When you welcome home your new kitten, you may be focused more on choosing the perfect name than the ideal litter box placement. Of course, your kitten’s name is important, but so is their environment, enrichment, and care. Follow our Kauai Veterinary Clinic team’s tips for helping your tiny kitten grow into a happy, healthy cat.
Setting up your kitten’s litter box for success
In general, teaching your kitten to use their litter box is much easier than house training a puppy. However, some kittens need help understanding the concept, so make their litter box as appealing as possible to encourage proper use.
Keep your kitten in their litter box by:
- Choosing the appropriate size — Your kitten may be tiny now, but they will grow rapidly, so choose a litter box that will comfortably hold an adult cat.
- Picking the right litter — Most cats prefer clumping litter with a fine texture, but your kitten may have other ideas. If necessary, try several types to determine their preference.
- Placing the box in a quiet area — Although putting the litter box in the laundry room or the basement, out of your family’s living space, may seem like a good idea, such locations can dissuade your kitten from using the box. Instead, place boxes in easily accessible, quiet, calm locations. This may mean putting a box in your mudroom, in the room where your kitten sleeps, or in a quiet living room corner.
- Cleaning the box regularly — Keep your kitten’s litter box clean by scooping twice a day and completely refreshing the litter weekly. Disinfect the box when you change the litter to ensure it remains pathogen-free.
- Providing enough boxes — Cats like options for their bathroom, and extra boxes ensure your kitten always has a clean box. As a general rule, provide one box per cat, plus one extra. So, your pair of kittens should have at least three boxes.
Setting up your kitten’s scratching surfaces for success
Kittens tend to dart quickly up vertical items, such as your curtains, coat rack, or pant leg, because scratching and climbing are instinctive feline behaviors. Give your kitten acceptable outlets for these behaviors by:
- Offering a variety of scratching surfaces — Ensure your kitten has various scratching textures and surfaces, such as sisal, wood, rope, or corrugated cardboard. Place these scratch pads in horizontal, vertical, and angled positions.
- Installing scratching surfaces in key locations — Cats scratch for a variety of reasons, so understanding why they are scratching can help encourage this behavior in appropriate places. If your kitten is marking their territory, place a scratch pad next to the door or window. If your kitten wants to stretch when they wake up, put a scratch pad next to their bed.
- Utilizing your home’s vertical space — Let your kitten scale the walls—literally. Install cat shelves, climbing towers, and lookout posts to give your feline friend the comfort, security, and exercise they crave.
Setting up your kitten’s mealtimes for success
Many cat owners feed their cat by keeping their food dish filled. However, cats are prone to obesity, as shown by the 61% of the U.S. feline population classified as overweight or obese. Learn how many calories your cat requires at every life stage, and then accurately measure their meals.
To make mealtimes an enriching experience for your kitten, use food puzzles instead of dumping kibble in a dish. You can craft your own puzzles out of cardboard tubes and plastic bottles, or purchase food puzzles, like silicone mats and rubber Kongs, that can be used for canned food. Exposing your kitten to a variety of flavors and textures will help ensure they receive adequate nutrition should they become ill.
Setting up your kitten’s water intake for success
As desert creatures, cats seem to exist in a perpetual dehydrated state, but you must ensure your kitten drinks enough to stay hydrated to support bodily functions. Purchase a drinking fountain, refresh their water regularly, and incorporate wet food in their diet. Keeping your kitten well-hydrated will help ward off urinary and kidney issues, which are common health problems in cats, as they grow.
Everyone in your household will be excited about your tiny new pet, but your kitten will likely be overwhelmed. Help them settle in with our team’s success tips, and then schedule your kitten’s first wellness visit at Kauai Veterinary Clinic.