Bringing your kitten home
A new kitten means a special commitment from you
Everybody's heart melts at the sight of a new kitten. But that adorable bundle of fluff you're bringing home is going to need looking after for life. And because cats can have nine lives, that's a long time! Giving your kitten a good start in life is the best way to make sure you'll both enjoy many years of fun together. During those early, vulnerable months you'll need to give her lots of care and attention to help her settle smoothly into life with your family.
Home sweet home?
Naturally, you're familiar with your home surroundings but to your new kitten it can be a bit scary. Many kittens will find that first move a stressful experience. So you need to do all you can to make her feel at home.
Firstly, please don't rush into introducing your new pet to other members of the household, people or pets (read more about socialisation). Give your kitten time to get used to her new surroundings. It's also important to show her where her food bowls, litter tray and bed are.
A snug, safe haven
During those early days, your new kitten will find things a little strange, and sometimes overwhelming. When things do get too much for her, there's nothing more secure and welcoming as a safe, cosy bed. You could buy a bed from a pet shop, or you could even use a strong cardboard box. But above all, it needs to be warm and comfortable, dry and away from draughts. The bedding you use should be soft and snugly. The first few nights with you will be the first time she's been away from her mother and brothers and sisters. Kittens soon get used to sleeping alone, but to begin with you could put a warm hot water bottle under the bedding to remind her of the warmth of the litter.
You've heard of 'baby proofing' a home, now let's talk about 'kitten proofing' one
You're bound to want to make your home as safe as possible for your precious new kitten. Here are a few tips:
Windows need to be kept closed so your kitten can't fall out or escape.
If you have open fireplaces where your kitten could gain access to the chimney, block them up.
Hide all electrical cabling. Your kitten might try to chew through it.
Make sure you don't have any houseplants that are potentially dangerous to your kitten. Lilies, poinsettias and cyclamens are all poisonous.
Food for thought
Choosing a kitten food is a big responsibility. After all, it's what will help her grow and develop to her full potential. But, to help her feel secure, it's best not to change her diet straight away. Remember to find out what your kitten has been eating before you became her new owner, and feed the same food. Then, if you do decide on a new food, mix it with her usual food until the changeover is complete. You should take 5 to 7 days to get your kitten used to her new food. Whatever you're feeding her, remember, little and often is the order of the day to begin with - kittens aged from eight to twelve weeks need four meals a day, three meals from three to six months, and two over six months old.
By far the easiest and most successful way to ensure your growing kitten is getting a healthy; balanced diet is to feed a complete premium food for kittens. There are two types of complete foods available, dry or tinned. With dry food, your kitten can visit her food bowl as often as she likes throughout the day. Wet foods in cans or pouches, on the other hand, are likely to lose their freshness quickly once in the bowl, so need to be given as separate meals throughout the day.
But, just like our food, not all kitten foods offer the same quality and value for money. Make sure you check the ingredients list, or better still, ask your vet for advice. A good food should provide all the nutrients essential for a growing kitten to become a healthy cat. Click here for information on Hill's kitten food
Believe it or not, we wouldn't recommend giving milk to your new kitten; given in large quantities it can cause diarrhoea. Instead, clean, fresh water should be available at all times. If you do want to treat your kitten to something else, there are special kitten milks you can buy.