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!