During the summer, our area shelters are full of kittens looking for new homes. It’s a great time to find that special furry addition to your family and it allows your kids to form some early bonds with those kitties as they are spending time home away form school during their summer break. If you’ve considered bringing home a feline friend, you might have questions on how to integrate a new pet into your life and introduce proper grooming habits. Here are some key things to consider once you’ve chosen to bring a new kitten into your home.

  1. Bring on the brush:  Proper hygiene is an important part of a cat’s overall health. In some cases, a young kitten might need help learning how to clean and take care of itself. The best thing a pet owner can do to help teach their kitten proper hygiene is to introduce them to the brush and begin grooming at an early age. Regular grooming also helps to prevent matting in long-haired cats and reduces hairballs.
  2. Don’t hide the litter box:  The best place for your kitten’s litter box is one that’s easily accessible, where the kitten can feel comfortable. Hiding the box out of sight could prevent the cat from being able to find it when they need it. A litter box should also have some light around it, so that the kitten can easily see inside it.  A nightlight next to the box helps your cat to see better in the box at night. Cats with litter box challenges typically learn their bad behaviors by living in a home that doesn’t provide them with enough easy access to a clean box. In homes with multiple cats, it’s suggested that each cat have access to their own box. Scoop the litter box daily to keep it clean.
  3. Make time for play time:  Kittens have a seemingly boundless amount of energy, Kittens are also naturally active at dawn and dusk and may choose to play throughout the night, keeping their owners awake. To discourage a kitten from playing in the middle of the night, provide plenty of exercise to wear them out before bedtime.
  4. Provide a place to perch:  A kitten will look to perch on high surfaces as it explores its new surroundings. Provide a scratching post, cat tree, or window perch to help discourage them from choosing a less favorable perch, such as the furniture or the top of your curtain rod.
  5. Tune in to kitty’s body language:  A well-socialized cat is one that gets along well in new situations and with different types of people and pets. When introducing a kitten to new experiences, be aware of the kitten’s body language. A comfortable cat will have a relaxed body and may purr, with ears and tail up. As a new experience is introduced, reward positive behavior with a favorite treat, toy or petting.
  6. Oversee pet interactions:  Pets should be introduced slowly and carefully, allowing both pets to meet each other under the pet owner’s supervision. Using leashes and the assistance of others can help ensure the pet owner’s control of the situation. While they are figuring out their relationship, each pet should also have their private time apart from the other.
  7. Introduce a carrier early on:  It is essential to introduce a kitten to its carrier at a young age so that it becomes acclimated and comfortable with being in the carrier. Confining a cat in the carrier provides safety during transportation, such as trips to the veterinarian for regular check-ups.