Kitten Behavior and Care—What You Should Know

shutterstock_165600491There are few things cuter than little kittens, as evidenced by the way people react on social media to sweet kitty memes. Many pet owners like to adopt small kittens so they can be socialized from an early age and grow used to a family more easily. Older cats might have had negative experiences with previous owners and could take longer to warm up to a new owner. A kitten has no feline baggage, so to speak, and is starting fresh. However, there are different considerations when adopting a kitten as opposed to obtaining a grown cat. Familiarize yourself with social and biological development of cats so you will know what to expect at each phase.

If you are adopting an orphaned or abandoned cat, be prepared for substantial responsibility, although the satisfaction of providing for the needs of a little kitty is its own reward. Kittens under 8 weeks old still need their mother and their littermates to be healthy, although it is possible to raise a small kitten on its own, but with constant care. Small kittens can be fed with a dropper or a bottle and be encouraged to use the litterbox. Don’t try to raise an abandoned kittens on your own without consulting a veterinarian for essential advice. In general, kittens should not be adopted under the age of 8 weeks, unless in an emergency situation, such as the death or desertion of the mother.

At the age of 8 weeks, the cat should be weaned and has completed its visual and motor development. Kittens at this age should be given food specially designed for kittens and look for food that is high in protein and is easy to digest. Your kitten at this age will most likely do plenty of running and jumping, so give your kitten plenty of room to run around. However, don’t let your kittens jump and run unsupervised because they are not yet aware of how they can be injured.

Between two and four months is the age during which kittens experience their major growth spurt. They will need to eat quite frequently during this period, so be sure you are providing your kitten with food that is at least 30 percent protein. He or she will have three times the energy of adult cats. When a cat is four to six months old, he or she is sexually mature and should be spayed or neutered.

Kittens need a lot of stimulation and socialization. Don’t worry too much about their being frightened, but try to expose them early to the kinds of things they will be seeing day to day. If you have a dog, introduce the kitten to the dog early to get them used to each other so there will be fewer problems later. Kittens can be taken outside, but never without a leash or in a carrier. Young cats like outings and riding in the car, although they may not be comfortable to being confined for long periods of time on trips. Your kitty wants to run, jump and explore, so give him and her plenty of opportunities to do this.

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