New Cat Checklist

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Congratulations, you have a new kitten! To help simplify all the information you’ll be getting from books, videos, neighbors and even strangers, here is a new kitten checklist just for you:

  • Find a veterinarian you trust. With some luck and care, this relationship will last 15 to 20 years (!), so it pays to seek good care at a quality practice. There is a lot to cover during the first few “well kitten” visits, including vaccinations, deworming, and future plans for spaying or neutering.
  • Invest in ceramic or stainless steel food and water bowls, which are easy to wash and disinfect. Select a shape that is difficult for the kitten to tip.
  • Grooming supplies are essential for any kind of kitty coat. Even shorthaired cats will need some help removing loose hairs. A bristle brush, metal-toothed comb or chamois mitt will be very useful.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about the best choices for kitten-formulated diets, as well as a suggested time frame for switching to an adult food. The variety of commercially available foods is staggering, and some professional guidance can go a long way in reducing the confusion.
  • Next to food and water, your kitten’s most important accessory is her litter box — or, better, boxes. Litter boxes should be as long and wide as possible. Kittens do best when they have a choice of at least two, both of which should be easily accessible and nearby.
  • Start your kitten with clumping-style litter. Research has shown that cats prefer clumping litter to other types. The, make sur eyou scoop the clumps at leat sonce a day (and preferably twice!).
  • To prevent damage to carpets and furniture, provide scratching posts made of sisal rope or horizontal strips of corrugated cardboard. Kittens and cats need to scratch with their front claws — this instinctive behavior serves to groom the nails as well as to mark territory.
  • Consider enrolling your new pet in a specially designed kitten “kindergarten.” Such classes are designed primarily as a way to socialize young kittens and, more important, to provide a place where new owners can ask questions and obtain good information about their new companions.
  • If you are concerned about any behavior problems, including persistent play-biting, litter box problems, or fearfulness, pay attention to your instincts! Ask your veterinarian for behavioral help or for a referral to a behavioral specialist. Problems are much easier to resolve when intervention is early.
  • Take lots of pictures and start a kitten scrapbook. Your new best friend is going to grow up very quickly!