You can’t put a price on the joy a kitten will bring to your life but you should be prepared for how much he will cost you.
What do you need to buy for cat ?
A cardboard box and a blanket will do to start with, but if you fancy something a bit more stylish there’s lots to choose from. Just make sure it’s warm and cosy.
A cat flap will mean your new cat can come and go as he pleases – once he’s up-to-date with his vaccinations! Styles range from the basic to infra-red, magnetic/battery-operated, and microchip-activated for selective entry.
You will need a secure cat carrier to bring your kitten home safely and to transport him to the vet. For safety’s sake, cats should never be allowed to travel loose in a car. Basic plastic carriers are easy to keep clean but can be bulky to store.
Your kitten should never be bored. Make sure toys are varied and interesting, especially if he will be kept indoors. There’s lots to ensure interaction between you and your kitten but make sure toys are robust and don’t have any loose parts that he could swallow or choke on.
Plastic, stainless steel or ceramic bowls are best as they are easy to wash and fairly heavy, so your kitten won’t have to chase them around the room as he feeds. Shallow sides are best for kittens and there should be one for food and one for water. Some cats won’t drink water from plastic bowls.
Regular grooming will keep the coat clean and tangle-free. Choose a bristle brush to remove dirt and release loose hairs, followed by a fine-toothed comb for shorthairs and a wide-toothed comb for longhairs. A ‘baby’ brush makes for a good first kitten brush. See page 84 for more detailed grooming advice.
A tiny microchip under the skin gives a permanent unique identity number. If your kitten should become lost most rescue organisations and vets have scanners to read the number and find the owner via a central computer holding all the details.
First aid kit
Basic kits are available from pet stores and will ensure that you are equipped to deal with minor ailments. Learning the techniques of pet first aid can be a lifesaver but you should always talk to your vet if you are unsure.
If you want to protect your furniture and carpet from kitten claws, invest in a scratching post. Aerobic activity centres incorporate scratching posts but make sure they are sturdy so they’re not easily knocked over in play and that the scratch pole is tall enough to allow him to stretch up. Scratching is vital to keep claws clean, healthy and short.
Collars are not suitable for kittens under six months old. If he does go outside when he’s older, buy a quick-release collar which will free him if he gets caught up, on a branch for example. You should be able to slide two fingers between a collar and his neck.
You may decide that the area you live in is not suitable to let your feline friend out unattended. You may choose to let him sample the outdoor life safely with an enclosed run or secure fencing instead.
If you would like to walk your kitten on a lead get him used to wearing one from 12 weeks of age. Start by gradually introducing the harness (aided by plenty of fuss and treats) and only leave it on for a few minutes at a time, before introducing the lead. Never leave your kitten unattended while wearing a harness.
Having adequate cover means you don’t have to worry about unexpected expenses if your kitten is ill or injured in an accident.
While he is small a standard plastic tray will suffice, though a larger one will stop him kicking litter out. Some have lids for privacy and carbon filters to reduce odour. You should stock up on cat litter – a good one should absorb liquid, mask smells and be fine enough to be raked by a small kitten. Encourage your kitten to maintain his litter tray training by using the same litter as the breeder/rescue centre you got your kitten from, as many kittens will not adapt to a different litter instantly. If you then want to change litters, mix the new with the old, gradually replacing the amount of old litter with the new type. Tray liners, rubber gloves, nappy bags and scoops make for easy cleaning, as does a good pet-friendly disinfectant.