New kitten joining the clowder? Get all the tips you need to raise a healthy feline
Bringing home a new kitten is exciting for any soon-to-be cat parent. There’s nothing that can light up the room like an adorable, playful little kitty.
Although cute and fun to be around, kittens are needy. They demand your love, support, and attention to grow into happy and healthy adult cats.
Here’s everything you must know about new kitten care, behaviour, and nutrition to get off on the right foot and raise a perfectly jolly kitty.
A nutritious vegan meal, yum!
Before you bring your new feline friend home, you should know:
- When they can be separated from their mother
- How to prepare your home
- What to buy and have readily available
- When to take them to the vet
- What developmental changes they will go through
- What to feed them
- How to ensure good hygiene
- How to monitor their growth
Separating a kitten from their mother
Kittens must stay with their mum until they’re 8–10 weeks old. Separating them from the queen too early can cause social, health, and developmental issues.
The crucial stage in a kitten’s development occurs between the fifth and seventh week of their life. This is the time during which their mum teaches them to:
Preparing your home for your first kitten
Before you take your new kitten home, you must ensure that they can settle in comfortably, so you should:
- Make a safe area for your kitty—Section off any areas you don’t want your feline friend to have access to, such as the kitchen. Kittens are curious and want to explore anything they see, so remove potentially dangerous items from their immediate surroundings, such as sharp objects, forbidden foods, or anything else that’s otherwise harmful to cats. Keep in mind that little kitties are sensitive to noise and overstimulating spaces (i.e., crowds, toys, and similar distracting things in a room)
- Introduce your new friend to your home gradually—To avoid stressing your kitten, keep them in a closed-off, secure space for at least 7–10 days. You can then let them explore the whole room, and when they get familiar with it, you can slowly move on to the rest of your home
- Provide the kitten with something they’re already familiar with—Your new friend will have an easier time adjusting to the new environment if they have a toy or a blanket they’re familiar with. Being in a completely foreign space might overwhelm them, so you should try to make the first few days as comfortable as possible
- Create a hiding space for the kitten—Kittens are easily scared off, so providing them with a hiding space allows them to “regain their safety” and walk back out whenever they’re ready. You can place a cardboard box on top of a tall (not too tall, though—kittens can’t jump that high yet) piece of furniture or leave an empty plant pot in the room
Whatcha lookin’ at, hooman?!
The essential equipment for your new kitten
You should get the following items before your new kitten arrives:
- Food and water bowls
- Cat bed
- Litter tray (keep it away from the food and water bowls)
- Scratching post
- Cat carrier
If it’s within your budget, you may also want to consider getting a cat tree. Your feline friend can climb and scratch it without causing any damage to your furniture or other belongings.
Must sharpen my claws before taking over the world…
Knowing when to take your new kitty to the vet
During the first 16 weeks of their life, your new kitten should visit the vet every three to four weeks. They will get vaccines and treatments against numerous diseases and infections and will be examined head to tail by the vet.
If anything about your kitty seems off to you in the meantime, reach out to your vet and get your young feline checked. Kittens are fragile in the first few weeks of their lives, so it’s best to play it safe until they’re more independent.
New kitten behaviour and developmental changes
By the time you introduce your kitten to their new home, they won’t be fully developed yet. You will notice some changes that are normal at this time. Check out the table below for details:
Knowing what to feed a new kitten
Queens typically nurse their litters for 8–12 weeks, after which kittens start weaning.
If your new kitten doesn’t have a mum and isn’t ready to wean yet, opt for a formula or kitten milk replacer (KMR).
Feeding your kitten formula
Choosing the right type of kitten formula for your new feline friend isn’t easy because there are plenty of options on the market. You can choose between powdered or canned products, but keep in mind that the latter causes diarrhoea in most kittens.
You should pay close attention to the nutrients a KMR contains—for healthy growth, make sure it has:
More than 50%
Up to 20%
Depending on your kitten’s developmental stage, you may need to feed them with a syringe and then switch to a bottle once they’re big enough.
Here are some tips for feeding your kitty a KMR:
- Mix one part KMR with two parts water
- Warm up the mixture to body temperature
- Try to feed the kitten in the same position they’d be if they were nursing—never feed them on their back
- Allow the kitten to eat at their own pace. Don’t squeeze the bottle or force them to eat as this could be dangerous, i.e., cause them to choke or have the food enter their respiratory system
You need two tablespoons of formula per 100g of your kitten’s body weight.
Feeding your kitten solids
Around week five, kittens start showing interest in solid food, which is the perfect time to start the weaning process. It can last between three and eight weeks, and during that time, you can use:
Dry vs wet food
Many new kitten parents are in a dry-or-wet-food dilemma, so here are the pros of both:
Although it comes with several advantages, dry food isn’t as nutritious as wet food. Vets don’t recommend a dry-food-only diet because it lacks moisture and can cause dehydration in both kittens and adult cats. This can further lead to the formation of struvite crystals and cystitis.
Dry cat food is usually packed with carbohydrates (sugars and grains), vegetable proteins, synthetic vitamins, minerals, and probiotic supplements.
Wet food is the closest to a cat’s natural diet because it contains real animal fats and proteins, so it’s a far better choice for your new friend. Check out our guide on how often you should feed your cat wet food to better understand the optimal feline nutrition.
The best wet food products contain high-quality protein from the following sources:
Meat or plant… I must choose!
Picking the best food for your new kitten by deciphering the labels
Cat food labels can be tricky to decipher, so here’s a short overview of what you should look for and avoid:
Instead of spending hours researching kitten food, check out what Untamed has in store for you!
Welcoming a new kitten into your home with Untamed
With a new kitten on board, you must be extra careful when picking their food. Kittens are sensitive and require top-quality, nutritious meals to develop into happy and healthy adult felines.
Untamed offers exactly that because our products are:
- Packed with animal protein—Our meals contain at least 60% of lean meat and fish, which is double the industry average
- Low in carbohydrates—None of our delicious, tailor-made meals contains fruit, grains, sugar, or vegetables
- Vet-formulated—Our jelly and gravy options are free from any known allergens because we created them in collaboration with vets
- Made with top-quality ingredients—We say no to meat derivatives! Our food consists of human-grade whole meat and fish only
Take our TRY NOW quiz to create a healthy and yummy meal plan for your new kitty!
The Untamed meal is sooo irresistibly delicious!
Image (c) Untamed
Settling a kitten into a new home is a piece of cake with nutritious and delicious food
Putting your tiny kitten on an optimal diet from the get-go is easy with Untamed. Our grain-free dishes help kittens and cats at any life stage:
- Avoid lifestyle-related diseases, such as diabetes
- Stabilise their appetites
- Gain healthy weight
- Develop good eating habits
Check out what our clients say about our products:
Switching to Untamed
After one week
After two to three months
After six months
Wondering how to make your new kitten feel at home? Order an Untamed trial pack!
Wherever there’s delicious, irresistible food, your kitten will feel at home. Here’s how you can order your new kitty’s favourite delicacies online:
- Take the TRY NOW quiz
- Select the products
- Place the order
We offer free, one-day shipping to all our clients. You can modify or cancel your monthly cat food subscription at any time, completely fuss-free.
We take pride in producing and supplying cat food ethically—we use sustainably farm-reared meat, dolphin-safe fish, and recyclable packaging.
New kitten tips—hygiene edition
No matter how old, all cats require regular grooming consisting of:
- Wiping their fur—Most cats don’t like baths, especially kittens who are easily scared off by anything unfamiliar to them. To avoid panic and tantrums, take a wet cloth and wipe their fur to keep it glossy
- Brushing—Kittens usually don’t have long hair, but you should still brush your new feline friend with a soft-bristled brush in the direction of hair growth. Do this once a week so they get used to the sensation early on and don’t freak out when a new object is introduced to them at a later point
- Clipping their nails—To prevent your kitten’s claws from splitting and breaking, trim them at least once a month. You should cut only the sharp tip of the nail—don’t go any further than that
- Cleaning their teeth—Before introducing your kitten to a scary-looking toothbrush, you should put some gauze on your finger and gently rub it against their teeth. Do this as frequently as possible to prevent plaque build-up
- Checking their ears—You should ensure that your kitten’s ears are always clean and don’t emit any odour. If they are red, itchy, or smelly, you should contact the vet
- Feeling for any bumps, lumps, or scratches—If you come across any of them or find a particularly tender spot, reach out to your vet. This also applies if you notice fleas or parasites on their skin
Monitoring your new kitten’s growth
Paying close attention to your kitty’s growth is crucial in the beginning stages of their development. Here’s the average kitten weight during the first few months:
Approximate weight (in grams)
Week six to nine
Your kitten may weigh slightly more or less than what the table proposes as normal, but the deviations should not be extreme. If you do have any concerns regarding their growth, contact your vet.
Keep in mind that your kitten’s weight depends on several factors, including their:
Go through our kitten checklist to monitor their development and raise them into strong and beautiful adults!