We chat to Lucy Hoile, an expert Feline Behaviour Counsellor and the creator of Mind The Cat, and reveal her top five tips for what to expect with a new kitten.
1. Kitten proof your home
Expect your kitten to explore every nook and cranny in your home. Block access to areas they can get stuck and remove anything that may cause harm, such as leads and wires, rubber bands, pins, and thread. Ensure there is no way for your kitten to escape to the outside world. Introduce one room at a time to gradually build confidence in the home.
2. Provide suitable resources
Shallow sided litter trays should be positioned in an accessible area, away from food, water and beds. Food and water should be placed apart from one another and beds, hiding places, scratch posts and viewing spaces up high should all be provided. If you have more than one cat, one of each of these resources should be provided per cat, plus one extra.
3. Give them space
Although kittens are lots of fun, it is important to respect their choice to sleep and rest. Kittens should generally not be disturbed when asleep. Encourage play with toys when active and encourage them to approach you for a stroke by calmly extending your hand towards them and softly calling their name.
4. Provide a stimulating environment when no one is home
When alone, kittens should be provided with activities to keep them occupied, especially if they are used to being in a lively litter. Hiding small piles of dry kitten food in safe areas around the home will encourage exploration and will make food more exciting than when presented in a bowl. Simple activity feeders can be used for food too and providing a variety of climbing posts and areas will allow the kitten to play and explore appropriately.
5. Prepare for common vet procedures
All kittens will need to visit the vet at some point during their lifetime for vaccinations, neutering and for any illnesses or medical attention. It is important to prepare for this as much as possible while they are young. Leave a carry box out to be explored and place small amounts of food inside. This will help develop a pleasant association with the carrier and the kitten will be more likely to go in happily when the time comes. This should be repeated often throughout their lives. Gently accustom the kitten to having his mouth opened and teeth brushed, ears and eyes examined and paws, tail and bottom felt.