The long-awaited day has finally arrived! You’ve just brought home an adorable kitten of your own! But, now what? Sure, you may have been envisioning this day for ages, but are you absolutely certain you envisioned every possible need and want of your kitten?
Raising kittens isn’t difficult, unless it’s a very young one. Kittens are very capable of looking after themselves if their basic needs are fulfilled. But that isn’t why you got a kitten is it? Besides, just leaving the kitten on its own is cruel and detrimental to its mental growth. So let’s talk about some helpful tips on raising kittens, to ensure both you and your little furry friend have a great time together.
Socialize with Your Kitty
Cats have a well-earned reputation for being rather distant, but that doesn’t mean that your kitten doesn’t like you or wants to be left alone. Rather, kittens are actually much more social as evidenced by their playful nature. So don’t leave your kitten alone too long thinking it doesn’t want you around. Play with it, pet it, and cuddle with it. Doing some activities with your kitten when it gets tired of playing is also highly recommended, like watching TV with the kitten resting in your lap.
Greet your kitten whenever you get home and try to keep it around whenever you are working. At night, see if you can coerce it into sleeping beside you on your bed. If this sort of socialization and positive interactivity is kept up, your kitten would grow up to absolutely love you to bits.Moreover, your adult cat will spend most if its time next to you. Early socialization leads to excellent bonding for the future.
But Also Give It Space
It might seem conflicting at first to be told to both socialize with your kitten as well as leave it alone, but a fine balance needs to be struck early on. Cats, no matter how much they might love you and play with you, also love their personal space. Kittens, though much more social relatively speaking, are still cats after all.
So if your attempts to get your kitten to sleep beside you fail, there’s no need to fret. Many kittens like to sleep hidden away under a couch or a bed, unperturbed and alone in the darkness. Some grow out of it, and some don’t. What you need to do is respect your kitten’s wishes, and try to make its usual napping spot as comfy as possible. And if you try to engage a stationary kitten in play and are instead met with a swishing tail, it is best to back off and let it rest. It will come to you to play when it feels like it.
Grab ‘Em By the Paws!
One thing cats hate is having their paws grabbed. So, naturally, the best way to make sure your kitten doesn’t grow up to be the same is to start grabbing its paws since kittenhood. Why do you need to grab their paws exactly? Well, for starters, they’re so fluffy and soft. How could you not want to grab them?
But on a more serious note, having a cat be comfortable with its paws being held is helpful for claw clipping in the future. Some cats don’t properly look after their claws, usually by not using their scratching post. This can lead to claws growing too long if left unchecked, and actually curling inward and injuring the paw. In these cases it is absolutely necessary that your cat’s claws be clipped, and that endeavor is made all the much easier if the cat has had its paws held since a young age.
Give Them Kitten Food, Not Cat Food
Many first-time cat owners are taken by surprise when they find out that kitten food is different from cat food, and that you can’t just feed your kitten some cat food. For the first year of its life, a cat has to be fed kitten food. Kitten food and cat food look alike, but differ in nutrition value.
Kitten food is, understandably, tailored towards the nutritional needs of kittens, and cat food is unable to meet these nutritional needs. The same holds true for vice versa. And if you have multiple cats of differing ages, you’ll have to feed them separately and on fixed timings instead of simply leaving some food in their bowls.
Brush and Bathe Your Kitten Regularly
Much like holding their paws, bathing and brushing have to be taught from a young age. If you brush your kitten every week, and bathe it every month or two, it will slowly get used to these things and not cause problems later in life. The first few attempts, especially when it comes to bathing, can be quite difficult. The kitten will meow loudly and try to escape by any means necessary.
For these reasons, it is helpful to abide by a couple of rules when bathing your kitten. For starters, make sure your bath water isn’t too hot or too cold. Warm water is the best for bathing kittens, and you should always properly dry them afterwards lest they catch a cold. Secondly, be very careful not to get any water in to your kitten’s ears or nose. It will absolutely hate that happening. Be careful around the eyes too, but the ears and nose take priority.
Pick a Permanent Spot for the Litter Box and the Food Bowls
It is imperative that you make up your mind and pick permanent spots for the litter box as well as the food and water bowls. If these things are moved around too much, your kitten will learn to not bother with them. This is especially important for the litter box, as a hungry or thirsty kitten will seek out sustenance but will not look for the litter box.
Choose permanent spots and stick to them, and your kitten will grow to use them by itself. One other thing to keep in mind when choosing places for these items is that they should be kept somewhat apart. Keeping the litter box separate from the food and water bowls makes sense, but what you may not know is that cats generally don’t like their water being placed next to their food. Hence, keep the two bowls apart by a bit, and your cat will be happier for it.
Make Your Kitten Play with Toys, Not Your Hands
As your kitten ages, it only makes sense that its habits will become harder to break day by day. That is why it is highly recommended that if your kitten claws at your hands, you lightly reprimand it and give it a toy instead. If this habit is not broken early on, your adult cat will continue to scratch at your hands, and with much longer and sharper claws this time.
Take Your Kitten to the Vet Every Now and Then
This is more a habit you need to make for yourself rather than your kitten. Taking your kitten to the vet every few months is a good idea because this way you can stay up to date with any problems that might be plaguing your precious friend.
Also, not only does this increase your cat’s lifespan due to regular treatment and care, the kitten will grow used to the idea of going to the vet as it grows up. Many cats are only brought to the vet as adults, and thus get scared by the whole process. Start young and your cat will never throw a hissy fit over being examined and treated.
And that pretty much covers the basics of making sure your kitten not only grows up healthy, but establishes a healthy bond with you too. Follow these guidelines alongside other common and everyday care methods and your kitten will grow up not just physically healthy, but mentally sound as well.