So you’re all ready to bring home a kitten and shower it with a lifetime of love? Congratulations! It’s a huge responsibility and certainly an exciting time, perhaps even more so for your new feline as it begins a new life in its furever home with you. If it’s your first time, Project LUNI’s got your back with tried-and-tested tips to help you get started on your journey.
Choosing A Kitten: Adopt, Don’t Shop
If this is your first time, consider adopting two siblings. They are double the fun, can keep each other company and you end up having less work.
There are many cute kittens out there that need your help, especially those that have been abandoned and subsequently rescued by associations and shelters. Make sure that you check the credentials of these associations and shelters, and when you meet the kitten for the first time, ask if the kitten has been to the vet, been vaccinated and check proof of its medical history. Raising kittens costs the shelters a lot of money, so be prepared to pay and adoption fee or donation so they can continuing to rescue kittens. Pay it forward!
Preparing Your Home
The same way you like to come back home to a safe space you can call yours, kittens too require a safe space or safe room – commonly referred to as “base camp”. Prepare a litter box, litter and a scoop for cleaning; enough food (more on that later) as kittens tend to get hungry every few hours; bowls for food; a bowl of fresh water that’s available at all times; and a soft comfortable bed (a large fluffy towel or blanket it can snuggle in; if you have a large box, place the towel or blanket in it). A variety of cat toys will come in handy as you may not be around 24/7 to keep it occupied, and most kittens are curious and playful at their young age. Also, all cats will scratch, so have something that they can indulge that behavior in, like a vertical scratching post and a horizontal scratch board.
Make sure you kitten-proof the area where it has access to for anything breakable or chewable (remove open wires, insecticides or anything you wouldn’t want your child to come across and possibly ingest). Very importantly, mesh your windows and front gate to ensure it doesn’t run out as that’s how accidents happen. You’ll be amazed at the speed and dexterity of kittens squeezing through small gaps and into tiny spaces!
Your first few days together are essential in establishing a safe space for your kitten, and also for establishing a litter-training routine. Devote enough time for both of you to settle in so that your kitten gets to know you and trust you.
The Right Nutrition
Firstly, never feed a kitten cow’s milk – it’s a common misconception and dangerous to their digestive system!
Your kitten’s age will determine what to feed it, how much and how often. Check with the fosterer or shelter what they were feeding before and allow a slow transition. Kittens of over the age of two months will have transitioned to wet kitten food or raw food, but you may still want to mix in some goat milk or Kitten Milk Replacement if the foster advises it.
Don’t rely on kibbles (dry food) as a source of nutrition for your cat – feed high quality commercial raw cat food, freeze dried cat food, or wet food instead. Cats are notorious for drinking too little so their water intake comes mainly from food.
Bringing home the kitten
Bring the carrier with the kitten in the prepared “base camp”. Some kittens will be right at home ready to explore and play. If it is very shy at first, leave it there and let it explore. You can sit with it regularly and talk to it. Your kitten will determine the speed of your relationship, but all the new sounds and smells will be a bit scary at first. Offer it food after a while, and it will soon realise you are the source of it and make a positive association. Play with it often with wand toys and gently coax it closer.
Most kittens will already be very familiar with the litter box from their fosterer or shelter. Ideally, use the same litter as the fosterer in the beginning. At home, place them in the box so they learn where the bathroom is and the rest usually comes naturally.
If your kitten takes a while to learn and pees/poops outside the box, don’t scold it. Gently pick it up, take it to the litter box, put it down and pat it from face to tail to show that the box is where it’s supposed to be.
Ready to meet some kittens?
Project LUNI is a Singapore-registered non-profit organization that has been saving street cats and kittens since 2017. Founded by Nina Heusler-Astolfi and Lukas Heusler, the project focuses on four pillars: rehoming kittens, daily feeding of street cats, Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR), and medical care for street cats. Together with a passionate team of volunteers they successfully rehomed 117 cats in 2019 and have also sterilised more than 400 cats since their inception.
All of Project LUNI’s kittens and cats are vaccinated, dewormed and treated against fleas/mites if necessary. They have visited a vet for at least one full health check and will give you the vaccination booklet at the adoption date. Mostly, Project LUNI understands how important it is to socialise and shower them with love so they will make a perfect family member and are happy to live in a home before putting them up for adoption.
Check out the latest adoption posts on their Facebook page and in our weekly newsletter beginning this week, and fill out their adoption enquiry form if you are interested to meet any of their kittens. They have also come up with a handy checklist for potential adopters if you’d like to find out more.
Look out for our next article with Project LUNI on how you can be a fosterer.