Raising kittens is very similar to that of bringing up children. Proper care and training is needed when they’re young, and increases the possibility that they’ll grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted adults.
A kitten will have care requirements distinct from those of a fully matured cat and one should consider a kitten’s various stages of development when caring for it:
- Under eight weeks: At this early age, a kitten should still be with the mother, since kittens this young are unable to regulate their own temperatures and rely on one-another’s body heat to survive. Given that they are still developing vision and leg coordination, if you adopt an orphan kitten in this age group, special care is required, including bottle-feeding every two hours up to four weeks of age and possibly helping your kitten pee and poop.
- Eight to eleven weeks: At this age, kittens are usually weaned and should be eating kitten food, which needs to be energy dense, rich in protein and highly digestible. As your kitten grows, it will become a force of nature — running, jumping, playing and exploring. This is a delightful period but also one that can be dangerous to your kitten if it isn’t appropriately supervised. Start setting boundaries for your kitten and keep her in a safe, enclosed room while you can supervise her.
- Two to four months: The growth for kittens is quite fast and they’ll have almost three times more energy than an adult cat. They’ll need three to four individual meals a day during this time.
- Four to six months: Kittens in this age group are reaching sexual maturity. Talk to a veterinarian about having your kitten neutered before it reaches this stage to avoid unpleasant habits like territorial spraying and accidental litters.
The socialisation and training your cat receives during kittenhood will affect how well she will likely interact with people and other animals when she’s older. As a new parent, it will be up to you to guide the kitten and show it that the world is a wonderful place. Consider trying some of these training and socialisation methods:
- Kittens will generally use litter boxes by instinctand it is important to make sure the litter box is always available to your kitten and cleaned frequently
- Pet it frequently
- Get it used to weekly combing and grooming.
- Introduce it to toys
- Experience different walking surfaces (carpet, linoleum, etc.)
- Provide objects to explore, such as boxes and paper bags
- Play loud noise such as music
- Have friends over and ask them to play and give the kitten treats
- Provide scratching posts or similiar and reward it with toys, praise or treats when used
- Do not allow the kitten to bite or scratch during play by redirecting attention to a toy.
- Expose your kitten to other cats and kittens (as soon as they’re up to date with vaccinations).
- Take kitten on car rides, giving it treats the whole time to enable it to get used to the carrier.
- Reward good behavior with treats or praise.
- Do not reprimand bad behavior but ignore inappropriate behavior.
- Challenge your kitten to think by teaching tricks.
- Always be patient