New kitten parents might lean on you for advice when they’re adjusting to life with their new feline companions. Here’s a few titbits of advice you can offer them.
For first-time pet parents, the responsibilities that come with bringing a kitten home can be unexpected. Suddenly, they’re entirely accountable for a small creature whose life mission is to get into mischief! Thankfully, this phase is short-lived and can be easily managed with some forward planning.
As the scouts say, ‘Be Prepared’
The key to success is to set things up for your new arrival long before they are due to come home. Not only does this mean buying all of the right equipment (like toys and bowls), but also ‘kitten-proofing’ your home. In many ways, this is similar to baby-proofing. However, kittens can jump up and gain access to a wider range of things than toddlers.
Prevent accidents before they happen
Anything that is likely to get broken, such as a glass vase or expensive ornament, should be packed away until the kitten matures. Advise clients that expecting kittens to play calmly is unrealistic and that their new furry friends aren’t to know the difference between a cat toy and an antique teddy bear. Similarly, anything they may gnaw through or nibble on (such as a favorite pair of shoes), needs to be kept out of reach.
Kittens are generally brave and adventurous. Many will jump from heights before they are quite ready, so let clients know to keep them off high furniture while they’re still developing.
New kitten parents can consider closing off access to areas that may pose a hazard such as the bathrooms and kitchen. Let them know to keep doors closed when the kitten isn’t supervised, especially in those early days. Kittens love to hide and find enclosed spaces, so investing in a cat cave so they don’t find places to get stuck or trapped is also recommended.
Generally, it is not advised for kittens to go outside until after they have been neutered and vaccinated (at around six months of age). Due to this, advise clients not to leave windows open and to be mindful of open doors.
Exploring with their mouths
Kittens are curious by nature and will explore their environment with all their senses. This means that they will often chew and nibble on things that can be dangerous to them. Tell clients to watch out for:
- Toxic houseplants such as lilies and daffodils (as well as potpourri)
- Electric cables and cords – these need to be secured out of sight.
- Essential oil diffusers. Many essential oils are toxic to cats, including eucalyptus and ylang ylang
- Open bins. While foul smelling food may be off putting to us, it can be tempting to a hungry kitten. If possible, keep lids on bins and keep them behind closed doors.
- Cleaning products. As with toddlers, the different smells and bright colours may attract some kittens. Licking even a small amount of a potent cleaning product can cause nasty symptoms such as mouth ulcers and vomiting.
- Small objects that may be choked on or swallowed including marbles, needles or hair ties.
If new pet parents are able to follow a few simple rules and make their homes safe places for little kittens, they should settle in with ease!