How to Look after a Kitten: Your Complete Guide

There’s nothing quite as adorable as a kitten, but like all young animals, they need specific care and attention. Attending to their needs early on will not only bond you for life but it’ll also make sure your kitten is both happy and healthy.

There are plenty of things to consider when caring for your kitten. The experiences a kitten has during the first few months of their life will shape their future behavior.

And forming a strong connection with your young feline is extremely important. So it is important for owners to learn how to take care of a kitten.

Tabby coloured kitten sitting up

How to Raise a Kitten

Raising a kitten is a unique and rewarding experience. But any new cat owner is bound to run into a few teething problems in the first few days.

Often when you first bring them home, they’ll hide away, avoid the litter box and be a little apprehensive about you.

 If you’re wondering how to look after a new kitten, here are the most important aspects:

  • Feeding
  • Grooming
  • Good hygiene
  • A safe and suitable environment
  • Socialization
  • Playtime
  • Giving your kitten space
  • Veterinary care

But these are not the only things you should consider when looking after kittens. No matter where you get your young cat from, you should make sure that it has had their vaccinations, some litter box training, and adequate socialization.

You’ll also need to decide whether or not you’re going to neuter them.

⇒ Check out my guides to the Best Cat Products and the Best Cat Litter

3 kittens in a blue and white basket

Feeding

A critical part of looking after a kitten is taking care of its food. When you first bring your kitten home, it’s essential to keep them on the same kitten food that they’re used to.

Any drastic changes can cause an upset stomach. You can introduce a new food in combination with the old.

Choosing the right kitten food is important. You need to make sure you get one that fulfills their nutritional needs and helps them to grow. With kittens, you’ll need to decide whether you want to feed them wet or dry food, or a combination of both.

The type of food you choose is a personal preference and will affect how often you feed your kitten.

⇒ Check out my guides to the best treats for cats, high-calorie cat food, high fiber cat food, low protein cat food, best food for cats with ibd, best cat foods for older cats that vomit, best food for constipated cats, best kitten dry food and a complete cat feeding guide wet and dry food.

cat stares at small bowl with dry food

With dry food you can leave out an unlimited amount for your kitten and they’ll decide when to eat. Wet food can be more expensive than dry food and you’ll need to establish regular feeding times.

Kittens are little creatures with tiny stomachs, so they need to be fed small amounts frequently. Most cats adore wet food and will lick it up in no time so you’ll need to pace them. You should also make sure that your kitty has plenty of access to water.

Start with two food and water dishes for your kitten. Water should be available to your kitten at all times. Your cat may prefer for their food and water bowls to be separated.

⇒ USA – Shop for Kitten Food

⇒ UK – Shop for Kitten Food

Grooming

Cats are pretty good at keeping themselves clean, but there are a few things you’ll need to do to keep them in tip-top shape. grooming is an important aspect of learning how to look after your kitten. It also allows you to check for any signs of illness.

Regular grooming is a great way to get your kitten comfortable with being picked up and handled. While doing this, you can check their eyes, ears, nose, and other body parts.

Grooming cat with tool for shedding hair.

A decent cat brush will allow you to remove excess hair and dirt from your kitten while keeping them clean. For long-haired cats, daily grooming can prevent painful tangles and mats.

If you suffer from allergies, a way to lessen the effects is by washing your cat. During shedding seasons, bathing your kitty can also decrease the amount of hair left around the house.

It’ll also help prevent those awful hairballs, plus they’ll also be super soft afterward. Bathing them as a kitten will help them get used to it and prevent you from any loss of eyeballs when they’re fully grown.

Some cat owners prefer to trim their kitty’s nails. Clipping the sharp points off of your kitties claws protects your furniture and makes playtime significantly less painful.

⇒ For everything you need to know about taking care of your finicky feline check out my guide to How to Groom a Cat, the Best Cat Brush, Caring for Cats guide and my quick cat check up guide.

cats nails being clipped

If you plan on doing this, then it’s best to start while they’re young. If you don’t, trimming their claws will be a nightmare when they’re fully grown.

Good Hygiene

One of the most important areas of how to look after a kitten is making sure they have good hygiene. This includes ensuring access to an appropriate litter tray, which should be placed in a safe, private location with minimal noise. It should also be kept separate from eating and resting areas.

Kittens sitting in kitty litter tray

A common problem with new kittens is not using the litter tray, even if they’ve been house trained. Usually, they’ll do this if there’s something wrong with the tray.

If your cat messes outside the litter box, make sure to put it in the box afterward. This will teach your little one where it’s supposed to go.

Make sure that your litter tray contains enough litter for a deep hole to be dug. Most cats like to dig a hole in the litter and then do their business. They will then cover it up.

With standard kitty litter you will need a scoop to find and remove droppings. Clumping litter will allow the droppings to clump and rise to the surface of the kitty litter.

Also, make certain that your cat can easily get into the box and that the type of litter you’re using is familiar to them.

Placing them in the litter box after waking, playing, or eating is a good way to teach them where to go to the toilet. If this doesn’t get them to use it, try stroking them and then wiping their butt with a damp warm cloth.

Do place the litter tray at least 2 metres away from the food and water bowls.

Small gray kitten in plastic litter cat on floor

Safe and Suitable Environment

One of the most tricky parts of learning to take care of a kitten is making sure it adapts to your home. Introducing them to a new environment with unfamiliar smells and curious people can be overwhelming for a little kitten.

They’re very sensitive little creatures, but with a little time, they’ll gain confidence and make themselves right at home.

Cute kitten playing red clew of thread on artificial green grass

Before bringing them home, make sure that your environment is safe, spacious, and full of places for your kitty to rest and hideaway. Removing any hazards from their surroundings is essential; kittens are generally inquisitive, and you don’t want them to get hurt.

Some of the key ways to make your home safe for your new kitten are:

-Keep electric wires out of sight

-put away any small objects like hair ties, pins etc (these could be swallowed by your new kitten)

-keep toilet lids and rubbish bins down so your new kitten doesn’t explore them

-make sure all medicines, pesticides and other chemical nasties are locked away

If you can, try and bring something from their first home into their new home. This could be a blanket or a pillow. Not only will this comfort them, but it’ll also make them feel more at home.

Socialization

When getting a kitten, exposing them to other people and vaccinated animals in your household is an integral part of caring for them. Proper socialization will help your feline grow into a happy, healthy cat, and it’ll prevent future problems. Here are some kitten tips for socialization.

The first few months of your new kitten’s life is a good time to expose them to a variety of things that they’ll encounter in their lives. Your kitty should get used to being stroked, played with and handled by other humans.

When they get older, they’ll likely only want affection on their terms, but it’s best if they are not afraid of it.

The first night can be unsettling for both you and your kitten. It is normal for some kittens to cry for 3 or 4 nights as they get used to their new home.

Do remember to handle your kitten carefully. If you want to carry your kitty, slide one hand open wide under the chest and put the other hand under the rear end.

All cats like to have their paws and tail unrestrained. This means that they are ready to go if a threatening situation should eventuate. If their paws or tail become restrained they will become upset.

grey tabby cat in harness on grass

Play

Kittens are generally very playful, and when they’re not sleeping the day away, they’ll be eager to play. Make sure you have a good collection of cat toys for them to play with. You should make time to play with your kitten every day.

Cat toys come with plenty of benefits for your kitty. They allow them to exercise their hunting instincts and keep them fit and healthy. It’s also a great way to bond with your new furbaby.

cute kitten playing with colourful toy

Toys that hide food and puzzle toys are a great way to keep your kitten entertained while stimulating their minds. While you’re at it, you should also get a scratching post; this will make for a very happy kitty while saving your furniture from your kitties claws.

⇒ For all things fun with your kitty check out my guides to clothing for cats, the best toys for cats, great gifts for cats and my annual cat planner for kitty photo opportunities across the year.

Giving Your Kitten Space

Cats are known for their independence, and kittens are no different. While they need love and care, they also need space. When you first bring a kitten home, they’re likely to hide under the bed or the couch until they get used to their new environment.

In my experience, if your kitten is hiding away, the best thing to do is nothing at all. Spend plenty of time in the room with them, but don’t engage them. They’ll soon get used to your presence, understand you’re not going to hurt them, and even come to sit on your lap.

kitten on wooden floor and with computer

Talking to your kitty is a great way to get them used to your voice and develop trust. Reading out loud or talking to them while you’re feeding them will make them comfortable in your presence.

Introducing your new feline to other pets and children should be done slowly. Your kitten will be naturally curious about others in the house but it’s best not to rush this.

Rather do a little bit every day. Just being in the same room as other animals and people is a great way to introduce your kitten.

For more sensitive animals I find that taking a warm damp cloth and wiping it first on your kitten’s forehead and then on your other animal’s forehead and vice versa is a great way to get them used to each other’s scent.

⇒ Don’t miss my guide to buying Cat Walking products, the 7 Best Escape Proof Cat Harness options and the Best Carrier for Cats.

kitten and pink mouse

You can also introduce animals from opposite sides of fences or glass doors. This way they can see or smell each other while remaining in a safe space.

Veterinary Kitten Care

Finding a good vet is exceptionally important when caring for a kitten. It’s a good idea to choose someone you and your kitten can trust. They’ll be a great source of reliable information for any questions and concerns you might have about your kitty.

You’ll need to make sure your kitten gets their vaccinations as well as regular deworming from the vet. It’s also a good idea to invest in pet insurance, if you’re able.

Veterinarian listening to cat's heart
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This will make sure you can afford any care your new kitten might need.

A part of vet care is introducing your cat to their carrier. If you place it in their surroundings they’ll be able to get used to the cat carrier, making vet visits less daunting.

Final Thoughts on Raising a Kitten

When you raise a kitten, most of the initial challenges can be solved with some love and patience. With these kitten care tips, before long they will be right at home, solidifying themselves as an invaluable part of your family.

kitten in blue bowl with soap suds

Caring for a kitten is a labor of love, but having them fall asleep in your lap is one of the greatest things in the world. The sweet sound of purring makes raising a cat infinitely worthwhile

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click through on most of the links and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. This will not effect the price that you pay. I wanted to make sure that you were aware of this.

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