If you recently made the decision to bring a beautiful Bengal into your home and life and found the purrfect kitten for you, congratuations!! Bengals are a joy to own, but to make the best of your experience, I always recommend you prepare your home and brush up on your cat knowledge before bringing home your new companion.
1. Read up on the basics of cat ownership.
Maybe you are a seasoned cat owner and you think you are well prepared for a kitten, but there is always more you can learn! Your kitten will benefit for the rest of his life if you are prepared and educated from the beginning. Make sure you are confident that you can care for his basic needs to the best of your ability:
- Diet – Do you have planned a species-appropriate diet? Keep in mind that cats are obligate carnivores (cats must eat meat to survive) and should be fed a diet with a high amount of moisture (NOT dry food). If you don’t know what this means, do some research! Be prepared to slowly transition the kitten from his original diet to the new diet that you choose.
- Environment – An appropriate environment for a cat will provide mental stimulation and outlets for their primary needs – sleeping, scratching, and “hunting.” Do you have comfortable bedding options, scratching posts or cat trees, and toys to keep the kitten entertained? You don’t need to get fancy – often cats will surprise you with the simple things that appeal to them!
- Bathroom – Especially when transitioning a cat to a new area, more litter boxes is better. The general rule of thumb is one per cat plus one extra (so 2 boxes for 1 cat, 3 boxes for 2 cats), but if you have a large space or multiple floors, use your best judgement and add extra litter boxes. You can remove them once the kitten is well-trained to your home. Choose litter boxes and litter that will appeal to a cat. You can get fancy later, but in the beginning, stick to a fine litter (most cats prefer this) and an open pan that is easy to get in and out of.
2. Kitten-proof your home.
Bengals will get into anything and everything. Look around and try to find anything that could be harmful to a kitten. Feather toys, small things that could be swallowed, and string are some of the things that should be put away. Maybe don’t have your nice glass vases or china sitting on a shelf that the kitten could climb on and knock over. I also recommend keeping your floor picked up from clothes and blankets when the kitten is learning where it is okay to go to the bathroom in your house, as you do not want to start any bad habits.
3. Educate your family members.
If you have young kids in the house or family members who are not familiar with cats, make sure they know the house rules and have appropriate expectations of the kitten. Some examples:
- DO NOT leave doors open or let kitty out.
- DO NOT pull kitty’s tail or chase him around. Be slow and gentle.
- Listen to kitty’s body language to avoid being scratched.
- Do not let kitty play with your hand, use a toy (or it will hurt when kitty is not so little anymore!).
- Understand that a cat is a cat. Not a dog, not a person. You cannot expect kitty to think, behave, or act like a dog or a person.
If necessary, talk with others in your house to make sure they understand the adjustments you might need to make to the home to make it suitable for the kitten (extra litter boxes, cat trees, basically be prepared for the kitten to rule your life…).
4. Buy Stuff!!!
Maybe it’s just me, but it is so much fun shopping for your new pal. Besides simple toys, litter boxes, and litter, you may want to consider additional “enrichments” such as a nice quality cat tree, a cat wheel (Bengals love to run!), or a large scratcher. Another must is a few wand toys that you can use to play with your kitten to simulate a hunt scenario. I will work on putting together a supply list and add it here when it’s done! In the mean time, check out some of my favorite products.