New Kitten Checklist: How To Prepare for Your New Cat

There’s nothing quite like holding a tiny kitten in your hand. The delicate whiskers, the itty-bitty nose, and the adorable purring…need we say more? Your little ball of fluff may be small, but they have a mighty ability to win your heart at first sight. Of course, your new kitten requires more than love to survive. Plan ahead and be prepared with the right food, veterinary care, and playthings to help your kitten grow up healthy and well adjusted. This new kitten checklist and our helpful new kitten tips are a great place to start.

Table of contents

  • Before you bring your new kitten home
    • Choose a veterinarian for your kitten
    • Plan to bring your kitten home at 8-12 weeks old
    • Kittenproof your home
    • Create a safe zone for your kitten
  • New kitten checklist: essential equipment for your new cat
  • Bringing your kitten home for the first time
    • Use a cat carrier in the car
    • Place your kitten in the safe zone
    • Introduce your kitten to the rest of the house and the family
    • Designate a feeding station
  • Building a bond as your kitten grows
    • Veterinary care
    • Cat insurance
    • Training your cat
    • Play and exercise
    • Should you let your kitten go outdoors?
    • Should you get a second cat?
  • Long-term essentials for specific life stages
    • Adult cats
    • Senior cats
  • Enjoy your fluffy kitten and watch them grow

Before you bring your new kitten home

The first part of the new kitten checklist involves what you need to do before evening bringing kitty home.

Choose a veterinarian for your kitten

Your kitten will need veterinary care throughout their life, so select a veterinarian before your kitty arrives. Schedule a well-kitten checkup right away, so your new pet gets off to a healthy start. Depending on your kitten’s age and where they came from, they may need vaccinations or deworming right away. The shots given at the first veterinary visit are especially important to protect other pets living in your home.

Plan to bring your kitten home at 8-12 weeks old

It’s possible to bring a kitten home when they are just eight weeks old, but most experts recommend waiting until the kitten is 12 weeks old before separating them from their mother and littermates. Those extra weeks with mom and siblings can be beneficial for your kitten’s socialization and health.

Kittenproof your home

Cats are playful and curious. Make your home kittenproof and safe by putting away or covering up anything that your new kitten might play with, chew on, climb on, crawl into, or otherwise get into trouble with. Here are some tips:

  • Put away strings, threads, ribbon, and rubber bands, which can be ingested and cause intestinal blockage.
  • Cover up small openings, like behind the refrigerator, where your kitten can wedge themselves in and get stuck.
  • Keep houseplants out of reach, because many are toxic to pets. Check the ASPCA’s toxic and non-toxic plants list for comprehensive advice.
  • Get in the habit of checking inside the washer, dryer, laundry basket, drawers, cabinets, and closets before closing them – there could be a curious kitten inside!
  • Keep all pills inside a container or cabinet. Don’t leave them lying about in the open.
  • Put breakable or delicate items away or inside a cabinet.

Don’t worry, if you forget to address a potential hazard, your kitten will definitely find it for you!

As you and your kitten get to know each other over the next few months, you may be able to relax your kittenproofing habits over time. But plan to be extra-vigilant in the first days and weeks that your new kitten lives in your home.

Create a safe zone for your kitten

Before bringing your new kitten home, choose a room that will become your kitten’s personal safe space for a few days after they arrive. A guest bedroom is a good option, or any room that you can close off from the rest of the house. Place a tall baby gate securely across the entry door.

This safe zone will be where your kitten gets to know its new surroundings and its new family. Remember, your home is big and unfamiliar to your new kitten. By confining your kitten to this smaller room for a short time, you allow them to settle in and get accustomed to all the new sights, smells, and sounds in your home, as well as the people in it.

New kitten checklist: essential equipment for your new cat

Get ready! Have all of the items on this checklist available in your kitten’s safe space before they arrive at your home. Place everything within easy reach so your kitten doesn’t have to venture very far to find everything they need. Think of this as your kitten starter kit!

  • Kitten food: Good quality kitten food is formulated with all the necessary nutrients for your kitten to grow strong and healthy. Plan to feed your feline friend only kitten food for the first year of life.
  • Food and water dishes: Purchase multiple sets of food and water dishes so you’ll always have clean bowls on hand. Plan to wash these bowls every day. Stainless steel bowls are easy to sanitize.
  • Cat treats: Treats will be helpful to train your kitten and build a trusting relationship with them.
  • Cat litter: Scoopable, unscented cat litter is a good option. If possible, use the same litter as the breeder from which you are obtaining the kitten.
  • Litter box: Choose an uncovered litter box with low sides so your kitten can get in and out easily. Switch to a larger, covered box and the litter of your choice as your kitten grows. Kittens instinctively know what the litter box is for, once you show them its location.
  • Litter scoop: Use this scoop to clean your kitten’s litter box every day. Daily cleaning reduces odors. If the litter box gets too full, your kitten may refuse to use it.
  • Cat carrier: Teach your kitten to love their pet carrier from day one by placing treats, a familiar-scented blanket, or toys inside. Being comfortable with the cat carrier will make car rides and veterinary visits much less stressful for your kitten in the future.
  • Cat bed: Cats will naturally find plenty of comfy places to snooze. If you want to train your kitten to always sleep in a certain place or on a cat bed, start now.
  • Cat brush: Cats shed, and regular brushing helps to control the potential fur blizzard you may encounter if you wait too long between brushings. Get your cat accustomed to daily brushing by starting when they are young. As a bonus, brushing sessions are a great way to bond with your kitty.



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