New Kitten Checklist: Preparing for a New Kitten
Congratulations! You are getting a new kitten!! Whether you are new to a kitten or a seasoned cat owner, preparing for a new kitten in advance will go a long way in making the transition smooth for both you and the new kitten. To help with the preparation, we have put together a checklist of the fundamentals to have on hand before your new kitten comes home. It is not implied that you have to purchase everything new. It is perfectly acceptable and encouraged to make good use of what you may already have.
This is a fun and exciting time as you anticipate the new arrival and preparing is almost as much fun as bringing that new kitten home. If you are indeed a first time kitten owner, you may want to do a little research on how to get to know this adorable little newcomer. If you have never had a cat before, it is also a good idea to do some reading and research on cat and kitten behavior.
#1 Kitten Food
There is a reason this is item numero uno on the checklist. The first 6 – 12 months of a kitten’s life are truly formative for proper growth and development. Because all vital internal organs and systems are developing during this early age: skeletal, muscular, vision, cardiovascular, central nervous systems and gastrointestinal. Nutrition provides the basic building blocks for the healthy development of these crucial systems. The right food for your new kitten will make all the difference in his/her overall health for life. There is no one-size-fits-all answer for what food is best for your new kitten. At Goodness for Pets, we have over 30 years combined nutrition experience and would be very happy if you scheduled an appointment to come in for a nutritional consultation before you get that new kitten.
The Cat Box and Things
#2 Litter box, Litter, Scooper
The great news is that new kittens typically acclimate to a litter box very quickly. A good sized litter box without a cover is recommended. Open-topped litter boxes ease entry and exit and the air flow permitted without the cover prevents fumes from accumulating.
You will need at least 2 week’s supply of litter and a scooper for cleaning. Use an unscented, low-dust, clumping litter made from all natural materials. Some are even flushable! We recommend Weruva’s Tea Potty, World’s Best Cat Litter and Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract. Place the litter box in a low traffic spot where the kitten will feel safe and have some privacy. If your new kitten is joining a household with cats in residence, you may want to consider adding a new litter box to the equation. The rule of thumb is to have n+1 boxes in the house, where n= the number of cats in the home.
Food and Water Bowls
#3 Water bowl, Food Bowl
The water bowl needs to be low enough for your new kitten to drink from easily and deep enough to hold plenty of fresh water. It should be placed in an area of your home where your new kitten will feel safe drinking and away from the litter box. The water bowl does NOT have to be next to the food bowl. We recommend feeding your kitten on a schedule, 4 times a day until he/she is 4 months old, 3 times a day until 9 months old and twice a day thereafter. Once the meal is complete, pick up the bowl. Your new kitten will have lots of energy, so select bowls that won’t tip over easily. See one of our previous posts “Cat Bowls” The Best Type For You and Your Cat.
Travel Crate and Carriers
Get that new kitten home safely! Kitty “crazies” can occur at any time and the interior of a moving vehicle is not the place for it. A travel crate is a must. It should be solid, comfortable and well-ventilated. It will keep your new kitten safe and provide a sense of security for the journey home. Avoid mesh windows in the beginning. Those kitty claws and teeth are capable of shredding them easily. Adding a crate mat to the carrier will make it more comfortable, less slippery and your kitten will thank you for it. Once at home, leave the crate out in a safe spot for your new kitten to explore and curl up in. Make it a happy place with toys and treats inside. In the future, you can use the same carrier for traveling, trips to the vet or groomer. Your kitten will feel at ease.
#5 Pet Gate and/or Exercise Pen
New kittens can and will get into a lot of mischief. They are, after all, kittens. Therefore, you need to create a safe zone for your new kitten to transition into the new home. Start small by using a pet gate or any other type of appropriate barrier to keep the new kitten confined to a small area where no harm can be done, especially while you are away or sleeping (or attempting to). No electrical cords, nothing breakable to be knocked over, no plants, nothing on wheels, no deep ravines (baskets, trash cans, vases, toilets) for the first few days/weeks. Devote an area, put the litter box in there and the water bowl. You can keep expanding the safe zone by moving the safety barrier.
Kittens are agile and born athletes. You will be amazed at their ability to reach dizzying heights just to explore. Remove any high furniture such as a tall bookcase to prevent a fall. An exercise pen, at least 48″ high, is another great way to keep a new kitten out of harm’s way and can be easily moved from room to room, to keep the new kitten engaged with and among the family without worrying about what the new little kitten is getting into. Besides that, exercise pens are also a wonderful way to safely introduce the new kitten to other pets in the family.
New Kitten Bedding
#6 Cat Bed
Kittens play hard and sleep hard! Give your new kitten a high quality bed that will be their comfort spot for life. Select a bed made of soft, moisture-wicking material such as microfiber velvet which also discourages fur accumulation. Kittens and cats love a bolstered bed where they can curl up and rest, especially in a quiet, sunny place. There is a reason we use the phrase “cat-nap”. Kittens are extraordinary nappers but be prepared for more kitty mischief in the middle of the night. Put the kitten bed in the designated safe-zone or in an exercise pen whenever you are away.
Clean Up, Grooming and Wellness
#7 Toothbrush, Nail Clipper, Brush, Wipes, Shampoo, Natural Cleaner, Supplements
You have a wonderful opportunity to accustom your new kitten to good grooming protocol. Have a tooth brush, a brush and/or comb and nail clippers on the ready to introduce to your new kitten. Start brushing and grooming right away. The goal is to make a positive association with the brush, comb, clippers and toothbrush more so than actually accomplishing the grooming task itself. Therefore there is no need to actually use them at first, just show them to your new kitten and reward with praise and a treat.
Establish a dental routine for your new kitten early. Start off slow and just let them get used to the toothbrush in the mouth for just 10 seconds or so. Have a treat on hand! Introducing supplements right away will benefit your new kitten greatly. Consider digestive enzymes, probiotics, fish oil and a multivitamin to boost the immune system.
Enzymatic cleaners, we like Nature’s Miracle, specifically break down proteins and can be helpful to use while house training or to clean up “accidents”. Natural wipes are a quick solution if your new kitten gets messy in the litter box or into something that gets stuck in the fur. Water-less shampoo is another quick clean-up strategy without the need for a full bath.
#8 Treats and High Value Rewards
Reward your new kitten for good behavior with some healthy cat treats. You can use these tasty morsels to bond with your new kitten and also for training. Even more important, cat treats are resourceful in a variety of situations such as getting your new kitten to come when he/she is called. There are many one or low ingredient treats for cats that are human grade quality. Your new kitten is tiny and will enjoy smaller sized treat pieces. A high value treat is something extra special, different than what you use for training, and is reserved for when your new kitten does something really good, like NOT scratching the furniture when you give a command such as “Leave It”.
#9 Interactive, Chase and Chewable Toy
Toys are a great way to encourage your kitten’s playfulness and allow time for you to have fun with them! Kittens are naturally inquisitive and curious. Keep a basket of toys on hand to keep them occupied. Playing will keep your kitten busy, expend some of their energy and provide a way for you to bond together. Toys with feathers, crunchy fillings and catnip are popular, as are small handheld laser pointers. Cat tunnels are a great way for your new kitten to burn up some of that playful energy. Place or hang a few toys inside the tunnel and add a few sprinkles of catnip for added excitement.
SCRATCHING POSTS and CAT TOWERS
#10 Cat Scratcher and Tower
Kittens love to scratch and will most certainly scratch. Get the new kitten trained right away on “appropriate scratching“. Consequently, start out right by providing at least one scratching post/box or cat tower. Scratching is normal behavior, and training your new kitten to use a scratching device early in life may spare your furniture down the road! Feline’s have a natural desire to use vertical space and enjoy climbing. Cat towers are an excellent way to satisfy this need. Most importantly, be sure the scratching device is strong and sturdy. In addition, texture matters, therefore a sisal covered one is preferred. Place the post, box or tower in a location where your new kitten will feel the urge to scratch. A cat tower will help your new kitten learn strength and balance, allowing him/her to stretch and strengthen their muscles.
Check Off the Checklist!
Our new kitten checklist will help you prepare your home for that little bundle of joy and energy. There will be challenges but always be patient and give your new kitten adequate time to adjust to the new surroundings. Every kitten has different learning skills and quirks. You will see your new kitten’s personality emerge and grow with time and it is a beauty to behold! Please enjoy it to the utmost! Stop in to see our great selection of kitten products at Goodness For Pets. We have everything you need to check off that list!
New Kitten Checklist:
#1 Kitten Food
#2 Cat Box
#5 Safety Barrier
#7 Grooming and Wellness
#10 Scratcher and Tower