Bringing a new kitten home is a great way to infuse more joy into your life, but it’s also a very serious commitment. I adopted my own two cats a couple years ago when they were just four months old, and I’ve loved watching them grow into happy, healthy full-grown kitties ever since. Are you thinking about bringing a new kitten home? Here are a few important things to keep in mind.
1. Make a Commitment
Bringing a new kitten home is a decision to love and care for your pet throughout his or her entire life, so be sure you are emotionally and financially able to commit before you adopt. It truly breaks my heart to hear about pets being abandoned at shelters when their guardians move or become “too busy” to care for them. Animals are not toys or mere possessions, so don’t adopt unless you are ready to love them as a permanent part of your family.
2. Prepare Your Home
Little kittens love to play and explore, so be sure your home is ready. Things like small knickknacks and cords will be viewed as playthings in the eyes of a young kitten, so be sure these items are stored away or otherwise secured. Items like loose string and toxic plants can also be fatal to cats when ingested, so work with your local rescue organization to ensure you’ve created a safe and welcoming environment.
3. Consider Adopting a Pair
Kittens love companionship, so adopting a pair of litter mates or compatible rescue pals is always a great idea. While looking after two kittens will certainly increase the amount of responsibility you have, it also means you’ll have two beautiful cats to love and watch develop distinct personalities as the years go by. Plus, it means they’ll always have a friend to cuddle and play with, even when you aren’t home.
4. Introduce New Things Slowly
Your kitten will likely be a bit timid when you first bring her home, so set aside a small room where she can become acclimated for at least the first couple of days. Once she’s had a chance to get comfortable, you can open the door and let her explore other areas little by little, along with slowly and carefully introducing her to any other cats or dogs in your home.
5. Spay, Neuter and Microchip
Depending how old your kitten is when adopted, your local rescue organization may have already had her/him spayed or neutered. If not, the group may in some cases be able to help cover part or all of the cost, or point you in the direction of a low-cost provider, so be sure to double check before you adopt. While spaying and neutering at a vet’s office can sometimes cost as much as several hundred dollars, it’s also important for ensuring your kitten’s health and well-being as he or she matures. Having a microchip implanted is also a smart way to help a shelter or rescue team return your cat should he ever become lost.
6. Prioritize Health and Safety
From getting her vaccinated to establishing a healthy diet, the decisions you make now will impact your kitten’s well-being for years to come. Talk with your vet about the specific types of care your cat will need, both now and in the future. Outdoor cats are also much more likely to be injured, killed or sickened, so keep your kitten indoors to help ensure a long and healthy life.
7. Never Declaw
If you’re even so much as thinking about declawing your kitten, don’t! A cat’s claws are a vital part of his fingers and toes, and removing them is incredibly cruel and painful, with lasting physical and mental effects that will remain throughout the rest of his life. Yes, cats may on occasion scratch furniture, but if you aren’t prepared to value your pet more than you do your material belongings, don’t adopt one in the first place. Also, please remember that there are plenty of simple and humane solutions available, like providing scratching posts and keeping the claws neatly trimmed.
8. Offer Love, Toys and Attention
Kittens are full of energy and eager to give and receive love, so be sure to brush, pet, cuddle, and play with her every chance you get. Store-bought feather wand and mice toys are favorites for cats of all ages, and even the simplest things, like an empty cardboard box or crumpled up newspaper, can also entertain. Think a kitten’s energy levels might not be compatible with your busy lifestyle? There are many older cats in need of loving homes, too, so don’t overlook them during the adoption process.
9. Provide Training
The training you provide now will stay with your kitten as he grows. Think it’s cute when he bites or pounces on your finger, or jumps up onto a kitchen table? It might not be quite as adorable once he’s full-grown, so talk with your vet and local rescue organization about the best training methods, such as consistently saying “no” and removing him from anywhere he isn’t supposed to be.
Are you considering bringing a new kitten home, or do you already have a feline friend in the house? What other essential tips do you have to share?