Bringing your new Siberian kitten home for the first time is exciting but also makes you worry. You want to make sure you have everything ready and set for your new baby but not sure where to start and what to buy. Here are the few things and tips that will make a homecoming of your kitten easy and stress-free.
Before bringing your kitten home, make sure your home is “kitten-proof”. Set up a “safe room”, a room where kitten can live for the first few days. Buy all necessary supplies including food, litter, toys, and carrier. Find a good veterinarian and make a “meet and greet” appointment.
Prepare your home for a kitten
Kittens are curious by nature hence why it is important to keep anything that could harm your kitten, locked up and hidden.
- Lock all household cleaners and chemicals. These can range from detergents, soaps, paints, disinfectants, antifreeze, fertilizers insect bait and other similar products. These can prove to be fatal to your pet so make sure they are locked away from their reach. In some cases, you really need to put a lock on the cabinet as Siberians are very smart and curious and can easily open doors and drawers.
- Protect your valuable belongings. Cats are notoriously known for breaking things while playing. Siberian kittens are very agile and would most likely find a way onto your shelves and tables. It’s important to store any breakable items away to safeguard your valuables and prevent any dangerous accidents.
- Close Toilet lids. Kittens are curious creature and toilet is one of the things that attract their attention. If you do not want your cat to consume toilet water, close the lid. Another reason is that if the lid falls down it could potentially trap your cat within the toilet bowl.
- Remove all plants poisonous to cats. There are a variety of indoor and outdoor plants that can be highly toxic to cats if consumed. The most common and deadly are lilies. They are extremely toxic to cats and can cause acute kidney failure. Other poisonous plants that are frequently found in our homes and backyards are tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, sago plants, kalanchoe, aloe, poinsettia and dieffenbachia.
- Put away medicines. Some human medication can pose a serious threat to cats. One of the most commonly used pain killers – Aspirin, Tylenol, Advil – are poisonous to cats and even one tablet can seriously harm or even kill an adult cat. Lock away vitamins, antidepressants, cold medication and other over-the-counter and prescription medication, somewhere where a kitten cannot get into.
- Keep human food away. Not many people are aware but some human foods can be poisonous to cats, including alcohol, chocolate, coffee, and garlic. Be careful not to leave it on the table as your kitty may try to eat it while you are not looking.
- Remove household hazards. Make sure your kitten does not have easy access to garbage cans. Common household items such as dental floss, hair ties, and rubber bands are very attractive to kittens but pose an extreme danger if swallowed. Be mindful of small kids’ toys and craft items such as pompons, small buttons, foam toys, and anything that can be chewed on, swallowed, or wrapped around the neck.
- Secure electrical cords. Some kittens would never pay attention to electrical cords and some kittens find them irresistible. If they chew through the protective coating, they can get electrocuted. Also, you do not want to keep replacing the damaged cord all the time. If you can, go wireless. If you have some electrical devices sitting unused, get rid of them or hide. Block access if you can. Alternatively, encase the wires in the plastic wraps, hide them under the cable protectors, use cord keepers, and bitter sprays.
Purchase basic cat necessities
Before you bring your new baby home be sure to buy basic supplies.
- Food. Ask your breeder what food your kitten is currently eating. It is important to keep your baby on the same diet for the first few days/weeks before gradually introducing anything new. Use pumpkin and probiotics to make transitioning to a new diet smooth and easy. There are many options regarding what to feed your cat. There are raw food, wet (canned) food, and dry kibbles.
- Raw food diet. This is best choice for your kitty. You can make our own raw food or you can buy raw food from the pet stores. Make sure you buy a freshly made pack (look at packed/manufactured date, no “best before date”). Most cats won’t eat anything older than 2-3 months.
Our kittens are on a raw diet, exclusively. We buy high quality meat from local raw pet food companies, such as Back to Basics. Kittens love their Chicken Meal and Chicken & Beef formulas.
- Wet (canned) food. If you cannot feed raw, the next best choice is canned food. Give preference to limited ingredients and food without grains. Check the first 5 ingredients on the list and avoid peas starches, gums, and other fillers.
- Over the years, we tried many different brands. We had a hard time finding a high quality wet food that cats would love. Here are the brands I would recommend, based on our experience: Almo Nature, Farmina, Tiki Cat, ZiwiPeak, and Merrick.
- Dry food. If you prefer to feed dry kibbles, choose high quality brands. Same as with wet food, check the ingredients, and avoid fillers and grains. However, in our opinion, dry kibbles should be the last choice and better avoided.
- Food dishes. Food dish should not be too deep or too shallow. Buy something that can be easily cleaned and dishwasher safe. We use a big metal dish for freshwater as well as water fountains. We use mostly Catit Flower fountains. They have different flow settings, are quiet and attractive to cats.
- Litter. As kittens are very curious and are likely to eat some of the litter, we use natural litter for the first 4 months of their lives. The clumping, clay-based litter can cause digestive problems and even intestine blockage. Most natural litters are made from corn, wheat, or pine. We use SweatScoop multi-cat formula litter. It has good odor control and not much traction. Once kittens are older, we switch to different clumping litters. One of our favorites is Dr. Elsey CatAttract litter.
- Litter box and a scoop. Any simple litter box with or without a cover will do. If you buy an open box, choose one with curved sides so litter is not spilled. However, buy a bigger size as Siberians grow quickly. A scoop should be made from a strong material with medium-size holes.
We are using Van Ness Extra-Giant Enclosed litter box for older kittens and adults. It is an extra-large, enclosed litter box with removable filters. Easy to clean and litter scatter is minimum. It is also roomy and cats seem to find it attractive.
We would highly recommend investing in a good litter mat. It does not let the litter scatter around your floor and keep the mess to a minimum. Our favorite is honeycomb double-layer litter mat. It works well for most types of litter, easy to clean and big enough to trap stray litter.
Even with the regular cleaning, you might notice the smell from the litter box. One of the easiest and most effective ways to fight it is to add baking soda. It effectively reduces the unpleasant odor and keeps the litter fresh longer. You can use unscented regular baking soda or buy a scented one such as Arm & HAMMER™ Double Duty CAT Litter Deodorizer
- Scratching posts. A scratching post is important to have to prevent your cat from clawing at your furniture. Buy a variety – vertical, horizontal, diagonal, corrugated, carpet, sisal. The most popular designs in our house right now are corrugated scratcher pads and locally made scratching posts. Choose the ones with a heavy base and stand over 25 inches high.
- Cat trees. You would also need a cat tree, at least one but multiples are better. Cat tree must be stable, do not move or tipped over. It is especially important because Siberians are big cats and a tree can tip over under their weight.
- Cat toys. Basically anything will do. Make sure that the toy is safe for a kitten though. Avoid toys that can be easily torn apart such as feathers or sponges. Make it a habit to inspect all toys for damages and throw away anything that shows wear and tear. So far, springs, balls, tunnels and teasers are our kittens’ favorites.
All-time kittens’ favorite toys are plastic springs and small plastic balls with a bell. They also enjoy teasers, tunnels and small toys made from soft material. When they grow older, they get crazy for laser pointer. I would highly recommend buying a rechargeable laser pointer – great quality, lasts much longer than battery operated, and has extra features such as a flashlight and UV light.
- Cat carrier. There are a few requirements to the carriers: easy to clean, lightweight, ease of access and being roomy.
- Easy to clean. A cat carrier should be easy to clean. The best choice is plastic ones. These are also easy to disinfect if needed. The downside is they are bulky and require more storage space than soft side carrier.
- Lightweight. Keep in mind that your kitty will grow into a big fluffy cat in less than a year. The combined weight of the carrier and an adult Siberian can reach over 20 lb easily.
- Ease of access. Buy a carrier with double doors. You would be very grateful for it when you have to get your unwilling cat inside.
- Roomy. Choose a bigger size carrier as your kitten will outgrow the small one quickly. You can also buy puppy training pads to use inside the carrier in case of “accidents”.
We are using Petmate 2-Door Top Load Kennel. It is easy to clean, very durable, and big enough for an adult Siberian to be comfortable. For longer trips, we would recommend buying a bigger carrier.
- Grooming supplies. Siberians need brushing once or twice a week during off-season. Twice a year, usually in early spring and early fall, Siberians shed their fur in larger clumps and need daily brushing. In our experience, kittens do not get tangles and mats until they are older. However, getting them used to regular grooming will help in the future.
Prepare a ‘’safe room”
One of the most important things to do before bringing your kitten home is to prepare a “safe room”. Moving away and being in a new surrounding is a very stressful experience for most kittens. Therefore, it is important to let your kitten settle down in a quiet, safe, and secure place. Most likely, your kitten will use the “safe room” for the first few days only. If there are other pets in the house, the “safe room” might be used for a longer period, depending on how fast the successful introduction to other pets goes.
- Designate a room. First, think about what can be the best room in your home that can work as a “safe room”. A separate room with a door would be the best. Examples of a “safe room” are:
- a den
- a spare bedroom
- your own bedroom
- am office
Bathrooms can also be used as temporary accommodation. Avoid laundry and utility rooms because they tend to be noisy, smelly, and hot, and are full of hidden dangers to your kitten.
- Make sure the room is safe. Follow the same steps as when you prepared your home for a kitten. You might want to take down any blinds or curtains and tie up the cords. Lock everything valuable. Remove out of reach household chemicals, medicine, and plants. Empty garbage bins. Inspect the floor for any lost small items such as hair ties and rubber bands.
- Create hiding places. Usually, kittens need some time to get accustomed to their new surroundings so provide them with small hideouts. The most common places for your kitty to hide are under the bed, behind the furniture and curtains, and in the closets. If the room does not have enough hidings spots, create them. Use cardboard boxes, plastic containers, and shoeboxes, create tents with blankets over furniture, place play tunnels, and leave the cat carrier out after you bring your kitty home.
- Gather supplies. The “safe room” should have everything your kitten needs including:
- food and water,
- cat beds and cat trees
- scratching posts
These tips may seem like a lot and stress you out. However, a joy that your new Siberian kitten brings, will make all these responsibilities worth it. The first few weeks will be an adjustment for you as well as your new kitten, but be patient. Siberians are affectionate, playful, smart, and are great companions.