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How to Survive Life With a New Kitten

They're cuddly and adorable, but they can take over your life -- like how my darling Olive did mine.

 |  Oct 3rd 2012  |   10 Contributions


A few weeks ago, I adopted a new kitten. Olive was just nine weeks old when I brought her home, and it's hard to say how old she is now because the weeks since I adopted her have been a blur -- I'm so sleep-deprived I can't really count days anymore.

I've had two kittens before, but somehow I forgot how crazy they are. Or maybe it's just that Olive is the craziest kitten who ever existed. I'm not really sure. The important thing is that so far, I have survived life with a kitten, even though sometimes she spends the whole night trying to pounce on my face like it is one of her catnip mice.

Me with Olive on the day I adopted her.

Since I am still alive, and not bleeding too heavily, I think I can consider myself an expert, so I've compiled some tips for you if you too are planning on adopting a kitten.

1. Keep your new kitten separated from your other cats for a week or two

I mean, that's what you're supposed to do. But did you know that kittens are really small and really fast? Does your house have rooms within rooms within rooms, maybe? That could help. You could also give up after two days and hope for the best.

This is how Agnes dealt with Olive in the beginning.

I think they're friends now.

2. Remove all hazards from the kitten's environment

Make sure there are no pieces of string or rubber bands around. Check to see if any of your plants are toxic to cats.Does your kitten like to chew on things? Mine loves to chew on things, especially cords. Accept that you cannot have electronics in your home until your kitten grows out of it. Think fondly on the days when you could watch movies or use lamps. Does your kitten like to jump into the trash can and try to eat the trash bag? Okay, no trash cans, either. Does your kitten like to eat the wicker seats on your chairs? I guess you'll have to sit on the floor for a while. Picnics are fun!

This is Olive's favorite chair to chew on.

3. Feed your growing kitten plenty of high-quality food

Some people feed their kitten on a schedule. My kitten makes me follow her schedule. I know it's time to eat when she follows me to the kitchen and then starts screaming and climbing all the way up my leg to get to the counter where the food is. If I don't feed her then, my pants will be ruined. It is time to eat about 12 times a day.

If I don't dish up dinner any faster, Olive will climb my leg.

4. Train your kitten to be gentle

Does your kitten bite you constantly? If she doesn't, I kind of hate you right now. If you are currently covered in tiny adorable puncture wounds, you probably get me, especially if you have received most of them on your face around 4 a.m.

She's biting my shoes, which is preferable to biting my face at 4 a.m.

To discourage your kitten from biting, never use your hands as toys. Fact: Every single person who comes over to see your kitten will use their hands as toys, undoing all your hard work. Apparently you can also push your kitten's head down and hiss at her when she bites you. I don't think I'm very good at hissing because this has not worked yet.

Here's what getting work done looks like now I have Olive.

5. Play with your kitten every day

Make sure to buy a few interactive toys. If you play with her a lot right before bed, she might nap for a few hours at night and might not wake you up until 2 a.m. Toys for her to play with on her own are also great, though kittens are pretty resourceful and might prefer things like rolls of toilet paper, socks, a piece of carrot that you dropped on the floor, and your other cat's tail.

Olive when she was super tiny. Before she got 12 meals a day.

6. Be prepared for your kitten to grow faster than you thought possible

My kitten was 2.4 pounds when I brought her home. My best estimate is that, a few weeks later, she weighs about 60. I don't really know what happened. It might be because she eats 12 times a day.

Family portrait: Me, Agnes (top), and Olive.

7. One kitten picture is good, but 300 kitten pictures are better

Why does Facebook exist? Mostly for pictures of kittens. Why does Instagram exist? One hundred percent for pictures of kittens. If your friends don't want to see several pictures of your kitten every day, they probably don't have souls and you're better off without them.

8. Get things done while your kitten is sleeping

These are the things you can do while your kitten is awake: Play with your kitten, feed your kitten, pet your kitten, swear at your kitten for biting you. These are the things you can only do while your kitten is asleep: Get dressed, sleep, tie shoes, write stories for Catster, clean things, cook food, eat food, read books, use a computer.

Quick, she's asleep. Do something. Anything.

9. Kittens are really cute

Especially when they're sleeping and/or not trying to kill you. 

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