So you have decided that you are ready to add a feline member to your family and want to know what you need to prepare before their arrival, or maybe you are considering getting a furry feline friend and want to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.
First off, ensure that all members of the household are on board with this decision. Bringing in a new kitten is a big decision as cats can live for up to 20 years! This means it’ll be a long-term commitment and, quite honestly, a lot of work on your part.
When you bring your new kitten home, understand that they will be scared and will need some time to adjust to their new surroundings. Initially, having a separate room for them to live in until they feel more comfortable is a great idea. You can also provide a sense of calm to the little one using pheromones via a diffuser or spray. This will help them to settle down.
• You will also need to have a variety of items ready before your bring your kitten home. Some of these include:
• Ceramic or stainless steel bowls for food and water
• Kitten food: you want to provide both dry kibble as well as some canned food
• A variety of toys: in time you will learn which toys your kitten prefers but a good place to start is having some catnip toys, wand toys and some crinkle balls.
• Scratching posts: just like toys your kitten will have a preference of whether they like the soft or coarse scratching posts or even some made out of cardboard.
• Litter box: ensure it is big enough for your kitten to turn around in it, but not too high that they will have trouble getting into it. Place it in a quiet area of the house where your kitten will not get startled.
• Cat litter: most kittens prefer a clay based litter but you can choose whether you want this to be clumping or non- clumping. Ideally stay away from scented cat litter as it can be irritating to your kitten’s respiratory system.
• Carrier: pick one that is big enough for an adult cat so you won’t have to buy another one once your kitten grows up. It is best to have one that can be opened both from the top and the front.
Having a new kitten means that you will have to bring it to the vet for annual exams, vaccines and obtaining deworming medication. Depending on where you got your kitten from, you might have to get it neutered or spayed as well as get it micro-chipped when you first get it. Added visits to the vet will be needed if your kitten suffers any accidents or gets sick.
While you might consider declawing your kitten to reduce any scratching behaviours in the house we have to advise against it. Research has shown that declawed cats will have to deal with certain long-term consequences including pain which can present itself in many different ways. We recommend ensuring you have scratching posts in many areas of your house, redirecting the behaviour as needed, and to maybe even consider using soft paws which are vinyl nail caps that are glued to the claws.
Another important thing to consider is your finances – in other words can you afford having a kitten now and will you be able to continue to afford your kitten as it grows into an adult? You need to budget not only for the initial expenses of getting all the aforementioned basics, but also your recurring expenses (food, litter, annual wellness exam, and vaccines) and any unexpected expenses such as if your feline friend gets sick. You might also want to consider having pet insurance to help with any costs of accidents and illnesses. Check out https://www.aspca.org/sites/default/files/pet_care_costs.pdf for a breakdown of costs.
Finally, you also want to consider where you are getting your kitten from. Research your options and consider adopting through your local Humane Society or Rescue group. These kittens will have been checked out by a veterinarian and in many cases are already spayed/neutered and will have had their first vaccines already administered.
Most of all enjoy this time with your new kitten and have fun!