How to Look After a Kitten: The Do's & Don'ts
09 Oct 2023
by Bex Falloon

Brace yourself for a tidal wave of cuteness as we dive into the world of new kitten care. Whether you're a seasoned pet parent or a first-timer, ensuring your tiny furball thrives is all about nailing the basics. From mealtime antics to cosy nap spots, we’ll teach you how to care for a kitten. Get ready to decode the art of litter box training, master playtime fun, and discover the purr-fect grooming routine.

So, grab your feather toy, a sprinkle of patience, and a whole lot of love – because your kitten's Swaggle journey begins now!


Nurturing your new kitten - what you should do

Ready to jump into the feline fray? Whether you're a cat whisperer or a newbie, the foundation of kitten care is simpler than a game of string chase. From creating a purr-fect haven to mastering mealtime manners, we're dishing out the best tips to help your tiny furball thrive.


1. Set up a safe haven

Give your kitty their own slice of paradise – a quiet retreat to unwind and explore. It could be a room or a crate tailored for comfort and a gradual introduction to your home's hustle. Remember, this is a huge change for them, and a gentle transition sets the stage for paw-sitive progress. Fill their nest with essentials: comfy, washable bedding, a litter tray, food and water bowls, and exciting cat toys. Once they've mastered this spot, gradually extend their domain.


2. Take baby steps

Keep things zen initially; those whiskers are adapting to a whole new world. Respect the adjustment period by steering clear of loud parties or high-energy events. Just like humans, kittens need a moment to acclimate to change. While you might be eager to show off your new fur baby to the world, it’s better to allow them some time to explore at their own pace.

When you do have visitors over, make sure they are well prepped beforehand to be calm, patient, and possibly stocked up with treats so that your kitten has a positive experience. This is crucial for their socialisation, helping them feel comfortable and confident around new faces. In fact, you might want to explore options like kitty kindy, which is akin to puppy preschool, to provide structured socialisation opportunities for your kitten and help them build essential social skills.


3. Extend that territory gradually

Once they've established their comfort zone, extend their territory gradually. It isn't a race; it's a confidence-boosting, tail-raising journey. Don't rush the process. Once they've grown accustomed to their safe area, start introducing them to other parts of your home in stages. This gradual expansion helps build their confidence and minimises feelings of overwhelm.


4. Feed frequently but in small amounts

Remember, those tummies are itty-bitty. Offer several small meals daily – premium kitten grub for top-tier growth. Skip the pet milk; water is their only essential. If your kitten is between 8 and 12 weeks old and struggling with dry kibble, soften it with warm water. Eventually, they'll master the art of crunching on their own.


5. Make timely vet visits

You're a duo now, and with great power comes regular check-ups, vaccinations, and parasite protection. Call your local vet and pave the path for a healthy feline future. Remember to discuss the best time for spaying or neutering.


6. Groom often

Ah, the brush battles. Start small, so brushing sessions aren't meow-drama marathons. Learn to love it now, and they'll welcome those brushes for life, keeping their coat dazzling. Use soft brushes and reward them with treats. Weekly brushing is sufficient for most cats, which could be as often as a daily ritual to prevent matting and tangles as they grow.

As your kitten blossoms into a full-grown feline, it's wise to seek out a brush or brushes best suited to your cat's specific coat type. With many choices available, finding the perfect grooming tool can help make brushing sessions more effective and enjoyable for both you and your fabulous feline.

You can read our full guide to feline grooming here.


7. Prioritise playtime

Energetic little beings need an outlet. Keep them entertained with rotating toys, puzzle games, and oh-so-tempting wands. Rotate their toy selection every few days. Puzzle toys and treat balls not only provide mental stimulation but also turn mealtime into an engaging challenge. Scratch poles, climbing frames, and interactive wands cater to their natural instincts and protect your furniture from tiny claws.


8. Stay diligent at sun shielding

Feline sunburn? Yep, that's a thing. Especially if your kitty has delicate white patches or thin fur. Sunscreen, shaded spots, and expert vet advice can save the day. If applying sunscreen is a new experience, do it gradually and reward them with treats.


9. Follow these bathing basics

Emergency baths only, folks! Kitties aren't fans of being drenched. But let's face it – most cats are self-cleaning ninjas. Opt for kitten-friendly shampoos, but be cautious – too much shampooing can strip their skin of natural oils, leading to dryness and discomfort.


10. Develop positive early encounters

Early encounters shape lifelong habits. Whether it's grooming, harness training, or designated sleeping spots, start early and sprinkle those moments with pawsitivity.


11. Check the local rules & regs

Every kingdom has rules. Councils know that too. Get acquainted with local laws, microchipping, and those important kitty citizenship forms.


Feline Faux Pas - What You Should Not Do

Looking after a kitten is not just about knowing what to do – it's also about being aware of the things you shouldn't do. Your furry friend's well-being depends on your knowledge and sensitivity. Let's dive into some crucial "kitten no-nos" to keep your feline buddy thriving and happy


1. Don't avoid cages early on

Ah, the cat cage – a universal trigger for feline Houdinis. To avoid this, consider reframing your kitten's perspective. Introduce the cage as a cosy nook for them to explore and relax, rather than a vessel for trips to the vet. Make it their happy place with treats, comfy blankets, and positive experiences. Gradually expose them to the cage in random, short bursts, so they don't associate it solely with stress. This simple shift can transform your cat's cage into a refuge rather than a source of anxiety.


2. Don't skimp on the litter trays 

When it comes to litter trays, cats have a reputation for being rather selective. To create a harmonious toilet experience, remember the golden rule: one litter tray per cat plus an extra. This means if you have two feline friends, you'll need three trays. Cats are finicky about cleanliness, so frequent changes are essential. Like us, cats like privacy, so place the litter trays in quiet, secluded spots where they can do their business in peace.


3. Don't transition their diet too quickly

Your kitten's delicate tummy needs special attention regarding dietary changes. Sudden shifts in their diet can cause tummy troubles. Prevent this by beginning with familiar food from their previous home or the breeder. If you're switching to a new type or brand of food, do it gradually over 1 to 2 weeks. Mix the new and old diets, starting with a small portion of the new one and increasing it slowly. This step-by-step approach reduces stomach upset and aids your kitty in adapting to their new diet.

So there you have it, fellow feline enthusiasts – a roadmap to kickstart your journey as a pawsome kitten parent. Building a lifelong bond starts from kittenhood. By learning how to take care of a kitten properly, you equip yourself to be the purr-fect guardian.

Embrace the moments of play, the whisker-tickling cuddles, and the growth milestones. Your kitten's world is a canvas of joy, waiting for you to sprinkle it with love and care.

Keep learning, and let your kitten's journey be a melody of happiness and whisker-twitching contentment!

Bex Falloon

About The Author

Bex Falloon

Veterinary Nurse | Pets: Ted (Domestic Longhaired Tabby Cat) & Frankie (Cavoodle)

I have 19 years experience in the Veterinary industry. I started as a Vet Nurse in a small animal practice where I developed my love for hospital care, anaesthesia and looking after elderly patients. After 9 years I moved into a Practice Manager role where I was able to broaden my skills to include more customer care, overall business management and leading a wonderful and caring Veterinary team. More recently I am working with the Virtual Vet Nurse team, implementing great ways to increase efficiencies, especially on the front desk, of Vet Clinics, which has been fantastic! My love for pets and the bond they have with their owners is why I am passionate about pet care. Being able to share my knowledge with owners on how to do the best for their beloved companions is such a privilege.