Buying a kitten or choosing to keep the new-born offspring of your adult cat can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience that is filled with excitement as you witness a new life begin to take shape.
But unlike an adult cat, kittens require additional care and attention to ensure that they develop into strong and healthy adult cats that can interact with humans, other animals and cats alike.
In this guide, we’ll be taking you through the steps required to ensure that you give your little kitten the best possible start in life.
Kittens benefit from immediate human interaction from the day they’re born. In fact, studies show that early human interaction can actually have a positive impact on a kitten’s cognitive development, resulting in a smarter cat that is much more adaptive to learning.
On the other hand, kittens that are raised by their mothers in an environment that sees little human contact can cause hostility, with some unsocialized kittens hissing at humans when they’re as young as three weeks old.
Top Tip: Ensure that the kitten’s mother is present during early interaction. Even as little as 20 minutes of human interaction a day has been shown to reduce the length of time until a cat will open its eyes as well as leave its nest.
Kittens will usually be fine as long as their mothers are present and take an active role in their rearing. But we find that a simple check-up by a vet often provides peace of mind and will ensure that your kitten is healthy.
In addition, a trip to the vet will also provide an opportunity to have your kitten vaccinated to protect them from contracting diseases and other illnesses.
Top Tip: Be sure to discuss protecting your kitten from fleas and ticks with your vet. Protective flea treatment for your kitten is usually deemed necessary from around 8 weeks old.
Kittens undergo rapid growth from the moment they are born which requires a highly nutritious diet. During the first 20 weeks of a kitten’s life, you can expect a 2000% increase in weight which at around week 26 will begin to taper off.
Initially, the kitten’s mother will take responsibility for feeding duty which will continue until the kittens are at least 4 weeks old. From there, you should be feeding your kitten a food formula which is specifically designed for young cats.
As kitten’s grow, they become more aware of their surroundings which will result in them becoming more active. This is the perfect time to begin playing with your kitten which will further assist with their development and ensure that they are comfortable around humans.
The more people that you introduce your kitten to the better. If you have children, this is also a good time to allow them to socialize with the cat so that they’re aware of the boundaries that they need to maintain.
Kittens are resilient creatures with very few common health complaints. That said, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on the health of your young cat to ensure that it is developing healthily.
Keep an eye out for ticks and fleas which can be treated with a cat flea collar in addition to signs of ringworm. Lumps and skin lesions are also of concern and should be looked into further by a vet.
Kittens should be litter trained as soon as possible to assist them in learning this important part of cat behavior.
We suggest placing a little tray in an accessible, but relatively secluded part of your house. From there, simply place your kitten into the tray whenever they are likely to need to use the bathroom. This is typically after meals, naps, the beginning of the day and the end of the day.
Your kitten will then soon begin to understand that this location is the acceptable place for going to the bathroom.
Top Tip: Cats will rarely use a soiled litter tray so be sure to empty it regularly, either by replacing the litter or scooping out any solid objects with a litter tray scoop.
It is a great idea to begin calling your new kitten by their name as soon as possible and try to ensure that every member of your household does the same. When you want the kitten’s attention, the use of their name in a deep and authoritative tone will help to familiarize them with commands.
Kittens can be very playful, so it is important to ensure that they are not playful to the extent that they become destructive. There are several cat toys and accessories that you can purchase for your cat to keep them occupied which should result in good behavior.
Buying a cat scratching post or tree is also a great idea and will give your kitten something to focus on.
Cats are more than adept at grooming and cleaning themselves, but it is good to establish a routine for younger kittens to help them along the way.
Longhaired cats should be groomed daily to remove loose hair and shorthaired cats should be groomed twice a week. Suitable products for effective grooming such as brushes can be bought online.
Well raised kittens grow up to become loving adult cats. When rearing a kitten, you have the ability to shape its personality and ensure that it can interact healthily with humans and other animals alike – and by following our guide – you’re one step closer to achieving this goal.