7 Tips for Bringing Home a New Kitten

Dr. Ari Zabell, of Banfield Pet Hospital in Portland, Ore., offers advice.

Oct. 21, 2013— -- If you've considered bringing home a feline friend, you might have questions on how to integrate a new pet into your life and introduce proper grooming habits.

Here, Dr. Ari Zabell, director of client advocate support for Banfield Pet Hospital in Portland, Ore., offers seven tips to keep your kitten happy and well cared for in its new home.

1. Bring on the Brush -- "Proper hygiene is an important part of a cat's overall health," Zabell said. In some cases, a young kitten might need help learning how to clean and take care of itself. "The best thing a pet owner can do to help teach their kitten proper hygiene is to introduce them to the brush and begin grooming at an early age. Regular grooming also helps to prevent matting in long-haired cats and reduces hairballs."

2. Don't Hide the Litterbox -- "The best place for your kitten's litter box is one that's easily accessible, where the kitten can feel comfortable," Zabell said. Hiding the box out of sight could prevent the cat from being able to find it when they need it. "Cats with litter box challenges typically learn their bad behaviors by living in a home that doesn't provide them with enough access to a clean box. In homes with multiple cats, it's suggested that each cat have access to their own."

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3. Make Time for Play Time -- Kittens have a seemingly boundless amount of energy, Zabell said. "Kittens are also naturally active at dawn and dusk and may choose to play throughout the night, keeping their owners awake." To discourage a kitten from playing in the middle of the night, Zabell suggests providing plenty of exercise to wear them out before bedtime.

4. Provide a Place to Perch -- "A kitten will look to perch on high surfaces as it explores its new surroundings," Zabell said. "Provide a scratching post, cat tree or window perch to help discourage them from choosing a less favorable perch, such as the furniture."

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5. Tune in to Kitty's Body Language -- "A well-socialized cat is one that gets along well in new situations and with different types of people and pets," Zabell said. "When introducing a kitten to new experiences, be aware of the kitten's body language. A comfortable cat will have a relaxed body and may purr, with ears and tail up. As a new experience is introduced, reward positive behavior with a favorite treat, toy or petting."

6. Oversee Pet Interactions -- "Pets should be introduced slowly and carefully, allowing both pets to meet each other under the pet owner's supervision," Zabell said. Using leashes and the assistance of others can help ensure the pet owner's control of the situation. "While they are figuring out their relationship, each pet should also have their private time apart from the other. Consult your veterinarian if you have additional concerns about introducing a new pet into the home."

7. Introduce a Carrier Early On -- "It is essential to introduce a kitten to its carrier at a young age so that it becomes acclimated and comfortable with being in the carrier," Zabell said. "Confining a cat in a carrier provides safety in transportation, including important trips to the veterinarian for regular check-ups."

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