So you want to adopt a kitten, eh? While the urge to bring home a kitten may suddenly hit you out of the blue, you must be prepared. Here is a quick guide to help the adoption process go easy for you and your furry friend.
1.) Preparing Your Home
This is the one thing that gets overlooked more than anything. Kittens are similar to puppies in the sense that they DO need supervision and you do have to watch what you leave around. Walk into each room of your home and check for hanging wires of any kind, especially electric wires. Make sure they are tucked out of the way or firmly taped or tied to the wall or floor. Doing so will reduce the chance of the kitten mistaking it for a toy. If you have any bug or mouse traps of any kind, make sure they are out of reach of your new kitten. Depending on the age you choose to go with, it’s VERY important not to underestimate just what they can fit into. Watch for any kind of small items on the floor such as beads, threads, marbles, etc. – anything that can fit into the kitten’s mouth that can be easily choked on needs to be put away. Most kittens don’t have a good gag/puke reflex till they are around 4 months old which is why it’s VERY important to keep an eye out for small objects.
You are going to want to pick up a few things for your new kitten’s needs! The basics will do just fine for now. These include a litter box (not too big, not too small), litter, feeding bowls or plates, food, and a few nice toys. If the kitten is a little older (4+ months) pick up some form of scratching toy as well to train them where to scratch their nails so they don’t do it all over your furniture. Kittens train quite easily when you start them young. I would advise getting a collar for your kitten once it is the appropriate size to wear one. Basic small puppy collars tend to be easier to get on and off, and cheaper too. Follow that with a name tag and a bell. Why a bell? It is more for you to know where they are at so you don’t accidentally hurt them.
There are many routes you can go when adopting. You can find kittens in animal shelters, on breeding websites, in the newspaper or on craigslist. It does not matter where you go to adopt but it matters who you are adopting from. You have to be aware of the kitten’s health. Look for missing hair, flea over-load, crusted eyes, brittle nails, boney body, very dry nose, and overall activity level. A kitten won’t be able to tell you something is wrong so you have to use your best judgment. Kittens that have a lot of fleas are more prone to have infections. You also have to watch for the age of adoption. Kittens under 8 weeks SHOULD NOT be taken away from their mother. The first 8 weeks are very crucial in nutrition, health, and learning. As with all animals, if on your journey you come across kittens or cats that you believe to be getting abused, please report them to the proper authority.
For other household pets, it is important to wait 48 to 72 hours before the new kitten meets them. This allows time for the kitten to adjust to its new environment, getting accustomed to the new sounds and smells. Keep the kitten in a closed off area during this time. Large bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms where people frequent are best.
Things you may Notice
It’s sleeping… A LOT!
This is very normal for kittens to take frequent naps as the growth hormone is released from the brain while a kitten is sleeping. It is important to the kitten’s health that you allow it to sleep when it wants to. If you have a child or children, be sure to explain how important the kitten’s rest is to its health.
It’s not going to the bathroom!?
Do not panic, especially if it does not know how to use the litter box. As I wrote above, if a kitten is taken away too soon from the mother it misses out on learning. This is one of the common things they miss out on. If you have a kitten who does not know how to use the box and has went number 2 on the floor, simply place it in the box and show the kitten where it is. Gently hold its paws and cover it with litter. The kitten should associate the smells with going to the bathroom and pick up on this in less than 3 days. As for the kittens that simply aren’t going to the bathroom, give them time. Remind them where their box is every few hours. It is very common for kittens to not go to the bathroom for up to 48 hours from stress.
It’s scared of me now!
It’s also quite common for a kitten to be content with you… Until you bring it home. They may not want to eat or be touched for a while. Hiding is normal for a kitten in a new area. You will notice he/she will begin to warm up to you as the hour’s pass. Do not force the bonding experience to happen. It will happen on its own.