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All About Kittens

Learn what you need to know when you get a new kitten.

If you have or are soon getting a new kitten, there are some things you should know first. What better way to brush up on your kitten knowledge than with a slideshow featuring adorable kitten pictures? Let's get started!

Observe the kittens for a while before choosing one.

When you are choosing a kitten from among several, see if you can spend an hour or two with them. That will give you time to see a glimpse of their personalities and whether they're extroverted and super energetic or a little more introverted and laid back. If you just look at the kittens for a few minutes, you might not get that kind of information because they could all be excited, hungry, or sleepy.

Visit the vet right away with your new kitten.

Take your kitten to the vet within the first few days that you have her. She needs to be checked out for any physical problems and for external and internal parasites. Until you can get to the vet, it's a good idea to quarantine her to a small area or one room of your house, especially if you have other cats. That way, if she does have something contagious, the others will be less likely to catch it. Even if your kitten has recently been vet checked, the quarantine is still a good idea because, many times, signs of an upper respiratory infection won't reveal themselves, in the form of sneezing and a runny nose and eyes, until a few days after you get her home.

Socialize your new kitten by involving her.

Your kitten will need tons of socialization during the first few months with you. Be sure to handle her as often as possible, gently and playfully, so she gets used to it. Talk to her a lot and, when possible, have friends over so she can get used to other friendly people too.

Get your kitten care items together before bringing your kitten home.

It's important to have everything you need for good kitten care before you bring your new baby home. You can check out this article for ideas: "Essentials for Your Cat." You will need to have a litter box and litter, food and water dishes, toys, and scratching posts already in the home and ready for your kitten to get used to when you arrive. Keep in mind that young kittens don't respond to catnip, so save those toys until she's older.

Kitten proof your home for the safest kitten environment possible.

Kitten-proof your home as best you can before you bring your new little one home. Tuck electrical cords out of reach, secure wobbly furniture that might fall on a curious kitten that tries to climb it, put away all food that might be toxic to cats, and lock up medications and cleaning supplies. Review the biggest risks for cats in the home and minimize them as much as you can.

Learn your kitten’s communication style.

Learn your kitten's body language by watching her and studying how she moves and holds herself. If her tail is up and her muscles are relaxed, she's happy and eager. If her ears are lowered back near her head, she's mad and might bite. If she is crouched low and her hindquarters are moving back and forth, she might be getting ready to pounce. The more you can learn about how your kitten communicates now, the easier your lives together will be because you'll be in tune with what she wants and how she feels.

The litter box is a crucial area to consider when you have a kitten.

Pay attention to your kitten's litter box by scooping it out at least twice a day. Get used to how often your kitten eliminates and what it looks like. That way, you'll be able to tell instantly if something is different, and you can seek medical attention quickly if necessary. Also, learn and implement litter box best practices now. A litter box that isn't kept clean enough, is in the wrong spot, or contains litter that your cat doesn't like can all lead to litter aversions and inappropriate elimination. Make sure you have a litter box on every floor of your home, scoop it twice a day, clean it out entirely once a week, and keep it in a quiet spot where the kitten won't be disturbed while using it. If you have more than one cat, you need more litter boxes. A great rule of thumb is to have as many boxes as you do cats, plus one (four boxes for three cats, for example). Learn more here: "Cat Not Using Litter Box?: Inappropriate Urination in Cats."

Declawing is painful and unnecessary.

Many people with new kittens consider having them declawed. We urge you not to. Declawing is a surgery that is an amputation of the kitten's toes up to the first joint, not just a trimming or cutting of the claws. Recovery is excruciating for the kitten, who then has to walk on those toes. Declawing often results in long-term negative consequences for cats, including chronic pain, arthritis, paw deformities, and personality changes. Cats that are declawed are quicker to bite than those that aren't. Instead, invest in good quality scratching posts, train your kitten to use them, keep her claws trimmed, and consider using Soft Paws® claw caps. Kittenhood is the best time to get your cat used to all of those things. Learn more at

Enjoy your new kitten as much as you can.

Most of all, enjoy your new kitten. It's fun to have such a joyful, funny, happy creature around, so bask in that joy while you build a foundation for a long, loving relationship.

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