3.4 million cats enter the shelter system every year. With only 37% of those cats being adopted out it totally pulled at our heartstrings when we found a kitten in the Smokey Mountains. Read on for that fun story and our best kitten care tips.
How We Found Our Kitten
“You HAVE to come see this!”
The excitement was palpable and I couldn’t fathom what they would even be referring to. It was just after the hurricane poured through the Carolinas, and we were in the Smokey Mountain side of North Carolina, hoping to evade the storms still ripping their way through.
It was our annual trip to the mountains… we usually visit somewhere in the Smokies each year, from Maggie Valley to Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge and more (there are plenty of places, trails, and waterfalls that we call favorites now). This time, we were staying in one of those favorite places and exploring, again, in Maggie Valley, particularly in a locally famous pottery shop. Once the owner was done giving the kids a behind-the-scenes demo, we thought it would be best for Chris to take them all outside while I browsed the one-of-a-kind pottery pieces in the shop. Little did we know what taking the kids outside would mean.
“Can we keep him?!” They begged as I was barely past the threshold of the shop and onto the sidewalk. I couldn’t even see who this “him” was that they were referring to, but I knew it had to be something exciting from their level of pitch AND volume.
In Chris’ arms was the tiniest and furriest of kittens. Dirty, shaking, and still oh-so-cute. We looked ALL OVER for more kittens, for the mama, for any other sign of this little guy’s family – to no avail. Between the rainstorms, and his condition, we couldn’t leave him there and decided to find some food and some help. And as the story goes, he never ended up leaving our arms, or our hearts.
In fact, Smokey made the 10-hour drive back home with us at the end of our trip and has been a part of our family ever since.
And just because we couldn’t bear for him to be alone, especially for the few times we’d be away for a few days at a time, plus it would make for a great playmate for him, we adopted a second kitten over Brayden’s last birthday (actually Brayden is the one who adopted “Bear” from the shelter). So now, we’ve got Smokey and Bear.
Feeding Your Kitten
Within the first few weeks of life, a kitten’s weight can double or even triple. They need lots of energy/food to support this amazing growth and all of their cute kitten antics (which is the MOST FUN time to just watch them play, seriously, it’s my favorite).
“—Most kittens want to eat at least three or four meals a day,” says Jennifer Larsen, DVM, Ph.D., nutritional consultant and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis. So basically kittens are snackers and find comfort with frequent feedings… just like my kids!
Smokey was too little for actual food, so we had to start him out on kitten formula. My kids were begging for us to get a bottle to feed him with, but he took right to a saucer and lapped up that milk (granted it was kind of all over his face!).
When it came to worrying about kitten care and feeding we wanted to have food dishes that were shallow for our itty-bitty to easily eat out of. At the same time, I have put a lot of effort into making our House into a Home. I wanted something practical, but stylish.
I found these crazy cute matte copper food dishes from Boots & Barkley™. They looked great on our hardwood floors, along with the copper accents in our kitchen, and the non-slide base helped prevent messes from our enthusiastic eater. And the best feature of all is that they are dishwasher safe.
I didn’t realize I could love my kitten’s food dish this much.
Kitten Care While You Travel
It’s the question every pet owner faces when they go on a trip. What are we going to do with the cat?
We like to travel often with the kids whether it is a trip to the beach or an overnight stay-cation. But having a kitten care plan is important.
When it comes to boarding your cat, experts don’t recommend it. “Cats are territorial and it’s typically much more stressful for them to be placed in an unfamiliar environment, especially if that environment contains the sight, scent, and sounds of other animals,” says Pam Johnson-Bennett, cat behavior consultant and owner of Cat Behavior Associates, LLC.
We use this affordable set – Self-Dispensing Gravity Pet Feeder and Waterer. It’s perfect for when we are gone on a weekend trip.
The feeder holds up to 6 pounds of our favorite dry pet food and the water dispenser holds a gallon of water. That’s plenty for our fur-baby to graze on at his wish, well both of them can now too. And the extra wide mouth makes it so easy to clean.
These dispensers were a real win for our kitten care plan.
Making Litter Box Kitten Care Easy
I think it’s safe to say that taking care of the litter box is everyone’s least favorite part of having a cat, but did you know that your litter box could be fun?
We wanted an easy solution for maintaining the litter box. And since I’m pregnant I am concerned about the parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis. You can get this infection while cleaning the litter box, so I was also looking for something as hands-off as possible.
We found the ultimate in kitten care with the Litter-Robot. Imagine what Roomba did for vacuuming; the Litter-Robot is doing for litter boxes. It is the highest-rated automatic, self-cleaning litter box for cats out there.
The Litter-Robot has been a total game changer. The automatic timer allows the litter to clump then disposes of the waste, leaving a clean bed of litter for our kitten to use every time. We started off with a ramp as our little guys we still wee ones, and now they’re big enough to hop right in on their own.
Using this little box system there isn’t any odor. In fact, you wouldn’t even know we have a cat, or two. And as an added bonus we use way less litter, so the Litter-Robot is actually saving us money.
Cleaning the carbon filter is so easy. Even my husband and kids enjoy helping with it. I would recommend Litter-Robot to anyone wondering how to take care of a kitten.
Keeping Your Kitten Warm
Kittens cannot retain their body heat very well. So if you only have one kitten and you can’t sit there and snuggle with him, you need a solution. We recommend a cuddly Self Warming Pet Bed.
This wonderful bed uses the same technology as space blankets to reflect your pets own heat back at him. There are no cords. And it is lightweight and looks like a normal bet bed.
How to Bathe a Kitten
Your kitten will instinctively bathe itself, but their mother would normally help to develop this habit. Since you are acting as “mommy” you can include cleaning in your kitten care.
Fuzzy doesn’t need an actual bath but you can use a damp washcloth on a finger to stroke her like her mother’s tongue. Be sure to check her little behind and clean there too. It will be a real bonding moment for you and your little furry little friend.
How to Take Care of a Kitten
These are genuinely our favorite products we have purchased to give the best kitten care. I hope you find them useful, but we are always searching for more goodies to spoil our little fur-babies with.
Please leave a comment with your favorite kitten care tip or product. We would love to know!