Ask A Vet: What Do I Need to Know Before I Get a Kitten?

By Dr. Genie Bishop

A kitten can be a fun and exciting addition to a household and a great family companion. If you’re thinking about welcoming a new kitten, here are some quick questions you can ask yourself to make sure she’s a perfect fit:

First, is anyone in your home allergic to cats?

A major reason that cats are surrendered is an owner’s allergy to cat dander or fur. Before subjecting you and the people you live with to heartbreak, make sure no one is allergic to cat dander or fur.

Is your decorating style cat-friendly?

Is your home safe for a kitten? Kittens love to explore, and more than a few have gotten into trouble by burrowing into recliners or warm clothes in a dryer, or by tasting a toxic plant. Potential owners can minimize risk by thinking like a kitten and exploring the nooks and crannies in their home that could potentially be dangerous.   

Will your cat live indoors only?

 She will need a litterbox, and the rule of thumb is one more than the number of cats. So if you welcome two cats into your home, you should have three litterboxes. Make sure you put them in appropriate places and that those spots won’t be disturbed.

Are there other pets in the household?

 Another cat might not automatically welcome a new kitten, and a dog may view her as a new plaything. Plan ahead to give your current pet enough time to adjust to a new kitten. Provide a safe space for your kitten to retreat to, away from other pets. Introduce them slowly and gradually.

Do you have a veterinarian for your kitten?

 Just because she looks healthy is no excuse for not getting a checkup. Vaccinations for feline diseases are very important, as well as testing for parasites and other nuisances, like ear mites, ringworm and fleas. Routine physical exams are important to keep your new kitten healthy.

Do you know what food she should eat?

 Let your vet recommend a proper diet for your new kitten. A complete and balanced diet formulated for growth should not be supplemented with food from the table. And just because your grandmother gave her cat a saucer of milk and a raw egg does not mean it’s a good for her.                                                                                                                                   

Visit Your Vet

Adopting or purchasing a new kitten is a big decision, but if you plan and prepare ahead of time, your kitten can be a welcome addition to your home. Your veterinarian is an excellent resource for all things kitten care. Be sure to visit regularly to keep your kitten healthy.

Learn more about kitten care and get the latest tips and tricks by visiting our website or signing up for our newsletter. 

Dr. Genie Bishop is the Scientific  Communications Manager for Royal Canin Veterinary Marketing. Prior to that, she was in private practice for 30 years as well as serving as an instructor of medicine and surgery in a veterinary technician program.