Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds
Getting a new kitten is a big and exciting event. But how do you go about preparing for your new arrival? From litter trays and food bowls to beds, cat trees and toys, cats need a range of equipment to keep them happy. Read on to find out how best to meet your kitten's needs.
- Feeding zone
- Litter tray
- Toys and accessories
- Travel and safety
Preparing for a new kitten: the essentials
Before you welcome a kitten into your home, it's important to prepare your house to ensure it is as safe and comfortable as possible for your new pet:
- Start by securing your home. Tidy away all cleaning products and medication, as well as anything that is toxic to cats, such as chocolate and certain plants and flowers (ficus, tulips, etc.). Makes sure all electrical cables are out of reach.
- If you are going to collect your pet in the car or by train, purchase a suitable pet carrier or cage.
- Set up a feeding area with a bowl for food and a drinking fountain (if you so choose) and find a quiet spot to place the litter tray.
- A basket, igloo bed or hammock are great for relaxing and a cat tree will work wonders on your cat's claws.
- You'll also need a few toys, grooming accessories and some cat grass. If you plan to let your cat out, you'll need a collar or perhaps even a lead.
Setting up your kitten's feeding area
Whether you live in a flat or a house, you'll need to separate your space into different zones, according to your kitten's needs. Start by setting up a space for food and water.
Kitten food bowls
You'll need two bowls: one for food and one for water.
Place these in a quiet spot, far away from the litter tray. Ideally, you should place these high up, especially if there are other animals in the house (a dog, for example).
Of course, the bowls should be as sturdy as possible no matter whether you go for glass, ceramic or stainless steel.
Cat water fountain
You may want to set up a cat water fountain instead of a water bowl. These fountains are designed so that the water runs continuously which may encourage your kitten to drink. This can be helpful as cats tend not to enjoy drinking still water.
Cat fountains offer the added bonus of a filter system that improves the taste of the water and gets rid of fur and other debris.
Automatic feeders allow your cat to help themselves to food while you're not around.
Some can be set to specific feeding times and will deliver the right amount and the right time.
Kittens have different nutritional needs to adult cats which is why you'll come across special kitten food, designed to be given after weaning (from around 6 weeks).
This food is aimed at promoting healthy growth and good digestive health.
Food designed specifically for kittens may simply be called kitten food or junior cat food, and contains a range of vitamins, minerals (particularly calcium), antioxidants and omegas.
Spayed or neutered kittens require around 280 to 300 calories per day. This will ensure good bone and muscle growth, and healthy organs.
Arranging your space to meet your kitten's needs
Firstly, even if you live in a house with a garden, you'll need to prepare a spot for your kitten to do their business. Place a litter tray in a quiet area where your kitten can feel safe.
Cats are, by nature, clean animals , as long as the area you have provided suits them!
The litter tray must be big enough for your cat to feel comfortable; they must be able to turn and scratch as they like. You might want to opt for a covered litter tray or box. This will give your cat more privacy and prevents litter and waste from escaping.
There are several types of litter to choose from depending on your budget and your pet's preferences.
Less expensive than plant-based litters, mineral litter is the most popular type of litter.
As the name suggests, it is made up of materials of mineral origin such as silica or quartz. While it is very absorbent, it does emit dust and doesn't mask odours very well.
Made from plant-based materials, such as wood, corn, barley or recycled paper, this type of litter has the added bonus of being biodegradable. It also does not produce a lot of dust and absorbs odours effectively.
Be careful, however, as some of these materials can be noisy or too tough on your pet's paw pads.
Whether mineral or planr-based, clumping litter is designed to clump together when it comes into contact with cat urine. This means you simply have to remove the clumps and replace them with clean litter.
While this type of litter is more expensive, you won't have to use as much which makes up for the added cost.
Once your kitten has grown up a bit, you might want to let them come and go as they please (as long as it is safe for them to do so, of course).
A manual swing door is the most traditional and least expensive option. Alternatively, you might want to go for an electronic or chip-activated door. These cat flaps are more expensive but work to read your pet's microchip or a special pet tag supplied with the cat flap, and therefore only allow your cat to enter.
Setting up a bed for your kitten
Your kitten will also need a space to relax in. This is especially important given that the average cat sleeps around 16 hours a day! A comfy bed is therefore a must and you'll have a wide variety of different beds to choose from. Always be sure to buy the right size for your kitten.
Try to pick a washable material – ideally, something that can be washed in the machine at a high enough temperature to kill off any fleas and flea larvae.
Cushions, beds and hammocks
It all comes down to your tastes, the design of the bed and your budget.
Cat trees not only provide a space for your kitten to sleep, they also allow them to sharpen their claws without damaging your sofa or curtains!
Cat beds come in all different shapes and sizes. Of course, you will need to ensure that the structure is strong. At a bare minimum, a cat tree should feature a scratching post and a comfortable enough platform for your cat to sleep on. You should also look for a variety of different equipment to climb on (several levels, ropes, etc.), hide in and sleep on (shelters, hammocks, etc.), as well as a range of games (balls on strings, etc.).
Toys, grooming, travel and safety
A few more accessories will be required for travel and overall well-being:
- Toys. Kitten and cat toys come in all forms. From basic balls and cat teasers to stuffed animals, mice and electronic toys, there's a cat toy for every budget!
- Cat grass, sold in pots or as part of some toys, gives most cats a lot of enjoyment and can help to aid with digestion.
- Pet carriers or cages are essential for travel by train or in the car.
- Grooming accessories (brush, comb, nail clippers) and basic care products (flea collars, tick removers, etc.) will also be necessary.
- You may also want to pick out a collar and lead if you plan on walking your cat, as well as netting or window panels if you live a few storeys up.
Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds, 97 guides
With a handyman-father, I grew up with the soft sound of the sander and hammer on weekends. I am both manual and cerebral (yes, it is possible.), I learned the basics of DIY and the customization of furniture because I was passionate. The salvage mentality is a true way of life that allowed me to know how to use all the tools and products needed to give something a second life, from sander to varnish. I have two favorite activities: the transformation of old furniture and decoration tips. I am always ready to lend a helping hand to revamp a table or to restore a mirror that was intended for the trash that will become a friend’s centerpiece. I’m convinced that it’s possible to reinvent an interior by small, regular modifications, I constantly research low-cost, test ideas.