Kitten Care

It is an exciting time when you decide to get a new kitten! Everyone has their own ideas about what you should get! However, spend a little time planning for the event and you may avoid future problems or even heartache.

Picking your kitten

It is a good idea to visit the litter and meet the mum or even both parents. This will give you an idea of their temperament. Ideally the kittens will have grown up in a situation which allows plenty of socialisation. If you have children at home, it is helpful if your kitten has been socialised with children from a young age. You want a kitten to be active, friendly, bright eyed and with a healthy coat. Although the ‘runt’ of a litter may pull at your heart strings, remember that it may be smaller and less thrifty for a reason.

Veterinary Check

It is important to have your kitten checked over by a vet as soon as you get it. If you leave this for a week, you will have become emotionally attached to your kitten, and it can be devastating to learn that your beloved pet has a congenital heart defect that will severely shorten their life; or a hernia or skeletal deformity means it would be inadvisable to breed from your cat when you were hoping to. It is also a good opportunity to discuss vaccinations, sexing, neutering etc.

First few hours

The first few hours after bringing your cat home can really affect how well he accepts his new life. Don’t rush your cat into doing things he may not be ready for; be patient.

Territory is vital to cats so he should have a dedicated area for himself. This should include :-

  • A few toys and space to play
  • An area for food and water
  • At least one litter tray, placed as far away from his feeding area as possible, and in a private location if you can
  • A suitable place to sleep
  • A scratching post
  • Somewhere to hide - an upturned box
  • Somewhere to observe


Find out what your kitten has been fed and continue with this for a few days after you take the kitten home. All change is stressful and your kitten will be coping with a new environment, people and routine so keep feeding as a constant until your kitten is settled. You can then gradually introduce a different diet if you want. Take the manufacturer’s recommended amount as a guide, which you can adjust accordingly to how your kitten is growing, feel for fat cover rather than weight. Initially, because kittens’ stomachs are small, you will have to feed frequently (about 4 times a day). It is best not to feed your cat cow’s milk as some cats can’t tolerate the lactose.


Kittens can be born with worms and also be infected via their mother's milk. At this stage of life their immune system is poorly developed and they are very susceptible to a large worm burden. It is therefore important to worm all kittens, usually every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks old, then 3 monthly. This is vital where there are young children in a household, who will not be aware of needing to wash hands before touching mouths.


It is recommended to vaccinate kittens from 9 weeks of age, 2 doses are necessary, 2-4 weeks apart. Protection is advised against Feline Infectious Enteritis, Cat Flu viruses and Feline Leukaemia virus. These viruses are widespread in the environment and can cause serious illness and potential fatality.

“Potty Training”

Cats are fastidious by nature and in my experience, require little work on the way of toilet training as most kittens are already litter trained by the time they come to their new home. Their mother plays a large role in this, training her kittens from an early age.

Starting off on the right foot with your kitten is by far the best practice. It is important not to get into bad habits. Here are a few tips to encourage litter tray usage.

Providing your kitten with an appropriate sized litter tray. Kittens are small, and should be started with a smaller tray with lower sides, making it easier to climb in and out of.

When your kitten comes home, keep him confined to just one or two rooms for a few days so he is not overwhelmed. Keeping the litter tray close by will help reinforce good toileting habits.

Don't place litter trays in either very high traffic areas or hard to find spots. It should be placed close to his bed, so he can easily find it when he's woken from a sleep. Never place food bowls close to your kitten's food. They don't like to toilet where they eat.

Immediately after your kitten has eaten or had a nap, place him in the litter tray to encourage him to use the toilet.

If your kitten does have an accident, do not punish him. This will have the opposite effect and will lead to further toileting issues down the track.

In the event of an accident, clean the area well with white vinegar. Ammonia based products should never be used as they will encourage your kitten to go back to the spot.

Make sure you clean out your kitten's litter tray frequently

It is also a good idea to stick to the litter that your kitten used when he was with his mother. It is best to avoid “clumping” litter with kittens as they may eat it, which could lead to a blockage

Introducing the kitten to other pets:

Let your new kitten settle in before you attempt to introduce it to other pets you have. The introduction needs to be slow and at the animal's pace. Some pets will become firm friends almost immediately, however it is common for resident pets to be upset at the arrival of a new pet for weeks or even months. This is completely normal behaviour and needs to be met with sensitivity and understanding. The worst thing you can do is rush the situation.


As with introducing pets, introducing your new kitten to children needs to be done slowly and carefully. Let the kitten settle in before you introduce it to children. If your children are young, never leave them unattended with the kitten. Ensure you teach your children how to properly handle a kitten and provide the kitten with a safe place it can retreat to should it need to get away.
Explain to your children that kittens and cats should never be disturbed if they are sleeping or eating