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Buying a pet

How to look after a kitten: tips for new owners...

Date updated: 20 09 2018

New to kitten care? Here’s our guide for ensuring your newest feline family member gets off to a flying start…

cat drinking from a tap

Introducing your new kitten to the crew...
If this is your first kitten, but you already have an adult cat in the home, you’ll want these two housemates to get along happily together. For this, it’s worth doing a little groundwork, followed by an “easy does it” introduction process. You can read all about this in our guide.

New kitten equipment checklist...
Before your new kitten arrives, here’s what should be on your shopping list…

  • Bedding. Taking into account the breed type, the bed should be big enough for your kitten to grow into. There should be enough space for the cat to fully stretch out, without having lots of extra space - as this reduces the snugness of the bed. Choose a bed with a low-walled, easy-access entrance so your kitten can get in and out easily. Also, make sure it is machine washable - as this makes it easier to keep the sleeping area clean and free from parasites. Place the bed in a quiet, private area that’s free from draughts and that doesn’t get too hot.
  • Food bowls. You’ll need separate bowls for food and water. Always make sure your kitten has an accessible supply of fresh drinking water.
  • Grooming. A dual-sided brush with a fine tooth side for tangles and a softer side for brushing can be ideal for many short-haired breeds. A slicker brush is a better choice for longer-haired breeds such as Persians and Maine Coons. You’ll also need nail clippers, toothbrush, toothpaste and cat shampoo. You can find out more about grooming and coat care in our cat grooming 101 guide.
  • Litter trays, litter and liner. It’s actually worth getting two trays - as many cats prefer to urinate in one tray and defecate in another. Thanks to that natural instinct to “keep it clean”, most kittens catch on to the idea of litter trays quite naturally. For further help on it, read our kitten litter training tips.
  • Collar and tag. Get an adjustable collar for your kitten to grow into. Check regularly for sizing; there should be just enough room to fit two fingers between the inside of the collar and kitty’s neck. Even for indoor cats, a tag with your name and address is a good idea in case they escape.
  • Scratching post. Something for your kitten to sharpen and strengthen their claws on. A dedicated scratcher is a wise purchase as it makes it less likely that your kitten will rip into your furniture.
  • Toys. Cat teasers and squeakers provide a fun way to bond with your kitten, while providing them with a body and mind workout.
  • Travel crate. Important right from the start for that first visit to the vet.

How to kitten-proof your home
Here’s how to prepare your home so your new buddy can explore in safety…

  • Remove choking hazards. Things like string, thread and cords are especially attractive to kittens as they love to chase and pull on them. The danger arises if your kitten swallows these items, as they can lead to dangerous obstructions of the windpipe or intestinal tract. Make sure everyone in your home knows to keep anything that might be swallowed by a kitten well out of reach!
  • Human food. That famous curiosity is often most evident in the kitchen, where, given half a chance, an inquisitive kitty will often try anything that’s going. When kittens help themselves to something they shouldn’t - or things they are not used to, the end result is frequently an upset stomach. Some food (e.g. chocolate, sugary drinks, coffee, grapes and raisins) are poisonous to cats and can lead to serious illness. Best way forward is to keep all human food well out of reach.
  • Electrical safety. There’s a risk of electrocution where a kitten tugs at, tears or tries to bite through electrical wires. As far as you can, make sure wires are out of reach. Cover all accessible wires in pet-proof protective wrap.
  • Garden safety. Cats tend to instinctively ignore those plants that are bad for them - but this isn’t always the case. Before your cat gets out there and starts exploring the garden, it’s worth identifying and keeping your cat away from dangerous plants and other substances. To help you with this, PetSci has compiled a handy list of plants that are poisonous to cats.

Kitten vet check-ups
Your kitten’s first visit to the vet should be arranged for a few days or so after she arrives in your home.

The first visit will involve a full physical examination to identify any problems that you might need to keep an eye on. You’ll probably be asked to provide a fresh stool sample to check for parasites; the vaccination history will be looked over - and you’ll be given a schedule for further jabs.

Beyond the medical essentials, you vet should also give you lots of handy information on things like feeding, dental care and advice on neutering.

Insurance
If your young cat ever needs patching up after a scrape or if they develop a health problem, you’ll want to get exactly the right treatment quickly, without a fuss - and without an eye-wateringly large vet bill. This is why so many new cat owners opt for cat insurance.

Wait until they develop a medical problem and you can end up being restricted in the type of cover you can get. So getting your cat covered while they are still very young actually makes a lot of sense.

 

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