How to Raise a Kitten: A Guide for First-time Human Parents
First off, we’d like to congratulate you on your new kitten! A cat is officially a furry baby from birth to six months when it’s expected to enter puberty. Indeed, time flies in the feline world! In no time, you’ll already be a grandparent. But before we get there, it’s important to know how to raise a kitten if you’re a first-time human parent to one.
Kittenhood is a stage of cuteness overload. And before you smother the poor thing with your everything and end up with a spoiled cat in the fast-forward future in the feline world, you have to take note of a few things to make sure you have a healthy pet that will be a source of joy in the years to come.
At What Age Should You Take a Kitten In?
If you want a well-adjusted and healthy kitten, let it stay with its mother until it is eight weeks old. By then, the kitten would have been gradually weaned from the mother and have learned some socialization skills from its brothers and sisters. Ideally, you should get a kitten or give one a new home when it is already nine to 12 weeks old.
If by some turn of events you do end up with a younger kitten, then the furry baby will need special care. A kitten just three to four weeks old, for example, will need to be bottle-fed every 4 hours.
What Preparations Should You Make If You’re Adopting a Kitten or Expecting a Litter?
Kitten-proof your house.
Whether you have an expectant feline or have decided to get a kitten, it’s essential to make your home a safe place for your furry baby. That means keeping the pet or human medications, insecticides or pesticides, cleaning supplies, fertilizers, threads, rubber bands, plastic bags, cords or blinds out of reach.
Food such as grapes, raisins, and chocolates are also hazardous for cats. Some plants, including lilies, rhododendron, azalea, and chrysanthemum, are not safe for them either.
You would also want to put away precious items that you can’t afford to be broken from being knocked over by curious wee ones.
Get the cat supplies you need.
These include the following:
- a litter box with low-sided tray
- non-clumping cat litter
- ceramic or stainless steel food and water bowl
- soft bedding
- kitten food
- cat toothbrush and toothpaste
- cat grooming brush
- scratching post
- kitten-safe toys
- collar and ID tags
- cat carrier
- hiding place in a cardboard box
Ready a Room for Your Kitten/s.
Designate an area in your house for your new furry baby. Place here the feeding bowls, bedding, hiding places, toys, and litter box. Position the litter box as far away as possible from the feeding bowls.
When you take in a kitten, let the kitten explore the area. After it has grown accustomed to your space, you can leave the door open to encourage it to explore. For areas that are supposedly off-limits to them, find a way to block off those spaces.
Now, for the More Important Question on How to Raise a Kitten
Feed the kitten right.
Suppose you have just brought home your new kitten; it’s important that you feed it what it has been eating in its previous home for the next two to three days. This way your furry baby will not be dealing with too many changes at the same time. Plus, this will cut down the risk of it getting a tummy ache. Then, in the next few days, you can slowly introduce or mix the new food.
Now, what should this new food be? That would depend on the age of your new kitty. At three weeks, it’s highly dependent on formula milk. At four weeks, it should be on a half-and-half diet of formula milk and gruel. And at five weeks, it should be eating solid food already. Tip: When buying cat food, make sure it’s labeled as “growth” or “kitten” since growing kittens require the nutrients and calories thrice that adult cats need.
At four to six weeks old, your kitten should have access to wet food, dry kibble, and water at all times. Then on its seventh week, it should be eating mainly dry kibble. At nine to 12 months old, you may need to switch to adult cat food already. Remember that in every transition period, it would help to mix the previous food with the new food.
For a detailed and customized plan, it’s best to consult with your vet. Ask about feeding times as well.
Get appropriate health care for your furry baby.
First, get recommendations from fellow cat owners or pet groomers on veterinarians that they trust. Once you have a name, take your new kitten to its first trip to the doctor. The trip is important for you and your new furry baby—more so, if you have pets in the house or if you have kids.
Other than asking the vet regarding food type, portion sizes, and feeding times, you need to have your furry baby examined for possible health issues. You need to discuss questions you may have about proper care of your new pet or how to introduce it to other pets or your kids, and to schedule vaccinations, spaying, and neutering.
You may also ask if your vet does microchip implants, given that this is important for you. This is especially helpful in identifying your cat should it get lost or catnapped.
Signs and symptoms that you see in your cat that may also require a trip to the vet include lethargy, vomiting, poor weight gain, pale gums, red eyes, and inability to pass urine or stool.
Bond with your kitten.
Slowly introduce your new furry family member to its new environment, including other pets and people in the house. Spend time with your new kitten and monitor its interaction with children and other pets.
You can also purchase toys for your new kitten, or you can just use whatever you have at home. Cats like to play with moving objects that they can chase and pounce on. Ping-pong balls and small stuff toys can provide them a lot of fun and activity.
Kittenhood is a tender and memorable period for you and your new furry baby, laying the foundation for its future health and behavior. Learning how to raise a kitten and getting it done right will pay you with joyful and delightful years of companionship.