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 Pets :: ats :: Cat health and care :. Kitten basics
Take Me Home!
The thought of bringing home a new kitten can be at once exciting and overwhelming. Here are some kitten-specific suggestions that will help make your new friend's welcome a warm and lasting one.

The Right Time to Place a Kitten
The most desirable age to place a kitten is between 8 and 12 weeks of age. Kittens obtained after 12 weeks may be more difficult to manage. Your kitten will need time to adjust to its new environment, and understanding this is the first step in getting off to a positive start. Place your kitten in a small, quiet place with food and a litter box. As it becomes more comfortable, you can gradually allow it access to other rooms in the house. Talk quietly to your kitten and gently pet it. Set a regular time and place for feeding your kitten.

Cat Carrier
Bring your new kitten home in a cat carrier to familiarize your kitten with this useful invention early on. Cat carriers become a safe and familiar place for your kitten when you visit the vet or travel, and can keep your curious kitten out of trouble when need be.

Litter Box
Most kittens will understand how to use the litter box if they spent the first few weeks of their life with their mother and litter mates. You can help your kitten to understand what is expected by placing it in the litter box after feeding. Kittens do not need a full-size litter box and might do better in a box with lower sides (about 1 inch).

Litter Box Training
Watch your kitten closely. When it begins nosing in corners or squatting, place it in the litter box. Gently scratch the kitten's front paws in the filler, so it begins to learn that this is the place to deposit and bury waste.

If your kitten has an accident, wipe it up with a paper towel and place the paper towel in the litter box. Then place the kitten in the litter box and repeat the process of scratching with its front paws.

Grooming Your New Kitten
It is important to make your kitten feel comfortable about grooming from an early age. Look into its ears, eyes, nose and mouth regularly. Look at its paws to prepare it for claw trimming when it needs it. Brush or comb your kitten regularly.

Kittens need a different kind of diet than adult cats as their stomachs are smaller and their nutritional needs somewhat different. Your kitten will need to be fed several times a day - it has a big appetite! Feed your kitten a kitten food, in small amounts, that is specially designed to meet its nutritional requirements.

The experiences of kittens during their first few months of life are critical in helping to shape their temperaments and personalities as adults. These experiences begin very early as kittens interact with their mother, litter mates and humans. Socialization can be further enhanced by frequent petting and handling, as studies show that petting a young kitten can make it more responsive as an adult cat.

Exposing kittens to as many people as possible is important in helping to lessen their fear of strangers as adult cats. Studies show that a litter of kittens born in a location inaccessible to humans will, as young as two to three weeks of age, hiss at humans. A litter of kittens from the same mother, if handled daily, will not react fearfully. Some research suggests that handling kittens each day during the first month of their lives may improve their learning abilities. Studies also suggest that kittens react more readily to humans when the mother cat is present. The belief is that she sends no alarming signals to the kittens and that her presence reassures them. So, pet your kitty!

Introducing Your New Kitten to Other Pets
In most cases, you should keep your kitten confined to one room of the house for the first few days, giving your other pet(s) a chance to grow accustomed to its smell. Make the first introduction short and sweet, removing the kitten after a few minutes. Most pets will work things out in their own way, which may take about a week. If your pets are having more difficulty adjusting, supervise their time together and be patient. Offer both pets a place to go when they want to be alone.

Introducing a new kitten to an older animal can be very stressful on the older animal. Lavish most of your attention on the older animal, not the kitten, making sure that the old-timer doesn't feel threatened by the newcomer.

Holding and Carrying
Place one hand under its chest and use your other hand to support the rear. Gently lift the kitten into the crook of your arm.

Your new kitten will sleep up to 16 hours a day. Establish a sleeping place for it right away, but beware! Think twice before you make that spot your bed, as once established, your kitten may sleep there for the rest of its life.

Your kitten will want to play and play and play! Play behavior begins when kittens paw and bite their litter mates. This is often followed by chasing, stalking and wrestling. Your kitten may pounce and stalk unsuspecting toys or pieces of paper. Don't worry. It's just exercising its natural predatory instincts in a harmless - and often amusing - manner. Providing appropriate toys for these activities, such as wads of paper, ping-pong balls and kitten fishing toys, enhances the kitten's play. Toys that are too heavy for the kitten to move or that are small enough to be swallowed should be avoided.

It's not a good idea to use hands, fingers, feet or clothing when playing with a kitten, as your cute little kitten will eventually grow into a healthy-sized cat and you do not want to encourage aggressive behavior.

Scratching Post
A scratching post is an excellent investment for your new kitten. It will allow your kitten to scratch, stretch and exercise all at once.
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