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ultimate new kitten checklist

The Ultimate New Kitten Checklist and Everything You Need to Know

Bringing home a new kitten is exciting! Those little balls of floof with their tiny purrs and sweet toe beans are nearly irresistible. 

But with great joy comes great responsibility. Adding a new addition to your fur family is no small feat, but bringing home your new kitten will be a breeze with the right preparation. 

Here’s everything you need to know.

How To Prepare Before Bringing Home a New Kitten – Get The Right Cat Supplies.

Before bringing home a new kitten it’s essential to take time to prepare for their arrival. The first several months will be full of firsts and adjustments for you and your new cat. So the better prepared you are, the more time you can spend playing and cuddling instead of worrying.

You’ll want to have these items on hand before bringing home your new kitten:

Food

The proper food and nutrition are critical to getting your new cat off to a good start as they continue to grow and develop. If you’ve adopted your kitty from a shelter, start by feeding them whatever they were eating before you brought them home. Sudden changes in diet can lead to an upset stomach and an upset kitten!

Once you’re settled at home, consult your veterinarian for suggestions about kitten-specific food. Whether you choose wet or dry cat food is a personal choice as each has its pros and cons. Just be sure it’s made from quality ingredients to fuel your cat during their important growth stages.


A note of caution: some cat moms and dads may be tempted to give their kittens milk. While some cats tolerate dairy okay, most are actually lactose intolerant. Ingesting dairy can lead to upset tummies, vomiting, and diarrhea. Skip the milk and opt for safer treats like tuna or other store-bought goodies.

Litter & Litterbox 

World's Best Cat Litter is my favorite natural litter.
World’s Best Cat Litter is my favorite natural litter.

No surprise here, your kitty will need the proper supplies to do their business! For my late cat, Olivia, we preferred using a natural litter from World’s Best Cat Litter. It made for quick and easy cleanup. And most importantly, she loved it.

Your new kitten has short little legs so be sure to choose a box without high sides so that they can easily climb in and out. Once you have the right cat litter supplies, you’ll want to make sure your new kitten knows how to use everything. To learn more about how to litterbox train your kitten, check out my blog post here.

Cleaning Supplies

Thankfully, kittens typically learn how to use a litter box fairly quickly. But that doesn’t mean you should expect them to be accident-free! Stock up on a bio-enzymatic cleaner, like Kinderbean No-Stress Mess Eraser. It’s free of harsh chemicals and great for eliminating odors and pet messes.

kinderbean works better than other cleaners on pet waste

Kitten-safe Toys

Playtime is probably one of the best things about bringing home a kitten. Not only is it fun, but proper play encourages bonding while also helping your kitten develop crucial mental, social, and mobility skills.

You’ll want to choose toys that are made by a reputable manufacturer, don’t pose a choking hazard, and won’t hurt their soft gums and mouths. I put together a guide, here, of the 10 Most Purr-fect Kitten Toys. Get your paws on these and you’ll have countless hours of fun with your new kitty.

Cat Carrier 

Be sure to have a carrier to bring your kitten home for the very first time. You’ll certainly need it for future visits to the veterinarian or if you plan on traveling with your new feline companion. Many cats aren’t fans of car rides, so having a comfortable carrier is essential when bringing home a new kitten.

Here at the Pet Living family, we love the Sleepypod® brand! In fact, the Sleepypod Mini is the purr-fect way to spoil your new kitten when you bring them home. It’s just the right size for a small cat and can double as a carrier and pet bed. Fill it with warm soft blankets to make the car ride home cozy and secure. Plus vets love it too because they can access your cat while still in their carrier. 

Not all cats will be eager to enter their new carrier, so be patient when bringing home your new kitten. Try adding a warm blanket or even some yummy encouragement like a small treat.

ID Tag 

Also, be sure to get a proper ID tag before bringing your kitten home. It’s a pet parent’s worst nightmare that their beloved fur family should go missing. 

But if your new kitten were to get lost, you’ll want her to have the very best ID tag. I love these from PetHub. It features a unique QR code that links to your cat’s online profile. Remarkably, 96% of lost pets with PetHub ID tags are home in under 24 hours!

Other essential kitten supplies include food and water dispensers (we love the Catit Fountain), a collar, and a sturdy scratching post.

Prepare Your Home

Create a quiet, safe space for your new kitten, especially in the initial hours and days after bringing them home. They may feel a little overwhelmed or anxious at first. 

Creating a safe space in a bedroom or bathroom can help them acclimate to their new environment and explore one small area at a time. If you have other pets in the home, you’ll want to introduce them gradually as well. 

If your kitten seems anxious or stressed after bringing them home, consider adding a calming pheromone diffuser like this one

In addition to helping your kitten adjust to their new environment, it helps reduce unwanted behaviors associated with stress such as scratching and urine spraying. The diffuser works by mimicking natural pheromones, which helps to put cats at ease in a natural and safe way.

Cats are curious by nature – that’s one reason why we love them so much. Baby cats are at an even higher risk of stumbling into trouble while they’re exploring. 

Before bringing home a new kitten, you’ll want to remove any harmful plants and replace them with non-toxic plants that are safe for pets. In addition, be sure to keep any medications and electrical cords out of reach so that your curious kitten isn’t tempted to nibble on something dangerous.

Socialize Your Kitten

As your kitty gets used to their new home and family, it’s important to properly socialize them. Kittens have a narrow window in which learning proper socialization is critical. One source estimates that window to be between 2-7 weeks of age

Without these early, positive interactions with other animals and humans, your new kitten could remain fearful of new experiences. 

Most kittens learn valuable “cat lessons” from their littermates and their moms. Body position, play etiquette, and their “meow” language are all important skills your kitten will need to grow into a well-adjusted adult cat. These early lessons will shape their personality and behavior for years to come.

If you’re bringing home a kitten who is the only one in its litter or was separated from its mom early, there are still steps you can take to ensure your kitty is properly socialized. Touch is very important for young kittens, so be sure to spend regular amounts of time petting and cuddling your new fur friend and give them your undivided attention. 

Get your kitten accustomed to being handled by touching their paws, tail, ears, etc. Use a soothing, calming tone during these bonding sessions. Be sure to avoid raising your voice or yelling when you’re upset with your kitten as this may encourage anxious behavior. 

Also, it’s common for kittens to engage in rough play where they mimic hunting and stalking behaviors. After all, they’re natural-born predators! This behavior is cute when their pounces are light and their bites are tiny. But many cats continue this behavior into adulthood and the scratching and biting can become unpleasant, to say the least. 

Be proactive; teach your kitten that it’s okay to play rough with objects but not hands and feet. Nurture your kitten’s killer instincts with consistent play time but redirect it away from people and onto interactive toys that they can stalk and chase.

Take Care Of Their Health

I strongly recommend finding a reputable veterinarian before bringing your new kitten home. Even if your kitty already has their vaccinations, the sooner you connect with your veterinarian, the easier it will be to acclimate your new cat to the routine of regular wellness checks. 

Your vet can also be an invaluable resource as you decide what food your kitten needs and what steps to take to prevent flea and tick issues

Let’s be honest, veterinary care can become expensive. And for good reason, our pet’s health and wellness are of utmost importance. Consider getting pet insurance for your new kitten. 

While it’s a personal choice that requires some research, it’s a decision worth looking into that can help you avoid hefty vet bills. Check out my blog post where I explain which pet insurance is best.

The Tail End

Bringing home a brand-new kitten is a lot of work but it’s also one of life’s purest joys! With the right preparation, you and your new fur family will be on your way to a life-long bond.

Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert and influencer with over 30 years of experience in the industry. She's helped millions of pet parents provide the best care at every stage of their pet’s life.

Her blog, Pet Living with Kristen Levine has been featured in Pop Sugar, Good Housekeeping, New York Times, USA Today, and more.

She's also the founder of FWV Fetching, the first marketing agency exclusively serving pet and animal health companies.

Her early work with the SPCA led her to a lifelong career in the pet industry, advocating for pet adoption and rescue as well as for pets and their parents here on her blog and in the media.

She’s frequently booked on satellite media tours and national shows, like FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, and Daytime, to talk about pet trends and new products.

Insanely passionate about pets since she was a little girl, Kristen has had more than 30 pets in her lifetime — including dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, a horse, a gerbil, mice, and chickens!

Today she lives in Florida with her dog Tulip, cat Olivia, and husband Paul.

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