Finding a friendly feline
You need to be 100% sure that a kitten is right for you; a kitten or cat is a lifelong commitment as they can live between 15-18 years.
There are many ways you can meet your future kitten to see if they will suit your family and lifestyle; rescues, such as the SPCA, or through pet stores, adopting a stray, breeders and sometimes even through a family friend. Bringing a new kitten home is an exciting time.
At Animates all our kittens and cats up for adoption are from rescues. We work closely with the SPCA and other rescue organisations to help find furever homes for kittens in need.
When adopting a kitten you should always ask if they have been vet checked, treated for fleas and worms, microchipped, desexed and if they have had any vaccinations. When adopting through Animates we look after all of this for the new family.
When you meet the right kitten they may be a "Moggy" (mixed breed) or a "Purebred". If you're looking to adopt a purebred kitten, research the breed carefully as some breeds can be very chatty and vocal (e.g. Siamese or Orientals), while others will make perfect couch companions (e.g. Ragdolls or Persians).
If you do choose a purebred kitten, your choice of breeder is as important as the breed you pick. Talk to our friendly team in-store or at your local Animates Vetcare to find the most suitable breed for you and your family and be sure to look for a registered and well respected breeder.
If you're unsure what you're looking for; be patient and take the time to find the perfect kitten. New pets should never be an impulse decision. Offering to foster a litter of kittens through the SPCA or a rescue organisation is a great way to meet new kittens, understand what is involved with caring for kittens, help save lives and you may just end up with a lifelong companion this way.
Things to consider:
- Are you in a stable living situation and prepared to take your cat with you should you move?
- Is there are chance you could travel for long periods or move overseas?
- Are all members of your household happy to take on a kitten?
- Do you have any other pets at home to consider?
- Is anyone in the family allergic to cats?
- Are you able to spend time with your kitten every day?
- Can you take on a lifelong commitment?
- Where should you look for my furever friend?
- Which is better suited to you, a moggy or a purebred?
Are they the right fit for your family?
Cats come in many shapes and sizes, they also come with unique traits and temperaments.
Some kittens may need more attention than others – so it's important to ensure they are well suited to your family and life style. Even domestic kittens (moggies) will vary in terms of their personality, behaviour and daily requirements.
Kittens differ in their need for care and attention, for example long-haired kittens will require regular lifelong grooming to avoid matting, while white-furred or pink-nosed kittens may need extra care in the sun. Being aware of what your potential future kitten needs is important, as you may find yourself in love with a kitten that requires more need than you anticipated.
When you adopt your kitten, be mindful that they will need to learn to fit in with the family as much as the family will need to learn to adapt to them. Little kittens need to be handled with lots of TLC (tender loving care/cuddles). If you have young children, an older kitten may be a better fit for your family as they can be more resilient to unpredictable behaviour.
One kitten or two? Offering a home to a pair of kittens is a great way to double the love and ensure your kitten has extra companionship, as well as plenty of playtime while you're away. Watching a duo of crazy kitten antics is fun for the whole family and having a friend can help a shy kitten come out of their shell.
Things to consider:
- How much care will your kitten need?
- Does your kitten have any special health care requirements?
- How will your family adapt to a new kitten?
- What sort of kitten personality would best suit your family?
- One or two for company?
Feline finance planning
As well as being prepared to dedicate time to your kitten, you will also need to ensure you are able to financially support them now and in future.
As a loving and responsible pet owner, it is important to consider the costs of adopting a kitten, from bringing them home and getting them settled, to general care and veterinary costs over their lifetime.
Costs to consider:
- Adoption fees (this will vary depending on what is covered)
- Microchipping and microchip registration
- Kitten vaccinations and yearly boosters
- Food that is appropriate to their life stage and needs
- Flea treatment – this includes treating your kitten for life, and any homecare needed (bedding, flea bombs etc)
- Worming treatment (more frequently as kittens, then generally every 3 months for life)
- Unexpected veterinary costs (e.g. accidents or illnesses)
- Insurance cover for your pet – this can help to take some of the risk out of unexpected costs and provide peace of mind if your kitten needs vet treatment.
- Ongoing veterinary costs, including yearly check-ups and vaccinations
- Special costs for any unusual care needs (e.g. diabetes or diet management)
- Catteries, house sitters or pet-minders if your family goes away
- Essentials such as collars, name tags, carriers and litter
- All the fun stuff; toys, treats, cat scratch posts and tunnels.
Setting up for a new kitten can be overwhelming, to make it easier for you we offer a Kitten 'starter pack'. To get an idea of costs, browse online, pop into your local Animates or visit your local Animates Vetcare.
Here is a checklist of some of the likely things you will need for your kitten:
Things to consider:
- Can you afford a kitten right now and in the future?
- Would it be a good idea to talk to someone with a kitten or cat for advice?
Feeding your feline
Choosing your feline's food can seem like a confusing journey. With so many options it's a good idea to pop into your local Animates store or Animates Vetcare so we can help you find what best suits your kitten's needs. The right food is essential to support your kitten's growth and set them up with a good foundation for long term health. When you do start looking for food, it is important that you find one that is complete and balanced for their needs and feed them several times per day. Kitten foods are especially designed for young felines, with higher protein and calcium, and increased digestibility. Superior Nutrition diets have guaranteed high quality ingredients, tested formulas and fully support your growing kitten throughout their development and into adult life. These premium diets often assist with long term dental care and skin and coat health, which may help reduce future veterinary costs. Offering wet food meals are a great way to make sure your kitten is properly hydrated and most kittens will love a treat of wet food, but it is recommended to feed this separately to their normal biscuits and always offer plenty of fresh drinking water. Remember to introduce any new treats or food slowly to minimise any upset tummies. Avoid feeding cow's milk as kittens and cats are lactose intolerant, and even though they love it, it can make them very ill. If you want to treat your cat with a bowl of milk, there are more suitable 'pet milk' varieties available.
Things to consider:
- Will you have time to regularly buy cat food and feed your kitten several times a day?
- Should you prepare yourself and talk to our team in-store, or visit your local Animates Vetcare to learn about suitable food for your kitten?
Cats are instinctually clean pets and often the mother cat has already started teaching her kitten's appropriate toileting habits by the time they reach their new homes.
Settling your kitten into a new home means learning a lot of new rules in a strange environment, this can be unnerving for a kitten and accidents can happen. Be patient with your little one and offer them a safe, secure toileting area with a litter tray. In the event your kitten does have an accident, it's important you don't tell them off for it, they're still learning and they may try to hide the accidents from you in the future, which can be detrimental. Keeping an eye on your pet's toileting habits can be a great insight into their health and diet.
Bringing a new kitten home will mean having a litter tray available for at least six weeks or until your kitten can start transitioning to go outside. When this begins, you will need to consider if you are going to continue to offer your pet a safe place to toilet inside. Indoor cats will require a permanent inside toileting solution. The litter tray should remain in one area, away from children, and in a quiet, but easily accessible, area of the house.
You can choose from an open litter tray or a fully enclosed litter tray. Young kittens may need a shallower box to begin with and can graduate to a larger enclosed box in the future.
Find out what litter your kitten is used to before bringing them home as this will make the transition smoother, and if you would like to change the litter there is a wide range of litter types available: crystallised, paper, pine, clumping and scented varieties. As kittens adapt to certain textures, it is recommended not to change the litter type regularly.
Things to consider:
- Where will your kitten's safe place be and can you keep a litter box in there?
- Can you keep that area closed off for at least 6 weeks?
- What sort of litter do you prefer, and what is your kitten already used to?
- Will it be an enclosed box or open litter tray? Some kittens find it easier to learn in an 'open' style tray, while other, shyer, kittens appreciate having the security of an enclosed box.
- Where will you keep a litter tray inside long term?
- Multiple trays will be needed if you are a multi-cat household.
Kittens are young and adventurous and they will need a lot of entertainment from the family. Climbing, scratching and chasing are all natural cat behaviours and it is important to provide ample toys and scratch posts that encourage your kitten to enjoy and explore using their natural instincts.
Cat's love to climb, so we encourage you to have the tallest scratch post you can, as cats will be more inclined to use it if they can stretch up tall or jump on it. You can encourage your kitten to use a new cat scratch post with catnip, fun toys and interacting with them around it. If your kitten chooses to use your furniture as their go-to scratch choice, providing multiple alternative scratch options, such as scratch mats, scratch posts in various texture types (sisal rope, carpeted or cardboard) may help to deter this. Be sure to reward your kitten by scratching in the right places, sometimes the best reward is just your love and attention.
Cats also love to chase and there are plenty of toys available for them to explore this instinct. A variety of toys will keep your kitten entertained, from interactive play wands through to rolling balls and tunnels.
A cat's favourite pastime is playing with their human family, so try to involve them as much as possible, not only is it great bonding for you and your pet, but it's also lots of fun. Kittens love play fighting with other kittens as it is their way of learning skills for later in life. Kittens are naturally inquisitive and are often quick to try and make friends; always monitor your kitten with other pets closely, particularly as they get used to each other.
Things to consider:
- Do you need to move anything out of their safe place in case they scratch it?
- Where can you fit a cat scratch post?
- What type of toys could you get to entertain your kitten?
- Are there sentimental or valued items you need to keep the kitten away from?
Little kittens have a tendency to explore their new environment: cupboards, drawers, even washing machines, nothing is out of bounds to the exploring kitten. Be vigilant while your kitten is growing up and finding its bearings in your new home.
We recommend that all kittens are microchipped, this vital piece of technology helps reunite many lost pets and their owners each year. A microchip is a small device (about the size of a grain of rice) that is implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades by a veterinarian. They each hold a unique identification number that can be registered to your details. If your kitten goes missing and is found, they will be scanned for a microchip. This will allow the finders to access your details and help get your kitten home to you.
Getting your kitten used to wearing a collar prior to going outside is a great idea. Collars with bells are also handy for helping find a sneaky kitten within the house. The best collars are those that are cat and kitten safe that are elasticised or quick-release in case, during adventuring, the collar is snagged and so they are able to slip out of it.
Getting a kitten used to wearing a collar takes patience and time, start off with a small well fitted collar with no bell, place it on your kitten when they are calm and leave it on for short periods of time, slowly increasing the length of time your kitten wears it. If your kitten is bothered with the collar, use toys and treats to distract them, always ensuring it is a positive experience.
Don't forget to get them an ID tag with their name and your contact details. If you move house make sure you update your kitten's collar as well as the microchip details online.
Things to consider:
- Where could the kitten hide, can you close the hiding area off?
- Which collar should you get?
- What contact details do you need on the ID tag?
- Will your kitten need a bell?
- What size and type of collar will you need?
- Is your kitten microchipped?
The health of your kitten will need to be your number one priority: ensuring their flea and worming treatment as well as vet checks and vaccinations are up to date. Check their teeth are clean and in good condition, and ensure they have been desexed to prevent any unexpected surprises.
Fleas thrive in warm, moist environments, and in most New Zealand climates, appear year round in kennels, carpet, dirt and even furniture. A regular flea treatment regime is essential to prevent infestation. Ensure you treat your pet as well as their bedding and your home regularly.
Common worm types that cats are treated for in New Zealand are: Roundworms, Hookworms and Tapeworms. As worm infestations can cause lethargy, vomiting, anaemia and more serious illnesses, it is important to deworm your kitten regularly. Humans can also get worms, so ensuring your whole family is treated is a great idea.
To prevent worms, your kitten will need to be wormed with a quality worm treatment every two weeks until 12 weeks of age. After they reach 12 weeks this decreases to around every 3 months, dependant on the treatment type and any special requirements.
All kittens require vaccinations to ensure they are protected against known diseases. The most common viral diseases vaccinated against are Cat Flu (two viruses) and Enteritis (similar to Parvovirus in dogs).
Generally, your kitten will receive a vaccination every few weeks over their first couple of months. At the completion of this they are considered 'fully' protected and will only require boosters every year. Kittens that have not yet completed their vaccination schedule should not be allowed outside of your house.
Types of vaccinations and schedules can depend on the age of your kitten and at which stage they were first vaccinated, so ensure you visit your local Animates Vetcare for advice on vaccinations. Outside the core vaccine, there are additional vaccines for protection against Feline Aids (FIV) which your vet can discuss with you.
Our Animates Vetcare clinics recommend the following vaccination schedule:
|9 weeks||Cat flu, Enteritis|
|12 weeks||Cat flu, Enteritis|
|1 year on, and yearly thereafter||Cat flu, Enteritis|
Desexing your kitten is highly recommended. Desexing surgery for a female kitten is called 'spaying' and for a male 'neutering.'
Desexing your kitten has a range of proven benefits to their health and temperament as well as preventing unplanned pregnancies. Desexed pets are less likely to wander, get into fights or receive injuries from mating, and have a reduced risk of certain cancers. Kittens can usually be desexed from around 4 months old.
To ensure your kitten has a healthy mouth, teeth and gums; we recommend offering dental treats and chews, along with regular check-ups that may include removal of any tartar build up.
If you have any questions regarding worming, vaccinations, desexing and/or dental health ensure you consult with your local Animates Vetcare.
Things to consider:
- Will you have the finances for; ongoing flea, worming, vaccinations and veterinarian treatment?
- Will you get pet insurance?
- Are you comfortable with doing the flea and worming treatments (or will you utilise a veterinarian)?
- What is the most suitable carrier to take my kitten to the vet?
- Is the kitten you are adopting already desexed and has it had any treatments?
Bringing your kitten home
Congratulations, it's almost time to bring your new family member home.
Before this big step, it is important to 'kitten proof' a safe area of your house to be their own room while they settle in. The ideal area could be a spare bedroom or a laundry; it should be fully enclosed with their litter tray, a cuddly bed, a scratch post, and loads of toys, along with food and water dishes. This will become your kitten's safe space while they adjust to the new environment for six weeks, and as they slowly meet the family and any other pets.
As their confidence grows they can be let out to explore new areas of the house. Be patient and take it slow, some kittens will adjust quicker than others, so having a safe space for them to return to will help them settle.
Kittens have a tendency to explore their new environment: cupboards, drawers, even washing machines, nothing is out of bounds. Be vigilant while your kitten is finding its way in your new home. We recommend kittens remain indoors for at least six weeks before they begin to explore outside, this is a guideline only so work to your kitten's pace.
Keep in mind everything is new your kitten; so take it one day at a time and introduce things slowly. Lastly, from all of us at Animates and Animates Vetcare, we wish you and your new kitten a long and happy life together. Enjoy this special time watching your new kitten grow and keep an eye out for more articles and videos on how to settle your kitten in to their new home.
Check out our guides to help you with your new fur-family member.
Veterinarian care is available for your pet through Animates Vetcare clinics.