By Sari Reis
Just like human babies, kittens need special care. If you brought one home for Christmas, here are a few essentials to get him off to a good start.
- Good nutrition is a necessity. Talk to your veterinarian and get him started on a complete and balanced diet. As a proponent of wet food for cats, I suggest you get him started on wet food right from the get-go.
- Vaccinations are crucial for kittens. If he wasn’t already vaccinated when you adopted him, get it done as soon as possible. Even if your kitty is going to be indoor only (and I hope he will be), immunization is critical.
- “Curiosity killed the cat” is not just an expression. Kittens are extremely curious and will get into everything. For that reason it is imperative that you kitten-proof your home. Keep all wires, strings and dangling objects safely tucked away, as well as any breakables that could be knocked over during play.
- There are several plants that are toxic to cats. Be sure you don’t have any in your home. For a complete list you can check the Internet.
- Kittens are exceptionally playful and need lots of exercise, so have some appropriate toys for him to play with. A scratching post is indispensable to keep him from ruining furniture and draperies. Most kittens love balls, feathers and wand toys that dangle. Since some of these things can be dangerous, supervision is necessary. Put them away when you’re not around. Empty cardboard boxes and large paper bags without handles make great toys for kitties, and they are safe.
- Kittens often like to hide, and for a kitten that can be almost anywhere. Watch to see where he goes and close off any areas that could be dangerous. Keep the lid down on washers and dryers or close the laundry room door. Baby locks are good to put on cupboards and cabinets he may be able to open.
- Since toilet water is not an appropriate drinking source, ensure the lids are closed on all toilets or keep bathroom doors shut. Always have a bowl of clean water readily available for drinking.
- Your new kitty will probably follow you everywhere, especially at the beginning, so be careful when you leave your home that he is not hot on your trail. Also, be vigilant when you are entering the house and when visitors come to the door.
- Cats are very clean animals. It’s important to keep the litter box scooped. I suggest one litter box for each cat. It should be scooped at least twice a day and completely cleaned and refilled every week or two.
- It is never too early to start him on good habits, I recommend you start cleaning his teeth and clipping his nails early. Make it as positive an experience as possible by using praise and treats.
- Last, but not certainly not least, kittens need plenty of loving. By giving your kitten lots of cuddling and affection and following all of these essentials, you will create a wonderful bond that will last a lifetime.
—Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services. For more information you can contact her at 760-644-0289 or missionvalleypetsitting.com.