Kittens are cute and adorable, but introducing a new kitten into the family requires forethought and commitment. You can't just bring a tiny kitten home and expect him to be fine. Your kitten will need lots of looking after in the early days to help him thrive and prevent him from coming to harm. But if you are happy to take the time to create a loving, safe home for a kitten, your efforts will be rewarded and your new friend will soon become part of the family. So what are the key things to think about before bringing a kitten home?
Prepare a Quiet, Safe Place
Kittens need a quiet place to go in the first few days. Ideally you should keep your kitten separate from other pets until he settles down. Leaving his littermates will be stressful for a kitten and it could take him a day or so to acclimatize to his new home. Provide a warm bed where he can go to sleep and if he's upset, place a warm heating pad or hot water bottle under a blanket to soothe him.
Essential Kitten Equipment
Kittens don't need much in the way of equipment, but there are a few things you will have to purchase in advance:
Litter tray and cat litter – Make sure the litter tray is not too deep and place it where he can easily find it.
Food and water bowls – Buy a selection so you can wash them in rotation.
Bed – Any bed will do as long as it is warm and machine washable.
You can see this cat's bed.
Toys – Have a few kitten toys handy for when your kitten is ready to play.
Kittens need to be introduced carefully to other pets. Older cats can sometimes be territorial, so supervise contact to begin with to make sure there are no outbreaks of hostility. It is also a good idea to give the older cat lots of attention so he doesn't become jealous of the interloper. The same applies to dogs—make sure both animals are comfortable in each other's presence before you leave them alone together.
Toilet Training a New Kitten
Kittens usually learn to use a litter tray very quickly, but do make sure the kitten knows where his tray is and to begin with, pop him in it regularly so that he gets the idea. Don't be too quick to clean the litter tray, either, for this might discourage him from using it.
Feeding a New Kitten
Always buy kitten food rather than normal cat food because it contains the extra nutrients a kitten needs to grow strong and healthy. Feed your kitten according to the recommended guidelines on the packet and always make sure he has a bowl of fresh water available. Don't be tempted to give a kitten cow's milk—many cats are allergic to cow's milk and it can cause them digestive upset. If you must give him milk, buy special kitten milk instead.
A kitten shouldn't need veterinary care in the first few weeks, but he will require vaccinations and worming, so it is a good idea to take him along for a vet check-up at 8-10 weeks of age.