The arrival of a new kitten is such an exciting time. When we brought our new little kitten Pablo home last month, I spent a lot of time thinking about the things I needed to get in place for his arrival. In the past, I've definitely fallen into the trap of buying All. Of. The. Things. But after 5 cats and 15 years of cat ownership I think I’ve finally worked out the checklist of new kitten essentials that we really need!
So, if you’re new to kitten ownership and feeling a little overwhelmed with what to buy for your bundle of fluff, hopefully this list will be useful. Have I missed anything that you've found you can't live without? I'd love to know your kitten must-haves!
New Kitten Checklist:
Shallow litter tray – Although super-duper, self-cleaning-with-reclining-leather-seats style litter trays are great when your cat is slightly older, they're not so good for miniscule little kittens! Wee little kitties need an easily accessible, simple tray with shallow sides to hop in and out of when nature calls.
Cat litter – Opt for a non clumping, unscented cat litter. Some kittens have a tendency to explore their new surroundings (and litter trays!) with their mouths, nibbling on things here and there, so it is important to select a non clumping cat litter to avoid any clumps forming in your kitty’s tummy and causing gastrointestinal problems if he does decide to chomp on it. Continued eating of cat litter, however, should be highlighted with a vet as it can indicate vitamin deficiencies in your cat. However tempting, it’s important to go for an unscented litter so that it doesn’t mask your kitten’s own scent. A kitten might not remember his way back to the litter tray in the middle of the night but he can certainly sniff his way there!
Kitten collar – Now, you might be thinking ‘of course you’re going to suggest a kitten collar, you sell them!’. We do, but only because we know how absolutely important it is for all cats - indoor and outdoor, young and old - to wear a visible form of ID (in addition to a microchip). It's an essential piece of kit to show well-meaning members of the public that your sweet kitten isn't a stray and has a loving home. Or, in the words of the Humane Society: "An ID tag is your cat's ticket home. All cats should wear collars and tags". Kittenhood is the perfect time to introduce your cat to wearing a collar. You can read more about how to pick one that's safe for kittens here.
Toys – Kittens are incredibly playful, it’s absolutely adorable and downright exhausting in equal measure. Pablo is the most playful kitten we’ve had and exists constantly between two modes – asleep and attack! Now, we understand that his ‘attack’ mode is just a huge amount of energy packed into a tiny body and he is simply honing his hunting technique, but when his prey are my feet – it’s not so adorable. So each member of the family has a designated play time with Pablo using various dangly toys for him to chase and leap at while keeping our fingers well away from those needle-like little claws! I’ve found that simple but robust toys with a fishing rod type handle work the best. Playtime between you and your kitten is so important, it forms a bond between you both and allows kitty to act out his animal instincts, he’ll eventually learn to play without his claws on show but for now, it’s the only way he has to stop himself from falling headfirst off the couch. You might just need to work on your cat-like reflexes to match him!
Cardboard box – As lovely as velvety soft cat beds are I’ve found that my cats rarely use them, whenever possible their favourite place to sleep is snuggled up in your warm lap. However, one exception to that rule is the pinnacle of cat must haves. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, the cardboard box. For the first time cat owner, you can save yourself a fortune by simply repurposing your Amazon delivery boxes into cat beds. No matter the size or shape, put a cardboard box on the floor and marvel at the gravitational pull it has over your cat.
Kitten food – Wherever possible, you should continue to feed your cat the same brand of kitten food they have been weaned on. Changing a kitten’s diet abruptly can cause tummy upsets. However, if this is not possible, introduce a new brand of kitten food slowly by mixing small portions with boiled chicken (absolutely no bones!) and gradually increase the amount of kitten food to chicken ratio.
- Insurance – Pet insurance is an interesting topic to consider for your little one. I certainly have heard tales of policies that are overly restrictive - not covering certain ailments or procedures or some companies not paying out at all. I've also been really interested to hear from some of our community who prefer run their own 'personal' insurance scheme, putting a sum of money away each month into a separate account to pay for any large vet bills. However, I have always taken out insurance for my cats from kittenhood so that if any conditions were to develop early on in life or if accidents occurred, my vet bills would be covered. I like the peace of mind pet insurance offers but understand it is not for everyone. If you do decide to take out an insurance policy, it’s a good idea to ask to your vet or veterinary nurse if they would recommend a reputable company as they often have firsthand experience of dealing with claims on behalf of their customers. Of course, online comparison and review sites are also a great way to check out a policy before you purchase.
So that’s it! A short but sweet list of new kitten essentials that I have honed over the years. What items have you found priceless when bringing a new kitten home? We always love to learn tips and tricks from fellow cat owners so feel free to leave your comments below!