Raising kittens so that they grow into confident, happy, well-adjusted adults is something every caring owner would like to do. This page gives you some practical advice to help you do this.
The experiences your kitten has when she’s little will have a big impact on the rest of her life. The way she’s treated and handled when she’s young is vitally important. The first few months of her life can, quite literally, shape the rest of it.
Basically, you need to keep her safe and healthy, protect her from nasty frights and try to make her as adaptable as possible. Here are some tips for doing this:
1) Help her to settle in quickly
Before your new fluffball arrives, make sure you’re fully prepared. Have her food, toys, litter bed etc. all ready for her.
Try to pick a name for her as quickly as you can, and start teaching it to her straight away. Click on these text links for advice on names for kittens and training a kitten to learn her name. If you’re struggling to think of a name, here are lots of ideas:
2) Handle her as much as you can
The more you and your family can handle your new kitten, the better. She’ll learn to enjoy it. Make sure any young children handle her gently. You may need to supervise them at first until they learn how to handle her properly.
Also, start brushing her, cleaning her face etc. as soon as you can. If she gets used to all this as a kitten, she’ll be fine with it when she grows up.
3) Safely introduce her to her new world
The sooner your kitten gets introduced to all the things that she’ll encounter frequently, the more adaptable she’ll become. These things may include kids, other pets, car journeys, staying at your friend’s when you go away etc. However, it is vital that this is all done safely. Nasty frights when she’s little may haunt her forever. Click here for advice on safely introducing a new kitten to your resident cat.
You also need to make your home safe for her. This includes blocking off areas where she could get stuck or hurt herself, keeping harmful household products out of her reach, keeping the toilet seat down, the washing machine door closed etc. etc. For further advice on taking care of kittens and making your home safe, click here.
4) Feed her a variety of good quality foods
Raising kittens on a mixture of wet food, dry food and meat gets them used to a varied diet. It helps to prevent Kitty turning into a cordon bleu cuisine snob, and it’s also healthier for her. Just make sure any foods you do feed her are good quality and suitable for kittens. Click here for more advice on feeding kittens.
5) Gently but firmly set boundaries
A very important aspect of raising kittens is boundary setting. Unacceptable behavior may include scratching, biting, constant meowing, swinging off the curtains, jumping up on the dining table when you’re eating, etc., etc. If your kitten is misbehaving, stop her, say “no” once (don’t shout) and move her away from her crime scene. It’s far easier to train kittens not to misbehave than it is to change a bad behavior pattern in an adult cat. Boundary setting when Kitty is a baby can save you years of future frustration.