How to Prepare for a New Kitten

Young kitten eating from blue bowl
Benjamin Torode / Getty Images

Kittens are the most wonderful tiny creatures on Earth, but they come complete with insatiable curiosity, which can be their downfall unless you stay one step ahead. This week we'll assume you don't have your new kitten yet, but will help you set the groundwork for a safe introduction to your home.

If little Fuzzface is already part of your household, use this lesson as a review, then you can move ahead to Lesson 2.

You'll undoubtedly have questions about one or more of the lessons. Since I rarely have time to reply to questions by email with the detailed response they deserve, I suggest joining the About Cats Forum, where dozens of experts will be able to answer any questions you have (while no doubt asking lots of questions about your new kitten.)

Are you excited yet? Read on.

Kitten-Proof Your Home

Look, Sniff, and Think like a Kitten

Put on some comfortable old clothes and get way down on the floor and put on your best kitten persona. You can even lie on your back. Now look up; you'll likely see dozens of tempting attractions, many of them hazardous to little furkids. If you lack imagination, follow the article, step-by-step.

Shopping List for New Kitten

The Basic Necessities

At the very least, your kitten will need food, a place to sleep, a scratching post or pad, and a litter box and litter. Of course, you won't be able to pass up a few toys.

They will make the coming home experience a little easier on your new addition, especially since he'll be isolated from any other cats the first few days.

Comfy Bed for Baby

Although your new kitten may be perfectly comfortable in a cardboard box lined with clean, soft towels or a small blanket, consider giving him a real bed, just like the big guys.

The best bets are beds that are either fully washable or have a washable and/or replaceable cover.

Kitten Food for Kittens

The first year of a cat's life sets the pace for his future development, health, and well-being. It is essential that he eats a quality food developed for kittens.

For now, if you know the 0brand, give him the same food he's been eating at the breeders, foster home, or shelter, to avoid tummy upsets from sudden changes. We'll explore more about quality foods in a later lesson.

Interactive Toys

You're going to spend a lot of time in the first weeks bonding with your new furkid - establishing a close relationship that will last a lifetime. One of the best ways to start this bond is by playing with a kitten with an interactive toy. He will enjoy any of these listed, but don't forget another favorite game is "fetch" with a wadded-up piece of paper.

Scratching Posts

A favorite "starting scratcher" among feline aficionados is the Cosmic Alpine Scratcher, an inexpensive, long-lasting cardboard incline with a corrugated cardboard scratching surface. We've had our original one for over two years.  At one time, our kittens were small enough to fit inside through the hole. Of course, now, the J-Boys are senior cats.

Litter Box and Litter

There are many litter boxes on the market, but make sure the one you choose is shallow enough for easy entrance and egress for your little guy. Many people use a small plastic storage box of appropriate size, for starters.

The litter is the most important factor. The link above gives my top picks for premium litter. You also owe it to your kitten to read this article on Clumping Clay Litters.

Preparing a "​​Safe Room"

It may be a room, a closet, or a secluded corner

Your kitten will need a "safe room" for one or two reasons:

  1. To have a place where he can retreat when frightened, feeling threatened, or just to relax and sleep
  2. To isolate him from other cats in the family until he's been "cleared" by your veterinarian.