Kitten Care 101: Adopting a Cat for the First Time

Kitten care is, for the most part, all fun, games, and cuteness, but what about the parts that nobody tells you? For my story on adopting a cat for the first time, read on…

So, you want to adopt a cat? Or, perhaps you’ve already adopted your first kitten and are thinking, “what now?”. Well, over these past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know my first adopted cat, and we’ve certainly had a blast.

Cats are notoriously easier to care for than dogs, and I speak from experience there. That said, we can’t forget that kittens are playful, mischevious, and certainly need mental stimulation. So, for my story on adopting a kitten, as well as some tips and tricks for looking after your first cat, read on…

Arthur the Cat

Our Story: Meet Arthur…

I can’t really start this post any other way, other than introducing the newest member of my family, Arthur. He was found in cardboard box outside a council flat, alongside his mother and four sisters. Now, he lives with my boyfriend and I, as comfy and loved as any cat can be.

As the most adventurous and friendly of his litter, Arthur was put up for adoption before the girls, on his own. The others went to new homes in pairs; we were dying to have two cats, so had our eyes on two of the girls at the start. Then, our landlord, who was unsure about us getting a cat to begin with, urged us to stick with the one.

So, we had no choice but to go for Arthur, and boy were we happy. Arthur has turned out to be the most loving and playful cat out there; he has charmed everyone he’s met so far. To hear how we got on with the adoption process, the answers are right around the corner!

What to Know Before Adopting a Cat

Pets have the amazing ability to improve our lives for the better. That said, when adopting a kitten, there are a few things you should know before taking the plunge:

Newborn Kitten Care

Newborn kitten care is something you don’t have to concern yourself with when adopting a cat. Cats Protection, and many other adoption agencies, do all the legwork here, by looking after kittens from birth.

The way the charity works is they have a number of willing volunteers to look after a litter, or a couple of cats, at a time. The charity equips the volunteers with an outdoor shelter at their home, as well as food and litter. So, when it comes to the big stuff, like potty training and feeding, your cat should already know all this before coming to you.

Adopting a Cat Checklist

Before you adopt a cat, it’s important that you run to the shops and purchase these necessities:

  • Cat litter
  • A litter tray
  • Some food
  • Food bowls and water bowl
  • Some toys, including small cuddly toys and balls
  • A bed
  • A cat carrier

You don’t have to get everything just yet, but you should make sure you have everything you need for the first couple of days. Then, once you figure out how your new family addition gets on with the food, toys, and litter, you can make changes.

For us, we had to make some alterations after a few weeks. Number one was that Arthur’s litter tray was too small and shallow, so we had to get a larger one. Also, his tummy didn’t seem to settle on the Go-Cat food we were using, so we went for a more protein-rich choice.

Finally, we’ve purchased more toys to stimulate him, including a laser pointer and a mouse on a stick, which he loves. We’ve also brought him a cat tower to keep him occupied whilst we’re at work during the day. Cats love to sleep higher up, so he really enjoys sitting here whilst we’re watching TV.

Arthur the Cat Looking at the Camera

How Easy Was the Adoption Process?

For a first experience adopting a cat, it really wasn’t difficult at all, as we were so keen to get started. Our step-by-step adoption process went as follows:

  1. Deciding you want a cat: first came the agreement that we wanted a cat, which happened between Josh and I a few months after moving in together. It’s important that you have this discussion with whoever you live with, and make sure everyone is on board.
  2. Cat or kitten: then came the decision between adopting a cat or a kitten. Kittens are more popular than cats, as many people are unwilling to take an older feline. That said, depending on your situation and how much you’ll be able to play with a kitten, you’ll have to make your decision based on this.
  3. Choose your cat: once we’d decided on a kitten, we then had to keep up-to-date with the kittens posted on the Cats Protection website. Unfortunately, we met with a number of heartbreaks when we saw kittens we loved the look of, but they were snapped up too quickly.
  4. Reserve your cat: once we’d made a solid choice, we then had to get in quick, and make a call to express our interest.
  5. Be prepared to make snap decisions: in our experience, the lady who was looking after Arthur said that he was ready to leave before the others. At this stage, we’d decided on taking two of the girls home with us, so we checked with our landlord, who said we could only take one. We then made the decision to go and visit the cats with a view to take Arthur home with us.
  6. Get the first few necessary bits and pieces: before heading there, we picked up a few necessities on the way, which I’ve mentioned above.
  7. Go and visit your cat: Arthur and his family were situated a fair distance away from us, but we made the journey after work one day to visit them. After meeting him and his sisters, who were all a delight, we were thrilled to drive away with Arthur in tow.
  8. Sign the paperwork: there and then, we were required to sign some paperwork, and take away the Cats Protection documents with us. This included some fantastic information booklets, like a kitten care sheet, some vet forms, and Arthur’s cat ID information.

My word of advice? At the end of the day, the person looking after these cats has the overall say in who adopts them. In most cases, there will be multiple people who have viewed the cats. The lady actually told us that, in a couple of cases, if the family or couple seemed too indecisive, she refused them.

So, make sure you are really sure about adopting before you do. This is a little life that you’re responsible for, and you want to make sure you’re what’s best for them.

Can I Adopt a Cat For Free?

Cats are in no shortage, that’s for sure. In fact, some news outlets announced a cat crisis this time last year, claiming that around three cats are rescued every hour! So, when it comes to adoption, I have no doubt that cats can be adopted for free.

How Much Money Does it Cost to Adopt a Cat?

In my experience, Cats Protection took a small fee from us. They charged £50 for a kitten, and £40 for a cat, so this is something you need to bear in mind before you go for it.

In all fairness, though, this really is no skin off our back. In actual fact, this fee is not limited to the purchase of the cat alone. Alongside this price, veterinary bills for the first few visits are covered, including:

  • The kitten’s first vaccinations before you even come into the picture.
  • A chip put in place, under your name, so your cat can be found if lost.
  • The kitten’s second vaccinations, alongside a health check.
  • You kitten’s neutering, as well as a final health check.
Arthur the Cat Playing

How do You Take Care of an 8 Week Old Kitten?

Now for the hard part; how do you take care of a new kitten once you’ve adopted him or her? Well, for my own experiences on looking after an adopted kitten for the first time, read on…

How Long Does it Take for a Cat to Get Used to a New Home?

In our experience, Arthur settled in right away. Almost as soon as we took him indoors and let him out of his cat carrier, he was sniffing around, exploring everywhere, and playing with his new toys. This will vary depending on the cat, but kittens are very adaptable, and as long as they have numerous sleeping areas and toys, they’ll settle down great.

Where Should Kittens Sleep at Night?

As previously mentioned, cats are extremely independent and tend to settle in right away. So, if you don’t want them to ruin your upstairs furniture and carpet, it is more than okay to shut them away downstairs at night. As long as they have multiple rooms and toys to keep them occupied, they’ll do great.

One thing to bear in mind is that cats are creatures of habit, so implementing a routine at the start is crucial. For us, we wanted to make sure we created this routine straight off the bat and, alongside our landlord’s wishes, Arthur was shut downstairs from his first night, onwards.

Although it can be heartbreaking when you hear their little cries when you close the door and go upstairs, it really is for the best. By ensuring they have this routine in their lives from the start, they’ll learn pretty quickly what they’re supposed to do.

Can a Kitten be Left Alone During the Day?

In our own experience, this is a yes. Cats sleep between 15 and 20 hours per day which means that, when you’re away at work or school, your cat will probably be asleep. As long as you make sure your cat has enough to play with, they should be fine.

When Can a Kitten Go Outside?

A kitten can go outside once they’ve been neutered, and healed from this process. By this time, if you’ve waited the correct amount of time to get their jabs and their operation, they’ll certainly be old enough.

What if I Want to Keep My Cat Indoors?

Cats require a lot of stimulation, and indoor environments can become boring and predictable for them. So, if your cat is adventurous and playful, letting them outside is advised. That said, there are a number of variables which can help you make your decision:

  • Your cat’s personality: if your cat is constantly running to the back door to get out when you take the bins out, or scratches at the door, then they’re probably yearning to explore outside. However, if they show little interest, then you may be okay to keep them indoors.
  • The outside environment: your cat will face a number of threats outside. Whether it be other, larger cats in the neighbourhood, wild creatures like foxes, or nasty people, it can be a scary world. So, if you feel your cat could be threatened pretty badly from what’s outside, perhaps keeping them in is the best option.

For us, we have only just had Arthur neutered, and are still in two minds about our next step. We have a number of outdoor threats, including a frequent bus on our road, a lot of large cats, and a huge neighbourhood fox. We’re making sure to do our research before making a decision.

If you really feel as though keeping your cat indoors is the best choice, just make sure they have a lot of stimulating toys to play with. My advice would be to buy a number of electronic playing devices, and rotate them every week or so, so that your cat doesn’t get bored and the environment remains unpredictable.

What’s more, by ensuring they have at least two or more rooms to roam around in, they should be alright. You can also get outdoor nets to let them have the run of outside, without the fear of them getting out. Just do your research, and make sure your cat is stimulated.

Arthur the Cat Sleeping on a Bed

Veterinary Information for Your New Kitten

I’ve already touched upon the fact that your cat’s first veterinary bills are covered by Cats Protection. So, this next part is just the information you’ll need to ensure you follow through with these all-important processes:

Kitten Vaccinations

Before you purchase your new cat, they should have already had their first vaccinations. So, it’s then up to you to book them in for their second set of jabs about a month after their adoption. For this visit, you’ll have to travel to the vet they’re registered with, from their first home.

After these second jabs, you are free to take your new cat to whichever vet you choose from then on; somewhere closer to your home. Then, once your cat has had his or her first two vaccinations, they are only required to come back once a year for their top-ups.

Fleeing and Worming

Your cat needs fleeing and worming around every three months. The vet clinics do sell the amenities for this, but it’s definitely cheaper to purchase these products online. We went on Amazon for ours, and found that they had everything we needed in the same brands that the vets sold. For more advice on how to go about the fleeing and worming process, click here.

The Neutering Process

On adopting your cat, Cats Protection gets you to sign a document saying you agree to have your new kitten neutered when they’re ready. With the huge influx of cats pouring through adoption centre doors, this initiative is aimed at controlling the situation.

So, how did we know when to get it sorted?

Well, during Arthur’s first health check in December 2019, about a month after we purchased him, we asked when he’d be due for his neutering. Neutering not only reduces your cat’s urges – shall we say – but it also stops them from growing so quickly. So, the vet told us that it largely depended on him; how big he’s gotten, and how prevalent his primal urges were.

About a month after this vet visit, Arthur’s urges were very apparent, so we rang up Cats Protection to see if early February was a good time to get him snipped. They agreed, and we picked a good vet nearby to take him to.

In a few day’s time, Josh took Arthur to the vets before work one morning, and he was ready to pick up that afternoon. When I got home from work, you wouldn’t have even noticed he’d had any sort of operation that day; he was running around like normal.

The few things you need to bear in mind after the operation is:

  • If your cat is licking the wound obsessively, pop the little cone around their neck, which will be provided by the vet.
  • Keep an eye out for if the wound looks protruding, swollen, or red. If so, your cat will need to be seen by the vet again.
  • After the operation, your cat may cough a little for a few days. This is due to the throat tube they use when your cat is under.
Arthur Enjoying a Nap

Arthur Says Bye, For Now…

So, those are all the details of my first experience adopting a cat. This has certainly been a long post, but we’ve learned a lot over these past months, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss a thing!

Cats Protection were so helpful, from beginning to end, and really made the experience as easy as possible. We are so happy with how loving and adorable Arthur is, and I will update you with any more kitten adventures, as and when.

Disclaimer: Please note that these are simply my experiences with adopting a cat for the first time. Arthur has been a sheer delight to welcome home, and we’ve had almost no trouble with him over these past months.

However, all cats are different, and I’m no expert, so please get professional advice before adopting a pet. After all, animals are a blessing, and we must make sure we give them the best homes possible.

Do you have any experience in adopting a cat? If so, I’d love to hear how you got on, and if you agree/disagree with anything I’ve written. Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Valorie says:

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    1. Joanna Journals says:

      Thank you very much for reading, Valorie! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂


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