What Do I Need To Know About Taking Care Of A Kitten?

2021 - Vanessa Kei

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Kittens are sweet, unique, and amazing pets that have specific needs and requirements for them to live a long, happy, and healthy life. They are often considered one of the best pets for working owners to keep because they are independent enough not to need a lot of attention but also enjoy companionship. If you recently adopted one, here are some basic tips to help you on your new journey. 

 

Prepare Ahead of Time 

 

You might be bringing home your first, second, or fourth cat but it’s very important to prepare your home/ household ahead of time. You should confirm you have enough space to house a new kitten. You must also confirm if you have other pets or human occupants who may be suffering from some health or behavioral problems and might react negatively to the presence of a new pet.

 

Set Up Safe and Comfortable Indoor Housing

 

Once you’ve weighed all factors and you’re confident you can bring in your adorable kitten, you should cat-proof your home to make it safer and create a “nesting box” or bed that is a clean, warm and safe space for the kitten. It doesn’t have to be too fancy or elaborate, a box lined with blankets or towels will do. During the first 2-8 weeks of the kitten’s life, warmth is extremely crucial because they cannot generate body heat on their own. Ideally, kittens should be with their mother and littermates at this stage but if that’s not possible, special care needs to be taken such as bottle feeding the kitten at 2-hour intervals and helping them poop or pee by placing the kitten on a towel on your lap and lightly rub the kitten's body with a rough, dry washcloth (it’s advisable to contact a veterinarian for specific advice and guidance).

 

While taking care of a stray kitten, you may have to isolate her for fourteen days pending an important visit to the veterinarian’s office to check for illnesses, viruses, vaccinations, or disease. While the kitten is in comfortable isolation, you must visit frequently to safely provide special care for her and maintain strict hygiene procedures before and after every visit. If the stray kitten seems to be experiencing discomfort or showing signs of illness, contact a veterinarian immediately and if she feels cool, you may use heating pads or hot water bottles to keep her warm as a temporary measure while you try to reach the vet. You should not feed a chilled kitten as this may be fatal.

 

Food and Nutrition

 

Once the stray kitten’s condition has been determined and stabilized by the vet, you should proceed with following the doctor’s instructions on normal feeding and general care. You should NEVER feed your kitten's baby formula or cow milk because it could cause serious diarrhea which could be fatal. You must also ensure your kittens have constant access to clean drinking water especially if you don’t have access to replacement milk. (Clean drinking water is more important than replacement milk anyway).

 

There are many milk alternatives for kittens that can be bought at most veterinary clinics, pet stores, or even grocery stores. Kittens can be picky eaters and it's important to introduce variety to their meals early on because if they get used to eating a particular meal, it may be difficult to get them to accept other meals eventually. 

 

Some of the meals you can give your kitten during their first year include quality kitten food which should remain their primary meal through all growth stages (try to stick with a particular brand to maintain consistency), canned cat food, scrambled eggs, fresh and saltwater fish, shrimp, poultry, meat, vegetables, salad greens, squash, and pumpkin or cat grass. Kittens experience rapid growth between the ages of 2- 4 months characterized by bursts of energy 3 times more than an adult cat and so need about three-four meals (high in protein) per day throughout this period.

 

Litter Trays

 

You should find a private and accessible space, far away from the nesting bed to place a litter tray (or box) for your kitten to use when she needs to go to the toilet. Kittens will most likely use the litter box on instinct but litter box training could also be done by placing your kittens in the box after play sessions and meals. You must ensure the litter tray is always kept clean.

 

Sexual Maturity

 

Kittens aged between four to six months are considered adolescents who are reaching sexual maturity so you might consider talking to a veterinarian about spaying or neutering them to avoid habits such as accidental litters and territorial spraying.

 

 (Learn more about spaying and neutering).

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