Please note that some posts contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links Find out More

How to Adopt Kittens: 10 Kitten Adoption Do’s & Don’ts

by | May 18, 2021 | Cat Behavior & Care | 33 comments

Ask Amy Shojai: How to Deal With Ki...
Ask Amy Shojai: How to Deal With Kitten Play Aggression

How to Adopt Kittens: 10 Kitten Adoption Do’s & Don’ts

Kittens are rarely in short supply. With the current rash of kittens, summer break on the horizon, and the pandemic easing, kitten adoption may be in your future. But there’s more to kitten adoption than bringing home your baby cat. Maybe you’ll want to foster a needy kitten (tips here). Learn how to adopt kittens, what to do–and what NOT to do–in this kitten adoption guide.

kitten adoption

KITTEN ADOPTION 101

It’s kitten season! Is a new fur-kid in your future? You’d think kitten care would be easy–just love ’em and feed ’em and listen to ’em purr, right? But more goes into proper care than plopping food in a bowl and setting up a litter box.

Adopting kittens too early often means kittens bite and claw more than those who have been kitty-corrected by Mom and siblings. They also may be fearful or less tolerant of other cats. They don’t understand all the proper feline etiquette of the social structure.

kitten adoptionKITTEN ADOPTION & KITTEN SOCIALIZATION?

Dog people know about the socialization of puppies, but kittens also benefit from socialization–except it comes WAY EARLIER in cat babies. The prime kitten socialization period falls between 2-7 weeks (yikes!) which means rescuers, shelter personnel and breeders are vital to the future well-being of cats and how they look at their world. Socialization teaches kittens what’s safe (other cats, dogs, VETERINARIANS, carriers, cars) and a positive normal part of their lives. It also teaches what kittens should fear.

Proper socialization not only includes interaction with other cats (and also dogs, if you have both–get intro tips here!) but positive handling by different people during this critical period. That ensures the baby becomes well adjusted, confident, and emotionally healthy. I’ve got all the kitten must-knows in my COMPLETE KITTEN CARE, but you don’t need the book to get started. Before you adopt, review these 10 do’s and don’ts to ensure your kitten love lasts a lifetime.

adopting kittens

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

10 DO’s & DON’Ts OF KITTEN ADOPTION

1. Don’t adopt kittens too early.

Adopting kittens too young bite and claw more than those corrected by Mom and siblings. They also may be fearful or less tolerant of other cats because they don’t understand proper feline etiquette. Cat babies should stay with siblings and Mom for at least 12 to 16 weeks. Learn more about kitten development here. That’s not always possible, though, and if you find yourself in that situation, it means you must be “cat-mom” and teach Junior claw, potty and other manners. It can help enormously to adopt two kittens at once, so they teach each other bite limits and target each other in play instead of biting your ankles.

2. Do see a vet ASAP.

Kittens seem indestructible but get sick easily. A vet’s early diagnosis improves the chances of a speedy recovery especially after you first adopt kittens. Screening tests and preventive care — vaccinations, flea prevention, worm medications — save lives and ensure your kitten grows to healthy adulthood. Learn more about FIP and cats here.

kitten adoption

Newborn Kittens are blind and deaf, and use cries to call for mom and help.

3. Don’t bathe a kitten until it is at least 4 weeks old (12 to 16 weeks is better).

Very young kittens can’t regulate body temperature and can become chilled from a bath. When you do bathe the kitten, use only kitten-safe products — adult cat or dog products can be toxic. Introduce combs and brushes immediately to longhair kittens to prevent grooming problems later on.

adopting kittens4. Do “fix” kittens.

Spaying and neutering prevent pregnancy, urine spraying and health issues such as breast cancer. Female kittens can get pregnant as early as 4 months old, so don’t delay. Many shelters and professional breeders spay or neuter kittens at 8 to 12 weeks old (or once they weigh 2 lbs.) because babies recover more quickly than older cats.

adopting kittens5. Don’t rush kitten introductions.

Tiny kittens get lost or find trouble if not confined to a kitten-safe room. When you adopt kittens, let the new baby get used to one room so he knows the location of his litter box, bed, scratch objects, food bowl, and toys. When you can’t watch him, confine him in his safe room. Even healthy-looking kittens could be contagious and the vet may recommend quarantine for up to 30 days. Resident pets accept new ones more quickly when only part of the house has been “invaded.” They can meet with sniffs and paw pats under the door until it’s safe for a nose-to-nose greeting. Learn how to introduce kittens to other cats here, and how to read kitten tail talk to stay ahead of your furry wonder.

naming kittens adoption6. Do kitten proof the house.

Kittens explore with paw pats, licking and biting. Chomping or clawing electrical cords or poisonous plants, swallowing string toys or hiding inside the clothes dryer can be deadly. Invest in knee pads and crawl around on your hands and knees for a kitten’s-eye view of potential dangers.

Orphan Kitten adopting kittens

Hand-raised newborn kittes need to be fed every 4 hours or so with an appropriate kitten milk replacement.

7. Don’t feed kittens milk, as it can cause diarrhea.

Queen-replacement milk is available, but most babies eat solid food by 4 weeks old. Tiny tummies can’t eat enough to sustain in one meal, so feed three or four small meals daily until the kitten is 6 months old and twice daily thereafter. Monitor your kitten for a healthy appetite.

8. Do train your kitten.

Routinely handle her ears, paws, and mouth so she learns it’s not scary from you or the veterinarian. Make carriers fun playpens by tossing toys inside or turn them into napping spots so she’ll accept being in the carrier for visits to the vet or grandma’s. Listen to your kitten to choose a name–looks and/or behavior offer hints.  Learn how to stop loud mouth kittens from meowing too much.

9. Don’t declaw kittens.

Instead, train from the beginning with lots of legal scratch objects. Catch her in the act of scratching the right objects and reward with praise, treats or toys. Start trimming claws when you first get your kitten — one nail a day with your own clippers is fine — so she knows this is normal. That way if she forgets claw-training, she won’t damage property or skin with blunt claws.

10. Don’t let kittens outside…

until they’ve received all preventive vaccinations, microchip identification and parasite treatments — and you have a safe outdoor sanctuary. It’s nearly impossible to kitten proof the great outdoors. Instead, leash-train your kitten to keep her safe and/or make the indoors so interesting with toys, cat trees, and your love that the kitten never misses going out.

(Bonus) 11. Do let the kitten pick YOU!

My Facebook friend Eliyahu offered this great comment and gave me permission to add to the list:

Don’t pick out the kitten. Let it pick you. It’s easy to be attracted to the one you think is the cutest or the prettiest, but that may not be the right one for you. I’ve always gone to the shelter with a couple of hours free time when getting a kitten or cat. Our shelter back in Washington had a big cat room with all the cats together. I’d sit in a chair and let the kittens come to me, then see how each interacted with me and which one wanted the most to be with me.

Here, there isn’t a cat room, so I had the worker bring kittens one at a time and played with them. The prettiest one turned out to be skittish around people, another just sat in the corner and stared. Finally, about eight kittens later, she brought one in that walked up, sniffed at me, climbed up on my lap and made it clear to us that she’d chosen me to be her human. A year later, Cenerentola still spends much of her time climbing on my lap and shoulders or sleeping by my feet when she’s not playing with the other cat.

What else have I missed? Are there other DO’s and DON’Ts that are important to include when planning your new kitten’s gotcha day? Please share!

NEW-KITTEN-COVER-lorez

All the Kitten Must-Knows!

YouTube Button

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

33 Comments

  1. Franny Syufy

    I can vouch for “don’t adopt too early.” The majority of problems we’ve had with Jaspurr and Joey are because we brought them home at 6.5 weeks. I had planned to wait until they were at least 8 weeks. However the *woman* whose cat mothered them (and likely several dozen litters before) called the rescue gal who was my contact, and said “get these kittens out of here! They’re driving me crazy.” I found out later that they were abused by the young kids in the family. The boys would pick up kittens and hurl them at the other kittens. And the sweet little 5 YO girl would pick one up by the neck and carry him swinging back and forth.

    Jaspurr, now 9, still has a habit of “nursing” on his foreleg for comfort, and Joey is terribly timid of strangers. But they are both loving kitties and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

  2. amyshojai

    That really HISSES me off, that your kitties had to go through such things! They “learned” an important lesson, not to trust…how fortunately that you came along. Franny, after reading this awful history, it’s amazing Jaspurr and Joey are as well adjusted as they are.

  3. Franny Syufy

    They both still have their issues. Jaspurr is uber-alpha, and I think he takes Jenny’s calico-sassiness as a threat to his standing. But Jack the Ripper could come to our house and Jaspurr would be his best friend, while Joey, Billy, and Jenny ran for cover.

    Gotta love them!

  4. Peggy Frezon

    Great point to get the kitten used to being handled, so that she will be more comfortable at the vet’s. I can’t imagine not wanting to handle and cuddle a kitten all day!

    • Amy Shojai

      Thanks for visiting, Peggy. Yes, cuddling kittens is a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it! *vbg*

  5. The Swiss Cats

    Great advice ! Don’t adopt too early and do socialization teaching on time are so important ! Purrs

  6. Aimable Cats

    I’ve raised a few kindles of kittens from feral queens. Some of them I waited too long to get them used to humans. Others I had on my lap and loving it. There was one day with one litter where mom came up on my lap too, and the kittens were nursing up there. Blanche was more interested in my lap than in the food I was bringing, and her brother Simon would look at me with a Don’t go! look when I went back to the house.

  7. Robin

    Great article! This is so spot on. There is a lot to know about kittens before you bring one into your life. I think that a lot of people don’t realize that.

    • Amy Shojai

      It’s no different than prepping for a human baby…you need to educate yourself first, or you’re always scrambling to play catch-up.

  8. Susan and the gang from Life with Dogs and Cats

    All great points. Four years ago I adopted 2 kittens — my first cats ever. I read a half dozen books and did all the things you suggest, plus I had the added challenge of introducing them to 2 dogs, which required a very slow and careful introduction. It took about three months to get everyone settled. Today, everyone gets along.

    –Purrs (and wags) from Life with Dogs and Cats

    • Amy Shojai

      When Magic came to us as a puppy, we took a lot of time to introduce him to our cat. It took her over 9 months before she’d stay in the same room. Now she’s 18 and the boss of him and the new cat.

  9. Sadie

    It’s been so long since I’ve had a kitten in the house I forgot everything that’s involved!

  10. MyDogLikes

    Lucas certainly picked us! He was returned twice from owners who didn’t take the time to get to know him before taking him back to the shelter. They actually claimed that he didn’t like dogs HA! He is the sweetest, most lovable, cat (who thinks he is a dog) in the world!

  11. Jodi Jarvis-Therrian

    Great advice !! Thanks for sharing purrrrfect ideas !

  12. Ryan

    Great points! We actually take our kittens to the plant nursery in town and let people play with them to get them used to strangers. Our kittens are definitely NOT shy now! lol

  13. Maureen

    great info! I love cats but I am allergic. Your post is really insightful and I will share with an adoption pet agency I work with. Thanks!

    • Amy Shojai

      Sorry you’re allergic that’s a bummer. There are steps to take (AllerpetC helps) but it’s hard to manage.

  14. Karyl

    Definite yup on the kittens adopted too early part! Our wee shelter baby was only 10 weeks old when we brought her home, so we know she can’t have been with momma long enough. She had to learn not to nip, and she was obsessively trying to nurse on everything for a while.

    Now she’s almost 9 months old, learning for the most part not to nip (though she forgets when we go to trim her nails – I tried to start her early on that and she STILL hates it) and sort of sometimes learning how to sit not-quite-still in a lap. LOL

    • Amy Shojai

      Has it been that long, she’s 9 months now? Wow, kittenhood sure is fleeting.

      • Karyl

        Hard to believe, isn’t it? If you look at my latest blog post I managed to get a bit of video during a VERY short period where she actually sat semi-still. LOL She’s getting to be a pretty big girl but it’s so weird because she’s got an adult cat body now, but with the baby face still stuck on it.

  15. Derek Dewitt

    I want to get a kitten soon. I like your point about kitten-proofing the house. I’ll be sure to move any electrical cords.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Feline Friday, ps: 10 Kitten Care Do's & Don'ts « Amy Shojai's Blog | How to Care Tips for Cats - [...] Read more: Feline Friday, ps: 10 Kitten Care Do's & Don'ts « Amy Shojai's Blog [...]
  2. Cat Colds: How to Cure Cat Colds & Upper Respiratory Congestion - […] While we often fall in love with that poor little sick shelter kitten, an upper respiratory infection (cat cold)…
  3. Kitten Litter Box Training: Learn How to Potty Train Cats - […] on your new kitten adoption! Most cats come pre-programmed to use the potty but you’ll need help if the…
  4. How Pets Play, Why Cats Play, and What Dog Play Means - […] Karma has decided “riding” a towel dragged across the floor is great fun. Kitty sledding, anyone? Keep in mind…
  5. Cat Introductions: Kitten to Cat Introductions & Introducing Cats - […] Kitten Care made such a positive difference. The book covers lots more of course about choosing, adoption options, caring for,…
  6. Mothers Day Gift Book Contest: Enter to Win Kitten Book Give Away! - […] KITTEN CARE is your go-to guide for kittens information on kittens health, new kitten care, and buying a kitten or…
  7. How to Adopt A Perfect Shelter Cat: National Adopt A Shelter Cat Month - […] Age matters. While space concerns force shelters to adopt out kittens as early as possible, a shelter cat will…
  8. Tips for Adopt A Cat Month and Adopt a Shelter Cat Month - […] If you adopt a kitten younger than this, you should either have a friendly adult cat in the house…
  9. Kitten Development! Learn About Newborn Kitten Development - […] Adopting a pair of kittens can be a good option, so the babies wrestle and play with each other…
  10. Fostering Kittens? Kittens Thrive with Training, Socialization, & LoveAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] Yes, kittens (and cats) CAN be trained! I know that I’m preaching to the choir. Never doubt that you…

Categories:

Recent Posts

Old Pets? 7 Cheap DIY Help for Old Fogey Dogs & Cats

Like older pets, I also move a wee bit slower than in my youth. Shadow-Pup helps keep me active and young, as well as chasing and engaging the more mature Karma-Kat. Aging dogs and senior cats rock!

I’ll admit that senior pets have a special place in my heart, even if they suffer from senility. Maybe in part because I can more easily relate to them. Do you love old pets? Are you ready for some old dog and/or old cat love? Oh, here are 7 cheap DIY tips to help your old pets.

Counting Thanksgiving Blessings, the Pet Writer Way in 2022

Time for my annual Count My Blessings post. The past year has meant change, change, and more change, and that’s good and also challenging. But some things never change…I’m thankful to you—yes, those who read this blog, my newspaper column, the cat book lovers, and the dog book lovers, and folks who have “adopted” my thriller series. And those who offered awesome applause and support any of the other venues mentioned…

8 Common Old Dog Health Conditions & What To Do

When November rolls around each year we take time to celebrate the many blessings we’ve enjoyed, including our old dogs. Pet people, of course, give thanks for their animal companions, and November traditionally is Adopt A Senior Pet Month. Do you share your life with an old fogey dog? Maybe your old girl dog leaks urine when lying down—is that common, and what can you do about it? My current doggy companion, Shadow-Pup, has reached teenager status. Bravo-Dawg lost his life to cancer before becoming a senior doggy. But his predecessor, Magic, still lives on in my heart. During his final years, we battled several old dog health conditions.

Celebrating Old Dogs: What Is Old?

Each November, we celebrate old dogs during their “official” month. But when is your dog considered old? We love our senior citizen dogs for the special joy they bring every day. But once a year, we celebrate old dogs during November Adopt A Senior Pet Month.

What is considered “old?” There are individual differences between pets, just as there are for people. While one person may act, look and feel “old” at fifty-five, another fifty-five-year-old remains active with a youthful attitude and appearance. Aging is influenced by a combination of genetics, environment, and health care over a lifetime. The oldest dog on record was an Australian Cattle Dog who lived for twenty-nine years and five months…

I’ve written about how to care for an elderly dog before, but this post addresses how to know when your canine friends become old dogs.

Celebrating Old Cats: What Is Old?

Every year, I write about our old cat needs. While Karma-Kat has just reached middle age, cats age at different rates. When do you consider your cat old? Is your old cat a senior kitty by age 8, or 13, or…when? For cats, what is old? Here’s how the experts define ‘old age’ in cats…

Sweet Pet Poison: Your Guide to Cat & Dog Antifreeze Poisoning

Pets often get into poisons by accidentally eating the wrong plant, or other dangerous toxins. With the pending change in the weather and when temperatures fall, cat and dog antifreeze poisoning becomes a danger.

You’ll find antifreeze in surprising places, not just in the garage. For instance, the liquid in snow globes can poison pets when the toy breaks. Not long ago, social media shared many stories of antifreeze poisoning cats from the liquid in broken snow globes. The liquid tastes sweet, so it’s very appealing for sweet-loving dogs to drink or lick up spills on the garage floor. Puppies are the worst, eating anything that doesn’t move faster than they do. Cats also are at risk when they walk through puddles and lick/groom the liquid off their body. Here’s what you need to know to keep your pets safe–and maybe save their life!

Pet Cancer Awareness Month

Cancer. We whisper the word, fear the consequences, and our hearts break when cancer touches loved ones, including furry family members. But according to veterinary specialists, cancer is the most treatable—and curable!—of any chronic pet disease.

November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month. We lost our Bravo-Dawg in the winter after a valiant fight, and you can read the first post here. The amazing folks at Morris Animal Foundation address many kinds of cancer and have funded numerous studies and even trained researchers to continue the search for the cure.

According to Dr. David Haworth, president and CEO of Morris, “One in 2 dogs will develop cancer, and 1 in 4 dogs will die of the disease.  The Foundation leverages the best minds in veterinary medicine and science to work on understanding the cause (funding over 40 studies on cancer in dogs at any given time…).” Read more about what you need to know …

Pet Veteran Love: 8 Reasons to Adopt Senior Cats & Dogs

There’s a good chance if you visited your local shelter today, you’d meet a pet who prefers couch cuddling to counter surfing, knows that shoes aren’t for chewing and is eagerly waiting to show you how to slow down and soak up life. I’m talking about senior pets!

November is #AdoptASeniorPetMonth, so if there is room in your 🏠 and ❤️, now is the perfect time to head to the shelter to find a grey-muzzled pet with plenty of love left to give!

How to Read Dog Poop: Normal Dog Poop to Dog Poop Problems

How to Read Dog Poop: Normal Dog Poop to Dog Poop Problems

Everyone who shares a home (and heart) with a dog at some point must deal with dog poop problems. Learning what’s normal, to yellow colored stool, or learning how serious blood in dog’s stool diarrhea may be helps get your dog help. While it may not be the most appealing topic, learning about your dog’s “creativity” offers important insight into his health.

Not only his food, but also your dog’s environment and emotional state, affects how his body works. Fear, anxiety, and stress can change a dog’s behavior, but also can disrupt digestion and cause enteritis. That in turn affects his poop.

Recognizing healthy elimination helps pet owners alert to abnormal eliminations. That way, when necessary, you can get your dog prompt medical help to diagnose and treat problems before they become worse.

Visit Amy's Website

Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

On Demand Writer Coaching

AmyShojai.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com http://amazon.com/.

Awards

Memberships

Privacy Preference Center