Cats make me really happy but they can also be very confusing. I was mesmerised by their furry little feet and healing purrs. I thought my research was enough but when I faced confusing behaviour, I felt lost. Preparation is the most crucial part. Just as a human baby has needs, a cat baby has needs too. It would be hard to keep your cat happy if you don’t know what they need. Cats subtly show their feelings so humans need to up their observation skills. Research shows that unless we learn how to read the facial expressions of a cat, we won't be able to understand them. So, this blog will help you set up your kitten’s new home and understand their needs a little better.
How to Cat-Proof your house?
Kittens are curious and adventurous. My cat taught me that personal space is out of the question. But this kitty invasion can turn dangerous, so one should block off any spaces that are potentially harmful. Secure them by putting safety nets on balconies, or closing air vents. You can also put locks on cabinets containing medicines or cleaning chemicals to avoid an emergency. Kittens are famous for knocking objects off shelves. So, make sure you clean your shelves too.
Pro Tip: All child safe cleaners are pet safe too.
When your kitten has arrived, place the carrier in a quiet cat-proof room. This room should contain all the necessities for the kitten such as food & water (separated from each other) a litter tray and a few prey-like toys. A scratching post can save your furniture from being scratched. This room will the be core room which is the first step to settling into a new home. This is known as acclimation, which is vital because we don't want to frighten the kitten with too many new people, smells and sights all at once. After the kitten is relaxed in this room you can gradually introduce them to the rest of the house, doing one room at a time.
Day 2 or 3
Day 4 or 5
This process would depend on how relaxed your kitten is in the room. If they hide or refuse to eat/play this means they need more time to feel relaxed in that room.
Don't rush this process as trust takes time. Be patient.
After the kitten has acclimated and the introduction to the house has been completed, we need to address their own needs that have to be set up in the house to keep them happy and enriched.
Food and water
I get way too much happiness from good food and our cats are no different. Kittens are curious and will not hesitate to put human food into their mouth. This habit shouldn't be encouraged as some human food is toxic for cats and this habit can lead to issues down the line. A vet can give advice on a nutritious diet that is the most suitable for your obligate carnivores hunter. Cats dislike having their food and water close together so keep the water away from your cat's food. This is because as a species, cats generally don't trust a water source right next to their prey. A dead mouse/bird may contaminate the water.
Pro Tip: A pet water fountain can encourage them to drink more water as it's a flowing source.
They need to be able to perch up onto spaces above the ground to view their surroundings. Providing cat trees, shelves and covered spots scattered around the house helps your cat feel secure since they are a prey species too. Cardboard boxes can be used for this purpose as a budget-friendly option. But for kittens, vertical spots shouldn't be too high as they can fall and hurt themselves. Little steps or stools can be used to teach the kitten to climb.
Pro Tip: You can use the cat tree as a play zone where the kitten can chase prey toys
Litter & Litter Boxes
One of the non-glamorous parts of owning a cat is litter box duty. Litter boxes come in various sizes and styles. The box needs to be 1.5×the size of your cat. Kittens will be naturally inclined to use litter as they have an instinct to cover and dig. Open litter boxes are more hygienic compared to closed ones as long as you Kittens need litter boxes with lower sides so they can enter easily. Litter also comes in many types. Clay litter which is the most popular but may not be safe for kittens as it tends to expand while it absorbs moisture. This can be dangerous and could result in an emergency. The eco-friendly litter is safe. They are wooden pine pellets, recycled paper, tofu, cassava & corn. If you are still confused you can check out this guide by clicking HERE
Grooming and hygiene
Cats are very clean by nature they must get bathed once in a while. Baths are recommended every 4-6 weeks but for indoor cats, one should give them baths less often. If your cat doesn't go for walks and is grooming themselves, I would use pet-friendly wet wipes or a damp towel to wipe them down. Baths should only be considered when the cat is unable to clean themselves. Cats spend almost 30-50% of their day grooming themselves but long-haired cats may need baths more often than short-haired cats. Long-haired cats NEED to be brushed every day to prevent tangles and matted fur.
Pro tip: Get your cat used to grooming from a young age & pair it with treats.
Cats like cosy spots to feel safe. If you don't provide them with tunnels, boxes and cat safe cabinets, they might squeeze into smaller areas under the bed or behind furniture which could be inaccessible to you during an emergency. Some cats like dark and snuggly spots more than the higher ground so it's important to give them choices.
Pro Tip: The key to helping them feel safe is to NEVER touch, talk or approach them while they use these particular spots.
Imagine eating, grooming and sleeping every day….how boring!
Cats are hunters and need to do something instead of being a potato. Interactive playtime is the best way to satisfy their hunting instincts and will also strengthen the bond between you and your cat. Interactive toys are mainly those that resemble prey. You can DIY these too but stay away from small sharp objects, wool and any choking hazards.
Food puzzles are also a great way to give mental stimulation to your cat and keep them busy while you work. Supervision is needed & please put the toys away once you are done. Leaving them lying around will make them appear boring. You can read more about food puzzles HERE
Pro Tip: The toy should ALWAYS run away and hide from the cat rather than dangle in its face. This will bring out the hunting instincts. You can also use a dimly lit room and many obstacles