Kitten Care 101

Congratulations on welcoming a new kitten from Safe Harbor Rescue into your home! Raising a cat is a fun and rewarding experience that will be beneficial to both of you for many years to come. But it’s important to remember that with great power comes great responsibility—your new feline friend will be very dependent on you; therefore, we’ve created a convenient guide that will help you take care of your kitty cat.

The first few months you have with your kitten will be very important and will lay the foundation for your feline’s future health and behavior. If you follow the below guidelines, you can ensure a happy and healthy life for your kitten.

Verify Your Kitten’s Age

Age is more than just a number, and for kittens, this is especially crucial. Baby cats have specific developmental needs during their first 10 weeks of life, which include attention to their socialization, nourishment, warmth and potty training.

Because of this, a lot of shelters and breeders will often wait until kittens are of age, but if by chance you do find yourself with a kitten under 10 weeks old, please consult your vet for specific instructions.

Take Your Kitten to the Vet Immediately

At Safe Harbor Rescue, our adoptable pets all receive a FeLV/FIV test, deworming, microchip, core vaccines and spay/neuter surgery (if age appropriate) from our medical team at Glendale Animal Hospital. Once you bring your new furry family member home however, you’ll want to schedule a return exam with the GAH Veterinarian to make sure that your new companion is well on her way to a happy and healthy life.

This benefits you and the animal, as this time lets you ask questions and advice regarding kitten care and litterbox training. We also will test for health issues including parasites, birth defects and feline leukemia to make sure your new best friend is in tip-top shape.

During this visit, we will discuss:

  • Food recommendations, scheduling and portion sizes
  • Internal and external parasite control
  • Socialization, especially if you have other household pets
  • Sings of illness to be aware of during their first few months
  • Scheduling of future visits and a discussion of preventive health

Give Your Fur Baby Quality Food

There’s more to pet feeding than grabbing a bag of food at the grocer. For kittens, they need as much as three times more nutrients and calories than adult cats—so you definitely need to find a high-quality food that is designed specifically for kittens. And don’t forget to look for a statement from the Association of Animal Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) which should be somewhere on the packaging. This ensures that the food is nutritionally complete.

Let Your Kitten Be Social

Once we’ve cleared your kitten of parasites and disease, you can safely let them explore their new surroundings and other animal roommates if applicable. Also, make sure to emotionally bond with your cat at least once a day by handling and playing with them.

Prepare Your Kitten’s Space

Do plan to have a quiet, safe area for your kitten before you bring them home. Place things like food and water bowls, a litterbox and cozy bedding. If possible, put their food away from their litterbox, as cats don’t like that, and you don’t want a grumpy cat.

Have These Essentials:

  • Good quality food
  • Litterbox and kitty litter
  • Cat carrier
  • Food and water bowls
  • Bedding
  • Collar and ID tags
  • Scratching post
  • Kitten-safe toys without small pieces they could swallow
  • Cat toothbrush and toothpaste (try to get them started on a young age)

Be Aware of Early Signs of Illness

Contact your Glendale Animal Hospital Veterinarian immediately if your kitten shows any of these symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor weight gain
  • Vomiting
  • Painful abdomen
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing problems
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Pale gums
  • Eye discharge or swollen, red eyes
  • Nasal discharge
  • Inability to pass stools or urine


At Safe Harbor Rescue and Glendale Animal Hospital, we are always committed to making sure your pet stays happy and healthy. If you have any additional questions about caring for your kitten, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact the GAH team.