You're sure to be excited when your kitten arrives home! To help get your new relationship off to the best possible start, we've compiled a list of 'moving-in' tips and advice to benefit you both.
Kitten-proofing your home
Your kitten is a little ball of energy, and will see everything in your home as a toy! That's why it's a good idea to kitten-proof your home. Here are a few suggestions to help start you off:
- Everything in your home is new to your kitten. It's a lot to take in. So it's best to introduce him to one room at first and then open up other rooms one by one.
- Your home is a new environment and your kitten needs to feel safe. A bed is essential - not just for sleeping, but as a 'retreat' where he can rest. The bed should be warm, dry and comfortable, and positioned in a calm part of the home away from other pets and children. He should have his own litter tray, food and water bowls, and a scratching post. Show your kitten where they are and make sure they stay in the same place as a point of reference.
- Ensure all the doors and windows are closed, or place screens on windows to prevent falls. Keep your kitten off balconies, upper porches and high decks.
- Keep cleaning supplies, mothballs, antifreeze (kittens are attracted to its sweet scent) etc. shut away in a cupboard. Sewing supplies, nails, staples, beads, aluminium can tabs and plastic bags should also be kept out of reach.
- Remove poisonous house plants* or place them in hanging baskets completely out of reach.
- Keep toilet lids down. Otherwise kittens may play in the water and the lid could close and trap them. Toilet bowl cleansers can also be harmful if swallowed.
- Make sure there is a guard in front of the fireplace. A dark, quiet chimney can be quite inviting for a kitten - he might think it's a litter tray!
- Hide electrical cables under carpets, or tape them to the floor or wall. You can also use a thick cable protector (available from hardware stores) to make them chew-proof.
- Never give your kitten medication without consulting your vet. Make sure all types of medication are kept out of your kitten's reach.
- While in the kitchen, check where your kitten is before closing the door of the refrigerator, oven, washer or clothes dryer, or before you sit down at the table.
- Always conduct a 'kitten check' before you sit down on the couch and before you leave the house - you don't want to accidentally shut him in an empty room. Or worse, a cupboard!
- It is not recommended to allow your kitten to venture outside alone before he is vaccinated, microchipped, and completely used to his new surroundings (and owner!) If he does go outdoors, make sure to check under your car bonnet before driving off – cats love snuggling up in warm places!
- Don't use electric blankets to warm your kitten's bed - he may chew on the electrical wires.
- Don't tie ribbons around your kitten's neck, as they can get caught on things when he's playing.
- Always use safe toys and avoid strings, which can be ingested and cause serious health problems.
*Plants like Ficaceaes (Ficus), Liliaceases (lily, tulip, hyacinth, lily of the valley, and spider plant), Araceaes, Euphorbiaceaes, Apocynaceaes, Agavaceaes (Dracaena), etc. are dangerous to cats. We recommend you check with your vet the list of poisonous plants. You can also find information following this link: [http://www.icatcare.org/advice-centre/cat-care/cats-and-poisonous-plants]
For over 40 years, GO-CAT® has been providing cats with 100% complete, balanced nutrition in a range of great-tasting recipes. So you could say we are experts at helping keep kittens happy and healthy!
At three to four weeks old, your kitten will be ready to move on to solid food with a specially formulated recipe such as GO-CAT® Kitten. We wouldn’t recommend feeding your kitten adult formulas - they aren’t formulated with kittens in mind, and have a different balance of ingredients and nutrients.
To help your kitten’s transition from mother’s milk to solid food during weaning, we suggest adding one part warm water to three parts GO-CAT® Kitten dry food. Remember, even when your kitten starts to look like an adult on the outside, he’s still growing and developing. So it's important to keep feeding him a dedicated kitten formula until he reaches 12 months of age.
To help keep your kitten healthy, it's important to provide plenty of fresh water in a clean bowl every day. During the hot summer months, your kitten may eat less but drink more. So make sure you keep the bowl topped up at all times with fresh, clean water.
Encourage your kitten to drink from his bowl instead of from the kitchen sink, toilet bowl or bathtub. The water may contain residue of disinfectants and cleansers – not to mention that he might fall in!
Cats like running water so don’t be alarmed if you catch yours seeking alternatives to his bowl - toilets and kitchen sinks aside!
First time outside
If you’ve decided to let your kitten venture outside, take time to introduce him to the great outdoors gradually. Everything will be new and exciting, but also potentially scary, so make sure you stay close by for reassurance.
Your vet will tell you when it is safe to let your kitten outdoors- usually one week after their last vaccination at about three months of age. It’s also a good idea to wait until your cat has been neutered and microchipped before allowing the big outdoor adventure to begin!
Here are some useful tips:
- Keep all vaccinations up to date and ask your vet about new vaccines that protect against feline diseases.
Regular worming is also advised to keep your kitten happy and healthy.
- Make sure your kitten is wearing an identification tag listing your address and vet's phone number. A reflector strip on the collar will help motorists spot your cat when it gets dark, although you might like to keep him in at night.
- If you have a garden and live in a quiet area, a lockable cat flap can be a good idea as it will allow your kitten to be independent during the day but kept safely indoors at night.
- You could also build a safe area in your garden. A large cat run in your garden can be linked to the cat flap. If you build a run, it should have a warm, weatherproof section and be positioned half in the sun and half in the shade. You could also add a tree trunk, climbing frame, ropes, perches, a catnip plant, a litter tray and water bowl so your kitten has everything he needs should he want to stay outdoors.
- Despite their intelligence, cats are often oblivious to dangers such as cars. So if you live in a flat or near a busy road, consider keeping your cat indoors. Always remember to check your driveway before you reverse your car.
- Always use a cat carrier when transporting your cat safely outdoors or by car.
- Make sure you tell your neighbours about your new kitten's arrival to avoid potential dangers from those who use poison to kill mice or rats
Cats are bright enough to recognise their name and can even be trained to come on command. The earlier you start training him - and the more fun and rewarding you make it - the greater the likelihood of success.
But remember, because they develop their own little personalities, each one will react differently at first. Some will ignore you, while others will be curious and eager to learn. Training moments will bring endless hours of fun and enjoyment for you both – just bear in mind that you’ll need to be patient!
1. Train your cat before mealtimes, as a food reward won't be so enticing on a full stomach. At the same time, don’t 'starve' him to make him eager to learn. A hungry cat will quickly become an annoyed one!
2. Eliminate any noise from the TV or stereo as it will distract your cat.
3. Keep sessions short (about 15 minutes) so that your cat is fresh and doesn't get bored or tired.
4. Make sure the training commands, signals and rewards are always the same.
5. Try to spend a minimum of 10-15 minutes every day and stick with it. That way you'll build a better bond with your cat, and will be more likely to achieve the results you want.
Meeting the vet
Having a healthy, happy cat in your home makes every day that little bit brighter. So it's important that your vet gets to know your cat from an early age and carries out an initial check-up and vaccinations. Make sure you provide as much information as possible, including date of birth and any previous vaccinations. Remember, your kitten’s first visit to the vet can set a pattern for life - try to make the experience as stress-free as possible so that your kitten doesn’t associate future visits with a bad memory.
Initial vaccinations usually begin at around nine weeks of age, and additional ones may follow later on. But it's a good idea to ask your vet when your kitten should start an immunisation schedule.
Also remember that, after you and your family, the vet is the most important person in your kitten's life. If you ever have any worries or concerns, play it safe and always talk to your vet first