottled water or at least mix bottled water with tap water.
- If you have other pets, you need to isolate the kitten from them at least during the first week. After that, gradually introduce the kitten to the “peers”. Keep in mind that adult pets may need quite some time to adjust themselves to a playful baby.
- Don’t get upset if the kitten is embarrassed during the first days. During the first 24 hours, they may not eat anything or use the litter box. Additionally, it may take them several days to adjust to their new home. Some cats hide under beds or in other places that they consider safe. Little kittens can also cry and miss their moms. However, each kitten is different, so please be patient during this transition period. Sooner or later you’ll get a cuddly lap cat that you’ve always been dreaming of.
Now let’s proceed to specific items that you’ll need to prepare your home for the kitten’s arrival.
There is no need to remind that cats need a litter box. But which toilet to choose - a standard plastic tray with a grate, a deep tray with a special filling, or more sophisticated options? We recommend you to make a choice based on your budget and the kitten’s preferences. If the litter box doesn’t suit your pet, it will inevitably look for some other place to relieve its natural needs. Here’s a quick review of litter boxes that you can choose:
Low side tray
A rectangular plastic tray with low sides is the simplest and cheapest option. It can have various shapes and sizes. This design is best suited for small kittens that can easily climb into it. Besides, a low side tray is compact, easy to clean, and convenient for small kittens. At the same time, it requires filler and frequent cleaning (after 1-2 uses). Finally, because of the low side, the cat may carry the filler around the house.
High side tray
This design resembles a box in shape and size, so most cats may like it. High sides prevent the spreading of the filler during the toilet procedures. Some modifications are completed with a grid. A high side tray is easy to clean and has an affordable price. However, because of the high side, it’s not suitable for small kittens and requires filler as well.
House-shaped litter box
Cats love house-shaped boxes because of an additional sense of security. When choosing this option, pay attention to the design so the toilet is easy to clean.
A house-shaped box has a lot of benefits. It eliminates unpleasant smells, comes in various sizes, is good for kittens, and its structure allows the filler to remain in the box. At the same time, it may cost quite a lot and its modifications with a door can frighten an animal.
Automated litter box
An automated litter box is a high-tech device that completely frees the owner from having to clean the tray and replace the filler. After your pet leaves the box, a cleaning system launches. It sifts the granules and collects the contaminated filler in a special container. The most advanced models are connected to the sewage and water supply systems. The filler is washed with antibacterial liquid and dried with warm air. This type of litter box does not require daily cleaning and eliminates unpleasant odors. However, its cost is quite high and sounds during the cleaning procedure can scare the pet.
Types of litter (filler)
You can fill the box with litter made of the following materials:
- Wood: pressed granules made of coniferous sawdust. When wet, the granules break up into small particles. This is a common and environmentally friendly version of the litter. It does not contain any chemical elements, fragrances, or dyes. It absorbs moisture and retains unpleasant odors. It's important for you to choose small granules for your kitten.
- Clay: bentonite, vermiculite, and attapulgite. Such material absorbs moisture and holds it for a long time.
- Cereals, corn, and paper cellulose. The processed cellulose base is an environmentally friendly raw material used to make cheap and affordable products. It's represented by small dense compact granules. Granular fillers made of cereal and corn waste quickly absorb and retain moisture and odors.
- Silica gel: modern compositions based on polysilicon acid with high moisture-absorbing properties. Despite the high cost, such material is low consumption as compared with other types. Silica gel granules absorb odors and moisture without changing their structure. You can change the litter every 2-3 weeks.
Cats have an enviable skill – they can sleep almost anywhere and in almost any position. However, a baby kitten needs its own place to sleep and cuddle. Right after the arrival, the kitten will feel insecure away from its siblings and mom. It’ll try to find a secluded and cozy place that gives it a sense of security and comfort. Let your pet explore the living space and choose a suitable refuge where you can then organize a sleeping place. Here’s what you can use as a bed:
- A cozy box. You can use a regular shoe box without a lid. You can also use a larger box with a lid where you can cut a round “window” so the kitten can climb there and relax. It is better to put a soft pillow or other bedding in the box to make it even more convenient and cozy.
- A basket. A basket with soft bedding can also serve as a sleeping place. Such a bed will especially appeal to calm, peaceful and non-conflict cats that feel protected by the side walls. You can choose a wicker basket – it’s environmentally friendly, looks good, and fits into almost any interior. However, keep in mind that it’s not very easy to wash the interweaving of twigs. In addition, lots of cats love to chew on the twigs, thus rendering their "bedroom" unusable.
- A donut-shaped bed. A donut-shaped bed is somewhere in between a basket and a mattress. Though it includes a mattress and sides, it’s a single structure made of soft material.
- A house-shaped bed. There’s a huge variety of house-shaped cat beds. There are semi-closed types in which a cat feels comfortable, warm and safe, and there are closed ones for shy cats that need personal space.
Having arrived at your house, the kitten will start the claw sharpening routine very soon. If the pet doesn’t have a specially designated place for that, a kitten will choose your walls or furniture. Therefore, buy a scratching post in advance.
Sometimes it happens that pets just refuse to sharpen their claws in a place that the owners chose for them. Therefore, we recommend pre-installing two or three scratching posts at once or buying a portable one. In this case, you can determine exactly where your kitten likes to sharpen its claws and leave the post there in the future.
There are the following types of scratching posts:
- Column-shaped. This is the most popular option because it resembles a tree. An important point to consider when choosing such a model is height. The cheapest is the shortest, but the kitten quickly outgrows them. Therefore, buy a product designed for an adult cat (25-30 inches high). Please also make sure that the column is steady enough because a cat can hit a post hard in a vigorous play attack.
- Wall-mounted. A wall-mounted scratcher is the second most popular type after the column. It takes up little space, but the cat can climb on it. At the same time, you can place the wall scratcher either on a single wall or on two walls in the shape of a corner. Cats love all options equally. For a kitten, the claw box should start right from the floor so the pet can easily reach it.
- House-shaped. Cat owners often buy house-shaped scratchers for their pets. Walls and roofs of such houses are upholstered with the material that allows the animal to sharpen its claws. A very compact solution, however, is not the best. If your kitten likes to sharpen its claws on a horizontal or vertical surface, a tilted one may not seem very convenient to it.
- A scratching post with a teaser toy. Scratchers are often combined with teasers - balls, mice, and other toys that tease a cat to play with them. Such a scratcher is a perfect option for a small kitten.
- All-in-one. An all-in-one scratching post is probably the best option when you have several pets. Such complexes typically include several scratchers at once plus houses, tunnels, beds, etc. There are also built-in teaser toys, steps, and other details. The complex can either comfortably occupy only a small corner of the room or be the size of an entire room and the height of the ceiling. It all depends on available space, the number of pets, and the budget.
Food and Water Bowls
Cats are unlikely to appreciate the stylish design of the bowl. But the correct dimensions and material guarantee that the pet will be satisfied, the bowl will be empty, and the food will not go bad. Remember also to have different bowls for natural food, canned food, dry food, and water.
Here’s what you should consider when choosing a bowl for your kitty:
It may sound strange, but the shape of the bowl is really important. A funny bowl in the shape of a fish or a cat's head will please only the owners but not the kitten. The optimal shape for a cat bowl is a circle or an oval.
The correct bowl size should be related to the pet’s size. Using a large bowl, the cat will simply spread the food across. Food from a small bowl can end up on the floor.
For kittens, make sure that the bowl is shallow. It will be more comfortable for the kitten to reach the food. At first, the kitten will need a small bowl that’s a bit elevated from the floor. When the pet grows up, you can put the bowl on the floor.
The most popular materials for bowls are plastic, metal, and ceramics.
- Plastic is a lightweight but short-lived material. It deteriorates over time and can cause allergies in cats. It’s suitable as a temporary option, so you can buy it for your kitten for a short time and then replace it with more sustainable material. Besides, if you opt for a plastic bowl, make sure that you buy it from a known brand. Otherwise, there’s a risk of acquiring a low-quality product that may be toxic or allergenic.
- Metal is a durable and easily washable material. However, over time, a metal bowl can rust. Another drawback of this material is its “sound” that may frighten a little kitten.
- Ceramics is one of the best options for a bowl. Ceramic containers are easy to wash, they perfectly support hot and cold temperatures, and are quite heavy so the cat will not try to play with them.
During the kitten’s first weeks in a new home, it’s important to give it the right food. We recommend feeding the kitten at first with the same food it had in the cattery, and then, if needed, gradually change the diet. So here are our recommendations:
- Dry food: Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Dry Food for Young Kittens, ORIJEN Cat & Kitten Dry Cat Food, Blue Buffalo Blue Wilderness Kitten Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food.
- Wet food: Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Thin Slices in Gravy Variety Pack Wet Kitten Food, Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Poultry Wet Cat Variety Pack, Blue Buffalo Blue Wilderness Kitten Chicken Recipe Wet Cat Food.
Sometimes kittens can get stressed due to traveling and a change of scenery and thus may refuse to eat dry food. In this case, we recommend giving the kitten home food such as chicken/turkey and rice. It’s always tasty for babies and will be perfect for a kitten with an upset stomach.
Most cats are naturally playful and curious, so you should provide them with a sufficient number of toys. Otherwise, the kitten will become bored and will begin to play with household items that are not intended for this. Here’s what you should consider when choosing a toy for your kitten:
- It should be large enough – not smaller than a ping pong ball – so that the kitten does not swallow it.
- It should not be too heavy; otherwise, the kitten will not be able to throw it.
- Avoid hard toys because kittens often break their teeth against a hard surface.
- Remember that most cats perceive colors as dull. However, they can distinguish quite a few shades of gray. Therefore, choose contrasting combinations of colors, and make sure that the toy includes the gray color as well.
- Regularly replace the toys or add “catnip” to arouse interest.
From the latest tablet apps to simple cardboard boxes, there are so many toys that can please your kitty! Interactive games (together with the cat) allow the kitten to improve its hunting skills. Most importantly: toys enrich the kitten’s environment, supporting its activity and bringing joy.
Cats and kittens are typically interested in everything that looks like real prey. Toys on a stick (a long stick with feathers or other objects) are usually more popular than balls and clockwork mice. You can also please your cat by using special tablets apps or laser toys. You can even make toys yourself by using simple objects that are available in every household. Take a cardboard box, open it so that it looks like a tunnel, and for more fun, cut round holes on the sides. Want another idea? Take the old sock, stuff it with crumpled paper, add a little “catnip”, and tie the end. The simplest and cheapest mouse for your cat is ready!
After your kitten arrives, you may need to give it a bath, especially if it’s a long-hair breed. Long-hair kittens can get dirty after transportation and may need a proper cleaning routine. Before bathing the kitten, you need to prepare a place for the procedure and put all the necessary tools and accessories within your reach. It is also desirable that the kitten has played, eaten, and stayed relaxed and in a good mood. To carry out the procedure, it is worth having an assistant to distract the kitten's attention. You can bathe a kitten in a kitchen sink, wash basin, bowl, or bathtub filled with 5-10 cm warm water. The procedure is as follows:
- Make small cotton swabs, moisten them with vegetable oil, and protect the kitten’s ears from water. You can bathe your baby without such precautions, but in this case, you'll have to be extremely careful.
- Carefully place the animal in the water.
- Continuing to hold the pet, moisten the wool with water from the shower head in the direction from the neck to the tail and apply shampoo evenly. The shampoo should not get into the eyes, ears, or jaws of the kitten.
- With gentle movements, rub the shampoo into the coat and skin.
- Rinse the shampoo thoroughly.
- Wrap the kitten in a towel that absorbs moisture well, leaving its head outside.
- Wet the hair with the towel for 5-10 minutes (do not wipe the kitten, as it can damage the hair), let the pet out onto the bedding or sofa.
Do not bathe the baby earlier than 2 weeks after vaccination as well as after diseases or surgeries.
Now, when your kitty is clean, you’ll want to keep it looking cute with the proper grooming equipment, such as combs and brushes. When choosing a comb for your kitten, consider the type of your pet’s coat (length and density), condition of the coat, and the purpose of combing. It can be massage, removal of dead undercoat, combing the remaining hair, etc.
- Longhair combs. These can be combs with teeth of different lengths as well as natural bristle brushes. Their purpose is to give the coat a perfect look and remove lost hairs. Deshedders and slickers are not suitable for long hair breeds - they injure the skin, tear out thin hair, cause pain, and break the structure of the hairline.
- Shorthair combs. The plush and loose-fitting coat of shorthair cats requires a completely different approach. They have a well-developed undercoat with the same length as the outer hair. To care for shorthair breeds, you need a metal comb with medium frequency teeth for the first stage of grooming. For the second stage is a deshedder to care for the undercoat and remove excess hair. At the end of the procedure, use a massage brush, which gently massages the body of the animal and smoothes the hair.
Collar and Carrier
Collars are associated rather with dogs than cats because cats love to walk on their own. But despite this, cat owners use collars quite often. They help rid the pet of fleas and ticks as well as find the cat if it suddenly gets lost.
Before choosing a collar for your kitten, you should know what it is for. Consider the main types:
- Outdoor collars. Outdoor collars can be of several types. Some of them protect pets from fleas and ticks. You can use them well as a preventative measure against parasites. Reflective collars will make your pet noticeable in the dark, protecting it from cars on the road.
- A personal collar is helpful for cats that have no chips. The name and address of the owner are indicated on the collar tag, so if your pet is lost, it will be easier to find it. But a cat can lose a collar if it often goes for walks, so better use an electronic chip.
- Soothing collars. These collars secrete special pheromones that help to naturally reduce the animal’s nervousness and aggressiveness. These collars can come in handy when transporting your pet or adapting it to new conditions.
Before visiting a pet store, you need to measure the animal’s neck. The collar should not press, but at the same time, it should not be too loose. If you can stick two fingers between the cat’s neck and the collar, then the size is correct.
As for carriers, there are the following types:
- Fabric bags. These carriers are lightweight, take up little space, and are easily portable, so you can use them to transport kittens. They are perfect for short trips, such as a vet visit or a walk. However, softness renders the fabric bags unreliable. For example, they can easily get wet during the rain and are not suitable for long trips.
- Plastic carriers. These carriers are considered as one of the most reliable. They fix the pet’s position, so you can use them for long trips in planes and trains. However, it may be difficult to carry them because of only one handle.
- Cages. A cage is perfect for a car. For example, you can put it on a seat and stroke the cat through the bars to calm it down. Another plus: the cat sees what’s happening around, and the trip does not bring it as much stress as in a closed bag. Cons: the cage does not protect against bad weather conditions.
- Backpacks. The main plus of such a bag is free hands. But the cat will constantly shake, so the backpack is not suitable for animals that have “seasickness”. The backpack is washable, but, because of its fragile design, it’s not suitable for long trips.
To summarize, here are the basics you’ll need to welcome a new family member aboard and help it feel comfortable: an easy-to-use litter box, a comfortable bed, a scratching post, high-quality bowls for food and water, toys, grooming instruments, a collar, and a carrier. All this stuff comes in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, materials, and types. Choose the one that fits your budget but make sure that it’s good for your kitten. We wish you good luck in welcoming your kitty home!