A kitten can bring joy to a family but also chaos, accidents and loss of your own ‘me’ time because they rely on you constantly. Your new kitten may cling to you, or be independent, wreck your curtains or sofa with its claws, or hurt you when it climbs up your leg as you prepare their dinner. Are you ready to commit to a kitten?
A kitten reminds me of a child. They have no awareness of danger so anything from cables, to bra straps, hiding behind the fridge and escaping from the home can be hazardous and even fatal to a feline aged a few weeks old. There are so many things to consider. Your kitten may wee and poo on your carpet before it learns that the litter tray is for defecating in. Because your kitten is incapable of knowing right from wrong, safety or danger, it will need you to teach it instead of scolding. And remember, do not let your kitten outside unsupervised – they will escape and your kitten will not survive against predators or be experienced hunters to find food, or even road savvy. Life is a big adventure for a kitten.
1: Will my senior cat or dog accept a new pet in the home?
It is so important to consider your older cat or dog before buying or adopting a young kitten. Older pets may not tolerate rough and tumble from a kitten. As a senior, they prefer to sleep. If your pet has dementia, routine is important so bringing a lively little fluffball home may lead to confusion and snappiness towards a kitten from your pet.
Ensure you give equal affection to all pets in your household. Avoid jealousy and issues from your older pet and create positive experiences. Feed and greet your older pet first – they see you as their owner. Trust me. Eventually, you can feed them together. Maintain a balance. Give your new kitten their own toys, scratch post, litter tray – do not give your new kitten things that belong to your other pet.
If adopting a kitten from a rescue, you can always ask if your older cat or dog can meet the kitten you wish to adopt. Often, rescue’s will cat test a dog by walking them through a cattery with cats safely in their pens. I believe that as humans, you bond with some and not with others and your dog or cat may be similar. Several visits may be beneficial. A reputable rescue will understand and prefer their adoptee to be in the right home.
2: Buying Vs adopting a kitten and kitten farms
My preference is always for adopting rescue animals.
Kitten season is normally between April to late autumn but an unneutered female can get pregnant and give birth anytime throughout the year. Unwanted kittens will end up in a rescue, ow worryingly, dumped or advertised online as ‘free to a good home’.
Animal charities rely on animal lovers to adopt. This then frees up space for the other kittens and cats needing refuge. Adoption fees cover veterinary bills, wages, and running costs of the rescue (heating, lighting, food and wages for paid staff, as an example).
A cat can give birth to up to nine kittens at any one time so you can see why the amount of intakes is referred to as a kitten crisis. This could be resolved by pet owners neutering cats.
Believe it or not, there are kitten farms. Cats Protection call it The Big Kitten Con and I do recommend watching their video.
The video highlights what you may be buying when you purchase a kitten:
- Urgent veterinary care after purchasing. Cost £2500
- Untreatable brain infection
- Sick and flea infested
- Underaged kittens for sale
Perhaps like you, I naively thought only puppy farming existed and not of kitten farming. My puppy farming article is about a real-life border collie pup called Nell and was featured in the Withernsea District and Community News. It is heartbreaking but brings home the facts.
You might opt for pedigree kittens but they can cost hundreds of pounds and are bred for money.
3: Your kitten must have identification
A kitten can be microchipped at 8 weeks. A veterinary professional or rescue employee will insert a microchip into the back of your kitten’s neck. The chip is a rice-size grain so very small.
This will contain your kitten’s information, your name and contact details. The implanter will send the documents to the microchip company who will then enter the information onto an approved database. The company will send you an official microchip certificate and is important you receive this. If you do not, your pet is not registered on the database and if he or she goes missing, is found then scanned, your details will NOT be available to reunite you.
It would be a good idea to get your kitten accustomed to wearing a kitten collar and a tag. I always have the following engraved on any 25mm tag I order:
- Pet name
- I am microchipped
- My mobile number
- My house number and postcode
- Sometimes any medical issues (deaf, renal, dementia)
If your cat or kitten is found and has an identity collar and microchip, the better the chance of being reunited.
Please ensure the collar has a quick safety release. Felines of any age like to climb and are inquisitive and if you fluffball get caught, a safety collar will give a quick release. But if your kitten (cat) loses the collar, you have an identification option because microchipped.
4: Insurance or a veterinary health plan may help save money
The decision of pet insurance must be your decision, or whether you opt for Pet Health Club scheme alongside the insurance or instead of. The Pet Health Care scheme has set parameters – it is not insurance.
Insurance companies are notorious for avoiding paying out; conditions are endless, there’s the excess and some veterinary practices will charge for completing insurance claims documentation. Rescues often offer 6 months of pet insurance with adoptions, which is normally with Pet Plan. You then have the option of whether you continue.
As the trial period draws close, I recommend searching for insurance on comparison websites such as Money Supermarket, Go Compare or a cashback site like Quidco (referral link). I have earned £249 using Quidco and transferred cashback into a personal veterinary account to pay for bills or Tabitha’s Royal Canin dry biscuits.
Tabitha is on the Pet Health Club scheme. Today’s price for a cat plan is £14.60 (January 2022), and plans are also available for dogs and rabbits. I registered my cat at the veterinary practice, but you can join online today. The Club says you can save £180 annually.
The only negative point is because of Covid-19, the 6-monthly ‘nose to tail’ checkups were cancelled, which I understand. The practice Tabitha is registered with continues to suspend the checkups even though they paid for them. Pet Health Club will not refund you and oddly, tell you to speak to the practice you are registered with to discuss a refund. The Club will not take any responsibility and only suggest speaking to your practice. So you have to weigh up the rest of the service offered and I think it is worth the money.
Here’s an example of what is on offer:
- Full vaccination (and during these appointments your vet will check your pet anyway – heart, teeth, ears etc)
- Flea and worming treatment. Tabitha has Milebax worming tablets and Bravecto flea & tick treatment. Both last 3 months.
If thinking of joining your new kitten, these services are a consideration:
- 20% off neutering
- 100% off insurance claims administration fees
As mentioned, the current price for a cat is £14.60. The good news is – The Pet Health Club does not appear to increase prices annually. Tabitha’s plan still costs £12.50 per month.
5: How much should I feed my new kitten?
A growing kitten will need four feeds a day. So think about how this will work if you work full time as well as financially.
Kitten food is available in supermarkets, or more nutritious foods such as Hills are available in high street pet stores (Jollyes or Pets at Home), or save money and order from an online pet supply shop (links to a list of stores), or try a cat / kitten subscription service (cancel anytime). You can select a two-week Taster Box for £5 (currently available for £3). In January there will be a video revealing the Taster Box so please do subscribe to my YouTube channel so you do not miss it.
6: How do you train a kitten to use a litter tray?
Firstly, the mum cat will not teach her kittens how to use the litter tray. However, kittens may learn when they see Mum cat urinate or defecate in a tray. A kitten may pick up the scent and want to investigate.
A mum cat will lick her kitten’s genitals to stimulate urination and defecation, so she does provide some training. A kitten will also develop natural digging movements from about 7 to 8 weeks old although watching one of my kittens it takes a while for them to cover the poo!
Some older cats prefer privacy so it would be up to you if you introduce your kitten to a litter tray with a hood. These tend to be more expensive so shop around but initially I would opt for a kitten litter tray. The benefit of having a litter tray with a hood is the contents are unseen, it prevents too much litter from being scattered outside the tray and your cat won’t have the option of hanging their bottom over the edge of the tray – unless they choose the entrance which Tabitha did the other day.
Your kitten will otherwise rely on your for training so how do you train a kitten to use a litter tray?
- Buy a kitten litter tray so easily accessible. The tray size should be 1.5 times the length of your kitten (base of the tail to the tip of its nose). This allows enough room for movement
- Opt for a litter designed for kittens. if the grains are too small they will get stuck between paw pads
- Ensure your kitten is present when you fill the tray for the first time – they will be inquisitive
- Place your kitten into the litter tray after every meal, before sleep time and if you see it wandering around and sniffing
- A kitten or adult cat will toilet several times a day
- Ensure your kitten is rewarded with a treat each time it uses its litter tray. It promoted good behaviour
- Never scold a kitten if accidents do occur. It will blight training and cause stress. Remember, your kitten relies on you for training
7: How do I get rid of the cat urine smell in my house?
Your kitten (or elderly cat) may have an accident on the floor. Never punish. Help your kitten learn the correct ways. It is well known that the scent of feline urination, or spray from an unneutered male cat, is hard to eliminate.
This is a tried and tested method to get rid of kitten urine.
- Fill a bowl with hand-hot water
- Add biological washing powder and stir. It may not dissolve completely
- Buy a cheap floor brush ( I use a nail brush)
- Scrub the carpet or hard floor twice daily for a week (do not drench the carpet or hard floor)
- Don’t forget to patch test the carpet or hard floor first
When cleaning the offending area you might want to use a carpet cleaner or hard floor mop.
I recommend watching my videos:
- Bissel ReadyClean Carpet Cleaner 54K25 – view here
- Vax Steam Fresh Combi Classic S86-SF-CC – watch here
7: Where is the best place to put a cat litter box?
When young, your kitten may not be fussed if the litter box is placed near a window, a door, or a cat flap but the older it gets, it will become more aware of predators. For example, uninvited cats enter the home.
I once had four cats and placed two in the boiler cupboard. It offered privacy and was quiet.
The fourth litter box I put beside the loo in the upstairs human toilet room. Joey was the boss-cat. He preferred a different litter and hated his tray being near the others. Cats can be fussy.
Never place the litter box near a kitten’s food and water bowls. Your kitten will scatter litter whilst digging and waste or litter grains may contaminate food or water if nearby. This might lead to your kitten being unwell.
8: How much playtime should a kitten have?
Your new kitten will be full of high jinxes and will not understand the danger around them. A kitten will investigate anything new and may chew cables or run up the curtain so be vigilant and provide it with safe toys.
Your kitten will need playtime with you at least twice daily and for 15 to 20 minutes a session. Can you invest this time? This provides mental stimulation and exhausts them too!
The price for kitten toys varies. The cheaper toys can be bought at Poundstretcher or Poundland. You could save cardboard toilet holders and put treats inside, or put ping pong balls in a cardboard box.
In the future I will be making games at home – maybe in video format so please subscribe to my YouTube channel. It will be fun!
9: How do I create a private space for my kitten?
A kitten needs a sanctuary where it can retreat to relax, feel secure, or hide if it feels threatened or nervous. Build its private space away from busy traffic areas, noisy locations and away from other pets in the household.
Think about including the following:
- A snug bed with a hood or an upturned large cardboard box with a cutout entrance
- Soft blanket
- Scratch post close by
- Warm, quiet area in the home
When evening arrives, remove toys that can cause a distraction and take your kitten to its private sanctuary. Your kitten may be exhausted from playing anyway and it also establishes a routine and will eventually learn the pattern.
10: Train your kitten with words
Whether kittens, adults or geriatric cats, I use set words. Cats are intelligent, although stubborn too. Teach them simple words for daily routines:
- Sleep time
- Come on
- Indoors now
The above gives you an idea and if you keep up with it, your kitten will learn what the word means.
Call your kitten by its name and reward it with a treat when it comes to you. You can practice this when dinner is ready too. Make sure you use its name for positive interactions and not negative.
11: Not giving up on your kitten
Adopt or buy a kitten if you are prepared to put in the time. It is easy to imagine a ball of cuteness and how wonderful and perfect life will be. Remember a kitten will need monitoring and protecting; independent playtime may ruin your belongings. Any type of pet will cost money – food, accessories, vet bills (standard healthcare or emergency), insurance or plans like Pet Health Club. And again, never scold your new kitten. Teach them correct behaviour from a young age.
If you unknowingly purchase a farmed kitten, you will have a vet bill costing hundreds of pounds.
- Please read my article called A True Story of Puppy Farming. The article features Nell and a shorter article featured in the Withernsea District & Community News that Poppy’s Pets has a column in
- You might like to read the RSPCA’s kitten checklist before buying. There are real-life stories too – and highlight the cost involved
12: How do you transition a kitten outdoors?
Firstly, do not let your new kitten outside before vaccination. Vaccinations protect your kitten from harmful and dangerous diseases such as FIV (feline immunodeficiency). You must register with a veterinary practice and book the first jab when your kitten is nine weeks followed by a booster at three months. Follow up boosters are then annually. Because of Covid-19, veterinary practices were closed except for necessary appointments, so I could not book Tabitha’s booster. However, her vet explained that her previous annual booster would protect her for an extra three months. In total, the 12-month booster covers an animal for fifteen months.
Your kitten will need an identification microchip. You can read more in my article 11 Tips to Think of if You Own a Cat or Dog or scroll back up to point 3 in this article. 11 Tips also highlights important follow ups steps after your pet has a chip inserted.
I feel it important that your kitten wears a collar with an identity tag too. Whilst it is free to have a found animal scanned by an implanter, some people may be worried about incurring a charge for a veterinary visit. So having an ID tag attached to a collar with your contact details gives the finder the opportunity of calling you if they find your kitten.
I also recommend, from experience, getting your kitten used to wearing a collar as soon as you can. Another item to consider is a cat harness. I would train your kitten indoors for small periods before it goes outside.
Whenever I have moved house, my cats wear a harness (from kittenhood) during the first few weeks of introducing them to their outdoor environment. A harness will keep your kitten safe whilst exploring. Another point to add, you may be someone who loves hiking and decide to take your kitten on treks with you. So it is vital to begin harness training as soon as possible.
Your kitten will need to be neutered to avoid unwanted litter. The operation cannot take place until your kitten is 6-months old so you must monitor your kitten’s outdoor time. As a kitten themselves, they are too young to become pregnant.
Consider cat-proofing the garden, especially if you live by a road. YouTube features lots of DIY videos showing you how to keep your cat safe in the garden at a low cost. Or you can visit that gives low-cost ideas to cat-proof. Alternatively, visit Felisafe which can supply the material or installation. Or Protectapet which offers a supply and install service.
There can be dangers in your garden. Both cats and kittens are inquisitive. Close your shed and greenhouse door (make sure you do not have any other cats hiding inside – I always leave a bowl of water in my shed and have a fitted cat flap as a precaution. On one occasion I locked a neighbour’s cat in my shed and we went on holiday – but with the cat flap, the owner was able to entice kitty out. Becareful of ponds, open cans and bottles containing oil, antifreeze or other chemicals. If there are small areas that a kitten can crawl into, or building work going on nearby, your kitten or older cat may investigate.
I noticed that come sunset, my cats would go into hunting mode. Your kitten will mimic natural behaviour outdoors. I applied a routine of calling my cats indoors before sunset and only fed them dinner after all were safe inside. I provided biscuits of the morning that would be available throughout the day and wet food, their favourite, I saved for evening dinner.
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