Your first time with a pet kitten is exciting and wonderful but it can also be overwhelming. Kittens are delicate creatures and need a lot of care as they grow into big, tough (but still cute!) cats. You might find yourself dealing with shyness, attachment issues or (perhaps inevitably) cat diarrhea and vomit.
Today we’re looking at some of these hurdles and challenges, so you can feel renewed confidence with your kitten.
Over your first six months with a kitten, it’ll grow a huge amount – from a tiny cat to 75% of its adult mass, and that’s why you’ll see cat food that’s specially formulated for kittens to be high in the protein and nutrients they need to grow. Food for adult cats or senior felines won’t provide this big boost of nutrients, energy and building materials, and they won’t grow us healthily.
As long as you’ve adopted a kitten from the recommended minimum age of 8 weeks, then you won’t have to worry about weaning. 8 weeks is when kittens are (in most cases) weaned onto solid foods, and have learned how to clean themselves, how to go to the toilet, and develop their social skills. If you try to take on a kitten younger than this, then you may need more specialist help as younger kittens are extremely dependent on their mother.
If your kitten is 8 weeks or older, you simply need to make sure you’re looking for nutritionally complete food that’s intended for kittens specifically. It may take some experimentation to find food that they’re really tempted by – some like dry food, some like wet food – some like dry food that’s been moistened for them! Don’t over commit on bulk buying till you’ve found a diet that’s mutually acceptable to you and your kitten.
One of the great joys of cat ownership is watching your feline companion explore your garden, slink in and out of the plants and claim it as their territory. You need to be careful when you have a kitten, however. They’re more physically vulnerable, more prone to getting lost and less able to care for themselves, and if you let them outside unsupervised before they’re six months old then you’re exposing them to risks they’re ill equipped to handle.
You should also ensure your kitten is fully vaccinated and microchipped before you let them out. This protects them from the most common cat diseases (and stops them spreading to unprotected cats) and helps the authorities reunite the two of you if your kitten gets lost.
Through the Night
Kittens can sleep as long as 20 hours a day, but that doesn’t always coincide with human bed times!
You can try to help your kitten sleep through the night in a few different ways: set up a cosy bed (possibly off the floor, so they feel extra secure), with blankets and toys with their familiar scent. Schedule a play time shortly before bed time to tire them out, and possibly a small final meal of the day so they’re not distracted by hunger pangs in the night. It might take some time, but cats are creatures of habit, and if you keep up their bedtime ritual they’ll soon find it a source of comfort that’s easy to stick to.