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A couple months ago, my sister took in a stray cat who turned out to be pregnant (poor thing - wasn't even a year old yet). She only had three kittens, and I've offered to take one of them (my mother is taking another, and my sister is keeping the third, so they've all got homes, fortunately).

I'll be getting her sometime in March, when she'll be around 14 weeks old. I've already got an adult cat, and he's happy and healthy, so I know how to take care of a cat, but I'm not sure what else I need to know to take care of a kitten. Any advice? I plan on keeping Bruce (existing cat) and the new kitten separated until she gets a bit bigger and I'm sure they get along (I've read a few guides to introducing cats and kittens, and I'm not expecting them to be best friends), but I'm not sure what else to do. Will she be able to eat the same food as my adult cat (Wellness canned)? Should I plan on keeping her confined to a fairly small area, like a puppy, until litter-trained, or is that unnecessary? Any tips for keeping her from scratching the bejeezus out of my couch (declawing isn't an option)? When should I have her spayed?

Really, any advice at all will be greatly appreciated! I'm looking forward to her arrival, but I've never had a kitten and don't really know what to expect.
 

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I got my Lacey spayed at about 6 months. Until about a year old, most people feed some type of kitten food since their nutritional demands and energy levels are higher. To litterbox train, you should place the box in the isolation room you will be using. For most cats this is instinctual behavior, but if not, you may have a few accidents in one confined area and can work to draw the kittens attention to the litterbox within a confined space until the behavior is repeated consistently.

The only other advice I have is kittens play with everything! Lacey plays with anything dangling, pants drawstrings, shoe laces, wires, etc. It took her a good long while to understand the meaning of the word No!

Once you are ready to let her out of the isolation room, you will need to kitten proof your home. Lacey is not a big furniture scratcher, luckily. She did it a few times and was told no, and she got the message right away. However, I do have a bathmat she's made her own. She loves scratching it up and ripping the strands out of it. I figured if I have to replace it every 3 mos or so and that's the worse of it, I'm getting off pretty easily.
 

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She should be litterbox trained when only a few weeks old, so that shouldn't be an issue. At her age, the introduction should go pretty smoothly. Cats can be spayed as early as two months old, as long as they're at least two pounds.

For the scratching, if you have access to her before you adopt her, get her used to having her paws handled, and start clipping her nails at a young age. That, and access to a couple of good cat scratchers should take care of the furniture.

They have endless energy, so be prepared for that. You can feed her kitten or all-stages food.
 

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The one time we took care of a 4-week old kitten for a night, he used the litterbox immediately without any encouragement at all. I had never had kittens before either, so I was pretty amazed by that. They just get it.
 

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Your kitten should already be using the litter-box by the time you get her, but you will probably want to add at least one more to your home. Also, you will need to make sure that she can get in and out of it easily; I had a small shallow box and a "step" (more like a sturdy box) for the larger box when my kittens were that age. I bought a big walk-in dome box later on because Simone is turning into a big cat, and now I just use the small one whenever one of the cats is sick or has surgery. Lastly, small kittens aren't supposed to have clumping litter because they might eat it.

Diet-wise, kittens should be allowed to eat as much as they want, so you will have to feed them several meals and/or leave a little kibble out. The more canned you can put in her diet the better, but you can't leave canned out for an extended period of time. It might be a good idea to feed another brand in addition to wellness so she doesn't become picky :)

You will need to kitten proof your house like dweamgoil said. I had to do things like picking all wires up off the floor, put in outlet protectors, block access behind the fridge and oven, remind my flatmate to keep the toilet lid down, remove all plants (fake ones were subject to chewing too), keep all chemicals/cleaners put away, block the fireplace, etc... Basically kittens are tiny, and they can squeeze through 1 1/2" gaps between the floorboard and cabinets (learned that the hard way!) Lastly, like others mentioned, kittens are very high energy! I would suggest wearing her out with playtime so she won't be a nuisance to your other cat.

Here's a picture of Pumpkin being naughty at ~9 weeks:



*That tree's about 6 1/2 ft tall*
 

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swimkris: I love that picture of Pumpkin in the tree!

The other posters have all given you good advice. As for the spay, the earlier the better. Young kittens recover much quicker from a spay than do older kittens or cats. Muffs and her littermates were all spayed at 10 weeks. They had the surgery in the morning and, by the afternoon, they were all running around like nothing had happened. I took her home a few days later. So, if possible, you might consider having her spayed before you bring her home. That way, you won't have any stops and re-starts with the introduction.

Also, most of the time it's much easier to introduce a young kitten to an adult cat than to introduce two adult cats. So, if you follow the normal procedures, you will likely find that will go relatively smoothly.

Congratulations on your soon-to-be new kitten!
 

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Thank you all - that was really helpful! I'll check with my sister about the nail-clipping and early spaying. Might start kitten-proofing now, too. Thanks!
 

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I introduced my new kitten to my existing cat when she was around 7 months... she was unspayed. Turns out most of the difficulty that I was having was due to the kitten going into heat, which drove my existing cat nuts. It's been a month since we spayed the new cat, and introductions have been going a bit more smoothly.

Just be wary that if you don't spay the kitten before 6-8 months, she could go into heat and it could cause some issues with your resident cat.
 
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