Caring for a kitten will provide you with hours of fun and laughter, but it also presents a big responsibility. As an owner you’ll need to fulfill all the kitten’s basic needs, which means dedicating time and money to its care.
What you will need to provide:
- Regular, appropriate meals
- Access to fresh water
- Clean, dry, comfortable bed
- Litter tray
- Outdoor access (not essential if you can change the litter tray regularly)
- Flea and worming treatments
- Access to veterinary care
It is important to start by feeding your kitten on the same food it is already used to eating, because a sudden change in diet can cause a stomach upset. If you wish to change your kitten’s diet then begin by mixing some of the new food with the kitten’s usual food before phasing the old food out completely.
You should feed your kitten on good quality commercial kitten food. Check that the label of the particular kitten food states ‘complete’ and not simply ‘complimentary’. ‘Complete’ food contains all the nutrition a kitten needs to be healthy. Kittens have small stomachs so they need feeding little and often. Kittens aged between eight and 12 weeks will need four meals per day, then between three to six months they require three meals per day and after six months this can be reduced to two meals per day.
Avoid giving your kitten cow’s milk. Instead supply your kitten with fresh water and supplement with the occasional bowl of specially formulated cat milk.
Cats are clean animals by nature, which usually makes litter training a kitten relatively easy. Your kitten may have already learnt to use a litter tray from its mother.
Use a plastic tray filled with sand or cat litter and ensure that your kitten is able to gain access to the tray whenever it needs to. Place your kitten on the tray on waking and after meals so that he knows where to go to the toilet. For more information on litter training why not read Litter Training Your Kitten.
You should not allow your kitten outside until one week after he has completed his vaccination course. Once the time has come to let your kitten see the great outdoors you will need to accompany him. If you don’t have a secure garden then it’s a good idea to use a collar and a lead on your kitten for its first outing. It is advisable to accompany your kitten whenever it goes outside until it reaches six months old.
When your kitten starts to explore the outside world it’s likely that you will notice him returning home with matted, scruffy fur which will require brushing. Cats remove dead hair when they clean themselves, however this results in fur balls building up in the cat’s stomach. By brushing your kitten regularly you will reduce the frequency of these fur balls.
Pet-providers have many more detailed articles on the subject of cat care. However if you have any specific concerns regarding the health or behaviour of your cat it is always advisable to consult your vet.