New Kitten Checklist: Everything You Need When Bringing a Kitten Home
Bringing a kitten home is incredibly exciting. These bundles or fur bring happiness, companionship and lots of laughs.
Kittens are energetic and playful. They demand attention and require routines. You’ll have to prepare your home with the right toys, treats and other supplies to ensure your new feline family member is comfortable and content.
If you’re feeling flustered and aren’t sure what to buy for your new pet, have no fear—the following new kitten checklist will walk you through the basics and help you get ready for your furry friend.
New kitten supplies: The essentials
After you’ve decided that you will be bringing home a kitten, the first question often soon becomes, “What should I buy for my new kitten?” If you’re not sure where to start, the below is a great starting point of supplies you should have at home when your kitten arrives.
Cat litter and litter box: All kittens need a litter box and cat litter so they can take their potty breaks in your home. The litter box should be easy for your kitten to get in and out of and be placed in a location that is not too noisy or out of the way. You may need to experiment with litter types to see which one your kitten likes best. A litter scoop will also come in handy when it’s time to clean the box. You should have one litter box per cat, plus one additional box.
Cat food: Your new kitten needs to eat! Diet changes should be made gradually to avoid an upset stomach, so start by feeding your kitten whatever food they were eating at the shelter, rescue or breeder. Once your kitten has settled in at home, talk to your veterinarian about the best diet for your new family member. They may recommend a kitten-specific formula to help with growth. Just remember that if your kitten requires a change in food to do so slowly over a 7 to 10-day period. Check out these tips on how to transition your cat to a new food.
Cat treats: To encourage bonding and help with training, purchase cat treats and reward your kitten for good behavior. But keep in mind that overdoing it can lead to weight gain. Look for low-calorie options, and use treats sparingly as they should only make up about 10% of your cat’s overall diet.
Food and water bowls: Mealtime for your new kitten won’t be complete without food and water bowls. Look for small bowls initially to make it simple and easy for your small kitten to eat. You can replace kitten-sized bowls with adult-sized bowls as your kitten grows. To encourage drinking, consider a water fountain and try and keep your cat’s food and water dishes a distance from each other as cats often will not like to drink water that is kept close to their food source.
Cat bed: Kittens need a space where they can curl up and take a nap. While they may choose to do this on your couch or your bed, it’s still a good idea to purchase a cat bed and encourage your kitten to use it. Look for a bed that is easy to wash and consider ones that offer your kitten a place to burrow or hide.
Cat scratchers: Kittens and cats instinctively need to scratch. It’s a natural behavior that relieves stress and helps cats file their claws and mark their territory. If you don’t want your kitten scratching your furniture or curtains, place scratching posts and scratching toys throughout your home and reward your kitten with attention and an occasional when they use them.
Cat toys: Your kitten will have a lot of energy, and toys can help keep your new feline family member occupied, entertained and enriched. Cats are hunters by nature, so playing with toys helps them practice those innate behaviors. Look for interactive cat toys, like wands, so you can play together and bond. Catnip toys are also a good option for playful kittens.
Cat trees and perches: Cats like to observe the world from on high, and they enjoy climbing and jumping. Cat trees and window perches provide enrichment for kittens and cats and give them a place to retreat and feel safe.
Cat carrier: Whether or not you plan to travel with your cat, you still need a safe cat carrier for transporting your cat to veterinary appointments and in case of emergency. Gradually introduce the carrier to your kitten and encourage them to explore it using treats and positive reinforcement.
Collar and I.D. tag: In the event your kitten gets lost or dashes out of the house, a collar and I.D. tag can help increase your chances of a happy reunion. Make sure the collar fits your kitten appropriately and is not too tight or too loose. Breakaway collars are an ideal option! The I.D. tag should include your contact information and your kitten’s name.
Cleaning supplies: Kittens usually pick up on using a litter box quickly, but you should have urine cleaners and odor eliminators on hand in the event of an accident. Look for pet-specific cleaning products that are free of harsh chemicals. If your kitten is eliminating outside of the litter box, try switching litters or schedule a veterinary visit to rule out a medical problem.
How to prepare your home for a new kitten
Kittens are curious creatures, so it’s important to kitten-proof your home to avoid accidents and injuries. Follow these tips to prepare for your new kitten.
Remove poisonous plants. Some common houseplants are poisonous to kittens and cats. Research the plants you have in your home and get rid of any that could harm your kitten.
Secure windows. Cats enjoy looking outside. To reduce the risk of a fall, keep windows closed when you can’t supervise your kitten. If you do plan to open windows in your home, make sure all screens are tightly secured and limit your kitten’s access to sills and ledges.
Secure cabinets. Cats have a way of sneaking into places they aren’t supposed to be, and this includes unsecured cabinets. Make sure any cabinets that contain toxic or harmful cleaning products are properly closed and locked if possible.
Clean up wires and cables. Dangling objects, including electrical wires and cables, look like toys to a kitten. Use wire protectors and keep cords tucked away and out of reach.
Prepare a safe space. Your new kitten will likely feel overwhelmed and a little bit nervous when they first come home. You can alleviate some of this by creating a safe space in a bedroom or bathroom and letting them explore and get used to that area first. If you have other pets in your home, make sure introductions happen slowly.
Find a veterinarian. Before you bring your kitten home, find a veterinarian in your area where you can take your new feline companion for regular checkups. Even if your kitten has already had their first vaccinations, follow up with a veterinary appointment to get your kitten familiar with a new vet and to establish a health and wellness baseline. Your vet can also help you decide on the right food to feed your kitten and establish a pest control regime.
Other important considerations for your new kitten
New cat parents will have to make other important decisions about their kitten’s care. Here are some things to think about when welcoming a new kitten.
Calming aids: Some kittens experience anxiety when introduced to their new home. If your kitten seems stressed, talk to your veterinarian about diffusers that use pheromones to help minimize anxiety, or other calming aids that can help them relax.
Pet insurance: Caring for your kitten is a lifetime commitment and unexpected injuries, sickness and accidents can add up to large veterinary bills. To help with the costs of unforeseen medical expenses, consider purchasing pet insurance to cover your new kitten. Various plans are available to fit your specific needs and budget.
Flea & tick prevention: Indoor cats are still susceptible to parasites like fleas & ticks. Fleas can enter a home via rodents or other pets, including dogs. Humans can also carry in ticks on their clothes. Protect your cat from parasitic diseases by getting them on a flea & tick preventive.
Vaccinations: Talk to your veterinarian about recommended vaccinations for your cat and discuss your options. Depending on where you live and your cat’s lifestyle, your veterinarian will put together a vaccination plan that makes the most sense for your new kitten.
Welcoming a cat into your family is exciting, and having all the right supplies and a support system around you can help smooth the transition. If you have additional questions related to your cat’s care, your veterinarian and local Petco store partners are always ready to give you advice. And, if you’re looking for some answers from home, you can always “Ask a Vet” with this online tool.