Everything you should remember when adopting a kitten

Finally you're ready to bring your cuddly new kitten home. It's good to prepare in advance and to make sure your house is completely kitten-proof before your little darling moves in. These useful tips will help a lot.

Into a new home 

To transport your new kitten home, the best thing is to get hold of a cage or basket that can be closed tight. It will also come in handy later for trips to the vet. Make sure the house is quiet, as your kitten may well be very timid for the first few days. Put a nice basket in a warm place where your cat can doze quietly. And not too close to the cat tray, cats don't like the smell.

Keep any poisonous plants, but also dangerous substances such as cleaning products out of your cat's reach. Watch out also for loose electricity wires and other hazards. Kittens are very curious and sometimes get themselves into precarious situations. Also always check if your kitten can already manage the stairs – both up and down.

Start with one room before letting your kitten investigate the entire house. This will already provide more than enough new impressions for it to handle. Then take it step by step. Remember to make sure windows and outside doors are shut, or the little explorer may well go on a reconnaissance trip. 

Start with one room before letting your kitten investigate the entire house.

Food

Make sure your cat always has a bowl of fresh water and cat biscuits. At your local supermarket you'll find different types of cat food tailored to the needs of your young cat. Many contain additional proteins, which are ideal for a growing animal. Start with the same food it was given by the breeder, and then gradually switch over to what you want to give it. Mix the new food with the old, and reduce the proportion of the old gradually until there’s none left.

There are a number of things you are better not giving your kitten. Cows' milk for example causes diarrhoea, as does raw meat or too much cooked meat. Bones are best avoided, they can splinter and cause much misery if swallowed.

Cat tray 

Kittens are already toilet trained by their mothers, but you will have to train them further. Choose regular opportunities to put your kitten in front of the cat tray: in the morning, after every meal and at night before bedtime. That way, they'll quickly pick up your routine.

There will inevitably be accidents, especially in the beginning. If you have a house with several floors, it's a good idea to put a cat tray on every floor during the first weeks. If your little one has made a puddle somewhere, clean it up with lots of water. Don't use chlorine, as the smell will only encourage your kitten to pee more. You can punish your kitten for doing its business in the wrong place, but only if you catch it the act. Otherwise it's pointless.

One last tip: fill the cat tray initially with torn newspaper instead of cat litter. Some kittens eat the latter, which of course causes other problems.

If you want your kitten to learn good manners, you must be consistent. 

Training

The first nights away from its mother can be scary for a little kitten. Letting it sleep with you in your bedroom will calm it and enable you to build a very close relationship.

If you want your kitten to learn good manners, you must be consistent. Well begun is half done: reward good behaviour and punish bad. You can reward your cat by stroking it once it's done its duty in the cat tray, but punish it with a 'No, Kitty' if it wants to slurp water from the toilet bowl. You will often have to do the same thing over and over again, but that's how training works. Another trick that works for correcting undesirable behaviour is to scare the cat, for example by dropping a bunch of keys or spraying water at it with a plant spray bottle. 

Toys

Kittens learn by doing. Introduce your kitten to the scratching post and play a lot with it. If things get too rough, stop playing. In this way your kitten learns how far it can go. Bring some fun toys into the house, such as a mouse on a string and bouncy balls. Always check that the toy is safe: remove any loose parts in advance. Kittens are still growing and that takes a lot of energy, so make sure to give them enough time to sleep and rest.

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