We’re now entering kitten season, aka the peak breeding period for cats! This means thousands more kittens will be born over the next few months, and many people will be thinking about welcoming one of these fluffy bundles of joy into their family. I’ve been working with cats (and cat owners) at Wood Green for almost 30 years, and there are a number of issues and questions I see regularly. Here’s my advice to anyone thinking of getting a kitten:
How can I get my home ready for a kitten?
When you first bring a kitten home, keep them in a quiet, secure place with their food, water, toys, litter tray, scratching post and a cosy place for them to hide away and sleep. When your kitten consistently uses the litter tray, gradually expand the area they have free access to. Cats are very sensitive to their environment, so keep their litter tray in a quiet, easily accessible place away from anything noisy like the television or washing machine.
Cats like to scratch things to condition their claws, but also as a way of marking their scent. It’s a good idea to have scratching posts near the entrance and exits to places where they spend a lot of time. As cats love to get up high and hide away, make sure your kitten has somewhere they can go where they can sleep without being interrupted by children or other pets. If you have more than one cat in the home, each cat will need their own separate resources.
When can I let my kitten outdoors?
Before letting your cat outside, make sure they are microchipped, fully vaccinated and neutered to prevent any unexpected litters. If your kitten is from a reputable rehoming charity like Wood Green, they should have already had these procedures and be ready to go!
To help ensure they return safely, start to prepare a few weeks in advance. Feed them around the same time each day so they learn to expect food at certain times. When you’re preparing it, make a particular sound like calling ‘dinner’, whistling or rattling a food tin. This way, your kitten will start to associate the sound with food coming. Let them out for the first time shortly before a mealtime, as they will be more keen to return home when they hear the familiar sound.
Choose a day that’s quiet, without adverse weather conditions or visitors in the garden. This could be overwhelming for your kitten, and may put them off going outside again. Make sure there are places for your kitten to explore and hide behind, like potted plants near the back door. After a few trips outside, they will start to feel more comfortable in their surroundings, and you’ll be more confident letting them explore!
We don’t recommend putting your kitten on a harness and lead, as it takes away their natural flight response and can cause them to feel anxious. Your cat should just wear a collar with a safety release mechanism, as it will come off without causing injuries if it gets caught on something.
For trusted advice on all aspects of cat ownership, please visit www.woodgreen.org.uk/pet-advice or contact the team at Wood Green for free support.