Preparing for a New Kitten

By: Rachel McGreal – Agricultural Communications Student at University of Illinois and President of National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow

Please note, I received compensation in exchange for this blog post – Rachel McGreal – Agricultural Communications Student at University of Illinois and President of National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow

Introducing a new kitten into your home can be scary and exciting all at the same time. I introduced a new kitten, Dixie, into my home last summer, and there were quite a few questions I had to ask myself when preparing to bring Dixie to her new home.

What items will I need to make my kitten comfortable at home?

Bringing a new kitten home can be stressful for you and your kitten. However, you can minimize that stress by making sure they have everything they need and that your home is a safe space for them. This will allow you and your kitten to focus more on bonding and less on the transition process.

It’s important to kitten-proof your space before they arrive. This includes taping or encasing wires that may be in your kitten’s reach, getting rid of or moving small items in your kitten’s space that they could swallow, and putting away toxic household items such as cleaning supplies. Don’t put the cleaning supplies too far away, as it’s normal for kittens to have accidents or make messes.

Besides tidying up the space that your kitten will occupy, it’s also essential to gather all of the kitten supplies you will need in advance. Here’s a list of things your kitten will need:

  • Food/treats
  • Food and water bowls
  • Litter and litter box
  • Bed
  • Scratching post/toys
  • Carrier
  • Collar and ID tag
  • Grooming brushes

What kind of health care will my kitten need in its first year?

The first year of a kitten’s health care is arguably the most important. The first time your kitten visits the veterinarian is crucial for examining their overall health and wellbeing. Your kitten should receive a wellness exam as soon as possible post-adoption.

Over the course of your kitten’s first year, it will need a few different vaccinations. They should receive their FVCRP (feline viral rhinotracheitis) vaccination when they are between six and nine weeks old, followed by routine boosters until they are between 16 and 20 weeks old. They will likely be required to receive a rabies vaccine and a dewormer to treat common parasites in kittens. While these are the core vaccines, your veterinarian may suggest other vaccinations depending on your kitten’s health profile.

Veterinarians recommend spaying (for females) or neutering (for males) in a kitten’s first year, typically at around five or six months old. Spaying or neutering supports their overall health by reducing the chance of infection, preventing unwanted behaviors, and more. Procedures can cost between $200-$500 for spaying and $100-$300 for neutering, depending on factors such as your kitten’s age and where the procedure is done.

What can I expect on my first day home with my kitten?

The first day home with a new kitten can be overwhelming for you and your new feline friend, but it doesn’t have to be if you know what to expect. It can take some adjusting for your new kitten to feel comfortable in their new space, so it’s important to take things slow and have patience.

It can be helpful to designate a specific room or limited amount of space for your kitten at first so that they can be gradually introduced to their new surroundings. Letting them become comfortable in this new space of theirs will make it less overwhelming once you introduce them to the rest of your home.

You can expect your kitten to be very timid and prone to hiding in their first few days at their new home. This is normal behavior that is fine as long as they have all of their essentials and know where to find them. Having a cozy carrier or simple cardboard with a blanket creates a safe space for your kitten to adjust to their new home. Put their water, food, and litter box close to their carrier in their designated space. If the kitten doesn’t eventually explore on their own, pick them up and show them where to find everything.

Your kitten’s first few days at home can surely test your patience, but you have higher chances of bonding with your new kitten if you let them initiate contact with you.

Why are two kittens better than one?

The idea of bringing two kittens into your home can seem overwhelming, especially if you are not a seasoned cat owner. But giving your new kitten a friend to grow and play with will not only support your kitten’s behavioral development but also make your job easier. 

While cats may be stereotyped as aloof creatures, they are actually quite social animals. They enjoy having a friend to play with and learn things from. Kittens learn by watching their fellow felines, which means having two kittens will help them pick up on good behaviors faster. The two-kitten dynamic will also prevent your kitten from relying solely on you for exercise and playtime.