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BRINGING YOUR KITTEN HOME

Preparing your home

When you first bring your kitten home, it can be a big change – for you and for them. To make the experience better for everyone, there are some things you can do before your kitten arrives.

Safety first

Kittens are curious creatures and that curiosity can sometimes get them into trouble. Here are a few simple tips to help keep them safe:

Quick tip

CHOOSE YOUR VETERINARIAN BEFORE THE KITTEN COMES HOME

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Get a scratching post to minimise damage to your furniture
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Kittens will chew on anything when teething. Keep electric wires wrapped or hidden away to keep your kitten safe.
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Use covered rubbish bins and keep toilet lids down.
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Restrict access to upper floors and outdoor areas like balconies.
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Remember that kittens are excellent jumpers and climbers
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Check if any of your plants are poisonous. Certain plants, such as lilies, are highly toxic to cats. Be sure to ask your veterinarian for a list.
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Put away all small objects that could be swallowed such as elastic bands and drawing pins.
What equipment you’ll need

It’s a good idea to have a collection of the basics before your new kitten arrives. All these items are available at specialty pet stores, through your vet or online. The right food is vital, as is somewhere to eat and drink, and a place to sleep, things to play with and a litter box

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Bedding

Kittens need a lot of sleep when they are young – it’s essential for their development. Ensure your new kitten has plenty of comfortable bedding around the house to sleep in, with a few beds up high.

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Food & Water Bowls

It’s worth paying a little more for stainless steel bowls. You will find they are more durable and easier to clean. Ensure there are two bowls and make sure one has a clean and constant supply of water available for your kitten at all times. If there are multiple cats/kittens in the household, ensuring different cat’s food bowls and litter trays are also well apart from each other.

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Toys

Play is the way a lot of young animals learn and kittens are no exception. There are plenty of toys you can buy to encourage this behaviour. Only use toys specifically designed for kittens and cats as these will be more durable and safe.

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Scratching post

Cats love to scratch. It’s a good idea to give them a purpose-built scratching post or indoor cat tree if you want to keep your curtains and furniture safe. You can encourage them to use the scratching post by spraying it with Catnip.

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Litter Box

Make sure your litter box is the right size for your kitten, so they can use it without making a mess. Cats are naturally clean animals and prefer to have their litter at least two metres away from food and water dishes. It’s essential to have a scoop on hand to remove mess at the start and end of every day, and replace the litter and lining every 1-2 days. If you want to reduce odour and litter being kicked out of the box, consider a covered litter box. Provide the kitten with both a covered and non-covered option at first so they can choose. If you have multiple cats, you will need separate trays in separate areas for each cat.

Quick tip

BE PATIENT – KITTENS NEED A FEW DAYS TO SETTLE

When your kitten first arrives

When your kitten first arrives, it’s important to get the details right to help them settle into your home. Your kitten will be experiencing a multitude of new sights, sounds and smells. Remember to be patient and let them explore their new environment and adjust gradually. Don’t forget, they’ve left their mother and littermates. It’s normal that they’ll be a bit frightened at first.

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Choose a quiet room for your kitten to spend its first few days in. This allows them to adjust to their new environment gradually. Set up their litter tray in this room to make litter training easier.

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Supervise your kitten when you allow them access to other areas of your home. Kittens are inquisitive and it is amazing what hazards they can quickly uncover.

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Be mindful your new kitten may be stressed and cry a little the first few nights as they adjust to their new environment.

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Handle kittens with care – sudden movement or rough handling can be frightening. The best way to pick up your kitten is to slide an open hand under their tummy as your other hand supports their rear end.

Introducing your kitten to the family

Let your kitten meet the rest of the family in stages – all at once can be overwhelming. When you introduce your kitten to children, other pets and family members, there are a few things to keep in mind:

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Always supervise young children and pets. Teach children how to safely approach kittens. It is best that children don’t pick up the kitten unless shown how to do so safely.
Encourage children to use toys to play with the kitten – this keeps the play enjoyable for everyone and is a great bonding experience.
Always supervise interactions between your existing dog and your new kitten. Ensure the kitten is allowed to approach the dog as it feels comfortable. Don’t force contact between the kitten and your dog.
Always supervise interactions between your existing cat and your new kitten. Ensure the kitten is allowed to approach the cat as it feels comfortable. Don’t force contact between the kitten and your cat.

DIET & NUTRITION

Cats have different nutritional needs to ours

Despite the close bond between humans and cats, they have very different needs when it comes to nutrition. Cats are carnivores; their bodies have evolved to digest and absorb nutrients from meat based sources of food. Humans on the other hand, are omnivores; our bodies have evolved to digest a combination of meat and vegetable matter. The nutrients they require in their diet to remain healthy therefore are very different to ours.

Another way cats differ from us is how they determine their preference for food. The perception of taste is very strong in humans, however cats have approximately 95% less taste buds than we do. As their sense of taste is not as refined, cats decide whether they like a food based on its smell and texture.

Feeding Your Kitten

The first year of your kitten’s life is when they do most of their growing, so it is essential to feed them a good quality kitten diet. Their digestive and immune systems are maturing during this time and a good quality diet will help support this development too. By feeding them properly during this time and continuing to do so throughout their adult life, you can help set them up for a long, healthy life.

Avoid overfeeding

Kittens should continue to gain weight, however overweight kittens don’t grow well. Review the feeding guidelines recommended on your kitten’s food packaging and carefully measure these servings accordingly. As kittens prefer to eat smaller meals over the course of the day, allow your kitten access to food all day where possible.

Diet Transition

When changing your kitten or cat’s diet, make sure you gradually mix the food over a seven day period, increasing the amount of the new food added each day so that 100% of the new food will be provided by day seven. This will help avoid any digestive stress and diarrhoea. It is important to remember that food transitioning should be done with any and all diet changes your kitten or cat goes through at any stage in their life.

FIND YOU LOCAL ROYAL CANIN© STOCKIST

Make sure water is always available

Your kitten must always have access to a bowl of fresh clean water, and preferably have several water bowls around your home.

Interesting Fact

COW'S MILK IS NOT SUITABLE FOR KITTENS.

Day 1 & 2

75% usual food +25% new food

Day 3 & 4

50% usual food +50% new food

Day 5 & 6

25% usual food +75% new food

Day 7 & After

+100% new food

The science of nutrition

A kitten’s diet not only has to supply them with energy, but it also has to build and maintain the body’s cells as they grow and develop. A super premium diet is precisely formulated to support your kitten’s digestion, growth and encourage vitality as they mature.

If your kitten is not fed a balanced growth diet, they could suffer from major nutritional deficiencies or excesses, resulting in developmental issues and potentially even long-term damage to their health. Be sure to select a high quality, complete and balanced diet to support the health of your kitten – your veterinarian will be able to recommend an appropriate diet.

The two stages of growth

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Stage One

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Stage Two

Birth to four months

The first four months of a kitten’s life involves an intense growth spurt. It’s also a time that they are prone to digestive upsets as they lose their capacity to digest lactose and are weaned. A mistake commonly made during this stage is to feed your kitten cow’s milk, which is not suitable for kittens and can cause diarrhoea.

Four to twelve months

Between four to twelve months, the energy needs reduce gradually as the kitten approaches its adult size. During this time kittens also shed their milk teeth which are replaced by permanent adult teeth. Their digestive system is also gradually maturing and is more able to cope with solid food.

GROOMING

Kittens usually start grooming themselves at around 15 days old. Along with sleeping, grooming is one of your kitten’s top priorities. They use their rough tongue to clean themselves, but they also use their front and rear paws. Some cats have a high maintenance or long haired coat and may need your assistance with grooming.

Quick tip

CATS SPEND UP TO 30% OF THEIR WAKING TIME GROOMING

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Differences in coats

Short-haired cats usually only need a groom once a week, whereas medium to long haired cats will benefit from a daily brush. Starting brushing at a young age can help your kitten adjust to the experience and make it easier as they grow older.

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Nails

It’s important to get your kitten used to having their claws clipped at a young age. If claws get too long they can get stuck, snagged or even pulled out, which could result in an injury. Clipping doesn’t hurt if it is done properly and can be done at home, at your local vet clinic or through a professional grooming service. Be sure if you plan to trim your cat’s nails that you do one claw at a time and use a dedicated nail clipper. Your vet can show you how to trim your cat’s nails safely. We have included some tips below:

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Start by choosing a comfortable spot, and place the kitten on your knees. Press lightly on the footpad to extend the claw.

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Clip the white tip of the claw without going close to the edge of the pink triangle (see picture). If you’re unsure or uncomfortable your vet can do this for you.

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Before you brush

Before you brush, it can be a good idea to massage against the hair direction to remove dead hair and stimulate their skin.

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Brush Type

The type of brush you use will depend on the coat – your veterinarian or pet groomer will be able to advise on the best brush for your cat.

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Hairballs

When cats groom themselves they swallow quite a bit of hair. This hair is normally eliminated from the body in the stools. But sometimes the fur builds up in the stomach, and is vomited up as a hairball. Long haired cats swallow far more hair and seem to have more trouble with hairballs. There are diets specifically formulated with certain fibres to help prevent hairballs from forming and to support digestive health.

BEHAVIOUR AND TRAINING

Litter Training

Many kittens learn how to use the litter tray by watching their mother. They become familiar with the type of litter box and litter used from a young age. To maximise the success of litter training, ensure you continue to use the litter type the kitten has previously used and if you choose to change the litter type, do it gradually.

If the kitten is not litter trained when it comes home, stand the kitten in the litter tray and use one of its forepaws to scratch at the litter - the best time to do this is immediately after eating or sleeping. Use a ‘wet wipe’ or some moist cotton wool to massage the kitten’s ano-genital area to try and stimulate toileting.

Some additional tips for litter training include:

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Have one litter box for every cat in the household.

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Confine your kitten to a small area or room where the litter boxes are located.

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Ensure the litter box is in a quiet area of the home that is not a thoroughfare.

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If you don’t have success and your kitten doesn’t use the tray, try a different litter or litter box (e.g. covered litter box or one with lower sides).

Quick tip

NEVER DISTURB A SLEEPING KITTEN

Play time

Kittens explore their environment, develop physical capabilities and exercise through play. They love to run, climb, jump and pounce. High perches like tables, cupboards, shelves and sofa backs all offer great potential as part of their playground. Being up high helps them feel secure as it provides vantage points to survey their surroundings. Kittens can occasionally become rough during play and begin to bite or scratch – it is important to not continue to play with them in this way and instead, cease your interaction with them. Always use toys in place of hands and feet to avoid this becoming acceptable as they mature.

Socialisation

The first four weeks of life for your kitten are spent in social contact with the queen (their mother) and littermates. Positive social interactions in these first few weeks of life has been shown to affect how sociable the kitten is when it is mature. This socialisation should continue as they grow and develop, and the critical period is between 2-7 weeks of age. When your new kitten arrives home, it is important to set the kitten up for success by preventing access to areas where they can cause trouble and ensure all interactions at home with people, other animals and inanimate objects are positive and stress free.

Quick tip

PLAY TIME IS A GREAT WAY TO BOND WITH YOUR KITTEN.

YOUR KITTEN’S HEALTH

Vet Visit

The first vet visit

Your kitten’s first visit to the vet is not just a simple consultation; it is used for an in-depth examination. By the end, your vet will be able to confirm the health of your new kitten and make sure there are no hidden health risks you need to worry about. When you make the appointment, ask if there is anything you need to bring with you, especially paperwork. At the conclusion of the appointment, the vet will complete your kitten’s health record and give you useful advice about your kitten’s general health.

Parasites

Parasites

Controlling parasites is an important part of kitten and cat preventative health care. This includes parasites that live on our pets such as fleas and ticks, and those that live in them such as intestinal worms and protozoa. The type of parasites that are most important will depend on your cat’s age, lifestyle and where you live. It’s important to recognize that even indoor cats need parasite prevention since there are multiple ways that parasites can enter your home. As kittens are more susceptible to parasites, they may have a specific parasite treatment regime. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend what parasite prevention approach will work best in your kitten now and in the future.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are used to help prevent contagious and sometimes fatal diseases, and are most effective when they are given at fixed dates with booster vaccinations. Kittens usually begin a vaccination course at the age of six weeks. Your vet will help you choose the vaccination course best suited to your kitten, depending on the risks they face from their lifestyle and your local environment. Vaccinating against certain diseases such as feline herpes virus doesn’t always prevent infection, but helps to reduce the severity of the disease.

De-sexing or Neutering

De-sexing or Neutering

Neutering your kitten will prevent unwanted litters but will also have numerous health and behavioural benefits. Neutering reduces the risk of certain types of cancers as well as reducing the risk of specific, often life threatening infections of the uterus. If your cat ventures outside, de-sexing makes them less territorial, less likely to get into a fight and less likely to contract an infectious disease. Note that neutering causes metabolic change that can lead to weight gain, so it is important to monitor their weight after the procedure. Speak with your veterinarian about the optimal time to have your kitten neutered.

The first vet visit

Your kitten’s first visit to the vet is not just a simple consultation; it is used for an in-depth examination. By the end, your vet will be able to confirm the health of your new kitten and make sure there are no hidden health risks you need to worry about. When you make the appointment, ask if there is anything you need to bring with you, especially paperwork. At the conclusion of the appointment, the vet will complete your kitten’s health record and give you useful advice about your kitten’s general health.

Parasites

Controlling parasites is an important part of kitten and cat preventative health care. This includes parasites that live on our pets such as fleas and ticks, and those that live in them such as intestinal worms and protozoa. The type of parasites that are most important will depend on your cat’s age, lifestyle and where you live. It’s important to recognize that even indoor cats need parasite prevention since there are multiple ways that parasites can enter your home. As kittens are more susceptible to parasites, they may have a specific parasite treatment regime. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend what parasite prevention approach will work best in your kitten now and in the future.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are used to help prevent contagious and sometimes fatal diseases, and are most effective when they are given at fixed dates with booster vaccinations. Kittens usually begin a vaccination course at the age of six weeks. Your vet will help you choose the vaccination course best suited to your kitten, depending on the risks they face from their lifestyle and your local environment. Vaccinating against certain diseases such as feline herpes virus doesn’t always prevent infection, but helps to reduce the severity of the disease.

De-sexing or Neutering

Neutering your kitten will prevent unwanted litters but will also have numerous health and behavioural benefits. Neutering reduces the risk of certain types of cancers as well as reducing the risk of specific, often life threatening infections of the uterus. If your cat ventures outside, de-sexing makes them less territorial, less likely to get into a fight and less likely to contract an infectious disease. Note that neutering causes metabolic change that can lead to weight gain, so it is important to monitor their weight after the procedure. Speak with your veterinarian about the optimal time to have your kitten neutered.

Quick tip

DE-SEXING HAS LIFELONG HEALTH AND BEHAVIOURAL BENEFITS