Q: I am adopting my first kitten from a shelter. How should I prepare my home?
A: Congratulations on a great decision and I am so glad you are adopting from a cat shelter. I am a big believer in shelter adoptions. So many need loving homes and this way your new kitten will have been examined by a vet, be current on vaccinations and, if old enough, spayed or neutered. One of my clients adopted two adorable kittens, Peanut and Pumpkin, from a private source and after taking them to the cat vet discovered they had internal parasites, fleas, ear mites and diarrhea! Fortunately for Peanut and Pumpkin, my client had the means to pay for medical treatments. Today they are big healthy orange cats who are very much loved.
When bringing a new kitten home, I believe good pre-planning can prevent many potential problems. Have food, water bowls, toys and a shallow litter pan (made for kittens) set up beforehand. Put the pan in an accessible but quiet area of the house. Food bowls should be in a different area and you might want to sit them on top of plastic place mats for easier cleanup. A cat scratching post made of sisal will start your kitty off on the right paw and save your furniture. Small balls with bells and a fishing post toy are good to have as well. Cats usually are attracted to catnip at about four months of age and catnip is great fun.
Kittens are very energetic — they will run, jump and play their way around the house, collapse for a quick nap and then do it all over again. Best to kitten-proof as best you can. Make sure all household cleaners, vitamins and prescription bottles are stored away and put all breakables out of reach. Check your floors carefully and remove sharp objects and anything — string, paper clips, rubber bands, dental floss and more — that could be ingested. Toilet seats and lids should be kept down and please make sure window screens are secure. As I always say cats do not come equipped with parachutes!
The time you take to kitten-proof your home is very little compared to all the wonderful times you will share with your new kitten. I wish you the very best. As always I welcome your stories and comments.