Tips for First Time Kitten Owners Part 1

Written by Lisa Michalik

Congratulations on your new furry addition!

Deciding to add a kitten to your family should never be one taken lightly or done “on a whim”. Kittens are not born into this world with an innate knowledge of what is required of them to live in a human world. They require guidance and training. If done correctly though you can anticipate many, many years of happiness and great health for both you and your new pet.

The first year tends to hit the wallet the hardest.

Let’s begin with the essentials that you should have already purchased and have ready to go before even bringing your new friend into the home:

  • Litter Tray and Cat Litter – it’s best to begin with what the kitten has already been using to help make the transition smoother. If you wish to change brands you can do so once the kitten has settled in. Place the litter box in a convenient location. Chances are high that if the kitten has to travel a mile, uphill both ways to reach the litter box s/he’ll simply find a more convenient location to do his/her business.
  • Scratching Post Scratching is an instinctual behaviour that CANNOT be stopped (pay close attention to a declawed cat who also still exhibits this behaviour) so the onus is on you to channel this behaviour accordingly. Declawing is an unnecessary cosmetic procedure. The surgery involves more than simply “cutting the nail off”. It’s an actual full amputation of the last knuckle on each toe. There are many risks involved. It’s highly recommended that you consult with your veterinarian before considering this procedure.  There ARE many alternatives to declawing your kitten. Trimming a kitten’s nails is very easy to do and only takes a few minutes.  Your veterinarian can show you how to do this properly. If introduced early and often enough most cats learn to accept this.

There are various styles of posts on the market. It’s advisable to offer more than 1 post and to offer different styles and materials. Cats DO have a preference as to what they like when it comes to scratching posts. It’s up to you to experiment with various styles to find which one Fluffy prefers. Be sure the post is sturdy and secure. If it topples over onto the kitty the moment s/he tries to use it it’s almost a guarantee that it’ll be avoided in the future. Place the posts in various locations of the home however, the same applies here as for the litter box. If the cat has to walk a mile to satisfy the urge to scratch chances are s/he’ll simply find a closer and more convenient location (most likely your couch or wall) instead.  Entice the kitten to use the posts by luring with Catnip or a dangly toy. Make the posts fun for Fluffy to use.

  • Food/Water Bowls – Some cats can also be finicky about the kind of food dish they’re presented with. Some prefer a deep dish as opposed to shallow, stainless steel over plastic etc. Again, this is trial and error.
  • Cat Toys – there are thousands to choose from. Your cat WILL rely on you for entertainment else s/he’ll make their own choices and they may not appeal so much to you (climbing the drapes, etc)

To learn more about your new kitty’s bed, carrier, food, behaviour and even baby proofing, check back to our blog next week! The Mountain Road Animal Hospital has a lot more to share!