Kittens are cute, cuddly, and extremely active, and planning properly for their arrival can ensure a positive and smooth transition to their new home. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of La Marque team describes how to help set up your kitten for success.
Socialize your kitten
To become well-adjusted adult cats, all kittens need early socialization—exposure to new sights, sounds, and experiences. The socialization process helps kittens learn to interact with other pets and people, and helps build their confidence so they feel secure in their home environment. Kitten socialization tips include:
- Make experiences positive — Your kitten’s first few weeks in your home should be positive. To ensure your kitten settles comfortably in their new environment, avoid making loud noises and speaking in an angry voice.
- Handle your kitten frequently — Pet your kitten, and pick them up frequently. Touch your kitten’s toes, mouth, and ears to prepare them for nail trims, dental care, and other grooming tasks.
- Talk to your kitten — Regularly talking to your kitten helps them learn to understand your mood, and strengthens your bond. Use a soft, soothing voice when you speak to your kitten.
- Offer treats — Ensure you reward your kitten with treats when they are exposed to new experiences, so they make positive associations.
Spay or neuter your kitten
Spaying or neutering your kitten protects them from certain health complications, and can prevent behavioral issues. Spaying or neutering benefits your pet by:
- Preventing diseases — Spaying your female kitten helps prevent uterine infections, ovarian cancer, and mammary cancer. Neutering your male kitten helps prevent testicular cancer, and reduces the risk of prostate issue.
- Reducing aggressive behavior — Unneutered male cats are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior toward other cats.
- Reducing roaming — When female cats are in heat, they are driven to roam in search of a mate. From miles away, male cats can detect female cats in heat, and will roam to find them, exposing the cats to dangers, such as busy roads, predators, parasites, and infectious diseases.
- Preventing spraying — To mark their territory, unneutered male cats may spray their urine on vertical surfaces. You will have less clean up if you neuter your male kitten.
Provide an acceptable litter box setup for your kitten
From a young age, cats are finicky about their bathroom facilities. To prevent inappropriate elimination, ensure your kitten’s litter box setup is acceptable. Litter box setup tips include:
- Ensure you have enough boxes — You should have one litter box for each cat in your home, plus one.
- Use the right litter — Fill the box two to three inches with an unscented, clumpable litter. Kittens typically do not appreciate scented litters.
- Ensure the box is accessible — For small kittens, ensure the litter box is in an accessible location, and that they can easily get in and out of the box.
- Find a good location — Place your kitten’s litter box in a quiet spot where loud noises will not startle them while they are doing their business.
- Clean the box frequently — Scoop your kitten’s litter box at least twice per day, and clean the box completely, changing out the litter once per week.
Provide scratching posts for your kitten
Kittens need to scratch, and if you do not provide appropriate scratching options, they may sharpen their claws on your furniture and carpet. Scratching post tips include:
- Provide scratching options — Provide scratching posts in various configurations and materials to determine your kitten’s scratching preferences.
- Provide numerous posts — Provide scratching posts in every main room in your home, so your kitten always has a convenient place to scratch.
- Stabilize the scratching posts — You do not want your kitten to be injured or frightened if the post falls over while they are scratching. Ensure all scratching posts in your home are stabilized.
- Make the post attractive — To entice your kitten to investigate a new scratching post, place their favorite toy on the post, or sprinkle catnip on it.
Play with your kitten
Kittens are extremely active, and they need mental stimulation and physical activity to work off their excess energy. Play tips include:
- Schedule time — Schedule at least 10 to 15 minutes twice per day to play with your kitten.
- Use wand-style toys — Help your kitten imagine they are chasing prey by tempting them with wand-style toys, toys on strings, and laser pointers.
- Swap out the toys — Change out your kitten’s toys every few days, so they do not become bored.
Provide hiding places for your kitten
Kittens need hiding places where they can rest alone, and feel secure. Studies have shown that cats exhibit less stress when they have accessible hiding places. You can provide a fancy kitty condo, but kittens are usually happy with a cardboard box. Avoid invading your kitten’s space when they are in hiding mode, so they learn they will remain undisturbed in their special place.
Appropriately introduce your kitten to new people, pets, and situations
If you have other pets in your home, you must introduce your new kitten appropriately, so everyone accepts the new situation. New kitten introduction tips include:
- Create a designated room — When you first bring home your new kitten, sequester them in a designated room that has all their essentials such as food, water, litter box, bedding, and a scratching post. Give your new kitten a few days to become accustomed to this area of their new home before you allow them free rein.
- Make positive associations — Feed your pet and your new kitten on opposite sides of the door to help them make positive associations.
- Exchange bedding — Exchange your pet’s and new kitten’s bedding to let them become accustomed to each others’ scents.
- Introduce your pets — Let your pets meet face to face, but monitor them closely to ensure no one exhibits aggressive behavior. Only leave pets alone together once they demonstrate they can tolerate each other.
To ensure your new kitten’s successful introduction to their new Southeast Texas home, welcome them properly. If you adopt a kitten, contact our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of La Marque team so we can meet your new addition, and ensure they are healthy.