For a cat, the availability of suitable ‘resources’ is key to making your home a happy feline environment. These include:
- Toileting areas
- Resting and sleeping areas
A general rule of thumb in a multi-cat house is one of each plus one! Cats also require areas to play and scratch.
Cats in the wild spend up to 6 hours a day hunting and can catch 10 or more mice a day. So consider offering small quantities through the day in interesting ways:
- Hide pieces of dry food for the kitten to forage and find.
- Be inventive – offer food in a challenging way – e.g. in an empty egg box for the kitten to dig out.
- Use a commercial cat treat feeding ball to stimulate hunting behaviour.
Ceramic and glass bowls with sides are best (plastic can hold off-putting smells and metal can clink). Have more than one bowl available separated from water or litter trays.
- Water is better placed away from food.
- Offer several water sources around the house.
- Filtered or cooled boiled water may encourage some cats to drink as tap water chemicals can be off putting.
- Many kittens and cats will enjoy pet drinking fountains.
- Bowls should be large enough so the kitten can drink without whiskers touching the sides, and filled to the brim to allow for lapping.
- Be careful – there have been reports of cats being put off their water by a picture on the bottom of a dish.
Kitten Socialisation and Development
- The key time for kitten socialisation is 2 – 7 weeks old.
- To help your kitten bond with your family, ‘meet’ the kitten at floor level and let it come to your hand initially and sniff.
- Begin gentle stroking around head and cheeks. Avoid sensitive belly area.
- Talk gently to the kitten.
- Don’t force interactions. Let the kitten move away when it is ready.
- Provide hiding places such as boxes and quiet areas both for the kitten to hide and for older cats to get away from the kitten.
- Cats like a familiar home environment. However, help kittens to become less threatened by change by introducing objects like cardboard boxes for them to explore.
A Safe Place to Hide and Rest
- For a cat this is private and secure and often in a raised location.
- Cardboard boxes on their sides can be suitable.
- A covered cat carrier with familiar bedding inside is a good choice.
- Soft beds with high sides that kittens can snuggle down into are good especially if slightly elevated.
- Create comfortable areas in shelves but not too high for young kittens.
- Wash bedding only if soiled. Bedding will be scented with comforting familiar pheromones.
- Artificial pheromone sprays are available and can help.
Play is important for kitten development, provides interest and enhances the bond with you.
- Play mimics foraging and predatory behaviour.
- Hide food and use puzzle feeders (commercial or home made).
- Toys should be size appropriate.
- Let them chase fur or feather toys on a rod.
- Let them chase and catch smaller toys, large soft toys can be raked and bitten.
- Reward a ‘catch’ with a food treat.
- Put toys away after play and rotate to avoid boredom and prevent ingestion of parts such as elastic and bells.
- Avoid using your hands and feet in play to avoid injury.
Like us cats view toileting as a private business. However, regular trips are essential to maintain optimal health.
- Remember 1 per cat, plus 1 in different locations.
- Place in discreet area away from thoroughfares and doors – especially glass doors.
- Clean soiled material at least daily, and entire tray weekly.
- Covered trays are available and preferred by some cats.
- Size of tray ideally 1.5 times length of cat from nose to tail base.
- Cats prefer a litter depth around 3cm.
- Ideal litter choices are lightweight, biodegradable and not highly scented.
- Clean with hot water and detergent or dilute bleach then rinse well. Some disinfectants can be toxic.
For your kitten, your home is an exiting place to explore and discover. However, there are dangers to be considered and a kitten may not be as discerning as an adult cat.
- Accessible electrical cables may be chewed and dangling wires from hot irons could be enticing.
- If they can reach the worktop they could also access hot hobs.
- Watch out for paper shredders, open washing machines, and chemicals under sinks.
- Needles and threads can be fun to play with, but dangerous if swallowed.
- Watch out for balconies and open upstairs windows.
- Some plants and flowers can be toxic, e.g. lillies.
- Antifreeze is highly toxic.
- Don’t worry too much, but try think like a cat to limit risk.