Future cat-owners: Read our 5 tips checklist to getting kittens
Congratulations – you’ve decided to get a kitten! From finding the right kitten for you to setting up her new play area, there’s lots to think about. Before you bring home your new fluffball, make sure you’ve ticked off everything on our how to get a kitten checklist.
1. Do you know what breed you want?
There are so many cat breeds that deciding which one is right for you can be a bit overwhelming. Some important things to think about when choosing a breed: how many hours will you be able to spend with your kitten? Will she be an indoor or outdoor cat? Will she be living with other animals? What coat length would you like? How often can you groom your cat? A clear list of requirements and preferences will make it easier to find a kitten that suits you and your lifestyle perfectly. It is advisable to consult on potential health issues of certain breeds, e.g. with your local vet.
2. Is she at least 12 weeks old?
Experts believe you should leave a kitten with her mother until she’s at least 12-13 weeks old. By this age, she will have learnt lots of life skills from her mother, including how to eat independently and use a litter box.
3. Do you have all the right equipment?
You’ll need to kitten-proof your place before you welcome your new bundle of joy – a warm box or basket in a quiet place to sleep, food and water bowls and a litter tray are the absolute essentials, as well as a secure cat carrier to bring her home for the very first time. Take your time sussing out which toys and treats she prefers, and stock up on cat food according to her age and development.
You should also bear in mind that kittens are incredibly curious – they will get everywhere! Make sure you block access to any potential escape routes or dangers, such as toxic cleaning products, exposed electrical cables, or any of your pot plants that might be poisonous. You may also want to consider using cat-safe cleaning products. And don’t forget, as well as protecting your kitten from your home, you also need to protect your home from your kitten! Start thinking about a scratching post, too – you don’t want your new kitty to get too acquainted with your sofa!
4. Do you have a local vet?
As soon as you’ve picked up your new kitten, head straight to the vet to have your pet examined (and treated, if necessary) for fleas and worms. Parasite control will be something you need to stay on top on for their entire lives, so chat to your vet about the best way to do this. You’ll also need to do a general check-up of her weight, eyes, ears and teeth. Vaccinations are an important part of a kitten’s life – the first ones start at around nine weeks and she’ll need top-ups at least once a year. Your kitten may already have been microchipped before you brought her home, but if not, you should have that done as soon as possible. You should also have her neutered before the four month mark.
5. Are you mentally prepared?
Getting a kitten is much more than just cuddles and cute photos. It can be stressful, hard work and exhausting – and not that different from looking after a human baby! Expect some late nights and early mornings as you help your kitten adjust to her new home, as well as a few ‘accidents’ as she learns to use her litter tray and scratching post. Cats are curious, independent and love exploring, so it’s important that you set some ground rules at the beginning. While there are bound to be some hiccups along the way, ultimately getting a kitten will be one of the best choices you can make, and you’ll be rewarded with infinite happy purrs and meows!
Cat litter training is an important step for kittens – read our guide here.