Congratulations on getting your new kitten! You’re in good company, with over 45 million households sharing your passion for cats.1 Owning any pet is a responsibility. It is both a financial and time commitment that you must take seriously. Anything less is cruel. Cats typically cost less to keep than dogs.
Getting food for a kitty is cheaper if just for the fact their calorie needs are less than pups. The chances are you aren’t dressing up your kitten or taking them on walks. Cats are also more self-sufficient if you must leave home versus the daily care that dogs need. The estimated annual expenses for the two pets are about $1,200 for canines and $687 for felines.2
The first year of pet ownership is usually the most expensive when you consider the new kitten supplies you’ll need to buy. You’ll likely find that some things are one-time purchases, whereas others are merely replacement costs. Let’s cut to the chase with our kitten checklist.
The 5 Things You Need for a New Kitten
The exact amount of calories an individual animal needs to maintain a healthy weight is variable and influenced by many factors including genetics, age, breed, and activity level. This tool is meant to be used only as a guideline for healthy individuals and does not substitute veterinary advice
The top of our list begins with the essential item, food. It’s vital to feed your new pet a diet that is appropriate for its life stage. The nutritional needs of kittens and adult cats vary. The reason is simple: Younger animals need extra vitamins and minerals to support their growth.
For example, the protein requirements are 30% and 26% per kg of food, respectively. Interestingly, fat is the same at 9%. There are also differences in various nutrients, whether you’re selecting a diet for a kitten, adult, pregnant female, or senior pet.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) provides to help you choose the best food for your pet with its excellent guidance with its nutrient profiles. The words you want to see are complete and balanced on the product label.
It’s essential to bear in mind that felines are obligate carnivores. They don’t necessarily need ingredients like cranberries or blueberries in their food. However, grain-free diets are not an appropriate choice. Cats need the nutrients and carbohydrates that grains provide. These ingredients will also help prevent hairballs since they’ll add bulk to your pet’s diet to pass them.
Some products we recommend for a regular diet for your new kitten are:
Of course, you’ll also need food and water bowls on your list of kitten supplies.
Treats are not nutritionally complete. Therefore, they should only make up a maximum of 10% of your kitten’s daily caloric intake. We suggest using them as a training aid. You can reward your pet for doing the things that you want them to do, such as using its cat scratch post instead of your recliner.
You should also check the caloric content of any product you buy. Then, make any necessary adjustments in your pet’s daily intake based on how much you’re going to offer your kitten. Some products we like include:
It’s worth noting that kittens don’t usually take to catnip like adult cats. We suggest waiting until your pet is over 6 months old before you introduce it to this treat.
3. Litter Box and Supplies
A litter box plays on a feline’s instinct to cover its waste to help it conceal its presence from competitors and perhaps prey, too. It has come a long way since Ed Lowe invented it in 1947. The products have improved, with better odor control and lighter weights to make clean-up more manageable. You’ll find both unscented and scented products with brand names, such as Febreeze and Glade.
The choice of your kitten’s litter box is just as important as the litter inside of it. You don’t have to be a pet owner long to learn firsthand the bane of tracking. We strongly recommend getting at least one, preferably two, trapping mats to put outside of your cat’s litter box to cut down on tracking dramatically. We’re sure that you’ll thank us when you notice the difference.
Other accessories you’ll need include a litter scoop. Do yourself a favor and get a metal one that will last. We also suggest keeping a package of baking soda handy to control the odors.
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Works on a variety of surfaces:
Works on a variety of surfaces:
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Works inside your cat's litter:
Works inside your cat's litter:
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When you think about what kittens need, you should certainly budget for toys. It’s not a luxury or indulgence item. It’s vital for your pet’s mental health. It’s also a safeguard for your curtains and furniture. The essential thing to understand about kittens is that everything is a toy. It doesn’t matter if it’s an appropriate choice or not. Your job as a pet owner is to redirect its energy.
Our same advice about catnip applies here, too. Your kitten won’t learn to appreciate it until later. That said, you’ll find several types of toys that provide different experiences for your pet. Products that resemble mice, birds, or other prey are always a hit. You can say the same about balls, which kittens love to bat around and chase.
Interactive toys are a relatively new category. We’re not fans of laser pointers, which don’t end with a reward, i.e., catching it. However, toys, where you have to do the work, are an excellent addition to your kitten’s toy chest. It’s a bonding experience that offers welcome mental stimulation. But, take our advice. Kittens will play endlessly with these toys and will likely outlast your patience.
5. Cat Furniture
Like toys, cat furniture is more of a necessity than an indulgence. Scratching happens. It’s a natural and healthy activity for your kitten. Remember that felines are more in touch with their wild side, where scratching is a way to mark their territory. It helps them stretch and condition their claws. It’s worth mentioning that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has spoken out against it.
The solution is to offer your kitten suitable substitutes, such as scratch posts. Your pet’s curiosity will lure them, as will the rough material. Instinct will take charge. You can use catnip for older animals.
Getting a cat bed is another option if you’d prefer your pet not to sleep in bed with you. A covered product works again with its instinct to give your kitten a safe place to hide. We like the idea because it allows your cat to enjoy uninterrupted sleep where it feels secure in its new home. When considering what do you need for a kitten, put yourself in your pet’s head to figure out what it needs.
- Related Read: 6 Best Cat Foods for Pregnant Cats
Getting a new kitten is an exciting prospect. Cats at this age are so much fun. You just have to look at all the kitten videos on YouTube to understand why. They make us smile and make us laugh out loud. You can’t help but get into a kitten’s enjoyment of life. Everything is fun and a game. Outfitting your pet with the basics and extras will give your cat the best start in life.
Our advice is to savor these early days of getting a kitten. They make the experience of pet ownership like no other.
Featured Image Credit: OlenaPalaguta, Shutterstock