By Julia Williams
It’s kitten season, that time of year when animal shelters are overflowing with adorable little bundles of fur that melt our hearts and make us go squeeeeeee. It’s so hard to resist bringing them all home, am I right?
If you’ve decided to adopt a kitten, there are some important things you need to do before you actually bring your fur-baby home. It’s essential to plan ahead, both to minimize the stress for the kitten and to ensure that the transition goes smoothly for everyone involved.
Preparing Your Home
If you have children, get them involved in helping you prepare for the new kitten’s arrival. This will not only teach them about responsible pet ownership, but it can be a fun experience too.
The first thing on your agenda is to go shopping for all the kitten supplies you’ll need. It’s best to buy all of your supplies before you bring a new kitten home, rather than waiting until adoption day. Those first few days are critical to helping a kitten feel comfortable in their new surroundings. If you have everything you need for your kitten when you bring her home, you’ll be able to devote more time to helping the kitten adjust to her new home.
A new kitten doesn’t need oodles of things, but there are a few essential items you’ll want to have on hand. A sturdy cat carrier is a must for transporting your kitten in the car and for visits to the vet. A loose cat in the car is a danger to you, your kitten and other motorists. You may end up getting scratched or bitten, or have an accident as the frightened kitten crawls everywhere.
You’ll also need a high quality food such as CANIDAE Grain Free PURE Kitten formula, a litter box, kitty litter, pooper scooper, grooming brush or comb, a scratching post, some cat toys, and at least one set of food and water bowls (stainless steel is a great choice because it’s durable, unbreakable, dishwasher safe and easy to clean).
A cat bed isn’t a necessity, but it is nice to have a special place for your kitten to sleep, because it will help them feel safe, warm and protected. It’s also a good idea to pick up a few books on cat care and feline behavior.
If you’re adopting a young kitten (under six months or so), be sure the litter box you buy is small enough for them to climb into. You’ll need to replace it with a larger one when they get older, but for now a kitten-sized litter box with low sides is the way to go.
Kitten Proof Your Home
Kittens love climbing and jumping, and they play boisterously with no regard for the breakables in your home or their own safety. Kitten proofing your home is an absolute must if you want your valuables to remain in one piece. Moving your breakables to a high shelf, enclosed cabinet or some other place where your rambunctious kitten won’t be able to get to them will protect both your possessions and the kitten.
It’s also advisable to move any houseplants sitting at floor level or low enough that the kitten has access to them. To kittens, plants are a delightful toy they can swat and shred. They may also chew on the leaves, sit on the plant and dig in the soil. Another good reason to move all houseplants out of reach of your kitten is that many are poisonous to pets. You can find a complete list of toxic plants to avoid on the ASPCA website.
Complete your kitten proofing by studying the contents of every room in your home from the viewpoint of a kitten. Getting down on all fours will allow you to see what the kitten sees, which can help you identify safety issues. Remove anything dangerous that might be tempting for the kitten to chew on or play with.
When you bring home your new kitten, don’t just open the cat carrier in the living room and let them out. What invariably happens is that they make a beeline for the nearest closet or other enclosed space where they can feel safe and protected. For the first few days (even longer if your kitten is shy or fearful), arrange to keep the new kitten someplace away from the commotion of your home, such as a spare bedroom.
Put their food and water bowls, litter box and other essential supplies in the temporary “kitten room” and keep them there until you feel that the kitten is adjusting. This separation and adjustment period is especially critical if you have young children or other pets. Limit introductions to family members and other pets for the first few days, to give the kitten time to settle in and minimize the stress of this big change.
If possible, arrange to bring your new kitten home at a time when you can be around to monitor things, such as the weekend. Think how frightened a human baby would be to be left all alone in a strange new place. It’s not much different for a kitten. Being there with the kitten for his first few days will help him feel more secure, and more trusting of humans. This will also help you develop a stronger bond with your kitten.
Adopting a new kitten is exciting and fun. Before you bring your new fur baby home, take the necessary steps to ensure her physical safety and emotional health. This will go a long way toward helping your kitten grow up to become a well-adjusted, people-friendly cat instead of one who hides under the bed all the time.
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