Adopting a Kitten: How to Prepare Your Home for Your New Indoor Cat
You have plans to adopt a new member of the family or perhaps have already rescued your little furry loved one, and you're looking for information on how to prepare your home and what you'll need to take care of them. I'm an avid cat owner and grew-up with cats my entire life. I've adopted both older cats as well as new born kittens, but the list of items you need to make a safe and happy home are still the same. I'll share a list of items your new kitten or cat needs to live comfortably and healthy, including some tips for kitten-proofing your house for the new member of the family.
The list of items shouldn’t intimidate you as many of these items can last the lifetime of your pet, some can be replaced every few years or annually. And many of the things a new kitten needs are free, which includes their 'safe place' and plenty of love and attention.
I work for a rescue group and often hear the question, how often should I change my pets litter? The more often the better; but it’s important to keep up with the scooping to maintain smells and help the litter in the box last about two weeks. When changing the litter, completely dump out the old litter and rinse out the box with a mild, unscented soap and hot water. This will also help the litter box last longer. My recommended lifetime for your litter box used by one cat is up to one year. A multiple kitten litter box will cut the lengths for each of these. If you do have multiple cats, there should be one box for each cat or more. A litter mat will help with stray litter as it catches pieces that may be caught in your pets paws before it gets tracked around your home.
When it comes to resting, your cat needs plenty of it since half their lifetime is spent sleeping. They need to have a bed in a place where they feel safe and will be relatively undisturbed such as a cozy corner or bedroom windowsill. You should also have a secondary location for rest as well such as with a placed blanket. Your cat, especially when introducing them to their new home, should have a safe place. This is a spot, preferably in a higher location or under a piece of furniture that is off limits for humans. It’s a spot they can trust to run to if they ever feel threatened or get spooked, which new kittens easily can. For example, a new pet will typically run under a piece of furniture when bringing them into their new home. Do not try to pull them out! Let them acclimate and try to get used to their new surroundings and they will slowly warm up to you and come out on their own. This is completely normal behavior. All you need is some patience and maybe a treat waiting for them when they get out.
It’s important to try to reserve a set amount of time to play with your kitten with his own, new toys (about an hour a day). They also will need scratching posts, of which there are three types; flat, standing and hanging. The flat and standing type can easily be placed in a corner, or even near the play area where his toys are, for easy accessibility. There’s also the type you can hang on a doorknob so he can stretch up and groom his nails. A good tip for getting your kitten to play with their post is to rub some catnip on it. (Note: The desire for catnip may not establish until they are older than 6 months.). You will still need to regularly cut your kittens nails with a nail clipper made especially for cats. This can be easy and completely painless. Make it a habit to give them a little treat after cutting so they behave more during the grooming.
Items For Your Indoor Kitten:
Secondary Resting Area
Food - Natural - Wet and Dry
- Water Bowl
- Food Bowl
Health Insurance (Optional)
Collar and Leash/Harness (Optional)
You also need a carrying case for taking your pet to the veterinarian and for emergency situations. I also prefer to tie a collar around my kitten with a charm that lists my emergency contact information just incase he somehow escapes during the transport. It’s important to have a vet already picked out before getting your kitten, and many shelters will require you already do before adopting. Health Insurance is an option but you should weigh the pros and cons before making this big purchase for your pet.
Lastly, feeding your pet is the most important aspect of keeping your pet healthy. I recommend feeding your pet all natural food that is healthier and more nutritious. You can find some affordable options for all natural (no meat-by-products) food in your local pet store since there is more competition by different brands now. Natural pet food is a smart option because cats are known to have stomach and intestinal problems as they get older and this will keep them healthier longer. Kittens need protein! This is very important and you’ll notice that most kitten food has higher portions of chicken and protein high foods. Young kittens also need water and this can be harder than it sounds. Many vets recommend feeding your pet mostly wet food so they can get the maximum moisture necessary. Always keep plenty of water out in a separate bowl directly next to his food. If you want to eventually feed him dry food try to periodically mix it with the wet food when they are young so they’re more likely to eat it when they get older. Finally, put a place-mat under their food and water bowls in case of spill and so they are not eating directly off the floor.
It's also important to ensure, especially as they get older, that they have a high place to climb or perch, as this is what cats naturally have a desire to do. Keeping a high shelf open for them or the top of the refrigerator clear of materials could make for good spots. If you have the budget, you can always purchase a cat tree or cat shelves. These can range from $20 to $2000 so shop around and see what works best for your space.
Congratulations on your new addition to the family. You can now follow these simple tips for keeping your kitty happy, healthy and completely comfortable in their new home.
© 2013 Catherine Stolfi