Taking care of kittens can be very daunting for first time cat owners. The reality is an older cat is easier to take care than young kittens. Put it this way, raising and taking care of a kitten is very similar to taking care of young children. You need to put in the right amount of attention, care and training to ensure your kitten will grow up strong, healthy and well socialize with humans and other pets. If you are thinking of adopting or buying a kitten, the following tips on kitten care will come in handy for you.
A kitten will have around four stages of growth during kittenhood. By knowing the various stages, it will allow you to have a better understanding of what your kitten is going through and how best you can help it adapt to its surroundings.
Below Eight Weeks Old
If you bring home a kitten less than eight weeks old, special care needs to be taken. A kitten should not leave its mother and litter mates at this age. During this time, kittens are still developing their visions as well as leg coordination. They are also unable to regulate their body temperature and will need to rely on their mother and litter mates’ body heat to keep warm. For kittens less than four weeks old, you will need to bottle feed your kitten every two hours as well as help your kitten defecate and urinate. If you must, consult your vet first before bringing home the kitten.
Eight To Twelve Weeks Old
At around eight weeks old, your kitten should be fully weaned. You should start feeding your kitten a diet with a mixture of specially formulated dry and wet kitten foods that are highly digestible and offers energy and protein in abundance. Your kitten will starts developing physically and becomes very hyperactive. Do not be alarmed as this is normal. Your kitty will be jumping, playing and running around, exploring its surroundings. It is also at this time that your kitten is more vulnerable to accidents and deaths if you are not careful.
Two to Four Months Old
Your kitten will eat up to three to four meals a day during this period of time. It is rapidly growing and will require more energy than an adult cat. It is highly recommended to feed your kitten only high quality kitten food rich in protein. Your kitten will also require a lot of water to hydrate itself due to its hyperactive nature. Provide an easily accessible and constant supply of fresh for your kitten to hydrate itself.
Four To Six Months Old
Your kitten is going to reach sexual maturity soon at around four to six months of age. To prevent unwanted behaviors, you will have to make a decision soon on whether to spay or neuter your kitten. It is best to consult your vet for advice on this decision.
It is important to know the basics of kitten care in order to provide the best care for your pet. It is sad that a lot of kitten care problems can be avoided if cat owners can adopt a more proactive attitude to learning about caring for their pets.
Kitten Proofing Your Home
As previously mentioned, you need to treat taking care of kittens as looking after small children. As such, “child proofing” your home for your kitten is a must. A lot of accidents and injuries happened as most homes are not ready for kittens. Like small children, kittens do not know what are safe or not safe for them. You need to set boundaries and keep away common household items such as cleaning solutions and medications that are hazardous to cats. Household plants are very common in a lot of homes. However, are you aware that certain household plants are poisonous and toxic to cats? If you are not aware, check out this post with a good list of common household plants which are poisonous to cats. Other things to take note of include keeping all doors and windows secured as well as the toilet lid down at all times.
Bring Your Kitten To The Vet
Before bringing your kitten home, you should bring your kitten to the vet for a routine checkup to ensure your kitten is in the best of health. If you are not able to do it before bringing your kitten home, schedule an appointment as soon as you can. Check with your vet for the necessary vaccinations for your kitten. There are vaccines for feline distemper, feline leukemia and rabies, which can be administered at around eight weeks of age. Booster shots are also given every few weeks after the first shots. This is important if you do not want to prevent your kitten from getting common feline diseases and sickness.
Schedule periodic visits to the vet for regular checkups, preferably at least once every six months. This is to ensure your pet is in the best of health at all times.
Transporting Your Kitten Home
Your kitten will be very stressed during the trip back to your home. Invest in a cat carrier as this will make the trip back home more comfortable for your cat. Make sure the cat carrier is fully covered during the journey. Also, lined the internal of the cat carrier with a blanket or linen. It will be good if you can use the same blanket or line that your kitten has been using for the last few weeks. This will make your kitten feel more secure during the journey home. A hot water bottle can provide some warmth for your kitten during the journey as well.
The First Week
The first week is always a crucial period of time for your kitten. How well and how soon your kitten can get adjusted to its new surroundings will inadvertently depend on you. You have to prepare a quiet enclosed place, preferably a small room for your kitten to stay in until it get used to the new environment. Prepare a cat bed or carton box lined with a blanket or linen used previously by your kitten. You should also place your kitty’s food and water bowls as well as the litter box in the same room.
In the following days, start introducing your kitten to different parts of the house. You should also introduce other family members and pets if you have any. It may take days or even weeks, but be prepared to give your kitten some time to get used to the new surroundings.
A well balanced diet rich in energy and protein will be good for your kitten. Do note that before four weeks of age, you will have to bottle feed your kitten every two hours. For kittens older than four weeks old, you should provide a diet that consists of both dry and wet kitten foods that are easily digestible and rich in both energy and protein. You can consult your vet for recommendations on kitten food. If your kitten has been taking kitten food before you bring it home, buy back the same kitten food. Any drastic changes in your kitten’s diet may have undesirable results and is not recommended. It is also important to provide your kitten with access to a constant supply of fresh water.
Litter Box Training
You can start training kittens in using the litter box from as young as four weeks old. Place the litter box in a secluded area, preferably as far away from your kitten’s feeding and sleeping areas. If you want your kitten to use the litter box, clean it regularly. Cats are very particular about hygiene and cleanliness, a dirty litter box will drives your kitten away. The trick is to get your kitten to start using the litter box. Once your kitten gets used to using the litter box, it will become a habit for your kitten to use the litter box for peeing and pooing. Use normal litter instead of clumping litter for the litter box. Clumping litter tend to get stuck in the coat and your kitten may accidentally ingest some during grooming.
While cats and kittens do self groom, it is best to lend your kitten a helping hand from time to time. How much time you need to spend on grooming your kitten will depend on the breed of your kitten. If your kitten belongs to a longhaired cat breed, you may need to groom it as often as daily. Otherwise, a shorthaired kitten may requires only a weekly grooming session. Use a good grooming brush or comb for every grooming session. Grooming is good for bonding with your kitten and it also helps to let your kitten get used to human touch.
To prevent flea infestations, use a flea control product. Your vet will be able to advise you on which flea control product is best for your kitten.
Kittens with their boundless energy, simply loves to play. Your kitten will develop both mentally and physically through play. Playtime is also the best time to bond with your kitten. At the same time, your kitten will also learn to socialize with other humans and pets during play time. Provide your kitten with a range of cat toys to help stimulate its hunting abilities to the fullest.
Like small children, kittens need to be taught proper manners or the right behaviors as young as possible. However, it can be quite a pain to train young kittens to understand what are correct and proper behaviors expected of them. The best way to do it is by means of using positive reinforcement. Reward your kitten whenever it has done something you like immediately. Over time, your kitten will learn to acknowledge a particular behavior with reward. Your kitten will be more motivated to perform the same behavior again and again until it becomes a habit for your kitten. Negative reinforcement methods such as beating or scolding your kitten should be avoided at all costs.
Bonding And Socializing
Grooming, petting and playing with your kitten is good bonding activities you should do more often. It is important to have a strong emotional bond with your kitten as soon as possible. These activities will also help your kitten get used to the human touch and make your kitten less wary of other humans. Once your kitten is well socialized, it will grow up to be a friendly, sociable and more well rounded cat.
As responsible cat owners, it is important to learn and know how to take good care of your pets. If all cat owners are proactive in learning as much as possible about caring for their pets, a lot of unfortunate incidents can be prevented. I hope the information in this article can give you some good ideas on caring for your kitten.