May 31, 2017
Guest Post: Alexandra Birr (Editor)
Recently I wrote a post about why you should foster a kitten—but maybe you’re ready to take it a step further! Are you ready to ADOPT a kitten? What a wonderful decision! If you’ve got kittens on the mind, here are a couple pieces of advice to keep in mind before adopting.
In general, kittens are much braver than adult cats. I know it is our instinct to not want to scare the kittens, but exposing them to new experiences is a good thing! Don’t be afraid to run the vacuum, have people over frequently to meet the kittens, play loud music, etc. The more the cat becomes used to as a kitten, the less he’ll be afraid of as an adult.
This includes things like claw trimming and teeth brushing! Teeth brushing is important to your kitty’s health, and claw trimming is important to your sanity. :) Get your kitten used to you handling her paws and mouth, and then start the trimming and brushing early. Your furniture and her teeth will thank you later.
Instead of 2 meals a day like an adult cat, kittens eat 3-4 smaller meals per day. It’s a good idea now to help your kitten learn not to overeat. If you’re not home all day to give 3-4 meals per day, make sure to measure out how much your kitten should eat per day, and add that to their dish in the morning and evening. Do not simply fill the dish to the top, as this will get your kitty into the habit of free feeding.
Most vets will have a checklist of what vaccines your kitten needs, and when. Be sure to keep on top of that, as some vaccines are time-sensitive! (For example if your kitten received his first FVRCP vaccine early enough, he will need boosters every 3 weeks until 16 weeks old.)
One thing new cat owners worry about is if their new furry family member will scratch their furniture. Thankfully, for most cats this is easy to fix! With a kitten, you can begin early. Make sure you have a scratching post on hand. If you notice your kitten beginning to stretch his claws somewhere where he shouldn’t, immediately stop him and redirect him to the scratching post. (If your kitten doesn’t like the scratching post, you can try a different type. Some cats love cardboard, some love twine, some love fabric, etc. etc.)
There’s not much cuter than having a tiny kitten wrestling, biting, and playing with your hand and arm. At 2 lbs, it doesn’t hurt too badly! However, if you don’t want this same kitty to be biting and scratching your hand at 12 lbs, redirect this behavior early. Instead of playing with your hands, redirect your playful kitty to a toy. This will teach your kitten what is and is not okay to play with.
This is the most important point I have to make, especially because you don’t always hear it before you adopt! I strongly, STRONGLY encourage you to adopt two kittens at once, especially if they already know each other or are siblings. It may seem counterintuitive, that two kittens would be more work than one, but the opposite is actually true. At 8-12 weeks, the age most kittens go up for adoption, cats are in the very important socialization stage, where they are learning what is acceptable “cat behavior.” With another kitten as a playmate, they will wrestle and play all day. When they wrestle, they give each other very important feedback about what is “too hard” or “not okay.”
Additionally, kittens are VERY playful! Their hunting and stalking instincts are running high, and everything to them is a toy….. especially your wiggly, moving, perfectly-at-eye-level feet! With a buddy, kittens will expend much of their crazy high energy with each other. They’ll keep each other very active and alert, and will save your feet and legs a good amount of pouncing and scratching. :)
Are you thinking about getting a kitten, or already have one? What’s your #1 question or advice?
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