This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian,
What greater gift than the love of a cat. - Charles Dickens
Bringing home a new furry friend is an exciting time! It can also be overwhelming, especially if you're a first time kitten parent. How often do I need to worm my kitten? Which food is the best for kittens? When does a kitten need to be microchipped and vaccinated? We'll answer all these questions and more in our comprehensive new kitten guide. Grab a cuppa and settle in with your new family member as we delve into the exciting world of feline ownership!
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While the desire to hear the pitter patter of little kitten feet can be strong, it's important to paws and make sure that now is the right time. While cats are renowned for being independant creatures, they still require plenty of time, attention and care. The time you invest in your kitten when they're young will ultimately pay off in the long run. And by long run, we mean up to 20 years! That's right, some cats have been known to live as long as 18 - 20+ years.
Adopt, don't shop
Every year in Australia thousands of dogs and cats are surrendered to animal shelters and pounds, with many of these animals euthanized because a suitable home cannot be found.
Before heading to a pet store or breeder, consider whether you could instead offer a loving home to a puppy or adult dog in need. Cats, kittens and other pets are available for adoption from the RSPCA, Animal Welfare League, PetRescue and other local rescue organisations.
Where to look and what to look for
If you choose to go down the route of obtaining your kitten from a breeder, be selective about who you contact. While less common than puppy farms, kitten farms do operate in Australia and should be avoided at all costs. A kitten farm is a large scale breeding operation where large numbers of cats are kept in inhumane, intensive conditions (eg. caged). Kitten farms are run purely with a focus on profit at the expense of the cats' wellbeing and are widely condemned by veterinarians and animal welfare groups.
What does a 'responsible' breeder look like? - A responsible cat breeder will put the health and wellbeing of their breeding queens first. They ensure that the cats and kittens are fed a good quality diet and kept up to date with all healthcare needs. Good breeders also screen cats for any known inherited defects prior to breeding to avoid passing these on to the kittens. Wherever possible if you are considering purchasing a kitten from a breeder, ask to come and visit and meet them and the parents in person. Not only will meeting the parents and kittens give you a better idea of their temperament, it will also allow you to gauge the kind of environment your kitten is being bred and raised in.
When viewing a kitten, ask the breeder for evidence of their microchipping and vaccination status, and check how often they have been wormed.
Why not check out The Pet Spot?
The Pet Spot focuses on promoting verified, ethical breeders. It brings transparency to the process of finding a puppy, and is the first Australian marketplace to use strict vetting processes that helps simplify finding a trusted breeder. This provides peace of mind that the pets purchased have been raised in loving, nurturing conditions.
The PETspot is also the first platform to provide cat breeder reviews. This gives the pet community a voice, with each user able to review recent experiences with breeders, shelters, and services.
Kittens gradually wean off their mother's milk and begin to be able to eat solid food from about 8 weeks of age, so this is considered the minimum acceptable age for them to removed from their mother.
When you bring your new kitten home, try to bring some unwashed bedding from their previous home with them so that they can smell their littermates and old familiar environment during this time of adjustment. Feliway Spray or a Feliway Diffuser can be really helpful here too!
Confine your kitten to a small, safe area of the house to begin with so that they don't get lost or hurt themselves and can easily access their food, water and bed. As your kitten's confidence levels grow you can begin to allow them to explore more of the house and yard.
Introduce your kitten carefully to any existing pets in the house to help get their relationship off on a positive footing. For more information on how to do this, check out Introducing Your New Cat To The Household.
Ideal for using on pet bedding, in the car and in pet carriers. Particularly useful for trips to the vet! Always wait 15 minutes before letting your cat near any sprayed areas.
Creates a comforting environment at home and reduces the signs of stress. The diffuser covers an area up to 70m2.
Helps redirect cat scratching to your desired location such as a scratching post, instead of the furniture!
It's important to consider whether your new kitten will live totally indoors, outdoors, or spend a bit of time in both. There are advantages and disadvantages to each and it pays to think carefully about your location, proximity to main roads and neighbours, and the risk of incidents such as dog attacks and snake bites. The RSPCA advocates keeping cats exclusively indoors for many reasons, all of which are highlighted in the comparison table below.
Whichever decision you make, we recommend implemeting the living arrangements early on as cats are much more likely to cope if they've been trained from a young age. Cats that have always had access to the outdoors can quickly become distressed if suddenly kept indoors, which can lead to behavioural issues.
Indoor cats also don't have to live totally indoors - access to an outdoor escape-proof enclosure is highly recommended to provide environmental enrichment and stimulation. Directly supervising your cat while outdoors is another way to help reduce the risks, and if you don't have an escape-proof backyard you can even train your cat to walk on a harness or lead. Avoid walking your cat in places that may cause them stress such as near main roads and where dogs are being exercised.
Advantages Of Indoor Only
- Protection from injury from car accidents
- Protection from injury from dogs and other cats
- Less likely to develop cat fight-related injuries (abscesses) or catch infectious diseases (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)
- Reduces the impact of hunting
- Less likely to wander into unfriendly territory or be exposed to cruelty
Disadvantages Of Indoor Only
- Can lead to distress and behavioural issues if older cats with previous access to the outdoors are suddenly confined indoors
- Generally less active and more likely to develop obesity and obesity-related health problems such as diabetes and urinary tract disease. These health concerns can be minimised with the appropriate diet and a range of cat toys - see more on this later!
It's perfectly normal for kittens to sleep about 15 to 20 hours a day! Remember that your kitten is doing a lot of growing and developing, which means that he or she will need plenty of sleep at night and daytime naps.
In general, night time is the most natural time for cats to be active as dusk and dawn is typically when a cat would do most of their exploring. You might find that your kitten is especially active and playful when you arrive home from work/school, as they have likely spent most of the day relaxing and snoozing. Be sure to engage with them during this time and have an assortment of toys handy.
Do cats hibernate? And does the season affect your cat's sleep cycle? Some new pet owners are curious about whether winter weather and shorter days can affect their cat's requirement for sleep. Rest assured that just like humans, cats have a fairly evergreen sleep requirement which is unaffected by the season. Cats do not hibernate in winter, but they may be a little less active if they are feeling cold.
In order to maximise your kitten's sleep and help him or her settle quickly at night time, try to stick to a bedtime routine, for example: dinner, playtime, and then into their sleeping area.
Do Kittens Need A Cat Bed?
Cats will generally sleep where they like (including your furniture!) and every cat has a different preference. Some cats love having a bed of their own and will use it every day, while other cats prefer to simply sleep on the couch or in bed with their human.
However, all cats are naturally drawn to hidey holes and high surfaces. This means that a cat tree or hideaway bed are usually very well-utilised when provided.
In cooler weather, many cat owners notice their cat seeks out cosy spots and may use a cat bed more frequently. Our top recommendations for a winter cat bed include igloo beds, cat caves, and furry bolster beds.
After something a little 'extra'? For the cat owner who really wants to spoil their kitty, check out the Pet Kit Cozy. This futuristic pod-bed is temperature controlled via an app on your phone, so your kitty can be warm in winter and cool in summer.
See our Cat Bed Comparison table below for more information.
|Product||Also available in:||Special Features||Cost|
|Grey woven, blue woven, pink velvet, blue velvet, and igloo shaped||
Versatile, convertible: can be opened to form a cube box, or folded down to a bolster bed.
Fuzzyard Eskimo Bed
|Cream, baby blue, pink||
Fluffy, soft and cosy, with raised sides to encase your sleepy cat.
All For Paws Kitty Hut
|Multicolour, Grey, Tan, and various other 'cave' designs (adult sizes $29.99)||
Dangly ball for playtime, cosy lined cavern.
|Igloo style in stripes, brown and cream, pawprints ($79.95), and other various designs||
Removable zippered hood, wrinkle and hair resistant, cosy nook to hide in.
Mog and Bone Bolster Bed
|Latte Stripe, Blue linen, Navy Hamptons Stripe, Tropical Leaves print, and Igloo style ($89.95)||
Plush fleece interior, natural cotton canvas exterior, machine washable, raised edges for comfort.
Pet Kit Cozy
Temperature control (cooling or heating) via an app on your phone, futuristic hideaway pod design.
Your kitten should already be microchipped before you adopt them. In fact, most states require all pets to be microchipped prior to rehoming by law.
What is a microchip?
In Australia, microchips are used for lifelong identification. The microchip is a small metal chip the size of a grain of rice. It gets inserted under the skin via a needle, in the area between the shoulder blades or lower neck. The microchip only contains one piece of information - a 12 digit number. This number gets recorded in a central database, where your contact details are then stored. Microchips can be scanned with a special hand-held device at any vet clinic, pound, or shelter.
Don't forget - your cat's microchip is for life. If you change phone number, address, or email, always remember to update the database. If your pet is ever lost, this may be the only means of getting them safely back to you!
Depending on where you live, your cat may also need to be registered with your local council or you could receive a fine. Note that council registration often requires a microchip number but does not happen automatically when your pet is microchipped. To find out more about whether your cat needs to be registered contact your local council.
When do kittens need to be vaccinated? Typical vaccinations for kittens involve 3 injections spaced approximately 4 weeks apart. These usually occur at 8 weeks of age, 12 weeks of age, and 16 weeks of age but can vary depending on your location and the type of vaccine your vet uses. Once the kitten series has been completed your cat will need yearly vaccinations for life.
In general, cats in Australia are routinely vaccinated against Feline Calicivirus, Feline Herpesvirus and Feline Parvovirus. Depending on your cat's level of risk, your veterinarian may also discuss vaccination against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Feline Leukaemia Virus.
Heavy infestations with intestinal worms (roundworm, hookworm and whipworm) in kittens can be life threatening due to their small size and novice immune system. This means that worming is an absolute must. Your kitten's intestinal worming program should have already been started by the breeder, shelter, or pet store by 4 weeks of age.
When to worm your kitten: Kittens should be wormed every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age and then monthly till 6 months of age. After 6 months of age, intestinal worming should be done at least every 3 months. Worming treatments are often be combined with monthly heartworm and flea treatments for convenience.
Are all 'allwormers' created equal?
When choosing a worming treatment for your kitten, check with your veterinarian regarding their best recommendations. Be wary of products that only protect against one type of intestinal worm, such as roundworms.
If you'd prefer a spot-on formulation to oral, Profender is a good option. Be sure to follow the dosage instructions on the packaging to ensure your kitten receives an accurate dose.
Treats and controls all the major intestinal worms including roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm. Does not prevent heartworm.
Treats and controls all major intestinal worms including roundworms, hookworms and tapeworm. Also prevents heartworm if continued on a monthly basis in adult cats.
Treats and controls all major intestinal worms including roundworms, hookworms and tapeworm, in a palatable liver flavoured tablet. Does not prevent heartworm.
Treats and controls all major intestinal worms including roundworms, hookworm, tapeworm and lungworm. Easy to administer spot-on treatment.
Tapeworms are long flat worms that live in the intestines. The two major species of tapeworms affecting pet cats in Australia are the flea tapeworm (Diplylidium caninum) and hydatid tapeworm (Echinococcus granulosus).
The flea tapeworm is picked up by cats who swallow infected fleas while grooming. Once infected with the tapeworm, the cat will pass tapeworm segments in their faeces. Sometimes these segments may stick to the hair around your cat's rear end causing them to bite, lick or scoot their bottom along the ground. Flea tapeworms are unlikely to cause serious illness in your cat and don't present a risk to humans but they do have a significant 'ick' factor and are usually a sign of poor flea control!
For cats in urban areas who are not fed raw offal or allowed to consume animal carcasses, their risk of contracting Hydatid tapeworm is low. Cats become infected by hydatid tapeworm by eating cysts present in uncooked offal or meat. Once the tapeworm reaches maturity in the intestines, it lays eggs which are passed with the cat's faeces. While uncommon, this tapeworm is important because if a human ingests one of these eggs, they can go on to develop potentially life-threatening hydatid cysts in their brain and other vital organs.
Heartworm prevention needs to be maintained for life, even for exclusively indoor cats. The immature heartworm larvae are spread via mosquitoes, which means it only takes one mosquito to venture inside your home and bite your kitty to result in infection.
Monthly products usually combine heartworm with intestinal worming and flea prevention, making prevention simple. Monthly combination products include Advocate and Revolution which are spot-on treatments that also control less common parasites such as ear mites. Revolution Plus is a new product which also protects against paralysis ticks.
If you're simply looking for an allwormer that covers intestinal worms and heartworm, Milbemax is a small tablet that can be administered on a monthly basis for protection.
As there are many options and loads of different combinations it may be best to have a chat with your vet or ask a pet circle vet for more advice about which products to give your kitten.
A monthly spot-on treatment that protects against fleas, heartworm, major intestinal worms, ear mites and lungworm. Safe to use in kittens from 9 weeks of age.
A monthly spot-on treatment that protects against fleas, heartworm, major intestinal worms and ear mites. Safe to use in kittens from 6 weeks of age.
Treats and controls all major intestinal worms including roundworms, hookworms and tapeworm. Also prevents heartworm if continued on a monthly basis in adult cats.
The closest product to an 'all-in-one' for cats, Revolution Plus protects against fleas, ticks, most intestinal worms, and heartworm.
Fleas and ticks
If your cat is 100% indoor, or you live outside of a tick area, you generally don't need protection against paralysis ticks. Paralysis ticks are present on most of the east coast of Australia, and are most active in warm tropical and subtropical areas, particularly during spring and summer. In some areas of Queensland and New South Wales it is not uncommon for cases of tick paralysis to be seen year round.
If tick prevention is not required in your area, we generally recommend selecting one of the monthly combination products above to ensure your kitty is still kept up to date with protection against fleas, intestinal worms and heartworm. Flea prevention is recommended year round to prevent flea eggs, larvae and pupae building up in the environment. This helps to avoid the sudden 'explosion' in flea numbers that can be seen with the onset of spring.
If your cat does spend time outdoors and you are in a high risk tick area, prevention is recommended with a product such as Bravecto Spot On. This is a topical product that will protect against fleas and ticks for a full three months.
A topical treatment that protects against fleas and deadly paralysis ticks for three months. Safe to use in kittens over 1.2kg from 11 weeks of age.
The closest product to an 'all-in-one' for cats, Revolution Plus protects against fleas, ticks, most intestinal worms, and heartworm.
An odourless, non-greasy collar that treats and prevents flea infestations for up to 8 months. Safe for use in kittens from 10 weeks of age.
A topical monthly treatment that kills adult fleas, flea larvae and eggs. Does not control paralysis ticks.
How Does the Season Affect Parasites?
As the season fluctuates, so too does the prevalence of parasites. While intestinal worms tend to be prevalent all year round, external parasites are very much affected by the season. In Spring, fleas and ticks start to breed and become much more numerous. Summer is also a high risk time for fleas and ticks. In Winter, ticks aren't as much of a risk but pesky mites and fleas can start posing a risk indoors. As we start to heat our homes, the warm indoor air and the use of thick, dusty blankets can stimulate dormant eggs to hatch.
Should you change parasite prevention depending on the season? Ultimately, this depends on your pet and your area. For example:
In Winter: indoor cats may require stronger flea prevention, particularly in cooler climates where the inside of the home is heated regularly.
In Summer: extra diligence is needed with tick prevention if your cat goes outdoors.
To know for sure whether you should adapt your regime as the new season unfolds, always check with your local vet. They will know what parasites are a risk in your area.
Not sure whether your parasite prevention regime is complete? Take a look at our comparison table below:
Did you know that cats can start breeding as young as four months of age? Desexing your kitten before he or she reaches sexual maturity (from 4 to 6 months of age) will prevent unwanted pregnancies as well as reduce roaming behaviour and territorial marking. Allowing your cat to roam outdoors prior to desexing will increase their likelihood of falling pregnant.
Fun Fact: Just one female cat and her offspring can produce up to 5,000 cats in seven years!
Most vets will recommend desexing your kitten at about 5 to 6 months of age, although in some cases kittens can be desexed as early as 8 to 16 weeks depending on the size and breed of the cat. RSPCA Australia supports early age desexing as an effective way to reduce unwanted pregnancies and rehome cats as soon as possible.
It's never too early to start thinking about your kitten's dental health!
Your kitten will start teething from about 12 weeks as their adult teeth start to come through. Most of the time owners don't even notice these baby teeth fall out as they are often swallowed, but don't be worried if you find the occasional little tooth around the house!
When it comes to dental care, anyone who has owned a cat will tell you that brushing their cat's teeth is much easier said than done! With their little mouths and sharp claws, it can save a whole lot of time and frustration if you start when they're young. Tooth brushing is the best way to help prevent dental disease and reduce the number of trips to the vet for dental procedures. Try to get your kitten used to having their mouth examined and handled from an early age.
Once all their adult teeth are through (usually by about 6 months), you can then upgrade to a toothbrush and pet friendly toothpaste to get into the habit of a good dental routine. You can also add a product called Plaque Off to their food to help reduce tartar formation.
What about dental treats for cats? Greenies are currently the only feline treat accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council to help control tartar however, they are not recommended until your kitten reaches 10-12 months of age.
There are heaps of options for pet insurance out there these days, and they can be a fantastic way to ease the financial stress of an expensive, unexpected illness or injury such as cat bite abscesses, snake bite or cancer.
It pays to do your research before you sign up for a pet insurance policy, as not all are created equal. Be aware that some policies may exclude certain common conditions (such as cruciate ligament rupture) or limit the benefit paid in some circumstances (for example, tick paralysis).
The downside to pet insurance
With pet insurance, one big issue that a lot of pet owners have trouble with is the notion of 'pre existing conditions'. Most, if not all, pet insurance providers will exclude the majority of pre existing health conditions for life. This means that if you take out your policy after your cat has been diagnosed with a problem, for example allergic skin disease, you will never be able to claim treatment for this condition on your pet insurance.
On top of this, pet insurance companies can and do increase your premiums as your pet ages, and if your pet has been diagnosed with any medical conditions with your current insurer, any new insurer will see these conditions as pre existing and may well not cover them. Some companies can also refuse to continue cover for cats once they reach a certain age!
So is pet insurance worth it? From a vet's perspective, in some cases, sure. I have seen pet insurance deliver the best value for money for young kittens when the policy has been taken out before any accident or illness has occurred. Kittens have a way of getting into mischief and a pet insurance policy will go a long way when faced with a hospital bill in the thousands for a cat who has been hit by a car.
The bottom line here is to research and compare lots of different policies to see which would work best for you. Ideally do this before you even get your kitten so you know where you stand!
One alternative approach to pet insurance that some owners prefer is to set up a pet savings account and arrange for a small amount to be put aside from each pay cheque to cover any unexpected vet expenses.
Just like children kittens will get up to all sorts of mischief and can injure themselves in ways you could never imagine. It pays to be extra vigilant with your kitten and supervise them closely to help keep them out of trouble. Some common sources of household injury or illness for kittens include chewing power cables, obstruction of the digestive tract with swallowed objects (sewing needles and thread, buttons, toys etc.), tummy upsets from a change in diet and poisonings from eating toxic items such as lilies and chocolate. Just as you would with a human child, try as much as possible to restrict your kitten's access to potential dangers. It's also important to be wary of flea and tick treatments that are only registered in dogs as some of these can be toxic and life-threatening for cats. For example, Advantix should never be used in cats.
If your kitten appears lethargic, off their food, has vomiting or diarrhoea or you suspect they may have eaten something they shouldn't have, contact your local vet or after hours emergency centre as soon as possible. In many cases early treatment offers the most successful outcomes. Keep your vet and their recommended after hours service's phone numbers on the fridge or in your phone so you can access them quickly when you need them.
When it comes to choosing a diet to feed your kitten, it's important to keep two things in mind. Firstly, kittens require a diet that has been specifically formulated for their life stage. These 'kitten' diets contain optimal levels of key nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals to support their rapid growth and development.
Secondly, the chosen diet must be complete and balanced. Unlike dogs, cats are obligate carnivores which means they have an absolute requirement for animal protein as well as certain amino acids such as Taurine. In general, you can assess whether a diet is complete and balanced by looking for an AAFCO statement (The American Association Of Feed Control Officials) on the packaging or on the manufacturers website.
Premium diets such as Hill's, Royal Canin, Advance and Pro Plan offer a range of benefits over cheaper supermarket brands. These features include high digestibility and high quality ingredients, which promote optimal growth and development.
How long should you feed kitten food? Most kittens need to be fed a kitten food until they are 9-12 months of age. Typically '12 months' applies, but some cats (particularly those who were desexed early) may start to become a little pudgy by 10 months, and these kitties may benefit from a swap to adult food earlier than 12 months.
However, large breed cats such as the Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat generally require a kitten diet for up to 13 - 15 months.
Our Top Premium Kitten Diets
Hill's formulate premium quality kitten diets in a range of dry and wet options. Pouches are available in a variety of flavours including ocean fish and tender chicken to suit all feline palates.
Royal Canin formulate diets to nourish your precious kitten through their growth and development. Rehydratable kibble is available for kittens less than 4 months of age and a variety of wet food in different flavours and textures.
A premium Australian made brand that formulate a range of kitten diets with added colostrum to support intestinal health.
Pro Plan kitten diets contain Optistart, a proven nutrient to reinforce intestinal health and reduce the risk of tummy upsets.
Our Top Natural Kitten Diets
Australian made and owned, this natural kitten formula is grain free and formulated with hormone-free chicken. Suitable for kittens of all breed sizes.
An all natural Australian, grain free kitten diet made with high quality chicken meal and free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.
This premium quality, all life stages cat food is packed with 90% meat from biologically appropriate protein sources including poultry, whole eggs and whole wild caught fish.
With purposeful ingredients like real Australian chicken to support strong muscles and bones, and chicory root for intestinal health, this diet will start them on the right track.
Kitten Dry Food Comparison Table:
The following table has been devised to compare all top dry kitten food varieties available at Pet Circle. Estimates are made based on feeding guidelines for a 6 month old kitten on a dry-only diet. Food usage varies depending on the age of the kitten and whether wet food is also used. For full ingredients list, view the individual product page. Prices may vary - please click through to the product to see the current price.
Both wet and dry food offer individual benefits for cats. We generally recommend feeding a mixture of both.
Advantages Of Dry Food
- The mechanical action of chewing kibble helps to clean the teeth and reduce tartar formation
- More cost effective
Advantages Of Wet Food
- Helps with hydration
- May help with the prevention of medical issues later in life such as urinary crystals and kidney disease
- More palatable
Mixed feeding from an early age will help to discourage your kitten from developing strict dietary preferences and allow you to feed a range of diets. This may be important if they need a specific diet for a health condition during their life.
What about rotational feeding?
For kittens, rotational feeding may have many benefits as it provides exposure to different protein sources. Allowing exposure to different types of food early on may even reduce the chance of allergens developing later in life.
Plus, a rotation of flavours can help keep cats interested in their food. In the wild, cats naturally vary their diet by alternating the species of prey they choose to hunt; so rotating between flavours and textures is a great idea to keep them interested.
Rotation feeding basically involves keeping a number of different balanced diets made from different protein sources (fish, chicken, beef, etc) and swapping between them every few days. We recommend choosing diets from a couple of different brands to ensure a variety. (Also, alternating between different manufacturers can help cover you in case any 'bad' or 'nutrient deficient' batches are produced; which is rare but can happen from time to time!)
Care needs to be taken with kittens who have a sensitive stomach, so a slow introduction to this method is best. Your kitty may experience some loose stool as their stomach adjusts, but in the majority of cases they get used to it fairly quickly.
Kittens need to eat more frequently than adult cats, after all they only have tiny little stomachs! Up until the age of about 5 to 6 months it's recommended to split your kitten's daily feeding amount into 3 separate meals.
Knowing how much to feed of a particular food can be tricky; the ideal feeding amount will vary from formula to formula and depends on your kitten's age and weight. To work out how much to feed your kitten, consult the feeding guidelines on the food packaging and use this as a starting point, adjusting the amount up or down depending on your kitten's needs. If you need help or aren't sure how much to feed, check with your veterinarian or ask a Pet Circle Veterinarian.
Just like puppies, kittens can be taught to perform a range of activities and so it helps to start early. While petting and grooming is a great way to bond and reward your cat, it helps to have a stash of treats on hand to help with the training. But how do you choose the best treat?
Safe Treats For Kittens
Biologically appropriate treats for kittens. All ingredients sourced from local Australian farms, these treats are high in meat protein, low in carbohydrates and grain free.
A delicious, high protein treat formulated from sustainable New Zealand farms.
Low fat, high protein treats made from 100% free range chicken breast fillets.
Protein packed, these tasty treats are made with 100% New Zealand grass-fed, free-range beef with no artificial preservatives or flavours.
Treats to avoid include human food such as grapes, sultanas, chocolate, caffeine, macadamia nuts, avocado, garlic, onions and artificial sweeteners (xylitol). We also recommend avoiding feeding your kitten bones, including raw bones, due to the risk of health issues such as injury to the teeth and gums, constipation and obstruction.
While bringing home a new kitten is an exciting time for the family, it's important to remember that it can be a stressful time for the kitten. They're away from their mother and siblings and placed into an unfamiliar environment. Catifying your home will help your new kitten adjust to their new environment and help to reduce stress. So what do we mean by catify?
Catify is all about making them feel secure in their new world. In the first few days, limit your kitten's access to a few rooms in the house and have all their essentials close by. Within one of these rooms create a safe haven where they can hide, rest, play, eat and use the litter tray comfortably. Cat furniture is a great way to combine a place to hide, rest and play, all in one! Cats also naturally prefer to survey their kingdom from a height, and we recommend choosing some cat furniture with multiple levels to give your kitty a few options. Cat furniture such as Playmate, Petface, Scrunch and Sticks and The Catsentials are purrfect for cats, combining hidey holes, cosy caverns and elevated retreats all-in-one. Igloo-style beds are also a great option, providing a warm comfy area to sleep as well as the comfort of a shelter. Using Feliway, the feline pheromone in this safe haven can also really help calm your kitten in these initial few days.
Scratching is also a natural behaviour for cats, allowing them to shed the outer husk of their claws as well as release pheromones. To help prevent them performing this behaviour on your leather couch, we recommend having a couple of scratching posts around the house. Scratchers are available in the typical standing scratching post form, as cardboard slabs, scratcher pads, cat trees and more.
The Catsentials range includes cat scratchers, furniture with hidey holes, and jungle gyms with multiple levels and snoozing spots.
Cat furniture that is practical and looks stylish too! With a range of bamboo cat scratchers and cat houses, you'll be sure to find one that suits your kitty and decor!
Looking to spoil your kitten? Look no further than the Pet Kit Cozy - a temperature controlled, snazzy snoozing spot that uses temperature and humidity sensors to maintain a constant ambient temperature.
An essential for all kitten owners, cat scratchers encourage your cat to perform their natural scratching behaviour away from your furniture.
Worried about how to toilet train your kitten? The good news is, there's not a lot involved! Cats naturally value cleanliness so toilet training is usually fairly straightforward. It's worth asking the breeder or shelter whether your kitten was using a litter tray prior to adoption, as this will allow you to select a litter tray and litter they are already familiar with. If you're not sure, you can offer a bit of a smorgasbord of litter trays to see which one they naturally prefer to use. There are a variety of litter trays available nowadays, some of which include a hood for added privacy which can also help to contain odours. There are even self cleaning litter trays available for the time precious pet parent! Make sure the sides of the tray or entrance are low enough for them to get over with ease, and place them in a quiet, private location away from dogs, children and noisy appliances.
Place the litter tray within the safe haven we mentioned earlier, and gently place them in the litter tray at opportune times such as after playing, after each meal and waking up from a nap. Kittens are also much more likely to use the litter tray if it's clean (remember, they value cleanliness!) so keeping the tray clean and promptly removing waste will help encourage your kitty to toilet in the correct place. They will have a few accidents while they learn so don't be discouraged and importantly, never punish your kitten for toileting outside the litter tray.
With a huge array of different types of litter out there, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Clumping, crystal, fragranced, biodegradable, plant-based and more! Ultimately, it comes down to your cat's individual preference (which can take a bit of trial and error!), but understandably the cost, convenience and odour control will also come into it. So where to start?
If you're a busy pet parent with limited time on your hands, a clumping litter might be a good place to start. Clumping litter forms bonds with the urine to form scoopable clumps, meaning full litter tray cleanouts are usually only needed every week or two. The clumps are also good at controlling odours, which is ideal for those living with an indoor cat in a small apartment. Our top clumping litters include corn-based litter called Rufus and Coco Wee Kitty Litter, Catsan Ultra and the World's Best Cat Litter.
Some cat owners prefer to usecrystal litters, however these are falling out of favour in recent times due to their undesirable environmental impact. Crystal litter is usually made of silicon or a plastic based material, which can't be composted and is not biodegradable. Nonetheless, if you prefer crystal litter, our top selling crystal litters include the Catsentials Crystal Litter and Catsan Crystal Litter.
For more detailed information about the different types of litter, see our video below. For a full comparison table, see our article Which Cat Litter Is Best? For more information about toilet training and litter tracking, see How To Toilet Train Your Kitten and How To Reduce Litter Tracking.
A corn-based clumping, biodegradable and flusable litter that forms tight clumps for easy cleaning and odour control.
Made from recycled paper, this cat litter is light, cost effective and highly absorbent.
A crystal cat litter made from silica gel, provides excellent odour control and helps to control the growth of bacteria.
An eco-friendly, wood based litter that can be disposed of as green waste or in the garden.
Grooming your new kitten is a great way to spend time and bond with them. It also helps to control shedding, particularly during the warmer months and reduces the development of hairballs. Long haired cats such as the Ragdoll are particular prone to the development of matts which can quickly become painful and difficult to remove without clipping at your groomer or vet clinic.
The requirement for grooming will be a bit dependant on what breed of cat you have, with long haired breeds requiring brushing more frequently. For these breeds, we recommend grooming daily with a wide tooth metal comb or deshedding tool such as the Furminator. For short haired breeds, we recommend using a bristle brush, rubber brush or deshedding tool on a weekly basis.
What time of year do cats shed? Most people find that their cat sheds fur hair all year round, but it can become particularly heavy in Springtime as the weather warms up. Many (but not all) cats will start retaining fur in Autumn and Winter, building up a thicker coat (known as their 'fluffy winter coat'). Then they may start to lose this in Spring. This means that you might need to increase the amount of brushing when the weather warms up, to reduce excess shedding on your furniture!
For more information see our Cat Grooming Guide.
Our Top Cat Brushes
Kittenhood is something to be enjoyed because they grow up quickly! With a little knowledge, preparation and patience you can set your kitten up for many happy years as a loved and cherished family member.