Your Kitten

How To Make Your Home Kitten-Proof and Plan For Those Important Early Days

When deciding on the best time to collect your kitten, plan ahead so that you can be at home with him for several days, perhaps over a weekend. Avoid dates close to holidays, parties, or any building work in your home.

Equipment

1. A strong secure carrying box, bearing in mind that kittens grow fast. A cardboard box is not good enough, cats and kittens have been known to escape from these and a frightened kitten in a car could cause an accident.

2. A litter tray. There are lots of different ones, ask what your kitten has been used to.

3. Cat litter. Again ask what your kitten has been using.

4. Food bowls. One for wet food, one for dry food and one for water. A heavier type is best for water so that it doesn't get tipped over.

5. Kitten Food, both wet and dry. You will be told what your kitten prefers to eat, if you want to try changing this, do it very gradually so as not to cause a stomach upset.

6. A scratching post. Your kitten will be used to using one, and this will help to prevent damage to furniture.

7. A bed. A cardboard box is good enough, with something soft inside.

8. Toys. These are essential if you will be leaving your kitten on its own for any length of time. Also for inter-action with your kitten.

Tidy and de-clutter your home before your kitten arrives, and block off any gaps which he could squeeze into or under. It's amazing how small a space they can get into.

Room by Room

1. Stick labels on washing machines and tumble driers to remind everyone to keep the doors closed, kittens love the dark warmth of these places.

2. Safely store away household chemicals and medicines.

3. Fixed lid kitchen bins are better than swing bins as kittens can fall inside.

4. Block all access to chimneys.

5. Put house plants and cut flowers out of reach as some are poisonous to cats.

6. Tidy away trailing electrical cables, as small sharp teeth can easily chew them.

7. Tidy away craft and sewing boxes and anything containing small objects that could easily be swallowed. Never leave needles around with thread attached, as these can also be swallowed and cause serious internal damage.

8. When using a cooker hob, always put a saucepan of cold water on a hotplate, in case your kitten jumps up.

9. Keep toilet lids down, a kitten can drown in a toilet.

Find a Vet

Register with a vet, and book an early check-up. Personal recommendation is often best but visit the surgery to ensure you are happy with the staff, the services on offer, and the opening times.

Family Life

Explain to the family that the first few days will be stressful for the kitten and ask them to handle him gently and quietly, giving him lots of time to sleep. Once you've brought him home, close all the doors and windows and then open the door of his carrier. Allow him to venture out in his own time and don't worry if he seems shy. Follow these tips to get your kitten settled.

1. Choose where your kitten will live for the first few days or weeks -- preferably not the kitchen because this is usually a busy place with lots of places for a kitten to hide. Kittens are small, and although you may think it unkind to confine him, a room is huge to him and he will settle better in one room at a time.

2. As your kittens confidence grows, gradually introduce him to other rooms, but still shut him away at night.

3. If you want the kitten to sleep in your bedroom, be prepared to be disturbed in the early hours when he will want to play. If your kitten is the only one, make sure he has lots of toys to play with and snuggle up to, but NEVER leave anything dangling on string or elastic as he could easily get it tangled around his neck or a leg. If you have two kittens they will play and sleep together and generally be much happier.

4. Your kitten's room should contain a cosy enclosed bed, a litter tray, food and water. A climbing frame, scratching post, or even an old cardboard box will keep him occupied.

5. Continue socializing your kitten, by allowing lots of short, gentle handling sessions with different people using food treats as rewards.

6. Contact the rescue or fosterer for advice if your kitten still seems unsettled after a few days.

Food Tips

1. Wash and rinse your kitten's food bowls after every meal.

2. Ensure your kitten has constant access to fresh water which is changed everyday.

3. Use the same food that your kitten has been used to. If you really want to change the food, gradually mix a little of the new food with the old food until a complete change is made. If you suddenly change the food this will most likely result in sickness and diarrhoea. DO NOT give your kitten cows milk, as this will have the same result.

4. Dispose of uneaten wet food after the kitten has finished eating, to avoid it deteriorating and attracting flies.

Other Pets

Don't rush into introducing other pets. Keeping the kitten in a different room for a few days allows your other cat or dog to get used to his smell. When introducing them for the first time, have someone else give your other cat a lot of fuss, and keep your dog on a lead. The secret is to take things very slowly, resisting the urge to interfere as much as possible.

Playtime

Kittens will entertain themselves with almost anything, including scrunched up pieces of paper, empty cotton reels, ping-pong balls and bits of ribbon.

Play helps kittens develop social interaction skills. A good choice of toys will help your kitten burn off energy and help develop his retrieval, climbing and eye/paw co-ordination. When playing with your kitten, ensure that from an early age play does not become too rough. A small kittens teeth and claws can accidentally draw blood and if this happens, stop the game immediately and say `No'. Boisterous behaviour that can seem fun in a kitten can develop into problem behaviour when the cat is fully grown.

The Great Outdoors

We recommend that you keep your kitten indoors until after it has been neutered at 6 months. Until that time, and even then, your kitten is still very much a baby and you wouldn't let a child of equivalent age wander free on its own. While you have it indoors, teach it to come when it is called and give it a tasty treat when it does come.

Never take your kitten outside and put him down, he needs to find his own way out so he can follow his scent back in. Call him to you from time to time and give him a treat or a small meal when he comes. Ideally invest in a cat-flap, so that your kitten can always feel safe.

When you let your kitten out for the first time, do it before you feed him, then he will come back when he is hungry. Let him out for an hour or so, then call him back in and feed him. Do this every day, gradually lengthening the `out ' time until you are confident that he will come back. Try at all times to keep your kitten away from the front of the house. It is also best to keep him in when it is dark, most road accidents happen in the dark, especially at about 2-3am, and during rush hours.

If your kitten is 6 months or older when you first get him, you MUST keep him in for at least 3 weeks to let him get used to his new surroundings and new family first.

ENJOY YOUR KITTEN