There is no denying that kittens are adorable. However, they’re also furry little bundles of energy that can drive you crazy pretty quickly if you let them! If you are new to kittens, you may be surprised at just how agile, energetic, and destructive they can be. Even if you have previously child or even puppy-proofed your home, your new kitten could still find their way into lots of trouble!
As veterinarians, we’ve helped many new pet parents keep their sanity when raising kittens. We’ve also seen firsthand what can happen when you don’t take proper steps to keep your tiny feline friend safe. In this blog post, we’ll be sharing some helpful tips for staying sane while caring for even the craziest of kittens. Let’s get started!
Understand Their Exercise Needs
Exercise isn’t just crucial for helping older cats maintain a healthy weight. It helps kittens burn off all their excess energy, too. And much like young children, kittens learn about their world and what behaviors are acceptable and appropriate through play.
While adult cats need about 30 minutes of physical activity each day, kittens and younger cats need one to two hours of daily exercise. In addition to providing toys for self-play (more on toys next!), be sure to engage in interactive play. Playing with your kitten helps you build a strong bond with them. It also allows you to teach them important lessons — like no biting.
Provide Plenty of Toys
Giving a new kitten a bunch of toys isn’t spoiling them. It’s ensuring you’re meeting their needs and that they have a healthy outlet for their energy when you are unavailable to play. Scratchers are essential for cats of all ages, and we recommend having a few different types to satisfy your kitten’s needs. At a minimum, you should have a vertical scratching post and a scratcher that lies flat on the floor. A turbo scratcher that features a scratching pad surrounded by a track with a ball your kitten can bat and chase is an excellent option for keeping your kitten busy.
Other toys that are great for kittens include:
- Catnip mice
- Collapsible tunnels
- Cat houses and trees
- Feather teaser toys
- Treat-dispensing toys
- Food puzzles
Invest in an extensive collection of toys for your feline friend, and swap them out regularly. This keeps things exciting and helps prevent boredom.
Be Prepared for Teething
Teething tends to be challenging for kittens — and their owners. Like human babies, kittens experience discomfort and pain when their teeth come in and when they lose their baby teeth, which happens between 4 and 6 months of age. While your kitten is teething, they will likely bite or chew on you more than usual. Discourage this behavior by providing teething toys. Kitten teething toys will provide much-needed relief for both you and your tiny tiger!
Feed Them a Healthy Diet from Day One
Feeding your kitten high-quality food won’t make them less crazy or energetic. Doing so will help prevent unpleasant problems — like vomiting or diarrhea — that could drive you crazy, though! Growing kittens need food that provides about two to three times more energy than adult cat food provides. And roughly 30% of that energy needs to come from protein, so be sure to buy food that’s specifically formulated for kittens.
Your feline friend needs to eat kitten-formula food until they reach maturity. Even though they will stop looking like a kitten long before their first birthday, it’s important to continue feeding kitten food throughout the first year of your kitten’s life.
Offering some treats on occasion is fine, but don’t overdo it. Treats should never make up more than 5% of your feline friend’s daily food intake. Avoid feeding your kitten table scraps and human food. To avoid gastrointestinal upset and ensure you’re meeting their nutritional needs, stick to high-quality kitten food and cat treats. If you need help, reach out to us. We’d be more than happy to help you get your kitten on an appropriate diet.
Teach Them “No”
Cats aren’t born knowing how to behave in our human world. Instead, we have to teach them. Fortunately, young kittens are intelligent and receptive to learning. When your new feline friend bites a bit too hard, attacks your toes under a blanket, or decides to scale your curtains, reprimand them with a firm “no” and redirect them to a more appropriate activity. In the curtain example, you would want to tell them “no,” then move them to their cat tree or an acceptable perch.
When teaching your cat rules and boundaries, be consistent. Don’t allow them on the kitchen counter one day, then tell them “no” the next. If you want your kitten to understand what is and isn’t allowed, you can’t constantly change the rules. Consistency is key!
Kitten Proof Your Home
Curious kittens will get into just about anything. You can save yourself a lot of frustration and anxiety by making sure your house is fully kitten-proofed before bringing your new best friend home. Ensure electrical cords and chargers are out of reach and install covers to keep curious claws away from unprotected outlets. Consider putting locks on your cabinets to keep your kitten out and away from cleaning supplies. You might want to upgrade to trash cans with lids, too, so you won’t have to worry about them getting into something they shouldn’t. Create a “safe space” in your home that’s free from potential hazards, such as an unused bathroom, guest bedroom, etc. Your kitten’s safe place is a spot where they can play without hurting themselves or damaging anything in your home. Don’t keep them isolated to this area for too long. Kittens need socialization!
Raising a kitten is a fun and rewarding experience, but it isn’t without challenges. Kittens are crazy little balls of energy, and they are good at driving their owners crazy. However, you can raise a healthy, happy kitten while keeping your sanity intact with the tips above.
In addition, remember that kittens (and adult cats) need regular veterinary care. Feline behavior is perplexing, and sometimes, behaviors that drive pet parents crazy have underlying health-related causes. Scheduling a wellness check for your kitten shortly after bringing them home is the best way to start them off on the right paw and begin a healthy, happy life together. Call now to schedule your new feline friend’s appointment!
For over 30 years, The Drake Center for Veterinary Care has been serving pet owners in Encinitas, CA. The Drake Center takes pride in being a leading source of information for all pet owners across the country; however if you have any questions regarding pet care and do not live in Encinitas, CA or surrounding cities, we encourage you to contact your local veterinarian.