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For us it was heavenly to finally bring home a tiny kitten after years of wanting one. I had never had a small kitten as a pet before, or ever really been around kittens. I had experienced cats and older kittens, and even feral kittens in our barn and neighborhood, but they were older and pretty self-sufficient. Nothing had ever prepared me for taking this tiny girl home.
We brought Juniper home about a month ago from a large and wonderful animal shelter in our area. She was the first kitten I saw, but I had to play it cool and look at the many others in the shelter. After all, this was kitten season. Scarlet urged me to put a deposit and hold over little Juniper, so I sent an inquiry to the front desk. A counselor came to talk to me and showed me this girl’s tiny, but impactful history. She was found at only one pound, and dehydrated and malnourished. She was nursed to health and put up for adoption with her brother when she was old enough to go home with someone. Then we walked in.
Just last night, we slept hand in paw. She crept into bed after I crept into bed, after watching a late-night Hallmark movie (what?) when everyone had gone to bed. Juniper jumped onto the bed, circled all around me twice, and then settled in between us, with one paw firmly in my outstretched hand. That is what I most wanted. I wanted the interaction a cat brings to your life. I wanted this friend – this tidy housemate – this glorified stuffed animal that she is! And I realized last night, that I must be doing something right. We introduced her to a home with two active adults, two highly active young kids, and a dog.
She is flourishing, and importantly, so are we. I’m thinking that the fact that we have the children and the dog made it a more thoughtful process. I worked with the shelter, the shelter worked with me, and the same thing happened with the vet at Juniper’s first post-adoption checkup. I took seriously all that goes into bringing a kitten home, and I think it made the transition more smooth. Are you bringing a kitten home soon, or thinking of doing so in the future? These tips are for you!
10 Tips For Bringing Home a New Kitten
1. In my experience, everyone is looking for something different. I was looking for a kitten that was affectionate and inquisitive, and didn’t shy away from my touch, nor the touch from my kids. I think that personality is suiting us well.
2. Transport your new kitten home in a cat carrier. If you don’t have one, often the shelter has cardboard ones you can buy, but you will probably need a carrier in the future for vet visits, or any rides in the car the cat may one day need.
3. Prepare a small room or space for your kitten for the first few days or weeks at home. Kittens can get into small spaces, and they also spook easily, so having a smaller space for her to explore first will get her more comfortable with your home. Keep your kitten separated from other pets at first, and secure all electrical, curtain and blind cords, because they can harm her. Set up food and water bowls, toys, a scratching post, and maybe a bed, and keep the litter box as far from the food as you can. Make sure your kitten can get in and out of the litter box, and that she has safe hiding places within the space.
4. Litter box training is actually easy, because cats instinctively like to bury. Put the litter box in a secluded spot, and place your kitten in there, after she’s finished a nap or a meal. Keep doing so regularly and help her simulate digging.
5. Are you introducing your kitten to children? Be cognizant of children under five, because they can be rougher on kittens without realizing. Show your children how to hold a cat with one hand just behind the front paws, and the other supporting the kitten’s hind paws. They should never grab a kitten’s tail or ears, or pick it up by the scruff of its neck. They should pet the head gently and wash their hands after. If the children have friends over, they can teach their friends.
6. Within a week or two of being adopted, take your kitten to her wellness visit at the vet. Make sure you bring immunization and health records from the shelter (if applicable), because they can come in handy. Ours gave us a rabies vaccine voucher.
7. When you are ready to introduce your kitten to the house, make sure you keep your pet safe by kitten-proofing. I mentioned electrical cords, but also factor in Christmas decorations, blinds, curtains, balloons, rubber bands, chemicals, medicines, dental floss, and many more items. And keep your washing machine and dryer doors shut at all times.
8. If you have a dog or other cat, make sure they have been checked by your vet. Never leave them alone together for the introduction. Perhaps keep your dog leashed for the introduction. Reward both pets for their calm behavior together.
9. Get your kitten safe toys without sharp edges, choking hazards, and more – like scratching posts, small stuffed animals, and a ball too big to fit into her mouth. You can also buy a fuzzy mouse, a plastic fishing pole, etc.
10. Have good quality food and treats for your kitten. We go to Walmart to find SHEBA® PERFECT PORTIONS™ and SHEBA® Meaty Tender Sticks Cat Treats for Juniper. They are easy to spot in the Pet Care Aisle with the cat food and treats.
The easy snap portions make it easy to feed Juniper the exact portions of food recommended by her vet. We certainly don’t want to overfeed Juniper. The food is what we want, and also, like they say – SHEBA® WHAT CATS WANT™!
One thing I didn’t previously know about cats, is that you can give them treats. Really! They love them. The vet recommended it too, as a way to bond with Juniper and praise her for calm behavior. SHEBA® Cat Treats are made with mouthwatering ingredients in a fun, stick-shaped snack. They are made with real meat and no artificial flavors.