New Pet Advice
Preparing for a New Kitten
Having decided on getting a new kitten, there are a few things we need to do as owners to prepare for their big arrival!
Cats are naturally territorial and feel threatened if their space is impinged upon. Consequently a lot of our preparations need to be aimed at making them feel secure.
Cats like 3 Dimensional space. So It is important to provide places for them to climb, sit and jump. maybe an empty shelf a fridge clear of clutter on the top or a scratch post with a platform.
It is also essential to have places where the cat is able to hide away in a quiet corner and important not to disturb them when they are hiding.
Cat Beds: There are a wide variety of cat beds available but it is often the position of the bed, rather than the type which will determine whether it gets used or not. Cats prefer to have their dens higher up, where they can see what’s going on below and be in a position to move quickly if feeling threatened, (eg by the vacuum, visitors, or children chasing around the house!) A bed that is machine washable and able to be wiped down, is probably sensible.
Hazards: Cats are naturally inquisitive and your house can present numerous dangers you may need to consider.
- Open washing machines/dryers: these are warm and when filled with clothes- very soft. Always keep the doors closed.
- Hot Hobs: Try and discourage your cat from going on the kitchen sides, for hygiene and safety reasons. With consistency your cat should learn this area is out of bounds.
- Paper shredders: these can attract an inquisitive kitten with nasty consequences!
- Plants and Cut Flowers: cats can nibble at indoor plants out of curiosity and many plants can be poisonous. Please refer to www.icatcare.org
- Cleaners/ Bleaches/ Disinfectant; keep out of reach and don’t leave sinks/dishcloths etc to soak!
- Needles/Thread/Wool: these are easily swallowed or wrap around the tongue
- Ironing boards: these are a great place for cats to climb! Not so great if they collapse or still have a hot iron sat on them!
- Wires: Some cats are notorious chewers. Keep them out of reach as much as possible and cover them if necessary.
Kitten Pen: A kitten pen is often a good idea when your kitten is first settling in. This provides a safe environment during the night or whilst you are out and can also be used to give the kitten time out from other pets and doting children! Ideally it should be roughly 1m x 0.75m x 0.75m with room inside for a bed, litter tray, food and water.
Food and Water: Food and water bowls should be strong, stable and easily cleaned. Ideally you should get 2 separate bowls rather than a joined one as cats prefer to eat their food away from where they drink their water.
Litter tray: Litter trays vary considerably in design but regardless of the type their a few basic rules to follow.
- The cat litter should be approximately 3cm deep. There are many types of litter available- avoid scented ones as these can deter your cat from using the tray!
- Ensure their is enough space for the cat to move around. The tray should be roughly 1.5x the length of your cat (excluding tail).
- The tray should be located in a discrete corner, far away from food and water and busy area within the house.. Also avoid low windows (eg conservatory) and cat flaps where neighbouring peeping Toms might deter your cat.
- Clean your tray with hot water and detergent or cat friendly disinfectant only.
Scratch Post: Your kitten will need a scratch post to allow it to perform the natural behaviour of claw sharpening and territory marking (scratching-not wetting!) It needs to be strong and stable and be tall enough to allow your cat to completely stretch out. Ideally it should be placed near a radiator and window, where the warmth and view may encourage your cat to use it. It is often a cats first instinct to have a good stretch when they wake up, so placing the post near their bed may also help. When trying to encourage your cat to use the post do NOT grab their legs and scrape them down the post- this will more likely put them off! Instead put catnip or treats on the post to encourage its use or use a fishing rod type toy near the post to encourage your cat to stretch up.
Cat Flap: Installing a cat flap is often a good idea. It allows your cat free access to the house without having to compromise security. There are a wide range available but if you live in an area with lots of cats it is worth investing in one that can exclude neighbouring cats ( eg ID Chip controlled or magnetic collars) as “strangers in the night” can make your cat feel very threatened.
Cat Basket: You will need to invest in a cat carrier to collect your kitten and transport them safely to and from vets and catteries. Ideally it should be strong, well constructed and easily cleaned. It helps if the door can be completely removed and the top taken off, in case your cat isn’t too keen to come in or out! A solid bottom half (rather than slatted) is also advisable in case your cat has an accident during in transport to prevent your car seats getting covered!
Toys: Cats love to play and this can be a great opportunity for you to bond with your cat. You don’t have to spend lots of money. Your cat will love a rolled up ball of newspaper, a ping pong ball, an empty cotton reel or even a piece of cat litter, as much as any expensive toy. If you are going to purchase toys the fishing rod type one are very good as it allows play without encouraging scratching and grabbing at hands and feet. With all toys check them thoroughly for loose parts which your cat could accidently ingest or hurt themselves on. Use your common sense.
For more information on preparing for a new kitten, please check the International Cat Care Website.
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