The ultimate guide to your new kitten with Joii
23rd June, 2023
Whether you’re adopting a kitten, or you’ve found one from a local breeder, bringing home your new arrival is an exciting experience. Kittens can be entertaining and playful- not to mention undeniably cute! Already thinking about the fun you’ll have? Now is the perfect time to prepare for a new kitten.
Buying a kitten
The average lifespan of a cat is 14 years. Cats are a long-term commitment and can be more expensive than people realise (food, bedding, preventative care such as vaccines and parasite treatments, vet bills).
If you are buying a kitten, make sure to use a responsible breeder or consider a rescue kitten from a charity (adoption centers in the UK are often full). Kittens should not be any younger than 8 weeks old when taken away from their litter. You should have had a chance to meet your kitten already and take a look at their surroundings, ensuring that they are sociable, alert and have no visible health issues. If possible, you could ask to see the kitten's mother.
Kittens’ essential checklist
Making kitten-related purchases is part of the fun, especially when it comes to choosing them new toys to play with. Before you begin buying novelty items and expensive treats, here’s a list of essential things your kitten will need before they arrive.
- Food and water bowls (ideally multiple in different areas)
- Litter-tray (helpful even for outdoor cats)
- Cosy bed and blankets
- Cat carrier
- Scratching post
Bringing your kitten home
Once your home is set up for your cat, it’s time for the exciting part – taking them home! You’ll need a sturdy and well-ventilated cat carrier for bringing your kitten home in the car, which will need to be secured with a seatbelt once your kitten is inside.
Most kittens aren’t keen on being in a cat carrier, especially as their environment is new and strange to them. To keep them calm, consider placing a blanket or item from their home inside. Cats are heavily reliant on scent and will settle much quicker if their surroundings smell familiar.
Once you’re home safely, it is time to gently introduce your kitten to their new environment. Give them the freedom to explore their new room, toys, and items – no doubt giving them all a good sniff! If they choose to hide, sit quietly in the room, and gently talk to them rather than forcing them out from their hiding space. It is completely natural for kittens to hide initially in a strange new environment.
For the first few days, limit them to just a couple of rooms initially so that they don’t feel overwhelmed. As they become more confident, you can introduce them to other areas of the house.
For a happy and healthy life, cats need several key resources; access to food, water, a toilet area, a scratching area, a high perch, a play area, and a resting or sleeping area. Cats spend 70% of their lives sleeping (13-16 hours per day).
- Make sure to keep food and water separate from the litter tray.
- Clean the litter tray regularly.
- Provide multiple options for bowls and litter trays.
- Make sure food, water and litter trays are in quiet areas of the house.
- Make sure your cat has a safe place to hide.
- Provide adequate physical and mental stimulation to prevent stress and boredom
- Keep a routine, cats can be highly sensitive to change
- Get to know body language of cats - some love attention and others prefer to be left alone
Introducing your kitten to children and the family
Once your kitten feels confident with you, you can gradually introduce other members of the family to them. While it is easy to get excited, it is important to remember to introduce people at your kitten’s pace – if they’re shy, it can be overwhelming for them to meet everyone at the same time.
Children are bound to be excited about the arrival of a new kitten. Before your little ones meet your kitten, prepare them by telling them to be gentle and calm. It is important that the kitten comes to them initially and they’re shown how to interact gently with them. Kittens also need a lot of sleep and will need to be left alone to rest, especially as they get used to their new home.
As your kitten becomes more comfortable, they’ll enjoy the playfulness of being around children. Naturally, kittens use their teeth and claws – making sure that you play with your kitten with appropriate toys instead of your hands and feet is important, particularly as their teeth and claws get bigger! Avoid using your fingers to encourage a cat in your direction too.
What should I feed my kitten?
There are many different options for food out there and picking one can be tricky. Kittens require kitten food (wet and/or dry) until they are 10-12 months old. This is important as it contains all the minerals and vitamins they need for growth and development.
Cat food also comes in adult and senior varieties. If changing from one food to another, do so slowly (transition over 7-14 days) to avoid stomach upsets. Try to avoid changing foods too often. It’s advised that you speak with a vet or nurse about how to choose the best food for your cat. Keeping your cat at a healthy weight is extremely important.
Be aware of things in your home that are toxic to cats
- Household plants, especially lilies
- Cleaning products
- Human medications
- Chocolate, grapes, raisins
- Onions and garlic
As of June 2024, it will be a legal requirement for all cats in the UK to be microchipped.
Other important health aspects to consider:
- Neutering (usually around 6 months old). Cats can become pregnant from their first heat, which can be as young as 4 months old.
- Vaccines (initial course at 8 and 12 weeks old then once yearly)
- Parasite preventative (every 1-3 months)
- Regular check-over with a vet (at least once a year)
- Insurance to help with the financial burden of unexpected illness or injuries.
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