A Comprehensive Guide to Bringing Home a New Kitten

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Before you bring a new kitten into your home, your family should be informed about the kitten's food, litter, and play needs.

Before bringing a kitten into your home

you should prepare your house and your family for the new arrival.  You have to "kitten-proof" the rooms in your house and you have to buy supplies for your kittens, such as a litter box, food, and toys.  Also, if you have young children, you should teach them about the safe handling of a kitten.  Do your research so that your new kitten gets off on the right paw with your family.

If you have ever visited the pet supplies aisle at your local supermarket, you already know that there are a plethora of cat food choices.  It can be confusing and overwhelming to decide which one you should buy.  First of all, if you are getting a kitten (and by the kitten, I mean a cat that is under one year old), then you should be looking for cat foods that are labeled specifically for kittens.  You will see some foods that are marked “all ages” or “all life stages,” but you shouldn’t get these foods for a kitten.  Kittens require additional proteins and nutrients that are not found in large enough quantities unless the food is targeted specifically at kittens. 

You also want to find a kitten food that has the phrase “complete and balanced” on it.  Look for reputable well-known brands – not the cheap stuff.  If you want to make sure that you are getting a high-quality healthy kitten food, buy your food at your veterinarian’s office.  A veterinarian’s office will carry exclusively high-quality healthy foods.  Be sure to purchase both wet and dry foods.  When your kitten grows into adulthood, you may need to monitor his or her food consumption so that your kitty doesn’t overeat.  However, your kitten can and should eat as much as possible during the first year of life, so make sure that fresh food and water are readily available all day.  

You will also need a litter box.  One of the great things about cats is that most of them are instinctually potty-trained.  All you have to do is show them the way once or twice, and they’ll be good to go.  You may want to invest in a large, covered litter box when your kitten gets a little bigger, but for now, it is best to stick to a shallow litter pan so that your kitty will have no problem getting over the sides and into the “restroom.”  Fill your pan halfway up with the litter of your liking.  You can get the clay pebbles, recycled paper bits, crystals, or clumping sand.  Without a doubt, the clumping sand litter is the most popular type, and that is because it is the most effective at combating odors.  For additional odor control, you should sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda in the bottom of the litter pan, before adding the litter.  

As far as toys go, you want to stick to the simple stuff.  Toys that have lots of small sewn-on parts, such as ribbons or bows, and toys that are attached to long strings, are not safe.  They present a choking hazard.  Kittens will naturally try to bite off ribbons, and then they will simply swallow them.  Long strings may be fun for supervised play, but if you leave your kitty unattended with a long string, there is certainly a risk of strangulation.  Don’t test the nine lives theory.  Play it safe, literally.  Also, keep in mind that kittens have great fun with some unlikely household supplies, such as paper bags and shoe boxes… and it’s quite fun to watch them spend hours exciting themselves with these simple items.

Finally, you have to make your home a kitten-safe environment.  Small items, such as buttons, coins, or Barbie doll shoes, have to be put away into a drawer that your kitten cannot get to.  Look around your home for any choking hazards or strangulation hazards, such as drawstrings for blinds.  Also, if you have kids, you should teach them about the proper way to handle a kitten.  They should be instructed to support the kitten with two hands – one hand under the stomach, and one under the kitten’s feet.  Make sure your children know that if the kitten is squirming to get down, they should let it get down.  Keep an eye on your kitten and kids, especially during the first couple of weeks.  Your new kitten is going to be an adorable new family member that will add so much love and happiness to your home.   

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