Congratulations! Now you have a “baby” to take care of, and the most important point to keep in mind is that just like infants, kittens are “baby” cats, not small cats. For that reason, you have to learn how to take care of a kitten.
Just as you would do with children, it is up to you guide them and provide the proper care and love that they need, especially at the beginning of this wonderful adventure called life. If you just adopted a kitten and want him/her to grow up healthy and be a happy and confident adult cat, start incorporating this advice as soon as possible.
Also, make sure you start a grooming routine early. If you do, bathing, brushing, and trimming claws will be an event to look forward to, rather than something to dread.
The first step should be to take the kitty to a veterinarian for evaluation and specific instructions and advice about how to take care of a kitten. Care depends on the age and that’s what we are going to talk about now.
1 – Your Kitten is not an Adult Cat, he/she Needs Special Care
Don’t treat your kitten as an Adult Cat. According to the age, there are some important things to consider, especially keep in mind that what your kitten eats in his first year of life helps form the foundation for a lifetime of good nutrition, so be sure to provide a quality kitten diet to help him on his way to healthy adulthood.
- Two to seven weeks of age
The so-called sensitive period of development for kittens is between 2 and 7 weeks of age. This is a time when primary social relationships and emotional attachments develop and the kitten is most sculptable by environmental influences. At age under eight weeks, kittens should still be with her mother, because kittens this young are unable to regulate their own temperatures, they rely on one another’s body heat to survive and they are still developing vision and leg coordination.
Sometimes, If you adopt a kitten this young, they will need special care, including bottle-feeding for every two hours up to four weeks of age.
Kittens start eating solid soft food at about 4 weeks old. A meat-based canned kitten food is ideal for this time
- Eight to eleven weeks of age
By eight weeks, kittens are usually weaned and should be eating kitten diet, which needs to be energy dense, rich in protein and highly digestible. Kittens need to eat small amounts frequently during the day.
Quality dry food “formulated for kittens” should be left out at all times. Most dry foods have an animal fat coating to appeal to your little carnivore’s desire for meat protein. This can turn rancid after a couple of days, so change out any uneaten food regularly. In addition, dividing up one 6 oz can of wet food over 2-4 feedings is sufficient.
Your kitten should always have access to fresh water, it is important to leave it clean and easily available. Use a shallow bowl so he can reach over the edge.
During this period, kittens begin to develop complex motor skills. Kittens are known for their frisky behavior, running, jumping, climbing, pouncing and pawing. This play is actually a vital part of normal development but this can be a dangerous period for your kitten if you don’t supervise him. Now, you need to start setting boundaries and keep him in a safe room, under your supervision.
- Two to four months of age
This is a phase of rapid growth for kittens. They’ll have almost three times more energy than an adult cat, therefore, they need three to four individual meals a day during this time.
A dry kitten food should have about 35 percent protein and 12 to 24 percent fat content; canned food will appear to have less because it is diluted with water. Get diet “formulated for kittens” and avoid adult cat diets labeled for maintenance; they don’t have the higher protein and fat content that kittens need.
- Four to six months of age
At this age, kittens are reaching adolescence and, thus, sexual maturity. Talk to a veterinarian about having your kitten spayed or neutered before it reaches this stage to avoid unpleasant habits like territorial spraying, accidental litters, and unwanted offspring. Spayed or neutered pets are better behaved and they live longer, healthier lives.
Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures used to remove the reproductive organs of dogs and cats. General anesthesia is required and has to be performed by a Veterinarian.
2 – Using the Litter Box
Most kittens come pre-trained in the use of the litter box. Their mother will train them the moment they’re weaned. If for some reason he missed out on that, it shouldn’t take long for him to get the routine down, cats instinctively want to bury their excrement.
Make sure your kitten knows where the litter box is located. Use a soft litter to start – it’s easy on their sensitive paws. However, don’t use clay or clumping litter if he tends to eat it. This can cause serious intestinal problems and can result in blockage of the intestine.
Place your kitten in the litter box about 5-10 minutes after eating or drinking and his instincts to go there should take over once he’s had a chance to get familiar with it. Most cats appreciate privacy, so try to place the litter box in a low traffic area.
Some young kittens will sleep in the box because their scent is strongly present there and it makes them feel safe being around something they recognize as their own. Spending quality time with him in other areas of the house will help break this habit quickly, as will provide him with a dedicated spot to sleep.
3 – Reward Good Behavior and Socialize
If you want to learn how to take care of a kitten the right way, always remember that the socialization and training your kitten receives during kittenhood will affect how well he will likely interact with people and other animals when he’s older, not exposing them to things made them more nervous as adults. Make sure your kitten has a positive experience out of any socialization exposure you provide him, play loud music and make noise and you will have a happy cat for the rest of his life.
Your kitten has to be active. Give him objects to explore, such as boxes, paper bags and toys. Play with him but do not allow him to bite or scratch during play. If he does, redirect his attention to a toy.
4 – Yelling, Threatening, Or Physical Punishment
Concentrate on being patient and considerate while using positive reinforcement to reward acceptable behavior. Training will take time, don’t expect your kitten to learn whatever you are teaching him in one session. It will usually take three or more.
It is far better to teach the kitten what to do rather than to punish it for something he is doing. Punishment teaches a kitten nothing, except how to avoid the punishment.
Cats don’t understand what you are telling them. They can learn commands and understand the tone of your address but words for them are simply sound cues.
5 – Scratching – Make Proper Provisions
Scratching is a natural feline behavior. Cats have an innate need to scratch. Cats scratch surfaces because it is a way to mark their territory and also because they’re trying to shed the old layers of nail. Keeping those daggers trimmed using clippers made especially for cats can cut down on this need.
A scratching post is definitely a necessity for a kitten, it will help keep his nails at a reasonable length and reward him with toys, praise or treats when he uses them. It has to be big, tall, and sturdy, you can’t imagine how much force a tiny kitten can put on one!
Please don’t even consider declawing your cat to solve your problems with a furniture-scratching kitten! If you start worrying about your furniture being damaged, please go back to my previous post and remember that it is cruel, painful and unnecessary. All that you need is to give him the proper training and make sure the kitten has plenty of places to scratch, cats are very smart and he will soon learn.
6 – If you have Young Children
Children and kittens are cute but they cannot be trusted alone together and they should interact only under supervision. Bad things tend to happen.
If the child does something bad to the kitten by way of experimentation, the kitten will respond adversely. This will not do the child or kitten any good, it is your responsibility keep both of them safe.
7 – Preventive Care is a Priority
To ensure your kitty has a lifetime of good health, start early in providing him with preventive care:
- Schedule a Vet appointment early. Within a week of getting your kitten, no matter what, schedule his first vet appointment. Early and frequent vet visits will help socialize your kitten with the vet and help the vet establish a baseline for your kitten’s health.
- Ask about intestinal parasites and fleas. Have a veterinarian check your kitten for worms and intestinal parasites, and have him de-wormed, if necessary. The biggest parasitic threat to your kitten, however, is fleas. You can start administering topical flea preventatives when your kitten is around 8 to 12 weeks of age — although some brands are formulated for kittens as young as 4 weeks old.
- About Vaccinations. Preventive care for kittens may include vaccines for feline leukemia, rabies, and distemper. These shots are usually first administered when a kitten is around 8 weeks of age, with boosters given every few weeks until she reaches 16 weeks of age. After that, your veterinarian can set her up on an adult vaccination schedule. He or she may also recommend additional vaccinations.
These building blocks will give your kitten the best possible start in life, but don’t forget that he’ll still need plenty of attention, love, and care when he gets older.
Do you have any question? Would you like to share with the community how your kitty is doing? We would love to read your comments!