Adopting a kitten is a truly special experience. Your new feline friend will be there to share love and joy with you for years to come. And for new kitten owners, it can be very helpful to have access to a guide that lays out the next steps for you to take for your kitten, some common issues that newly adopted kittens and their owners face, along with dietary, medical, and lifestyle advice. This article is meant to do precisely that! In the paragraphs that follow, you will gain an easy and informative resource to help navigate the steps to take with your new bundle of love.
Step 1 – The Physical Examination
This is the very first step to take after adopting your kitten. If you have yet to do that, just give us a call at (512) 696-3980 and we’ll schedule your visit. This step is so important because we need to look for any potential health issues that are crucial to catch early on, such as congenital defects, feline leukemia, parasites, etc. One of our veterinarians will thoroughly examine each of your cat’s major bodily systems in order to check for any signs of irregularities or potential health issues.
This step is also important in order to begin a smart and proactive preventative health care plan for your kitten. We will also educate you about some important issues in your cat’s health. A few of the issues we’ll go over will include:
- A proper vaccination plan and schedule
- Parasite control
- Common symptoms of illness to watch for
- Dietary and nutrition recommendations
If your kitten is not yet spayed or neutered, we will educate you about the procedure, and can schedule it if you like. Spaying and neutering is important for multiple reasons – not only does it help alleviate overcrowding in animal shelters, there are actually important health and behavioral benefits to the procedure.
Important note: If you would like to get health insurance for your kitten, early on is a great time to do it. When you purchase health insurance for a cat when they are a kitten, it is less likely for them to be denied coverage when issues arise later in life. We will be happy to counsel you on the best options and resources available to you during your next visit. This way you can make an educated decision.
Step 2 – Kitten-proofing your home
The first thing to do is to designate an area just for your kitten where they can feel comfortable and relaxed. This should be a quiet area of your home. Stock this area with your kitten’s food and water dishes, cat toys (nothing small enough for them to swallow though), and soft bedding. A scratching post is also a welcomed addition! Put their litterbox at least several feet away; cats instinctively don’t want to go to the bathroom close to their source of food and water.
Step 3 – Litterbox training
You’ll want to make sure your cat has easy access to their litterbox. During your first session, place your cat inside their litterbox. Gently take their front paw and have them scratch at the litter a few times. If your cat jumps right back out, don’t worry! That’s totally normal. Make sure to place your kitten in their litterbox during the times of day that they are most likely to want to go to the bathroom – such as when you both wake up, right after playtime or meals, after naps, and right before you go to sleep. And remember… cats like privacy when they go to the bathroom, so just leave your kitty to their litterbox once they’re in.
Kittens will have accidents – that’s totally normal. It’s important not to scold your cat when they do, as they aren’t capable of understanding the connection between the two events. All the scolding will do is to create anxiety in their relationship with you. Instead, just use an enzymatic cleaner on the stain, and continue placing your cat in their litterbox during likely bathroom times. If your cat continues to have regular accidents over a period of several weeks, it’s a good idea to contact us and let us know so that we can rule out any underlying health issues.
Step 4 – Nurturing the bond
It’s important to give your cat ample opportunity to explore their new home and spend time with all of your home’s residents – including other pets and children. It is also important to make sure no one ever chases your cat – especially dogs. If you ever witness chasing behavior, immediately put a stop to it.
Playtime and physical touch are instrumental ways of the bonding process with your cat; kittens are naturally very playful. Your kitten should have at least three playtimes a day, each consisting of around 15 minutes. During playtime, sit on the floor beside your kitten and use a fun toy – such as a wicker ball or feather wand. The purpose is to try to emulate the way kittens are wired to learn in their youth, which mimics hunting behavior. A couple great ways to play are to bounce a ping pong ball against a wall, allowing your cat to chase after it. Another is to dangle a string slowly along the ground, allowing your cat to mimic the training it would receive from its mother to hunt. This is an important part of the bonding process so that your cat becomes emotionally attached to you.
Cats also bond through grooming. When grooming your cat, place them on your lap. If you have a brush, allow them to sniff it first. Begin brushing very gently, and start on their back. Make sure the strokes are affectionate and gentle. As your kitten becomes more comfortable with the brushing, you can try moving onto more sensitive areas, such as their belly, tail and ears.
Step 5 – Have fun!
You are now very knowledgeable on what steps to take, and what to expect with your new kitten. We’d advise you to bookmark this guide so you can always easily refer back to it. And if you ever have any questions or need help, we are only ever a phone call away: (512) 696-3980