Not many experiences compare to the joy of bringing home a new little furball. Whether this is your first kitten or an addition to a fur-filled household, preparing to bring a new kitten home can feel overwhelming. We want to make sure that when your newest family member arrives at her forever home, you have all the supplies for kittens that you will need to help her get started on the right paw—and leave you free for more cuddles and less shopping.
So, we’ve teamed up with feline experts who’ve rounded up essential items for mealtime, sleeping, routine care, and toys for every type of kitten. Consider this your go-to guide for everything your kitten needs to feel right at home!
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Preparation For Bringing a Kitten Home
Preparing your home for a new kitten will make the transition smoother for everyone. Shopping for essential supplies might be the first thing that comes to mind, but before that, Dr. Kristyn Vitale, DVM, Assistant Professor of Animal Health and Behavior at Unity College, says you’ll want to scope out a room where she can spend her first few days or weeks.
“This will give them time to acclimate to their new surroundings and give them a safe space to run back to if they get afraid when finally exploring the rest of the home,” Dr. Vitale says. To kitten proof the room, remove any small objects your kitten could try to eat, cords she could chew on, or plants that could be toxic.
If you have other pets in the house, you’ll want to have a plan for their introduction. This can begin before your kitten ever comes home by practicing helpful commands. When it’s time for introductions, you can keep Dr. Vitale’s scent-sight-touch guide in mind:
- Scent. While keeping your pets separated, give each one an object of the others. This could be a blanket, toy, or bed.
- Sight. Allow your pets to see each other, but only through a barrier, like a screen door.
- Touch. Once your pets are ready, they can sniff and boop noses face-to-face. But, says Dr. Vitale, don’t rush to this step or there could be behavioral issues down the road.
You’ve selected a space for your kitten to roam and your human and fur family are prepared, now it’s time to shop for the supplies your kitten needs. But what do kittens need?
List of Supplies for Kittens
She might be little, but every kitten already has their own personality. This means your kitten will have her own preference when it comes to the treats she likes, what toys she wants to play with, and even how she likes to interact with you.
“I suggest new owners get to know their kitten through a simple preference assessment,” Dr. Vitale says. “To do this, offer your kitten a few options of treats, toys, or different forms of social interaction like petting or talking to them.” You may notice your kitten responds more positively to one thing over another, and you’ll slowly learn what makes her the happiest. Here are some basics to get you and your new kitten on the path to a happy, healthy life together.
You’re going to need to transport your kitten home, a kitten-appropriate carrier is the safest method. Carriers can be either soft- or hard-cased, should be well-constructed, and not easily opened by inquisitive feline.
Your kitten has a lot of growing to do, and she’ll need the right formula of food to meet her nutritional needs. Adult cat foods have different ratios of calories and nutrients, so you’ll want to look for a food labeled for kittens like Royal Canin kitten formula. “Another key point when feeding your new kitten is to include moist, canned food in their daily routine. Cats and kittens are not always the best at proactively hydrating themselves and adding some moist food to their daily intake can help them remain well hydrated,” said Dr. Sarah Machell, DVM and Medical Director at Vetster.
If you’re wondering how much and when you should feed your kitten, Dr. Machell recommends providing your kitten multiple meals a day (four is a good goal) and not leaving food out for grazing. “The amount of food to feed a kitten does vary depending on the type of food and the age of the kitten,” Dr. Machell adds. In general, young kittens should be allowed to eat as much as they want. As your kitten reaches the six-month mark, talk with your vet about her ideal weight and calorie needs.
Food and Water Dishes
You’re going to need dishware to serve your kitten’s favorite meals on—and there is a surprising number of options when it comes to kitty plate ware. For your miniature furball, you’ll want to start with shallow bowls that are easy to access and clean. As she gets older, look for a food dish that is elevated and is wide enough to fit her whiskers. My cats and I love these bowls.
As your cat matures, you may find she has different preferences when it comes to drinking water (like from the faucet) and might enjoy lapping from a water fountain.
Litter and Litter Boxes
The best litters for adult cats are unscented, soft on the paws, and fine-grained, Dr. Machell says. Because kittens are still exploring the world, they may be tempted to give the litter a taste. Therefore, I provide my kittens with non-clumping pine pellet litter that is less likely to cause an internal obstruction if ingested. Once your kitty understands the purpose of her litter box, you can explore the plethora of other litter options (don’t worry, we’ve got the scoop on our favorites here).
“Kittens can absolutely use a ‘grown-up’ litter box,” says Dr. Machell. Very tiny kittens might need a baby booster step to be able to readily access the interior of the litter box, she adds, or you can purchase a smaller, starter box before bringing a kitten home.
It’s true, your kitten could entertain herself with her own tail for hours. But providing a collection of toys that you can rotate into play will keep your kitten mentally and physically stimulated—and curve unwanted behaviors. “Some toys I’ve found kittens enjoy are the Da Bird Go Cat Feather toys and the Cat Dancer wire toy,” says Dr. Vitale.
Dr. Machell adds a word of advice when considering toys for kittens, “Toys with ribbon, rope, and string can pose a threat to kittens, and truly are best to be used with supervision only.” For safe self-play, Dr. Machell says to look for toys that resemble real prey, are crinkly, or contain catnip (for the lucky cats and kittens that can smell it).
A general rule is that treats should make up no more than 10% of your cat’s diet. And when it comes to choosing the best treats for your new favorite feline, Dr. Machell says to check the label. “Many cat treats may contain high levels of hidden sugars. Sugar is generally not highly consumed in the natural diet of cats as they are true carnivores,” she says.
Beds, Trees, and Scratching Posts
Setting your kitten up for success will include providing her with a stimulating environment—and a cozy place to snooze when she’s all worn out. Cats have a natural desire to scratch and climb, and without the proper outlet, you might find your kitten with her claws in your couch. That’s why it’s important to offer her several outlets for these behaviors—like posts and trees.
Flea and tick control
There are some kitten-safe flea and tick washes that can be applied at home, but you should always consult your vet before treating your cat or kitten for any type of parasite. “Cats and kittens can experience very serious side effects from improper parasite medication choices or administration,” Dr. Machell says. Fleas and ticks are not only a nuisance, but they can also transmit diseases and cause other health issues for your cat—so don’t skip this important conversation with your vet.
Pet-Safe Cleaning Supplies
Cleaning supplies for kittens are also important to be ready for your new kitty. Good news, says Dr. Machell, your new kitten is much less likely to have a potty accident than a new puppy. But potty accidents (or a hairball) are still bound to happen, and when one does, Dr. Machell recommends reaching for a neutralizing pet-safe cleaning like Nature’s Miracle.
A kitten’s digestive tract is immature and, as a foster mom to kittens, I know diarrhea and soft stool are not uncommon. To avoid accidents just outside of the litter box, simply place the box on top of a layer of pee pads for easy clean-up. A chat with your vet is always a good idea when tummy troubles arise and before adding any supplements to your cat’s diet—so ask your vet if a probiotic like Purina’s Fortifloria could get your kitten back on track.
“Kittens are tiny, active, and curious! This combination can frequently result in kittens finding themselves in some interesting, and sometimes complicated situations that may unexpectedly result in the need for emergency veterinary care,” says Dr. Machell. “Having pet insurance for your kitten can really give you peace of mind to know that if something untoward were to occur, the financial burden of covering unexpected veterinary bills is not your responsibility.”
Remember Your Patience
Above all, says Dr. Machell, remember that your kitten is still learning her way in this big new world. Instead of punishing her for her antics, reward her for good behaviors and laugh at all of the silly things she does – because she will do lots of silly things.
Have you recently brought a new kitten home? What supplies for kittens were you glad to have and the ones you wish you bought?
About the Author: Janelle is a cat mom to two resident adventure cats (Lyra and Atlas), a foster mom to numerous cat and kitten fosters, and Portland’s feline sitter. When Janelle isn’t with a clowder of cats, you’ll find her wrangling her flock of urban chickens, cooking, and writing. You can follow Janelle, her adventure kitties, adoptable fosters, and chickens at @paws_pdx.
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