There is absolutely nothing more precious than baby kittens(well, human babies rank #1). Sweet, adorable, and total handfuls. While everyone wants to jump right in with both feet, here are some practical tips about bringing home a new kitten.
When we lost our last cat, I swore I was not going to go through all that pain again, and was adamant about no more cats. But, when you are a cat owner, you start to miss the pitter patter of kitten feet.
Well, except when they run around the house like a herd of buffalo. But I am digressing.
Because it is always best to adopt cats in pairs(hence the herd of buffalo remark), we knew that we wanted two. I had my heart set on orange males, and the universe delivered. It was quite crazy how things fell in place once we found these guys. Meet Fred and George.
And yes, for all the Potter fans reading this, they ARE named after the Weasley twins. They are also troublemakers like their namesakes.
So what do you need to know about bringing home a new kitten? Here are the top things you need to know & do when you are bringing home your new furry family member.
Know The Real Age Of Your Kitten(s)
We adopted our kittens through a co-worker. Her friend’s cat had kittens, and she wasn’t able to keep them. We were told that they were born at the end of July, which meant they were almost 8 weeks when we got them. Turns out they were born around the 15th of August, which means they were barely 4 weeks. That is much to young too be away from Mom.
At that point, we weren’t sending them back to that situation. We never saw them in person, so we weren’t aware of their true age. So make sure you do your research about the age of kittens. Look at pictures of the different stages of kittenhood, and don’t be afraid to talk to your vet.
On a side note, that if your kitten is younger than you think, you need to be aware of a few kitten behaviors you may not thought of. Which is why adopting in pairs is best.
Behavior such as:
- Grooming their “parent” : Cats show affection to their kittens by licking and cleaning them. If you get your kittens really young, they will likely “groom” you like they would their Mom. George had this habit of pulling at our hair and chewing. While it is a bit uncomfortable, it was his way of saying I LOVE YOU.
- Biting. Kittens learn from their Mom and siblings how hard biting is before it hurts. If they don’t have that boundary set by their cat family, you must teach it to them. Here are some great tips for doing just that.
- Attacking of feet. Mom teaches them how to hunt. Guess what? It is your job now. Feet move, kitten must pounce. Another great reason to have a second kitten, they will hunt each other. Toys on a cat-friendly fishing pole work great for this too.
- “Nursing”. Since our two yahoos were only four weeks old, they never got a true weaning from Mom. While they had no problems transitioning to solid foods, I think they missed nursing Mom. So they will do it to us occasionally. Even at 3 years old.
Another thing to help determine a kitten’s age? The color of their eyes! Really young kittens have blue eyes. They don’t start turning brown or green or gold until about 16 weeks.
Younger kittens also have a slight curl to the tips of their ears. But I would rely on your vet to give you and exact age if you aren’t 100% completely sure. You can do this by taking a picture of the kitten to show your vet. DO NOT take the kitten, as Mom won’t accept it back.
Have A Vet In Place Before You Bring Your Cat Home
We have a veterinarian that specializes in the care of cats. There are no dogs, no rabbits, nothing other than cats. The vet and the staff have an amazing knowledge base about cat care, feeding, behavior, etc.
The second reason I say to have a vet lined up before you adopt is that the staff can give you the exact services that are required and what those costs are. This information may help you to make sure that it is a good time to adopt your new kitten.
Our vet was wonderful in helping us with our kittens being so young. They were always available on the phone or by FB message, and didn’t make me feel silly for being an overprotective kitten Mom. The only downside is that one of the vet’s tried to sneak Georgie home in her pocket. I was too smart for her though.
Do Your Research On What You Will Be Feeding Your Kitten
Will you be doing dry food? Wet food? There is so much to consider. The most important thing to do is make sure you are feeding your new kitten a high quality kitten food. Kitten food contains a higher amount of protein, which is important for the growth and development of kittens. I have no working relationship with Wellness, this is just the brand we settled on.
Discuss this with your vet when you make your initial contact. Our vet recommended a grain-free kitten food, and they are absolutely thriving on it. We are also using a combination of wet and dry food, and probably the most important you need to know before bringing home a new kitten is how you are going to feed it.
The main reason we use a combination of wet & dry food is that it helps keep a cat hydrated. Feeding strictly hard food is not good for a cat, and may lead to kidney stones(and a very expensive operation) because cats don’t always drink enough water. By serving them wet food, it also hydrates your cat.
Consider a brand that you can use for the entire lifespan. We moved from kitten food to grown-up food without a hitch because we stuck with the same brand.
And don’t feel bad if your first choice isn’t what works for your kittens. We originally fed them one brand, but noticed they had some diarrhea from it. After a call to our vet, we switched brands and everything was fine after that.
Kitten-Proof Your Home Before Bringing Home Your Furball
Kittens get into everything. And I truly mean everything. We didn’t think everything through before we brought them home. On the first night, we lost one of them because he got under the bed. We didn’t think he would be able to get into anything because he was so young. We. Were. Wrong.
We kept them in our bedroom for the first couple weeks because we had a very large Golden Retriever that was very active. We wanted to make sure they could hold their own.
So what did they do? Get under the bed. Get stuck behind the headboard. Almost get stuck behind the nightstand. And did I mention getting in one of the small spaces under the dresser?
So make sure you block off any areas that they may get into. Hide and tape down cords. Put away anything valuable that you don’t want broken. I think we used every spare towel plugging up the furniture spots, and I taped cardboard around the bottom of the bed so they couldn’t get stuck underneath.
As you can see here, this is an example of kitten proofing with spare linens. Fred managed to claim those as his too.
Point is, do it all ahead of time, and it will make bringing home a new kitten a lot less stressful!
Other Tips To Consider Before Bringing A New Kitten Home
Before you rush out and bring home a new kitten, make sure you carefully think things over. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this the right time?
- Can I afford proper health care and food?
- How will my other pets react?
- Do I truly know how much trouble kittens can get into?
- Is there someone available to help them get acquainted with their new surroundings?
- Is everyone in the house in agreement about getting a new kitten?
If you can’t say yes to all of these questions, then getting a kitten at this time is not really for you. Save up for awhile, talk to other pet owners, do your research online. When the time is right, you will be bringing home a new kitten to be part of your family.
Just wanted to share this: Fred is on the left in the picture above and below, and George is on the right. Once you get them safely out of kittenhood, they will turn into big and adorable grown-up cats and all your preparation is the reason for it. We love these guys so much!
THINGS YOUR KITTEN WILL NEED:
Here are some terrific products to get you started. I am sharing my favorite ones, and they are my affiliate links. You can read here for more information.