If you’ve decided that you’re going to introduce a kitten into your family, you should learn a few basic care items before you go looking for one. We’ve pulled together the best tips we could find on doing so, and pulled them into one piece.

How to Take Care of a Kitten

1. Naming Your Kitten

It’s important to find the right name for your kitty reasonably soon after you bring her home. You’ll be addressing her, training her to come when you call to her, and using her name in conversation.

If you need help naming your kitten, here are a few thoughts.

    • Pick a name everyone in the family can pronounce.
    • Think about the kitten’s personality and markings — These may be great clues for a name.
  • Consider your favorite literature or films for name sources.

2. Feeding Your Kitten

Since kittens are going through the most explosive growth period of their lives, they need to eat a ton of food to keep up with their energy needs. This means you’ll probably be feeding your kitten three to four meals per day, ideally.

Kittens have a greater need for protein, certain vitamins, minerals, and amino acids than adult cats do. It’s important to make sure that the food you’re giving your kitten is designed for their systems, and has those added nutrients. Once they reach one year of age, cats can safely transition to adult cat formulas.

Because your kitten needs high protein, amino acids, and other nutrients in their diets, it’s recommended that you don’t settle for grocery store or generic brands of kitten food. These brands typically are cheaply priced because they’re cheaply made. But check the labels.

If you see kitten formula that states that it’s been approved by the American Association of Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, then you’re good to go.

Young kittens do well free feeding, meaning that their dishes have food in them at all times. However, once your kitten hits about six to eight months old, your kitten should transition to a set schedule of three meals per day. Do this scheduled around your own to help everyone in the household sleep better.

3. Grooming Your Kitten

Different types of cats will need different grooming techniques. Short-haired cats, for example, won’t require as much brushing as long-haired cats like Persians. You can look online for tips for various grooming techniques that apply to different hair lengths on cats.

4. Cleaning Your Kitten’s Ears

When it comes to grooming, most cats are pretty good about getting things clean. But sometimes cats, and especially kittens, struggle with cleaning their ears, and they may need your help.

    • Help your kitten relax by petting her or cuddling her until she is calm.
    • If she refuses to let you work with her ears, wrap her in a towel or blanket to gently restrain her to avoid injury and scratching.
    • Use a cat specific ear-cleaning solution purchased from a trusted pet store or your veterinarian. Drop only the recommended number of drops into the ear, one at a time.
    • Gently massage the cleaner into the ear for 20 to 40 seconds, and then let your cat shake it out.
  • Use a moist cotton ball to gently remove the wax dislodged by the cleaner.

5. Exercising Your Kitten

Kittens are full of energy, like all children. They need time to sleep, of course, but they also need lots of playtime, both with others assisting and free-play. Cat teasers and balls to throw are great toys to get your kitten started on a regular exercise schedule.

The best times to play with your kitten are about 60 to 90 minutes before you want your kitten to take a nap break or go to bed. Engage them with a cat teaser, playing fetch — yes, some cats do this naturally — or other high energy games. This will help them exercise, bond with you, and get out all of that insane energy that wants to keep you up at night.

After playtime, be sure to give your kitten a treat or meal. This works with their natural predator instincts that align with pouncing, attacking, batting, and other hunting skills they use while playing with you.

6. Other Basic Care Tips for Your Kitten

    • Have the phone number of a great vet handy in case your kitten shows any signs of illness or injury.
  • Spend lots of time with your kitten. Give her time to roam and free-play, but also give her lots of time with you, in your hands, on your lap, playing together, and cuddling.

Time to Bring Home Your Kitten

Now that you know how to take care of a kitten, you should find a shelter or adoption agency where you can find a fun-loving kitten in need of a good home.