May 4, 2021 |0 min read |Veterinarian Reviewed
How to Care For a Kitten: The Ultimate Checklist
Bringing home a new kitten is cause for celebration! You’re embarking on a new adventure with your four-legged feline friend. Do you know everything you’ll need to care for your new kitten? Learning how to care for a kitten is easy, as long as you’re prepared. From snack time to play time to nap time, get your kitten’s life ready with these checklist items.
Here, we will break down all of the most important things to remember when bringing a new kitten home!
Kitten-Proofing Your Home
Before even bringing your kitten home, you’ll want to make sure your home is safe and enriching for your feline friend.
Both newborn and older kittens are incredibly playful and curious, so making sure your home is safe is super important. Here are some things to consider to keep your new kitty safe:
- Tie up all the cords to any blinds or curtains throughout the house as these hanging strings can get stuck around your young kitten’s neck.
- Lock away any toxic chemicals, cleaners, or household solutions. Kittens can get through even the tiniest cracks in cupboards and drawers! Child locks will keep these harmful items even safer.
- Make sure all your wastebaskets have a closing lid. Cats can get into the trash and either make a mess or, worse, eat something they shouldn’t.
- Lock all windows and doors to make sure your kitty can’t perform a magic escaping act. Also, make sure all windows have a sturdy screen that your young kitten can’t rip.
- Keep the washer and dryer door closed and always check inside the machines before doing laundry.
- Keep the toilet seat lid down to prevent your kitty from drinking from the toilet or falling in!
- Wrap up any loose electric cords and chargers and tuck them away somewhere where your new kitten won’t want to play with them or chew on them.
- Keep all stringy items out of your kitten’s reach, including string, twine, yarn, shoelaces, etc.
- Check to make sure all your household plants are safe for cats. The ASPCA has a comprehensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants but err on the side of caution when in doubt.
- Always have a cat carrier that is easily accessible in case of emergencies, such as fires or earthquakes.
Next, let’s talk about all the things you’ll need as a pet owner to make your home a fun and exciting environment for your new kitten!
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Toys and Accessories for Kittens
Kittens are curious creatures and are always learning something new. Choosing fun things for your kitten to play with will help keep them entertained and enriched.
Here are some toys and accessories to get your new kitten:
- A scratching post (or a few). Cats scratch to mark their territory, show emotion, trim their nails, and stretch. Make it easy for your kitten to scratch a scratching post instead of the side of your couch!
- A few perches that are up high. Cats love to climb and adding different levels is a fun way for them to get exercise and feel safe. Plus, adding vertical levels will increase the amount of space your kitten has to explore if you live in a small space.
- Lots of different types of toys! Try lots of different toys to find your new kitten’s favorite. These could include wand toys with feathers at the end, laser pointers (be careful not to shine it in your kitten’s eyes), or toys stuffed with catnip.
Toys, cat towers, and other fun things will make your new kitten’s environment perfect for their curious personality.
Litter Box and Litter Box Accessories for Your Kitten
Next, we have every pet owner’s least favorite thing about owning a cat: the litter box! Luckily with the right tips and tools, you can not only master how to litter train a kitten, but make the dreaded chore of cleaning up after them a little easier.
Here are the things you’ll need when setting up your new kitten’s litter box:
- A litter box, of course! When looking for cat litter online, don’t forget the litter box! You’ll notice there are so many all kinds of fancy litter boxes on the market, but we recommend starting with the basic style. Make sure the litter box is big enough so your cat can easily turn around in it. Some cats prefer litter boxes that are covered and some prefer ones that are open, so you might need to experiment with what type of litter box your cat likes best.
- Litter. There are many different types of litter, from traditional clumping clay litter to crystal litter to litter made out of natural materials like corn, walnuts, and even paper. If you’re worried about your kitten’s health, choosing a health monitoring litter like PrettyLitter can help put your mind at ease.
- A litter mat to put under the litter box to limit tracking. These mats usually have a textured surface to catch litter off your cat’s paws as they leave the litter box.
- A litter box scoop. Your scoop should be easy to hold and made for the type of cat litter you choose.
- Carpet cleaner. Although cats are very clean pets, they are bound to have an accident or hairball at some point. Have something on hand to clean your carpet quickly!
- Litter deodorizer (optional). Some cat parents like to sprinkle a little cat litter deodorizer or baking soda in the litter box every so often to keep things smelling fresh.
Remember, you should have one more litter box than the number of cats you have. So if you are bringing home more than one kitten, make sure to have plenty of litter boxes and place them correctly throughout your house.
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Feeding Your Kitten
Like babies, kittens grow amazingly fast and eat a ton to fuel all that growth! In fact, one of the most important parts of raising a kitten is having the right food and accessories on hand.
Here is what you’ll need to feed your growing kitten:
- Stainless steel food and water dishes. Stainless steel is the best material to use because it’s less likely to harbor bacteria. Ceramic is the second-best, and plastic dishes are the least sanitary. Make sure the food and water bowls are big enough for your kitten to eat comfortably.
- A mat to put under the cat bowls to make it easy to clean up spilled food and water.
- Dry kitten food. Talk to your veterinarian to find out which food is best for your kitten, but it should be nutrient-dense and high in protein. We’ve shared before about the importance of a healthy diet for cats and kittens.
- Wet kitten food. If you get your new kitten from a breeder or rescue shelter, they might send you off with some wet food when you take home your kitten. If you want to change your kitten’s diet, do so slowly and gradually introduce the new food to reduce the risk of upsetting their stomach.
- A water fountain (optional). Some kittens love the taste and interest of moving water, so cat fountains make drinking water more appealing.
When figuring out where to put your new kitten’s food and water, make sure it’s in a place that is quiet and away from people walking or other animals. It should also be far from their litter box. Some cats prefer to have their water and food in different spots in the house.
Most cats only need minimal grooming, but keeping up on the basics, like nail trimming and teeth cleaning, is essential to keep your growing kitten healthy both now and in the future.
Here are some handy grooming tools to add to your collection when you get a kitten:
- A slicker brush, like this one. These brushes have super thin teeth and can help remove dirt, dander, and dead hair from your cat’s coat.
- Nail trimmers. It’s essential to keep your cat’s nails trimmed so they don’t get too long and grow into your kitty’s paw pad.
- A toothbrush and kitty toothpaste. Regularly brushing your cat’s teeth will limit plaque build-up and keep your kitten’s chompers nice and healthy.
- Kitten shampoo and conditioner. You might not need to bathe your kitten, but having the shampoo and conditioner ready just in case is always a good idea.
- Baby wipes. Baby wipes are always handy to have if your kitten gets in a mess or has an accident in the litter box.
Having some basic grooming necessities ready for your kitten is a good idea to keep them looking and feeling their best.
Health and Wellness Supplies
Lastly, you may want to consider some health and wellness supplies when learning how to care for a kitten. Always check with your veterinary care specialist before starting a new medicine or health treatment.
Here are some favorites for supporting new kitten development:
- Heartworm, flea, and tick preventative treatment.
- Vaccines as recommended by your vet based on your cat’s age.
- A collar and tags to identify your kitten in case they get out.
- A microchip with your current address and phone number.
- Kitten supplements.
- Natural things to relieve the stress of entering a new home, such as pheromone diffusers, CBD oil, or natural remedies.
Learning how to take care of a kitten is easy when you consider their basic needs: food, water, a litter box, socialization and ways to entertain them, and how to keep them healthy. Depending on your kitten and home situation, you may not need all the items on this list, but this ultimate checklist will set you off on the right foot when you bring your new kitten home!