For many people, adopting a kitten from a shelter or animal rescue can be the perfect way to bring joy into their home. But they might have many doubts about how to take care of a kitten! They are so smol and fragile, right?
It is important that all new parents of kittens know about the specific needs of kittens and how they can provide for them when they keep them as pets.
To assist new kitten owners with caring for their pets, this article provides top tips for raising happy and healthy kittens!
This guide is broken down into the categories below:
Physiological – Food & water, warmth
Safety – Home safety, health
Love and belonging – Environment, training, play
Esteem – Reading your cat’s body language, cat parenting
Self-actualization – Advanced training & problem solving
How to feed kittens
Even though kittens have a digestive system that is relatively young and immature at this age, they still need food. The amount of food they require depends on their size. They can eat every 2-3 hours during the day and every 3-4 hours at night.
How much to feed kittens
According to Vetstreet.com, kitten meals should be made out of a minimum of 30% high-quality protein. Newborn kittens will need around 4-9oz per day (depending on their gender) until they reach 8 weeks old and then increase to 6-10oz per day (depending on their gender). After reaching 9 weeks, kittens can slowly start to increase the amount of food that they are fed each day. In total, a kitten’s bowl should contain 1/3rd cup of dry kitten solid food each day for every 15 lbs that they weigh.
What nutrients do kittens need?
In order for kittens to get the proper nutrients they need, it is important that they are fed the best quality of food. It is recommended that owners give their kittens good quality kitten food that has sufficient taurine in it. Taurine will help kittens develop a healthy heart and brain development. It is, however, important to note that while a lot of foods have taurine in them, not all of them contain enough so check the label before purchasing any food for your kitten.
Where to purchase cat food
Cat parents can purchase commercial food with kitten formula from pet stores. Although feeding raw or home-cooked food might be good for cats, many vets do not recommend feeding them to kittens as it is hard to get the amount of nutrition right. For us, we feed our kittens a combination of commercial wet food and dry food that is formulated for kittens with the right nutrition for them.
Provide fresh water
Fresh and clean water should be provided at all times to kittens. If your house is huge and your kitten explores around the house, place multiple water dishes around the house.
Type of bowls
You will need to prepare at least 3 bowls – 1 for dry food, 1 for water, and 1 for wet canned food. Do not leave the canned kitten food out for long, so it is best to clear and wash the dish after feeding.
A shallow dish with a wide surface is preferred as they are easier for cats to reach the food, without their whiskers touching the sides of the dish.
How do kittens sleep
Kittens are not fully grown until they are at least 7 months old, and therefore need help from their owners to grow properly. Basic needs like warmth and sleep are very important parts of a kitten’s life to ensure their proper development, so it is up to the owner to provide the kitten with a safe and comfortable environment.
Where should kittens sleep at night?
When keeping kittens as pets, owners must provide them with a warm place to sleep. It will be best to have a designated area of the house where you put down a blanket or pet bed for them to sleep on. This will help ensure that they do not get cold at night and have a safe space away from any other pets in your home.
As kittens get older they do not need such comfort so much, but will still appreciate something soft for sleeping on.
A little more coziness
It is also important to provide kittens with a warm soft blanket for when they are asleep. This will help them maintain body temperature, and prevent them from feeling cold.
How to take care of a kitten’s health
Pets are a big part of the family today, and there are many ways to keep them healthy. Veterinarians who specialize in animal care can help you make sure that your pet is receiving the most appropriate care for its particular needs, and that it’s living a long, healthy life.
Finding veterinary care nearby
You can find a veterinarian by contacting your local pet store or humane society for referrals. You should also look for veterinarians accredited by The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) or The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Once you’ve found one you like, ask them about wellness plans that will allow your pet to stay healthy on an ongoing basis rather than just during an annual check-up.
Trying to take care of an active and healthy cat can be a lot of work. Not only do the cats require a certain amount of food, but they also require attention on a daily basis. If you have more than one cat, you need to ensure that these needs are met for each animal.
Have your kitten sterilized
There are definitely more benefits than harm to sterilize your cats: by having your cat spayed or neutered as early in life as possible you will reduce the number of unwanted animals born in this world, which will allow cats with homes to live better lives.
An estimated 3.4 million kittens are born in the United States each year, and of these, 2.7 million end up living with a new owner. That number is likely to increase as more people bring home cats from shelters or adopt them from friends or neighbors. The problem is that the majority of these cats will be unhealthy and prone to illness if they have not been spayed or neutered.
It is highly recommended to have your cats sterilized when they reach sexual maturity.
How to keep kittens safe at home
A kitten is born into a world of curiosity. Kittens spend time investigating the environment for any new and interesting smells or textures, as well as looking for their own companions to play with. Encourage this curiosity in your kitten by supplying them with an interactive and safe environment to explore.
Cat-proof your house
The first step you can do is to cat-proof the house. Get rid of small objects that may be easily chewed or swallowed and move any poisonous items out of reach. Mesh your windows and keep these windows shut when you are not home.
Why keep your kittens indoor
If you do not want your kitten to roam outside the house (which we strongly recommend), make sure that your door is meshed up and your kittens are unable to escape. Leave the door closed and always check that your cats are in your sight when you close the door.
What to do if you want to let your kittens outside
If you are willing to let your kitten outside, make sure that they are confined in a safe outdoor enclosure. Without an enclosure, make sure to keep an eye on them at all times when they are outside the house, in order to prevent any accidents such as being attacked by other animals.
How to prepare an enriching environment for kittens
As a cat owner, one of the most important things that you need to do is provide your pet with an enriched environment and stimulation. Kittens require more attention than adults, so you want them to be stimulated by their surroundings. The more time they spend playing and exploring, the better off they will be in the long run. The more they play, the happier they will be and the less likely it is that they will develop bad habits like urinating on things or being aggressive.
Prepare a variety of cat toys
A great way to provide your kitten with an enriched environment is to buy him some cat toys. There are a wide variety of cat toys out there, ranging from catnip-filled mice and balls to laser pointers and exercise wheels. You can even make homemade cat toys by using things like toilet paper rolls and socks.
Get a scratching board
Another important item you need to get is a scratching board. Scratching releases tension and helps your kitten to keep his claws sharp. He’ll also enjoy the sense of security that comes from having a place where he can go and hang out when he’s feeling stressed or lonely. Scratching boards come in a wide variety of materials, from cardboard tubes to wooden boards. Just pick one that matches your kitten’s tastes and you’re good to go.
Get or build a cat tree
It is optional but great to have a sturdy cat tree with lots of scratching points. These are ideal for climbing and sleeping. Cats love a high vantage point and perching high will help your kitten to feel safe and secure.
During playtime, make sure that your kitten is getting plenty of exercise. You can do this by playing with a fishing-type pole toy or by running around after him with a paper or plastic bag. When he gets tired, he may even try to play back by swatting at the toy or swiping at the bag.
How to train kittens
Initial training will allow you to bond with the kitten, provide an initial introduction, teach them what is expected of them, and become familiar enough with them that they will not be afraid of you.
It is important not to force them to follow your commands but rather allow the kitten time and effort with which they are comfortable.
Introduce them to the home environment
Training kittens starts from day one. The first thing owners need to do when getting a new kitten is introduce them to the home territory. For this, they must take the time to show the space that they will be staying in, where their food and water will be placed and how things the litter box works etc.
It is also a good idea to keep an eye out for the kitten’s favorite snuggling places where they might want to explore and play.
The first training a kitten should get is litterbox training. If they are raised by a mother cat, they should be taught by the mother already and require minimal intervention. However, if the kitten has been adopted, owners will need to train them.
A quick and easy way of doing this is by putting the kitten in their litter box when they wake up from a nap or after eating, then picking them up and placing him inside the litterbox again once finished. This will help teach kittens what these things are used for without overwhelming them too much at first.
It is important to teach your cat about acceptable behavior. The obvious first step is teaching your kitten not to chew on dangerous objects like electrical cords, scissors, and broken glass. Most kittens need boundaries to help them understand what is and isn’t acceptable. After this, it is important to teach them about the things they shouldn’t do like claw at furniture or try to destroy things such as books and computers.
Distracting and rewarding kittens with treats or toys is a good and common way of stopping them from doing something they shouldn’t.
Along with correct behavior, training your kitten to ‘not be rough’ during playtime is important as well. This is especially true with kittens that play rough because they can accidentally injure themselves or others if not taught the difference between playing and fighting.
Start this training by having your kitten around when you are going to play with a wand toy for example, so they learn what it means. After a few sessions of doing this over the course of a day or two, you can then begin to play with them using the toy. If they are getting too rough, just use your voice to let them know that this is unacceptable behavior and stop playing immediately.
This will train kittens not only how to play but what kind of games their owners enjoy as well. It might even teach them how to play with humans properly.
How to play with kittens
Playtime is incredibly important for kittens, as it helps to keep them healthy and provides a chance for them to socialize. Many people, however, stop giving their kittens playtimes when they’re about 8 weeks old. This can lead to kittens becoming hyperactive or shy around humans.
How long should you play with your kittens?
Playtimes should be given at least once a day – with at least 15 minutes being spent in playtime per day. To encourage your kitten to play with toys or treats, provide different toys and treats each time so that they always stay engaged and entertained by new things.
What kind of toys to play with kittens
You can expose your kitten to new things when providing playtime to keep them interested in the games and their surroundings. This will keep them mentally and physically active/healthy.
Examples of toys that can be used to keep your kitten engaged with playtime are soft stuffed animals, balls, furry mice, and wooden stick toys. It is recommended to provide different types of toys as they get tired of one type easily. Due to the fact that kittens enjoy jumping around, it is also recommended to have an area where they can jump, climb and play without risk of injury.
It is essential to provide toys that simulate hunting and eating prey. Good toys for this purpose include feathers on a string or stick, a stuffed animal with the stuffing removed, cloth or string toys with crinkly paper inside.
How to read a kitten’s body language
Body language and behavior is one of the most important things to learn about your cat. The way you interact with a cat depends largely on how they are feeling – and by reading their body language you can tell just how they’re feeling. If you know what your cat’s body language means, it will be easier to pick up on their feelings and show them attention in ways that they need it.
Some cats and kittens indicate aggression through hissing. The combination of a wide-open mouth with raised fur along their spine can help show an aggressive cat who doesn’t want to be interacted with. If this happens, it would be best to leave him alone.
Kitten has a tendency to hide when they are scared or nervous. It is important to make sure that the kitten doesn’t jump out of his hiding place because he will still be nervous and it could trigger their fear. If this happens, try to show love in the way that they need it and take care of both the cat and yourself.
Happy & Relaxed
There are lots of different signs that your cat is feeling comfortable and happy. One of the most common signs is when they lie down with their paws outwards or when they sleep on their back.
This position can be seen in cats who are content, sleeping, or relaxing.
Another indication of happiness in cats is when they are purring and meowing a lot, which means that their mood is cheerful. They will also blink slowly at you with extra-wide eyes to show off how happy they are feeling.
We have touched a lot about a cat’s body language in this post, continue reading here if you are interested.
I hope you’ve found these tips and tricks helpful on how to raise kittens. As always, I’d love to hear from you with any thoughts or questions. Just comment below!