Firstly, congratulations on your new feline friend to the household!
Bringing your kitten home is an exhilarating experience, but there can also be some aspects that might be a bit daunting.
The early months are all about incredible growth and development, so whether your kitten is a Ragdoll, Siamese, Maine Coon, or other breeds, you want to make sure you set the right foundations to raise your kitten correctly.
Here is our guide to raising your fur baby in 8 easy steps:
A balanced diet tailored to your kitten's specific needs is vital for supporting healthy development and avoiding potential problems later in life.
The nutritional needs are very different from an adult cat's, so they must be fed a specialist, well-balanced diet. Experts recommend that you provide your fur baby specially formulated kitten food until the age of 1.
Remember: make sure they have access to clean, fresh water at all times and avoid giving them cow's milk as this is something they cannot digest properly.
Here at Happy & Polly, we recommend our Anti-Overturning Kitten Ceramic Bowls for more stability while your feline fluff ball is eating and drinking.
It's a known fact that kittens love to sleep. On average, cats tend to nap around 13-16 hours a day, why you ask? The reason is simple: their diet! Meat is a rich energy source, and sleeping after each meal allows their energy to be conserved.
In terms of sleeping, kittens tend to want to share your bed (which might be nice at times!), but it's important to supply them with their own bed too. Ensure they have a quiet, private place to rest that provides them with the comfort they love.
Now to the fun part, playtime! An essential part of a kitten's development is to help grow the bond between you and your kitty. As part of your daily schedule, play with them using a rotation of different toys and games, so your kitten doesn't become easily bored.
Keep in mind that you should use toys to play with your kitten rather than your hands. Teach your feline friend that hands are not playthings so they can have good habits for the future for both you and others around them. For instance, there's nothing more embarrassing than your cute kitten biting your vet's fingers off while getting a check-up!
Our suggestions include: scratching toys, teaser wands, and teaser toys.
Let's be honest; nobody likes an antisocial cat. That's why it's essential to make sure you socialize your kitten right from the start with people, animals, and experiences to build a lifetime of confidence and positive behavior.
During your kittens' early stages of life, safely and gradually let various people such as family and friends handle your fluffball. From there, you can then expose your kitten to other pets and general life experiences, e.g. visiting the vets.
Please make sure not to be too overprotective; it might seem like a daunting experience for your kitty at the start. Still, with gradual introductions, the experiences will get more familiar for them.
5. Health Care
Now, let’s talk about health care.
Once you've gotten your kitten settled in their new surroundings, it's vital to get an appointment booked in with your vets so they can carry out several essential checks and treatments, such as vaccinations and worming. During this time, it's a great way to learn about your kitten's health and how to give them the best care possible.
It's good to also invest in a cat carrier so they have a safe and stable ride when having to make that all-important vet visit.
Make sure to keep in mind that some plants are poisonous to cats, such as Aloe Vera, so make sure to do your research beforehand and remove them from both your home and garden.
It may be tempting to let your new feline friend explore your home as soon as they're in the door, but it's best to refrain from doing this right at the start. Kittens can easily get overwhelmed with too much space causing them unnecessary stress.
Start with a "slow-release plan," meaning that you keep your kitten stationed in one room with everything they need, such as food, water, toys, a litter box, etc. Over time, slowly let your kitten wander around the home with supervision. When you're away for a significant amount of time, e.g. sleeping, make sure to return them to their room and close the door behind you.
After a week or two (depending on the kitten), they soon learn where their "safe space" is and can start to wander around the home with less supervision.
Always make grooming part of your regular care routine with your kitty!
Grooming your kitten from an early age not only helps to remove tangles, dust, dead skin, and other such fun delights but also grows a stronger bond between you and your feline fluff ball.
The grooming experience also has to be comfortable, so be sure not to pull at their fur or make any sudden jerky movements. If you do find any matted fur, just carefully trim them off with a pair of blunt-nosed safety scissors.
Don't forget to always reward positive behavior when grooming with one of your kitty's favorite tasty treats!
Rewards-based training is the way forward when training your kitten. With this type of teaching, your kitty will get a reward when performing a 'desired' command encouraging positive behavior in the future. The kind of reward can vary, but it is recommended you use either a tasty cat treat, verbal praise, or patting.
Occasionally playtime can become a bit rough where your kitten may start to scratch or bite. If this does happen, make sure to stop playing with your feline friend immediately, so they begin to learn that 'undesired' behavior doesn't receive any attention.
Our top tip is to never punish your kitten if they scratch or bite, such as physically hurting or yelling at them, as this can confuse and scare them.