Kitten season is upon us. Litters have been born and weaned, and once again we are seeing an influx of kittens in the shelters and up for adoption. But before you adopt, take a moment to learn what you can about the care and socialization of kittens.
Kitten Care Starts With Letting Them Get to Know You
Before your rush into an adoption, it’s important to know what you’re getting into and how to provide proper kitten care. As obvious as it might seem, it’s important to remember that cats are not dogs. Not only are their personalities vastly different, so are their needs.
Before bringing a kitten home, please keep the following things in mind:
- Cats are not pack animals, and are therefore more independent.
- While the use of treats is universal, cats learn and respond differently than dogs.
- Cats are more territorial than dogs.
- Cats are creatures of habit and take longer to adjust to change than dogs.
- Cats are intelligent creatures and crave stimulation, toys, and games that simulate hunting and other wild pursuits.
- Cats are very scared of loud noises.
- Cats are nocturnal by nature and will, at least once in their life, go crazy at 3 a.m.
Kitten Care: Food for Felines
It’s important to remember that cats are true carnivores and natural predators. Cats generally thrive in a high-protein diet, and typically prefer canned foods, as they tend to mimic a “wild diet.” Likewise, canned foods can help your cat maintain a healthier body condition and coat.
Kitten Care: Providing the Right Environment
Kittens and cats require a little extra love when it comes to their environment. Whether your kitty will be indoors or out (or both), please keep the following tips in mind:
- Cats naturally want to scratch, even when declawed. Not only is scratching a form of exercise for cats, it’s how they mark their territory. Be certain to provide both horizontal and vertical scratching posts for your cat.
- Provide a safe place for refuge, rest, and relaxation—both high and low. Cats generally prefer a high spot with a great view, but enjoy a quiet den as well.
- When it comes to litter boxes, the rule is: one box per cat, plus one. Kittens and cats prefer their boxes to be in a quiet, yet accessible area, and should be cleaned daily and washed weekly.
Kitten Care: Preventatives
Kittens require extra veterinary care when they are introduced into the family. We recommend the following:
- Spay or neuter your kitten as soon as possible, if not already done.
- Bring your kitten in for a wellness exam as soon as possible. This exam should include establishing a protocol for vaccinations, FELV/FIV, intestinal parasites, and a de-worming, as well as a general wellness screening.
- Start your kitten on a monthly heartworm preventative as soon as possible.
Kitten Care: Socializing a Young Cat
As we mentioned above, kittens and cats are creatures of habit and take longer to adjust to change than you might think. Socializing your kitten to the people and routines he or she will know at an early age will make life easier for your both.
Spend time with your kitten. Snuggles are always great, but don’t forget to play with and groom your kitty too. Likewise, take the time to introduce your new kitten to your dog (if you have one), as well as the crate and car.
Finally, consider “Happy Tails” visits to the vet. These non-medical visits can build confidence in your cat and decrease the stress of a trip to the vet.