The whole philosophy of raising a kitten is similar to that of bringing up children.
Getting a new kitten and raising it into a well-mannered and well-adjusted cat is a fantastic experience.
However, looking after kittens can also seem daunting especially for first-time kitty parents. To make things simpler, we have put together three expert tips for raising a kitten.
1. Introduction & Socialization
Cats live by a strict social pecking and respect hierarchy.
Therefore a rule-breaking newcomer is likely to be put in its place and swiftly informed that they are unwelcome.
Therefore introducing your new kitten to other cats requires proper socialization and is an integral part of raising a well-behaved kitten.
Introducing your kitten to any other cats
It is important to understand that it is the cats, who dictate the pace of the introduction process.
The cats themselves will signal to you when they are ready to go to the next step. Moving too fast jeopardizes the whole process.
At first, the cats who are being introduced should be kept separately in different rooms.
Some experts recommend switching the cat's locations after 2-3 days so that they can get used to each other's smells. Others suggest swapping the feeding bowls and beddings or rubbing the cats with the same towel to mix their scents.
Another technique is to rub a clean sock on the new kitten's face, to capture its facial pheromones and then leave the sock near the resident cat.
Once you have taken the necessary steps, you should then slowly allow the cats to see each other but without the possibility of physical interaction.
To do this, you can install a screening door or a high baby gate that neither of the cats can jump over.
The final step is letting the cats be together, but not without supervision.
Mealtime is the perfect time for face to face introduction.
At first, the cats may ignore each other, stare at each other or even hiss a bit, but that is normal behavior, as they work out the hierarchy.
Do not forget to pay attention to both cats equally, so there is no perceived favoritism.
Socialization with people
Socialization with people is essential for raising your new kitty into a confident, curious and playful adult cat.
The socialization should start from the earliest age possible and should be quite extensive.
The more new people your kitten meets, the more comfortable it will become.
2. Preventative Care
By providing early preventative care, you help ensure your kitty has a lifetime of good health.
Therefore schedule an appointment at the vet, as soon as you get your new kitten.
Frequent visits will help the vet establish a baseline for your kitten's health.
Ask about fleas, intestinal parasites, and other worms.
Since young kittens are susceptible to a plethora of worms, they need regular de-worming treatments.
Additionally, kittens commonly get flea infestations and require regular administration of topical flea preventatives.
Ask about vaccinations
Young kittens need to be vaccinated against feline immunodeficiency, feline leukemia, and rabies.
Usually, the first vaccine is administered when the kitten is around eight weeks old, and then boosters are given every few weeks until it is 16 weeks old.
Depending on where you live, the vet may suggest some additional vaccines.
Ask about spaying/neutering
Unless you want your new kitten to have its own offspring when it grows up, it is advisable to have it spayed/neutered. By spaying and neutering, you not only prolong your kitten's life, but you also decrease its risks of developing certain medical conditions.
Female kittens should be spayed before their first menstrual cycle, preferably when six months old.
3. Teaching Them to Use Their Litter Box
Kittens that live with their moms or other adult cats do not need to be taught lessons on how to use the litter box.
They learn this behavior by watching and imitating their role models. However, if your new kitten is the only feline member of your family, training it how to use the litter box is your responsibility.
To encourage your kitten to use the litter box, fence part of your room off and in the fenced area put the litter box as well as all the kitten's belongings – toys, bowls, and bed.
Choosing the right cat litter and litter box is essential. If the litter does not meet your kitten's standards, it simply won't use it.
Avoid using strong, artificially scented litters because kittens reject litters with strong scents or may even be allergic to the smell. Also, we recommend choosing a box that is at least twice as long as your kitty and as wide as your kitten's length.
Make sure to have several litter boxes around your house during this phase of your cat's development – one in the fenced area and at least one outside the fenced area. All litter boxes should be placed in private, quiet places.
Stimulate your kitten to use the litter box by placing it inside the box after waking up and after each meal. You can gently take its paw in your hand and show it how to dog in the sand.
Make sure the litter box is always clean since kittens refuse to use dirty and smelly litters.
Some kittens will understand the purpose of the litter box as soon as they are presented with it. On the flip side, others will need to be placed in the litter box many times before they figure out what they are supposed to do.
Remember that the key to litter training your kitten is consistency. Do not get discouraged and never punish your kitty if it makes mistakes at the beginning.