Just like human babies, kittens are irresistibly adorable and fun to play with (although none will ever be as cute as me). But, you should keep in mind that taking one in is a lifetime commitment and you’re going to have to be ready to take on the responsibilities that go together with having a kitten—and eventually, an adult cat—in the family.
Similar to taking care of small humans, caring for kittens can be a handful. Their needs and demands are more complex than adult cats. You should be prepared to teach them everything they need to know, like how to properly use the litter box and the do’s and don’ts of the household—it’s pretty much like living with a toddler, really.
However, once you get all the pawrenting skills down pat, you’ll reap the fruits of your labor, which in this case, is a happy and healthy kitten that adores their human pawrent. I mean, we cats may seem aloof and independent on the outside, but we always appreciate what our humans do for us and we’re more than happy to reciprocate all the love with purrs and headbutts. So, to get you started on proper kitten care, here are 5 things to consider:
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT KITTEN FOR YOUR HOUSEHOLD
There is a very sensitive period during kittenhood where the kittens acquire majority of their social skills. During this socialization period, when the kittens are 2-8 weeks old, they begin to learn about what’s safe and unsafe or what’s normal and what’s not. This period greatly impacts each kitten’s individual personality, and since kittens can usually be rehomed when they’re 8 weeks old, you’ll be able to tell which kitten will be most likely to adapt to your current family situation by how they interact with their littermates.
For example, kittens that are alert and playful with their littermates will be more suited to busy family homes, while shy, anxious kittens will do better in a more peaceful home environment.
The best way to determine which kitten is right for you is to speak to your breeder about what you want in a kitten. When the kittens are little, the Breeder will probably spend more time with them then you will, since they can’t be separated from their mommy yet, so they will most likely have an idea of what the kitten’s purrsonalities will be like in the future.
- SIBLING PAIRS ARE BETTER
If you’re thinking of getting two kittens, then getting a sibling pair is better than getting two unrelated kittens. They’ll be a lot more comfortable since they already have a bond and you won’t have to go through an introduction phase.
Also, gender is usually not an issue when choosing a pair of kittens, but you should make sure their individual character and overall personalities go well together.
The best thing about getting a pair of Bengals is that they learn from each other. My sister had never had a family before, so she copied everything I did in order to learn the ropes, it drove me crazy but the humans thought it was hilarious. As the kittens grow, they will learn from each other and spend their energy playing together! I ALWAYS recommend getting a pair of Bengals, rather than just one!
- CATIFY YOUR HOME
Before you even bring your kittens home, make sure you’ve already made kitten-friendly adjustments. This means everything your kittens will need—cat hideaways, cat trees, cat toys, cat beds, perching shelves, litter boxes, scratching posts, food and water bowls—should already be prepared before they arrive. Kittens are little balls of energy and will be more than happy to explore and possibly, take over your home and furniture in no time, if they don’t have kitty resources to use and toys to play with. Having their own area in a home at an early age will allow them to grow into territorially confident adult cats which are less likely to mark human furniture with claws or urine—something all humans will be happy about.
Note: Make sure to provide one resource for each cat, plus one, in the household. This is to prevent conflict and territorial aggression. i.e. if you have two cats, you probably want three litter boxes. However, this rule does not apply to cat food dishes, only one per cat!
- FEED THEM A NUTRITIONALLY BALANCED DIET
Even adult cats need to be fed a nutritionally balanced diet to stay strong and healthy. But, since kittens are still growing and developing, the food they eat—or don’t eat—will have a huge impact on their overall health when they reach adulthood. Compared to adult cats, kittens need a much higher amount of proteins, vitamins and minerals in their diet to make sure their body and immune system develop properly. So, make sure you invest in high-quality kitten food that are vet-recommended or officially labeled as having “complete and balanced nutrition” and contain ingredients that are approved by the AAFCO or Association of American Feed Control Officials. You should always make sure your kitten always has access to fresh, clean water every day. If they refuse to drink in their water bowls, you can entice them by using drinking fountains instead, since flowing water is more attractive to cats.
Also, make sure to check what food your breeder gave the kittens before adoption. Transitioning to a new food makes cat’s stomachs very upset and lead to vomiting and diarrhea, so you want to transition slowly by mixing the new and old food together at first.
- MEET WITH THE VET
In order to keep you kitten strong and healthy, it’s essential that you schedule an appointment with your vet and talk to them about the vaccines your kitten already has and which vaccines they will need to take as they grow older. It’s very important to always follow your kitten’s vaccination schedule to make sure their vaccines remain up-to-date.
In addition, it’s best to get your kitten checked regularly to prevent health problems from going unnoticed. Since kittens have a more fragile immune system, it’s better to focus on prevention and to take them to the vet immediately if you ever suspect them to be unwell.
Microchipping is one of the simplest and safest ways of identifying your kitten should they get lost or escape, especially during travels. Cats can get out of collars, but they always have the chip with them
While we recommend keeping your cat indoors, Bengals are crafty and naturally curious, if we have an opportunity to go outside we might just take it. Chipping is the only way to ensure that if your kitten is taken to a vet or shelter that they will be brought back to you.
Although a cat can safely get spayed or neutered at any age, it’s ideal to get your kittens spayed or neutered before they reach sexual maturity, which is usually between four to six months of age. Cats that are spayed and neutered live healthier and happier lives, since spaying and neutering help reduce spraying, fighting and development of certain illnesses or aggression issues due to fluctuating hormones. Spaying and neutering is also a humane way to help minimize the growth of the cat population and prevent unwanted pregnancies.
So, congratulations on your new kitten! I hope this article has shed some light on your questions about kitten care and may your kitten grow as purrrrfectly happy and healthy as can be!
For more information on caring for a Bengal kitten, check out this article!