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Tips for New Cat or Kitten Parents

Use these tips and handy supply checklist to get started on the right paw before you bring your new cat or kitten home!

Bringing a new cat or kitten into your life and your home is an exciting time, and you want to make your new furry family member feel as comfortable as possible. It’s a big responsibility and completely understandable that many first-time pet parents feel nervous—just remember your new kitten or cat is probably feeling the same way! Use these tips and handy supply checklist to get started on the right paw.

two bengal cats sniffing

Before Your New Cat Arrives

Introducing a kitten or cat to a new environment can be stressful. Help ease the transition by preparing your home and any other family members for the new arrival.

Create a safe space. Your new cat may need some time to get used to the new sights, sounds and smells. Giving your cat or kitten a dedicated space can help them feel safe by letting them withdraw and isolate if they feel overwhelmed.

Set up the litter box. Choosing the right place for the litter box is key: choose a low-traffic area that’s not near their food and water. 

Detox your household. There are many different human foods that are toxic to cats, as well as household products that pose a danger to cats and kittens (detergents, medications and essential oils are examples). Certain houseplants can also be toxic to cats if eaten.

Remove potential hazards. Some common household items can be dangerous if ingested, such as earplugs, rubber bands and dental floss. Other items can cause injury such as plastic bags, electrical cords and cables, and window cords. 

Give other pets a preview. If you’re a parent to other pets, introduce the new arrival gradually. Keep your new cat or kitten in a separate room at first, and little by little move towards supervised interactions. Stock up on supplies. Make things easier on yourself and your new cat by having the necessary items in place before they arrive. That way you can focus on helping them settle in.

white cat eating cat food

New Cat or Kitten Supply Checklist

These are the essentials you’ll want to have on hand to help make the transition smooth:

  1. Cat carrier – Look for a carrier about one and half times as big as your cat with enough room for them to stand and turn around.
  2. Food and water dishes – Stainless steel and ceramic are easiest to clean. Wide, shallow bowls accommodate cats’ sensitive whiskers.
  3. Litter box and litter – Make sure the litter box is big enough for your cat to turn around and dig. Consider side height if your cat has mobility issues, and be aware your cat may prefer a lid (or not) so you may need to experiment over time.
  4. Cat bed – Choose something machine washable, or a cat bed with a removable cover you can launder. Many cats like an enclosed bed to curl up in, but others may prefer to stretch out. Check out our guide to the best types of cat beds.
  5. Scratching post – Pick a post that’s a suitable height for your cat (tall enough that they can stretch out fully while scratching), with both horizontal and vertical surfaces to scratch.
  6. Cat toys – Toys with natural materials like fur, feathers and wool simulate the prey cats instinctively seek. Make sure toys are well made, to reduce the risk of your cat ingesting pieces of the toy, and be sure to monitor your cat with new toys.
  7. Cat or kitten food – Cats and kittens are carnivores, so look for a food with high-quality protein that mimics their ancestral diet. Our cat food selector can help you find raw and natural options for cats of all ages.

Adjusting After the Homecoming

Now that your new cat or kitten is part of the household, it’s time to prioritize health and wellness as they settle in:

Visit the veterinarian. Bring your new cat or kitten to the vet for a wellness check and make sure they’re up to date with immunizations and boosters. If you’re not sure how to choose a vet, ask a family member, friend or neighbor for a recommendation.

Start consistent training. Kittens will need to be trained on using a litter box, and cats of all ages will need training to learn about boundaries in their new home. Catnip can be used to draw your cat towards appropriate items (like the scratching post), and double-sided tape can be used to discourage your cat from clawing or climbing on certain surfaces.

Get a collar or chip. Your new kitten or cat may already have a microchip from the animal shelter. You can also have your vet insert a chip, or get a collar with an ID tag and phone number in case your cat gets lost.

Be patient with yourself, the other members of your household, and your new cat or kitten while they’re getting used to their forever home. Focusing on their health and wellness will help your cat feel secure and discourage unwanted behaviors.

two bengal cats

Caring for Your New Cat or Kitten

Cats may seem more independent than dogs, but all cats and kittens need companionship, training, and affection to thrive.

Keep up with checkups. Wondering how often you should take your cat to the vet? Kittens should go to the vet around once a month for the first four months to get vaccinations against infection and disease. Healthy adult cats should be seen once a year.

Provide mental stimulation. Cats are smart and can get bored easily, which can lead to misbehaving. Cat enrichment activities engage their natural instincts, help them burn off energy and can help prevent mischief.

Encourage play and exercise. Playing with your kitten or cat is another way to combat boredom and unwanted behavior. Playtime also helps you bond with your cat and is a good way make sure your cat gets plenty of exercise.

Maintain oral health. Taking care of your cat’s oral health can help prevent stinky cat breath as well as more serious health conditions.Feed them what they need. A raw and natural diet with an emphasis on nutrition offers many benefits. Stella & Chewy’s cat food and treats are formulated by animal nutritionists and reviewed by veterinarians to ensure a safe and balanced diet. Learn more about what to feed a cat depending on age, size, activity level and more.

Should I Feed My New Cat or Kitten a Raw Diet?

A biologically appropriate raw food (B.A.R.F.) diet for your kitten or cat gives them the unprocessed protein carnivores crave, along with many health-supporting benefits. Cats of all ages can enjoy a raw diet, but it’s important to make the transition gradually to avoid stomach upset. Learn more about safe raw feeding for cats, how to transition your cat to raw food, or explore raw and raw-inspired cat food and treats below.

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