Preparing to Adopt a Kitten
You are about to adopt a precious little bundle of love. A precious furry little bundle of love, that is. How can you prepare your home for the newest member of your family?
- Walk through your house and assess and minimize the hazards. Kittens can (and will) get into everything. They will jump on forbidden surfaces, explore nooks and crannies that are better left alone, and chew and claw things that used to be in pristine condition. To minimize damage to your kitten and your property, it’s best to take steps to reduce kitty’s access to the at-risk property until she understands what you expect of her (i.e., where you expect her to be/ not be, what you expect her to do/not do, etc.). It is wise to take all breakables (crystal candlestick holders, your grandmother’s china cup and saucer collection, etc.) and put them someplace where kitty can’t get at them. All strings, threads, medicines, chocolates, onions, and other items that are hazardous to kitty’s health should be put out of kitty’s reach; and all sewing needs, crochet hooks, furniture with sharp and/or pointy edges should be removed from kitty’s access as well. Further, you can help kitty learn what surfaces it’s ok for her to be on by covering paw-free surfaces with crinkled aluminum foil (kitties don’t like the feel of crinkled aluminum foil on their paw pads). Or you can use motion sensor devices that emit a siren sound when a surface is moved (i.e., when kitty jumps up on the surface). Or you can spray the surface with a citrus-scented furniture polish or other cleanser (kitties do not like citrus).
- Purchase litter boxes of varying sizes. Kitty will need a shallow box to begin with, as her little legs may not be able to maneuver well over the edge of a full-sized litter box, and kitty may not want to jump into her box each time she needs to use the box. By using boxes that are scaled for her size, you will be encouraging her to use her box (rather than accidentally incenting her to potty outside the box). Placement of the little box is also important. Kitty will prefer to have her box placed in a private location (a low traffic area is essential), ideally in a corner where two walls intersect, where there is not a lot of noise and no windows in the immediate environment.
- Purchase food and water bowls, a collar, a kitty carrier, a scratching post, and a variety of toys to hold kitty’s interest. Food and water bowls should not be placed next to the litter box: kitties want to have a lot of distance between their box and their bowls. Make sure that the collar you choose is a break-away collar so that there is no risk of strangulation from the collar. A kitty carrier can be used only to transport kitty or it can be used as a private napping space for kitty as well. An old towel can be placed in the bottom of the carrier to make it comfy for kitty. A good sisal scratching post should be placed next to furniture that would otherwise look highly scratch-able (i.e., the edge of your brand new couch). Toys that are great for kitties include anything with feathers, anything that moves in an interesting manner, and anything that is soft and fun to sink your teeth into. Do not attempt to make kitty toys, as there may be unintended hazards associated with that. Instead, purchase kitty toys from a respected pet store, where you know safety is a priority.
- Discuss with your human family members how the newest family member will affect them. Kitty will need love and attention, just like the other members of your family do: make sure everyone embraces nurturing your new little one. Who will be responsible for cleaning kitty’s box daily? Who will feed her and freshen her water daily? Who will brush her (daily for long-haired kitties and weekly for short-haired kitties)? Does everybody understand that they will need to be watchful when they enter and exit an exterior door so that kitty doesn’t dash out to explore the wilds of your yard without your knowledge?
By following these tips, you can prepare your home for the arrival of your new kitty. Kittens can be a handful, but they will bring you a lifetime (their lifetime) of love and merriment.
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