Photography by Bobi / Getty Images
Getting a new kitten is an exciting time. You may have been anticipating getting a kitten for some time or you might have not even known a kitten was about to join your household. But regardless of the circumstances of the arrival, the first month with your new kitten is a month of changes, and there are things you can do to make these changes go smoothly.
Before Bringing Your Kitten Home
If you are planning to bring a new kitten into your home, then you should take some time to prepare for the kitten’s arrival. Purchase the items that your kitten will need and place them in your home for other people and pets to start adjusting to. Synthetic calming pheromones can be purchased as a diffuser or spray and used prior to the arrival of the new kitten to help older cats and the new kitten feel calm and relaxed. Even if you already have a cat, make sure the new kitten will have its own bed, food and water dishes, litter box, and toys. Set up a bathroom or other small room with these items for your kitten to stay in temporarily to provide a contained safe space while your kitten adjusts away from other pets and possible dangers in the rest of the home.
You should have at least one more litter box than you have cats and there should be no direct line of sight from litter box to litter box to prevent the cats from stalking or intimidating each other while using them. Extra litter and, of course, kitten food will also be needed to help your kitten feel at home.
Day one with your new kitten is very exciting, but you’ll want to be careful that you don’t overwhelm it. Let the kitten explore in the small room you have already set up, or if you didn’t have time to prepare for its arrival, set up a safe room and sit on the floor while the kitten acclimates to it.
If you have other pets, allow them to sniff the kitten from a distance but be sure to keep the kitten safe at all times. Place the kitten in the small room with its belongings when you can’t supervise it, so you won’t have to worry about anyone getting hurt.
Make sure the kitten knows where the litter boxes are and where they eat and drink and ensure they have access to all of these basic needs within their small safe room. If the kitten wants to sleep, let it sleep. Keep the carrier you brought it home in accessible to it, in case the kitten is nervous and wants to curl up inside of it or provide another safe hiding space such as a box. It is common for a new kitten to hide at first, sometimes for the first few days, as it adjusts to all the changes. As long as it has all the essentials and quiet alone time, it will venture out of its hiding spot little by little each day. Don’t try to force it out as this can cause unnecessary stress and negative associations with people or parts of your home.
After a few days, your kitten will begin to explore its new home. You can encourage your kitten to venture out of its separate room little by little each day by using toys and treats to make it a game. Your kitten will get used to where the other litter boxes, food, and water dishes are as well. It might even claim a favorite spot to sleep and befriend your pets.
Make sure your kitten continues to eat and drink well and to monitor their litter box habits during this time. If you see anything abnormal including loose stools in the litter box, it is a good idea to bring this sample to the vet. You’ll need to make an appointment during this time to get your kitten checked out even if it appears healthy, since it may need vaccines, deworming, and/or a routine check up.
If your cat is going to wear a collar, choose a collar that fits and add some identification, like a name tag with your phone number, in case your kitten gets outside. It is best to purchase cat-specific break-away collars which are designed to fall off if they get caught on something. This can prevent injuries, especially in active kittens, if they get a paw or tooth caught on the collar, or if they get caught on something while exploring. Microchipping can be discussed with your vet as a more permanent form of identification.
By the end of the first month, your kitten should be eating, drinking, and using the litter box normally. Your cat should be adjusted to its new home by now and becoming active and playful. You may notice new behaviors, such as scratching on vertical surfaces, wrestling, climbing, chewing, and jumping on furniture. If there is a behavior that is less than favorable to you that your kitten is starting to exhibit, be sure to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. Provide your kitten with appropriate scratching surfaces, items to climb, and toys to play with. Use treats and catnip to entice it to the areas you want it to play in and on and redirect it to these items when it goes for something off-limits.
The kitten should have also been to the vet at least once for vaccines, a fecal check, and a physical examination, but refrain from taking your kitten anywhere other than a vet’s office until they are fully vaccinated. Stay on schedule with the recommended initial vaccines and while there, ask your vet about monthly preventatives for fleas, heartworms, intestinal parasites, etc.
Don’t panic if you have another cat and it isn’t getting along with the new kitten just yet. This process can take time and 30 days may not be enough for your cat to adjust. This is where those synthetic calming pheromones can help all the cats in the household to adjust; they can be used as a diffuser in a room both cats spend time in, or a spray that can be used on their beds or other common areas. It can also help them bond if you make their interactions more positive by playing with both cats together, giving them treats, and/or engaging in other activities your cats enjoy, such as grooming, with the new kitten in tow. If either cat becomes overwhelmed, scared, or aggressive during these sessions, it is a good idea to separate them temporarily. A gradual introduction is always the best approach, and that may take more or less time for different cats with different personalities. Time and patience will be worth the effort when your cats do bond and you can enjoy watching them play together, cuddle, and even groom one another.
Our cats at home display behaviors and preferences that stretch back generations to their time in the wild.
This sometimes runs counter to how we live our lives, particularly when it comes to our home environments. How can you get on the same page?
Here are a few ways you can make your cat feel more comfortable in your home.
In nature, cats often take to the trees. This keeps them hidden from predators, and gives them just the right vantage for surveying their territory and opportunistic hunting.
How can you introduce these elements to your home?
You may already have some nice architectural features or furniture to work with. Fireplace mantels, tall bookcases, wall shelves, even the back of a sofa or chair can serve this purpose.
Your cat gets to show off both natural agility and grace to get up and down. Plus it brings him or her a sense of comfort by getting up off the floor.
If furniture is off limits, you can increase the vertical space in your home with cat trees or cat clouds. These are cleverly designed climbing structures and wall shelves made especially for felines.
2) Connecting to the Outdoors
Because of the dangers associated with cars, exposure to disease from prey, and conflicts with wild or domestic animals, we don’t condone outdoor cats. That’s not to say indoor cats must be sealed off completely from the outside world.
Beyond supervised outdoor activities like leash walking, it’s important to provide your cat with a place to interact with his or her surroundings. This can be through a window or door, even a screen porch. It’s healthy to see and hear birds and other wildlife, as well as people and pets in the neighborhood. As is smelling new smells.
While roaming their home territory, it’s quite common for cats in nature to hide in abandoned burrows or conceal their presence in a canopy of foliage.
There are many interesting options available that play into your cat’s desire to see without being seen. Play tunnels are made of insulating fabric and can double as a bed. Some end tables have an enclosure that hides a cat bed inside. How about an indoor structure that’s a cat’s interpretation of a doghouse?
Your cat may already spend time under your bed or behind the sofa. But here are some other low-cost ways to achieve the same effect: pull books towards the front of a shelf to create a hiding space behind them. Or place a basket on end on the bottom shelf of an end- or coffee table to create a little cave. You can even drape a blanket or towel over a table to make a fort like when you were a kid.
4) Scratch Posts
Scratching is in your cat’s nature, so it’s important to give him or her an alternative to your furniture, rugs or curtains.
Cats in nature will use both standing and fallen trees for scratching in order to keep claws fit for climbing, hunting and self-defense. So a sturdy scratch post or horizontal surfaces can be used to replicate this activity. They can be made from corrugated cardboard, carpets or natural rope fibers.
To create a calm environment for feeding, consider the type of dish you’re using and where you place it.
Since your cat uses whiskers for navigating, communicating, and measuring the width of openings, a dish that causes his or her whiskers to bend can be irritating. Instead, use a plate or a shallow dish with short sides. This way, your cat can grab bits of kibble without touching his or her whiskers.
As for placement, it’s important to understand the pressures of feeding in the wild. Active hunters know the value of a meal, so they stay alert for rivals coming in to steal the kill. Factor in that cats are quite vulnerable while eating, it’s easy to realize why they can be jumpy at mealtime.
In your home, it may be another cat that puts him or her on edge. Perhaps it’s a dog or a young child. So rather than placing the feeding dish in a corner, try putting it more out in the open. This can put your cat at ease by giving clear views of the space around him or her and access to more avenues of escape. Both of which appeal to your cat’s instincts.
6) Litter Box
Sometimes, cats in nature want their presence to be known. Other times, they prefer to keep it hidden. But the fact is, every time a cat goes to the bathroom, they leave a trail of scent that can serve as a means of communication. So it’s not uncommon to relieve themselves in different locations, and reserve specific spots for specific duties.
That said, here are our guidelines for litter boxes. You’ll want one litter box for every cat in the house plus one extra; or one on each level of your home, even if you have one cat. This helps prevent territorial behavior, and allows for flexibility of use. Also, be mindful of placing your litter boxes in a quiet place that doesn’t get much traffic. Even cats appreciate a little privacy.
Keeping your kitten safe: night-time confinement and the option of an outdoor enclosure
Whether you decide to train your cat to stay on your property at all times or roam during the day, RSPCA strongly encourages the confinement of cats in an enclosed area at night time.
Confining cats to your property during this period can help to protect them from disease and injuries that occur through fighting and accidents, while reducing the impact of hunting and disturbance to neighbours. Some local councils even require night-time confinement as a matter of law.
Plus, if you have a brand new kitten, you don’t need to worry about the stress of sudden confinement for an adult cat who may be used to roaming outside freely.
When it comes to the great debate of whether to confine your cat and if it’s fair at all, we’ve laid out all your options in our detailed guide about how to keep your cat safe and happy indoors.
In our guide, we give you the 101 on outdoor enclosures as a way of allowing your indoor cat to enjoy the outdoors while still staying safe (it’s a scary world out there).
Can’t keep your cat on your property at all times? Outdoor cats get used to routine, so if your puss is allowed to roam during the day when you are out, call them to come inside as soon as you’re back – rewarding with a treat really helps – and they should learn to come home at the same time each day.
If you use a collar for identification, remember that it’s also super important to invest in a quick-release collar and adjust it correctly as your cat grows. These can be purchased from our animal shelters or our RSPCA PetVille store.
Grooming: when and why you should brush your kitten
We all know that cats love to clean themselves on the regular, but some varieties may still need a bit of grooming help from their fur parent. Without regular brushing, medium-haired and long-haired cats can be prone to furballs, matting and other problems.
So, if your cat has luscious locks, they could benefit from having their coat frequently brushed – and it’s best to start the process when cats are young so they can get used to it.
Short-haired cats may also benefit from regular grooming, mainly because you’ll notice less cat hair stuck all over your couch!
Have a suss of this complete guide on cat grooming, prepared by our friends at RSPCA Pet Insurance.
Health: following up on kitten vaccinations and flea and worm treatments
Prior to adoption, all kittens and cats from RSPCA South Australia have received their first set of vaccinations, and are therefore protected from serious diseases including Feline Enteritis and Feline Respiratory disease.
They’ve also been desexed (this is one of the reasons we charge an adoption fee when we rehome an animal), so this is something you needn’t worry about.
But, we do recommend that you administer a flea and worm treatment on your cat monthly. We use Bayer’s ‘Advocate’ flea and worm treatment on all canines and felines in our care, which can be found at our RSPCA PetVille store, or any of our shelters. To make it easier for you to keep your kitty flea-and-worm-free, we give everyone who adopts a feline (or canine) from us a voucher for a discount on a 6-pack of this treatment. Being a responsible pet owner has never been so simple, right?
When it comes to vaccinations, some kittens are rehomed before they are ready for their second set. If this is the case, we will give you a vaccination certificate at the time of adoption and advise you to make arrangements with your local vet.
After your kitten has received their second set of vaccinations at three months old, it’s important to remember that they require booster vaccinations every 12 months. Vaccinations are vital to protect your cat from severe infectious diseases, while preventing them from passing anything nasty on to other animals in the area.
Like the other steps in this post, it’s all part of being a responsible cat owner!
Stay tuned for part 3 to this series, where we cover common behavioural problems in cats and what to do about them. Don’t forget to keep us updated on your journey at Facebook or Instagram at @rspcasa and #rspcasa.
When you welcome your inquisitive new kitten into your home, they’ll probably take a little time to get used to their new surroundings. It’s best to let your kitten explore, and discover things in their own time. Even so, there are still plenty of things you can do to help your kitten settle in.
Decide which room your kitten will live in for the first few days. Make sure the room has a door or some other way of shielding your kitten from the hustle and bustle of daily life, including children and other pets.
High places and hiding spots
In the wild, your kitten’s big cat cousins like to patrol their territory from a high vantage point. This keeps them out of the way of predators, and helps them spot potential prey without being seen. If possible, choose a room where your new feline friend can hide easily, and where they can get up high. By encouraging your kitten to recreate this kind of natural behaviour, you’ll help them settle in more easily.
Cats naturally choose a quiet, secluded place to go to the toilet. So it’s a good idea to place your kitten’s litter tray in a corner opposite the door. Don’t forget to have tray liners and a scoop ready, and remember to clean out the tray regularly. Cats like to keep themselves clean, and if the tray is dirty your kitten will probably choose to go somewhere else!
Food and water bowls
In the wild, big cats never eat in the same place as they go to the toilet. So it makes sense to position your kitten’s food and water bowl as far away from the litter tray as possible. Your cute little kitten will also thank you for using shallow bowls, because the low sides won’t bang their sensitive whiskers.
Cat baskets should be comfortable, warm and easy to clean. If you do provide one for you kitten, however, don’t be surprised if they make their own choice about where to sleep. That independent nature is just one of the many things you’ll grow to love about your new feline friend!
You’ll need a cat carrier not only for your kitten’s first journey home, but also for later trips, such as to the vet or cattery. There’s a wide range of different types available, so pick the one that you and your kitten are happiest with.
Scratching is a natural behaviour. It keeps a cat’s claws in good hunting condition, and also creates both scent and visual signals designed to mark territory. Give your kitten a scratching post, and watch them exercise their instincts just as nature intended!
Other useful things
• Grooming equipment suitable for your breed
• Cat flap
• Fast-release collar, lead, name tag and bell
When you first bring your kitten home, keep the house as quiet as possible, and don’t be surprised if they start out a bit timid. Show your kitten where their room is, and let them explore by themselves. Leave a door slightly ajar so your kitten can come and go as they please. Your new arrival will soon let you know when they’re ready to explore a little further.
Finally, remember not to let your kitten outside until they’ve been vaccinated. Even after they’ve had their jabs, it’s best to keep your kitten indoors for the first two or three weeks.
February 10, 2016
The world can seem like a big and uncertain place from the perspective of a kitten, particularly one that’s recently been separated from their mum and litter. Here are some ways to bring your newest family member out of their shell.
While some kittens buck the trend and demand your affection right from the get go, it’s far more common for kittens to be timid and fearful when you bring them home. If yours has taken to hiding under the bed or in a box and won’t be coaxed out for love or money, don’t panic, this is completely normal behaviour. However, it’s important to help your scared kitten overcome their fear to prevent them from growing up to be a scaredy-cat.
First, help your scared kitten feel safe with you
Before you start introducing your scared kitten to other people or animals, it’s important that they learn to trust and feel safe around you. Here are some steps you can take.
Keep them in a safe place
Instead of letting them roam around the house where they can be overwhelmed by all the unfamiliar sights and sounds, keep your kitten in a small, ‘safe’ room with no hiding spots. Start them off in a crate and give them some items that are going to make them feel more secure, such as a blanket with their mother’s scent on it, and a cosy bed. Make sure they always have access to a litter box and fresh water.
Recommended Bedding and Blankets
Slowly introduce yourself
When your kitten has settled in their crate, go into their safe room and pet them. Do this in short intervals at various times throughout the day so your kitten becomes comfortable and familiar with your presence. Make sure that you move slowly and speak in a soft voice so you don’t scare your kitten even more. Cute as your kitten is, and as much as everyone wants to play with them, try to ensure that only one person interacts with them for the first few days while they are adjusting.
Create a routine
Help your kitten settle into their new life with you by creating a stable routine every day. Your kitten will learn to expect to be fed, groomed, and have playtime on a schedule and this structure will give them more confidence.
Hold and comfort your kitten
A frightened kitten will probably resist being picked up by a stranger, so start by picking them up in a gentle, calm and supportive way. Consider using a towel or light blanket to assist if needed. Reassure your kitten by speaking softly to them and calmly stroking their fur until they relax.
Stress and anxiety relief
Cats can be stressed by changes in the environment or when in unfamiliar situations. Introducing stress and anxiety relieving products in the environment can help alleviate this stress. These products are designed specifically to help relieve stress and anxiety by releasing scents that mimick natural calming pheromones.
Recommended Products for Stress and Anxiety
Show them love during playtime
After they feel comfortable with you petting them and picking them up, let your kitten out of their crate to roam their safe room. Introduce them to some toys and start playing with them to strengthen your bond.
Toys cats love
Give your kitten treats
Reward your scared kitten’s good behaviour with some delicious treats. This also encourages them to be close to you and forms a positive association.
Use treatment or a vet consultation if necessary
Talk to your local Petbarn team members about using Feliway, a synthetic pheromone that helps cats adjust to new environments. If you have tried slowly adjusting your kitten to their new life and they’re still very afraid, speak with your Greencross Vet who can devise an unique plan of action to help your kitten overcome their fears.
Next, socialise your kitten
Kittens that aren’t properly socialised have a tendency to grow up into fearful cats, so after your kitten is trusting of you, it’s important that you introduce them to a variety of people to get them used to other company. We’ve prepared this instructional guide for you to learn how to introduce your new kitten to your cat, dog and other family members.
Of course, this needs to be done slowly and takes a lot of time depending on your feline’s individual temperament. It’s always best to allow your kitten to approach new people, not the other way around, and to put them back in their safe room if they ever become overwhelmed.
With patience and love, your kitten will soon learn that they have nothing to fear and they’ll soon develop a healthy curiosity towards their environment.
YouвЂ™ve brought home a new kitten, and you want it to grow into a loving, happy member of your family. Rolan Tripp answers questions on how to make it happen.
YouвЂ™ve brought home a new kitten, and you want it to grow into a loving, happy member of your family. But how do you ensure that happens? We asked Rolan Tripp, an affiliate professor of applied animal behavior at Colorado State University Veterinary School and the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Schools. Tripp and his wife, Susan Tripp, co-author a syndicated weekly column on pet behavior and maintain animalbehavior.net, a web site that provides pet behavior education and services.
Q: How old should a kitten be before it is handled regularly?
A: My rule of thumb is handling should be minimum during the first three days of life to allow the kitten to survive. After that, then handling the kitten on a daily basis is a good idea. Having the kittens bonding to human scent and human handling is very important, especially during weeks 3 through 7.
YouвЂ™ve got this window for socialization. Up until 7 weeks is prime time. The secondary period is until 12 weeks and the tertiary period is until 6 months. During the first, second, or third choices, we should be doing everything weвЂ™re going to do with this cat in its lifetime. So if the cat will be going on trips, get it used to car rides from the time itвЂ™s a tiny kitten. If there will be lots of people coming and going, then expose the kitten to that during these periods. The same with anything you want your cat to be comfortable with later in life. This is your window of opportunity.
Q: Even though kittens need to be handled, can they be handled too much, especially by children? How can I tell if that has happened?
A: Yes, they can be dropped; they can be injured. Gentleness is the key. ItвЂ™s not the duration of handling, itвЂ™s how they are handled. If children are not supervised, they may tend to be rougher than necessary.
So when looking at kittens, if one is huddled in the corner, you know thatвЂ™s a problem. What we want is a cat that is not showing fear and is not hyperactive. We want a kitten that is seeking human companionship. An indicator of a well-socialized kitten is, pick it up and see how long it takes before the kitten starts purring, and how long it will purr before it wants to get down again and play. Any kitten that will take a break and purr for a while is a winner.
Q: WhatвЂ™s the best age to bring a kitten home?
A: The average age for people to get kittens is eight weeks. That age has its pros and cons. If the breeder knows what they are doing and the kittens are socialized correctly, thatвЂ™s fine. But if the kittens donвЂ™t get that critical socialization by seven weeks of age, the brain starts shutting down. The kittens can still be socialized, but it will never be as good. So ask how much the kitten was handled before you got it.
Q: If I get two kittens, will they become too attached to each other and ignore me?
A: I recommend getting two kittens. Yes, they may be more focused on each other than on you, but they also can take their energy out – biting, scratching, fighting – on each other. Kittens have so much energy. If you donвЂ™t give them something to do, theyвЂ™re going to find something to do.
But if you get two kittens, separate them for periods of time each day so they get used to it, especially for feeding and play sessions with you.
Q: Should I keep my kitten in a low-key, quiet environment for a while, or thrust them into our everyday life?
A: Initially itвЂ™s good to bring a new kitten into one room. Put their food in there, a scratching post, their bed and let them get used to that.
Then start introducing them to all the things that will be a part of their life. But you have to learn to read the cat. If you introduce your kitten to something and they areВ acting fearful – moving away from you and twitching, with tense muscle tone and hyper-alert, step back and take it slower. But if they areВ acting friendly and relaxed, you can keep going.
Q: Should I keep my kitten away from people, or let everyone who comes in handle them?
A: ItвЂ™s good for a variety of people to handle a kitten, but itвЂ™s also important that all the interactions are gentle and positive during this formative time.
Q: At what age should I start introducing the kitten to my other pets, and how should I do that?
A: The best time is between 3-7 weeks. But if itвЂ™s later than that, it can still be done. One of the biggest mistakes people make is letting the dog meet the new kitten at the front door. ThatвЂ™s a horrible thing to do to the cat and the dog. The front door is the main spot where the dog defends theirВ property. Instead, wait until both are relaxed, then, with the dog on a leash, rub the body of the kitten on the dog. What we want here is scent transfer. While you do this, give the dog treats. You want the dog to think good things happen when the kitten is around.
And do not let the dog chase the cat. ThatвЂ™s another big mistake people make. If the dog chases the cat, interrupt it every time. ThatвЂ™s very stressful to the cat and quickly establishes a bad pattern with the dog.
Introducing a new cat to the resident cat can be a bit harder. I recommend starting with feeding the cats on either side of a door. Make sure your cat is hungry, and throw some good treats in with the food. Again, we want the animal to think that good things happen when the kitten is around.
If there is hissing and growling, back the bowls up until it stops and then slowly move them closer each time you feed them. But if everyone is relaxed, you can proceed with introductions.
When you do finally get them together, have little pieces of turkey, chicken, hotdogs, or whatever they like and keep feeding them that.
Q: My kitten is biting and scratching! What can I do to make them stop?
A: Rough hand boxing with a cat is a recipe for an aggressive cat that will bite and scratch you and everyone else. Instead, train your kitten not to bite hard or scratch. ThereвЂ™s a concept called bite pressure inhibition training. The way it works is, when the kitten playfully grabs your hand and bites down on it, you yelp, cry, and stop playing. What I tell people is, think of the most pressure youвЂ™d want your cat to use on a 1-year-old baby and use that as your point of reference. So itвЂ™s not how hard youвЂ™ll let them bite you, but how hard would you let them bite a 1-year-old?
If every time your kitten bites down too hard you cry out and stop playing, theyвЂ™ll quickly realize that continuing to play is the reward for controlling their biting and scratching.
Q: At what age should I take my kitten to the vet, and how can I make themВ like vet visits?
A: Kittens need to start their shots at about eight weeks. And itвЂ™s also good at this point to start getting them used to riding in the car. So take your cat to different places, and give it little treats just for getting in the carrier, for taking a short ride to the mailbox, for taking a little longer ride. Make it a pleasant experience. We want several trips that are positive before and after the one to the veterinarianвЂ™s office.
Q: Is play important in socializing my kitten?
A: Play is very important to socializing your kitten. You also want to do object play. The five games cats should be taught to play are mouse, bird, lizard, rabbit, and bug. Buy something that looks like a bird and pretend itвЂ™s a bird. Get a laser pointer and pretend itвЂ™s a bug. The mistake most people make is they buy these toys for play, but they donвЂ™t mimic the animalвЂ™s actions when playing.
And let the cat win sometimes. Take a treat and put it under the toy and let them pounce on it and eat it. ItвЂ™s no fun to lose all the time.
Elizabeth Teal (Former ASPCA Animal Behavior Counselor) and Sara Kent
Whether your new cat is coming from a shelter, a home, an urban street, or a country barn, the first twenty-four hours in your home are special and critical. Before you bring a new cat into your life, it helps to understand a little bit about how cats relate to their world.
You can avoid pitfalls with your new critter and help them adapt more easily by following these new kitten tips:
Before You Bring Your Cat Home:
- A cat’s territory is of paramount importance. They view their territory the way most of us view our clothes; without them, we feel naked and vulnerable. Place us naked in a room filled with strangers and most of us would try to hide! It is common for cats, regardless of whether they come from homes or streets, to hide in a new territory. Very sensitive or under-socialized cats often hide for a week or more! Do them a favor and provide a small area to call their own for the first few days or weeks. A bathroom or laundry room works well.
- Fill a litter box with one or two inches of litter and place it in their room where they can use it undisturbed. After all, everyone deserves a modicum of privacy when pottying, and giving them that will help forestall litter box aversion. Not sure which litter to choose? Check out How to Choose A Cat Litter.
- Set up a feeding station with food and water bowls. Locate it away from the litter box. For more cat feeding and nutrition tips, visit our Pet Nutrition section.
- Cats love to get away from it all in small places, and you can provide one for your new cat as their own little safe haven. If they came home in a cat carrier, that might be a good choice. You can also make one by cutting a doorway for them in the end of a box. If you prefer, you can buy a covered cat bed at a pet supply store. In either case, make sure the space is big enough for the cat to stand up and turn around. Cat “feng shui” probably requires that he or she be able to see the door to the room from their hidey-hole, so they won’t be startled.
- A cat’s claws need to be worn down, and they do this by scratching things. Since you prefer that it not be your chairs and sofa, provide your cat with a socially acceptable scratching place. Some types are made of corrugated cardboard and lie on the floor; others are posts that have to be tall enough so that the cat can extend himself upward to scratch. You can encourage your cat (once they have arrived) to use the post by sprinkling it with catnip or dangling a toy at the top. They’ll get the idea. You’ll probably want a scratching post in each room where there is soft furniture, perhaps blocking access to it. You can also install sticky tape (available at pet supply stores) to corners of upholstered furniture to dissuade scratching. Don’t miss these tips on how to cut down on kitty’s scratching, how to choose a scratching post and facts about declawing cats.
- Look at your house with a curious cat’s eye view for its climbing and exploring potential. When your cat is acclimated to your home, you may be surprised to find them on top of the upper kitchen cabinets, so make sure there’s nothing on display there or on other high shelves that can be damaged or knocked off.
- Look for holes or registers that leave ductwork accessible and cover them up. A kitten can easily slither into one of these. You won’t want firemen in the house, jackhammering the concrete floor to extract your cat.
- If possible, buy a cat tree for your new family member. Cats like to survey their territory, so a high perch is often a favored resting place.
- If there are other human family members, go over the ground rules about your new pet. Remind them not to startle them and to keep the door to their room shut.
- Bone up on how to introduce your cat to other pets. Keep their door closed and don’t let your other pet race in unexpectedly. See also: New Cat Introductions and Living with Cats and Dogs.
Now, you are ready for your cat’s homecoming. Preferably, bring them home in a cat carrier. It will feel safer for them. They have seen a lot of excitement, so take them directly to their new room. (Make sure the toilet lid is down if they are to acclimate in your bathroom.) Close the bathroom door before opening the carrier. Do not pull the cat out. Allow him or her to come out on their own and begin to explore their new home. Now, leave the room. Yes, leave…remember you are giving them time to acclimate. Go and prepare a small amount of premium quality cat food. Quietly place it next to the water bowl. Ideally, you would restrict their exposure to the whole family, but naturally, everyone is going to want to see them. Remind everyone of the ground rules you’ve set up.
- Sit on the floor and let the cat come to you. Don’t force them. Just let them get acquainted on their own time. If the cat doesn’t approach, leave them alone and try again later. Some cats are particularly frightened, and they may retreat to their hidey-hole and not come out when you’re around at all. They may only come out at night when the house is quiet. Give them time.
- Your newly adopted cat may not eat much or at all at first. It is common for re-homed cats to show no interest in eating, often for several days. If the cat is openly soliciting affection, eating, and not hiding, you can open the door and give them one more room. Do this slowly until you have introduced the cat to all the rooms in their new home. Be sure to change their water frequently and make sure that they are drinking.
It may take your cat a week or two to adjust. Be patient.
- Within a week of being adopted, take your newly adopted cat for its first wellness visit with a veterinarian. If you have a record of immunizations from the shelter, take it with you. Don’t have a vet? Check out these tips for finding the right vet for you and your cat.
- As your cat adjusts, they’ll show signs that they want to explore outside their safe haven. Make sure other pets or family members won’t startle them while they gradually expand their territory. They may be ready to play, so you can furnish some toys. Many cats like feather wands from the pet supply store, but homemade toys are often favored. A wad of tissue paper to bat around or a paper bag to hide in can be fun. For more ideas on how to keep your cat entertained see Keeping Your Cat from Getting Bored.
Congratulations! If you follow these tips for new cat owners, you’ll be on your way to having a well-adjusted feline family member.
You will find the most up to date tips and information on bringing a new kitten home on our website. Learn to make your kitten feel at home!
BEFORE BRINGING YOUR NEW KITTEN HOME
Before your new kitten steps foot in your house, spend some time preparing a safe and quiet space from where it can begin to explore the rest of the house little by little. This space must be at a distance from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
MAKING YOUR KITTEN FEEL AT HOME
Leave its carrier box on the ground, open the door and let it come out whenever it wants. It will probably spend a good time sniffing around before finding its bed. Once it has investigated every corner, Give it some pampering and see if it needs a break.
Kittens love to sleep and need a lot of it. Most likely, after all the excitement of the car trip and exploring its new home, it will need a nap. Try to resist the temptation of playing with it immediately and let it explore and rest without being disturbed.
Mealtime: give it some food, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t eat it. Cats often lose their appetites if they are a little stressed; so give it time to settle in and its appetite will be back in no time.
INTRODUCING YOUR NEW KITTEN TO THE FAMILY
Once it has rested and feels safe in its room, it’s time for your kitten to meet its new human family. This is obviously a very exciting time, but try to keep everyone calm. When introducing a new kitten at home, everyone should sit still and follow the rule: only touch the kitten if it approaches you. Children should not try to grab it or discuss among themselves, because your pet will be scared. If the kitten tries to hide, persuade it to come out with a toy or treat and encourage it to be sociable, but never grab it or force it.
It may be a good idea to use a synthetic pheromone spray or pheromone diffusers that you plug in, since it will make your kitten feel safe and help it to be relaxed and calm. If you choose to use diffusers, distributing one or two throughout the house should be enough.
Synthetic pheromones mimic an odor that cats produce naturally. They release these pheromones to greet other cats, project friendliness and to mark familiar objects with their smell.
MEETING THE CHILDREN
If you think you’re excited about your new kitten, imagine how the children must feel! To start off on the right foot, teach young children how to pick up and hold the kitten’s weight properly, and how to pet it gently. Children between 1 and 2 years of age usually slap instead of petting, which can be uncomfortable and even painful for small kittens. Also, teach them where to pet the kitten: on the top of the head and along its back. Although touching its belly can be irresistible when a kitten is rolling about and playing, most are very sensitive around this area and could attack you. Remind children that they should leave the kitten’s tail alone and never pull on it!
Although it is tempting to watch a beautiful kitten sleeping, it needs a bit of privacy. Make sure that it is left alone when eating, going to the bathroom or sleeping, and keep its litter box away from little children. We are sure you do not want your children to play with it!
Wash your hands after touching the kitten, and especially after cleaning its litter box. Encourage your little ones to do the same.
MEETING OTHER PETS
Patience is key when introducing your new kitten to the other household pets. Never put them where they can fight with your other pets.
Cats and dogs usually learn to love each other, or at least to live together without problems, but you can’t say the same for all pets. Keep pets like rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, birds and reptiles away from your kittens at all times, because they see them as a prey.
Animals recognize each other partially through smell. So when you introduce your kitten to your dog or cat, try to intermix their smells. Pet one and then the other to transfer the smell, and also exchange their bedding. In this way, they will begin to make positive associations (sleeping comfortably and being pampered) with the smell of the other animal.
If you have followed this advice but still have problems helping your kitten adapt at home, talk to your vet. They may recommend a feline educator.
ONCE IT HAS SETTLED IN
Once your kitten feels confident, it will soon be running all around the house. Watch out! They can suddenly appear out of nowhere!
It will spend a lot of time playing, but will still need to take naps; so provide your kitten with a quiet place where it can snuggle without being disturbed.
Following a routine will help your kitten adapt, especially with food, playtime and affection.
A new kitten means a special commitment from you
Everybody’s heart melts at the sight of a new kitten. But that adorable bundle of fluff you’re bringing home is going to need looking after for life. And because cats can have nine lives, that’s a long time! Giving your kitten a good start in life is the best way to make sure you’ll both enjoy many years of fun together. During those early, vulnerable months you’ll need to give her lots of care and attention to help her settle smoothly into life with your family.
Home sweet home?
Naturally, you’re familiar with your home surroundings but to your new kitten it can be a bit scary. Many kittens will find that first move a stressful experience. So you need to do all you can to make her feel at home.
Firstly, please don’t rush into introducing your new pet to other members of the household, people or pets (read more about socialization). Give your kitten time to get used to her new surroundings. It’s also important to show her where her food bowls, litter box and bed are.
A snug, safe haven
During those early days, your new kitten will find things a little strange, and sometimes overwhelming. When things do get too much for her, there’s nothing more secure and welcoming as a safe, cosy bed. You could buy a bed from a pet shop, or you could even use a strong cardboard box. But above all, it needs to be warm and comfortable, dry and away from draughts. The bedding you use should be soft and snugly. The first few nights with you will be the first time she’s been away from her mother and brothers and sisters. Kittens soon get used to sleeping alone, but to begin with you could put a warm hot water bottle under the bedding to remind her of the warmth of the litter.
You’ve heard of ‘baby proofing’ a home, now let’s talk about ‘kitten proofing’ one
You’re bound to want to make your home as safe as possible for your precious new kitten. Here are a few tips:
Windows need to be kept closed so your kitten can’t fall out or escape.
If you have open fireplaces where your kitten could gain access to the chimney, block them up.
Hide all electrical cabling. Your kitten might try to chew through it.
Make sure you don’t have any houseplants that are potentially dangerous to your kitten. Lilies, poinsettias and cyclamens are all poisonous.
Food for thought
Choosing a kitten food is a big responsibility. After all, it’s what will help her grow and develop to her full potential. But, to help her feel secure, it’s best not to change her diet straight away. Remember to find out what your kitten has been eating before you became her new owner, and feed the same food. Then, if you do decide on a new food, mix it with her usual food until the changeover is complete. You should take 5 to 7 days to get your kitten used to her new food. Whatever you’re feeding her, remember, little and often is the order of the day to begin with – kittens aged from eight to twelve weeks need four meals a day, three meals from three to six months, and two over six months old.
By far the easiest and most successful way to ensure your growing kitten is getting a healthy; balanced diet is to feed a complete premium food for kittens. There are two types of complete foods available, dry or tinned. With dry food, your kitten can visit her food bowl as often as she likes throughout the day. Wet foods in cans or pouches, on the other hand, are likely to lose their freshness quickly once in the bowl, so need to be given as separate meals throughout the day.
But, just like our food, not all kitten foods offer the same quality and value for money. Make sure you check the ingredients list, or better still, ask your vet for advice. A good food should provide all the nutrients essential for a growing kitten to become a healthy cat. Click here for information on Hill’s kitten food
Believe it or not, we wouldn’t recommend giving milk to your new kitten; given in large quantities it can cause diarrhea. Instead, clean, fresh water should be available at all times. If you do want to treat your kitten to something else, there are special kitten milks you can buy.
Sharing your home with a new kitten can bring you and your family so much enjoyment. But it also brings responsibility for their care and comfort. In the days and weeks ahead, you’ll need to introduce your kitten to their new home, begin litter training and start the socialisation process. Here’s how to help them get along with you, your family and your other pets.
The first few hours: Getting comfortable at home
Getting your kitten settled in those first few hours can have its challenges. Here are some ways to help the whole family with the process:
- Once you arrive home, place the carry cage in a safe, enclosed room. Open the cage door and allow your kitten to come out on its own terms.
- It’s important to make your kitten’s new home comfortable and low stress. So prepare an accessible, cosy bed, and do your best to keep noise to a minimum. For the time being, keep the family dog in a separate area, and encourage kids to talk and play quietly.
- Play with and stroke your kitten in your lap. This will help it feel safe with you and welcome in its new home.
- Gradually introduce your kitten to new rooms.
- If you choose to let your kitten outside, make sure to supervise. Ask your vet about the pros and cons of allowing cats outside, and ask your city council about cat curfews.
The first night: Reducing nighttime anxieties
The first night in a new home can be a bit scary and overwhelming for a kitten. When it’s time to go to bed, set up your kitten in a small room or enclosed area of the house with its bed and litter tray. Make sure water and food is placed away from the litter tray.
The carry cage can be a comforting place over the next few days if your kitten is frightened or sleepy. Put it near its bed so the kitten can go in and feel secure at any time.
The next few days: Easing into a routine
Here are a few additional ways you can help your kitten feel at ease:
- Set up a cardboard box on its side with warm blankets to provide shelter and comfort.
- Use the same litter your kitten is used to, but have a spare tray ready with different litter so it has a choice.
- Leave some food out, preferably the same type the kitten’s been eating. To avoid indigestion, change foods gradually.
- Cat pheromones can help some kittens feel calm and adjust to new surroundings more quickly. Ask your vet for more advice.
Remember, it’s been a big occasion for both of you, so cries for attention are normal, even for the first few nights.
The next few weeks: Socialising and training
Over the coming weeks, you’ll want to start training and socialising your kitten. Here are some tips to get started.
1. Discourage scratching
Kittens are curious and inquisitive and will look for any opportunity to play, scratch, climb and jump. During play they may discover how to use their claws. Set up a scratching post and run the kitten’s front paws along the surface – reward them when they use it. With patience, training and understanding, your kitten will learn where it can and cannot scratch.
For more tips: Check out our guide to preventing your cat from scratching your furniture, drapes and other indoor items.
2. Begin litter training
It’s important to litter train your kitten as soon as possible. Place the tray in a quiet spot, put your kitten in its tray after they’ve woken or eaten, and praise the kitten when they use the tray.
And remember, punishing hinders progress, so never yell at or hit your kitten, or rub their nose in their mess. Punishments like these can make your kitten fearful of you.
Good to know: Struggling to litter train your cat? Get step-by-step details and troubleshooting advice.
3. Socialise your kitten
Both the kids and adults in your family will be understandably excited about your new arrival. Help your kitten fit into a human environment with these tips:
- Always supervise your kitten around small children. Sit them down on the floor (kittens can wriggle free and fall from a height) and let them stroke the kitten gently in their lap.
- Show children the correct way to pick up the kitten. Teach kids to cradle the kitten’s back end in one hand and place the other on the kitten’s chest. Never pick up a kitten by the scruff of its neck.
- Encourage good hygiene. Cover your children’s sandpit so the kitten doesn’t use it as a litter tray. Teach children to wash their hands after playing with the kitten, especially before eating.
- Create safe barriers. If you have a baby, install a barrier such as a baby gate at the entrance to the nursery to keep the kitten and infant apart.
- Go slow with animal introductions. Meeting other pets can be stressful. Introduce your kitten to other pets slowly, and never force them together.
Learning your cat’s emotional signals
Cats experience emotion and will attempt to communicate their feelings. You and your new pet will get along much better if you learn to understand what it’s trying to express.
Cats use the following postures and behaviours to display emotions:
- Relaxed: tail down, ears upright, whiskers to the side, pupils slightly dilated
- Friendly: tail up
- Alert: pupils dilated, whiskers tensed
- Aggressive or threatened: tail held close to body, ears erect and turned back, pupils constricted
- Frightened: arched back, raised tail, hairs on end, ears flat, whiskers stiff, pupils dilated
- Purring: usually a sign of contentment, but may also be a sign that they are scared or hurt
A playful kitten will bring plenty of fun, affection and entertainment into your home. With thoughtful preparation and attentive care, it will quickly become a happy member of your family.
23 February 2016
The kitten will rely on you completely to help move them from their mother’s side to an unknown new home. Your kitten won’t just be leaving their mother they will be leaving their sibling’s side and familiar surroundings.
Everyone in the family must contribute to the planning of how to make your kitten feel comfortable in your home. Your efforts will pay off when you see your baby grow up into a friendly, outgoing and loving kitten. To enable your kitten to become comfortable in the surroundings of your home, there are a range of things you as an owner can do. Click here to find out how.
Did you know we are the First Cat Friendly Practice in Adelaide? Click here to read more about being a cat friendly practice!
For further details, contact us.
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- 2 City View Boulevard, Lightsview SA 5085 – opposite Northgate Village Shopping Centre
- 08 8369 3111
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We breakdown how to become a new cat owner with all the dates, equipment & tips. Knowing how to look after a kitten is easy when you follow this checklist.
22 July 2020 • 4 min read
Introducing your kitten into your home is the first step towards them becoming part of the family. With a little preparation, this transition will be easy for both you and your new kitten. This guide breaks down all the necessary steps for looking after a kitten.
Prepare your kittenвЂ™s equipment
CanвЂ™t wait to get your new kitten home? While you wait for your cat, hit the shops and pick up all the essentials needed to make your kitten feel at home. Having everything prepared ahead of time means your kitten will have a relaxing introduction to your home, and itвЂ™s a great way to get kids excited for the new kittenвЂ™s arrival.
Make sure you pick up:
- A collar
- Cat litter box
- Food bowls
- Cat toys.
Cats are territorial creatures who love to find private corners and little nooks to nap and sunbathe in. While they do love moving around the house at their discretion, having everything prepared is a great way to make them feel comfortable.
Keep track of your cat: microchipping and registration
Cats love to wander and have secret adventures, and a microchip is a great way to help keep your cat safe and ensure they donвЂ™t roam too far. Microchipping is also a legal requirement in some Australian states. Take your kitten to a registered vet or authorised implanter to get them microchipped. Registering your kitten with your local council makes any reunions quick and simple.
Cover your cat with pet insurance
New kittens love exploring unfamiliar territory and testing their limits. Cats are incredibly curious creatures and can get into all kinds of scrapes and misadventures, so itвЂ™s a good idea to get them covered with pet insurance early on. That will give you peace of mind that they are protected while learning to navigate the world.
Did you know that Medibank health members save 10% on Pet Insurance?
Your kittenвЂ™s health: vaccinations, de-sexing and treatments
New kittens are routinely vaccinated with three injectionsВ which typically occur at 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks of age. After the вЂkitten seriesвЂ™ is finished, cats require an annual vaccine to maintain protection against harmful diseases.
Cat spraying and de-sexing
One female cat can give birth to 40 kittens per year!В So itвЂ™s important to de-sex your cat to avoid accidental litters as well as roaming behaviour and territorial signing. De-sexing will usually occur at three months of age however, this can vary between breeds.
Cat worming programs
Intestinal worming is a serious threat to kittens: parasites can harm the important growth and developmentВ of your little one. Kittens should be wormed every two weeks until they reach 12 weeks of age, and then monthly until they reach six months, followed by a treatment every three months.
Kitten training and socialising
Cats are famous for being fastidiously clean, which makes litter training relatively easy. Pick a roomy space with some privacy for your kitten to do their business and gently encourage your kitten to use the tray after mealtimes and when they wake up. В
The best way to engage with your cat is to match its temperament. Try to not smother your kitten or put it in overwhelming situations; instead, create a calm space and observe its behaviour patterns.
Your kitten can be a wonderful source of fun, pride and wonder. Understanding them and their needs will help create a great home dynamic and provide the building blocks of a beautiful new friendship.
Looking for Pet Insurance?В
Get peace of mind with Medibank Pet Insurance. Plus, health members save 10%.
Important things you should know
Medibank Pet Insurance is issued by The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd ABN 78 090 584 473, AFSL 241436, is arranged and administered by PetSure (Australia) Pty Ltd ABN 95 075 949 923, AFSL 420183 (PetSure) and is promoted and distributed by PetSureвЂ™s Authorised Representative (AR) Medibank Private Limited ABN 47 080 890 259, AR 286089.В Terms, conditions, waiting periods and exclusions apply. Any advice provided is general only and does notВ take into accountВ your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. Please consider theВ Product Disclosure StatementВ (PDS) to ensure this product meets your needs before purchasing.В PDSВ andВ Target Market DeterminationВ available at medibank.com.au/pet-insurance
Bringing Home a New Puppy or Kitten: Complete Guide
The Benefits of Having a Pet: Why You Should Get a Dog or Cat
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Bringing a kitten home is an exciting but scary time for you and your young cat. Kittens are seriously cute and whilst you’ll want to bring them home immediately, it’s important they only leave when ready. Most kittens will be fully weaned and ready to brace their new home by 7-9 weeks old. After this period, it’s over to you! Fear not, we’ve got some tips and tricks to help prepare ahead of your new arrival so the process can be stress-free and enjoyable.
Here’s our survival guide for new pet parents to get you fully prepared for bringing home your bundle of joy…
the journey begins
So, you’ve chosen the perfect kitten and are eagerly awaiting the pick-up date. But don’t get ahead of yourself just yet. Even before you bring the little one home, there are things you can do to make the process easier.
familiarise your scent
Cats rely heavily on their sense of smell to feel safe and comfortable. Ease your new kitten’s anxiety by taking a blanket from your home and leaving it with them for a few days. This way, when it comes to bringing your kitten home, it already has a source of comfort that they have become familiar with.
Kittens can occasionally suffer with gastrointestinal issues when settling into a new home. A few trips to the vet may be on the cards to stop anything more serious developing. Some breeders and rehoming centres offer up to 4 weeks of free pet insurance to cover these issues. If not, make sure you have adequate cover to avoid unexpected vet bills.
Kittens are inquisitive, playful animals and will eagerly explore their new home. Make sure they’re safe on their expeditions by putting away any loose wires and tying up long blind strings. Like their big cat cousins, kittens also love to hide in high-up positions. Try to provide an easy, safe way for them to recreate this natural behaviour.
set-up a room
Your new kitten needs a room to feel safe and comfortable. Choose a room, ideally in a quiet area of your house, where your kitten can adjust to life in its new home. Make sure you remove any breakable objects or poisonous plants from the room beforehand.
Kitten Food & Frink
It makes sense to set up a feeding zone before collecting your kitten. After this, a kitten-friendly food will make sure they’re getting all the essential nutrients with no upset stomachs. On top of that, you don’t need to give your kitten milk. They will have fed from their mother until they were old enough to be apart, so water is best.
Has your kitten tried our chicken kitten food yet? It’s packed with proper animal meat and all the essential amino acids your kitten needs to thrive. Plus over 1 billion live bacteria per kg (probiotics) to support gut health, immune function and pretty poops. If you’ve smelt a kitten poop before, we know you’ll be thankful for this! We also make it in the UK and Ireland using responsibly sourced ingredients and serve it in eco packaging, so your kitty can have a lighter pawprint. Don’t forget all our recipes are suitable for kittens 3 months + if they’d rather our Gnashers Dental Treats or Wet Cat Food.
Your kitten should always have access to a clean litter tray. Place it away from their bedding and eating area, somewhere quiet and safe but where they can easily find it. Be sure to refresh it regularly, there’s nothing worse than a smelly loo! Introduce your kitten to the tray first thing in the morning, last thing at night and after meal times. They will soon get the idea. If you have existing cats it’s best to have a tray per cat, as they don’t like to go in each others area.
Your new feline friend needs a place to rest their head. Don’t worry about getting a fancy, expensive bed – a cardboard box is perfect for most kittens. Line your box with cosy blankets. Cats love to hide, so give be sure to give them plenty! Remember to put your scented blanket in there too, to make them feel at home.
You’ll need to get a suitable cat carrier before picking your little one up for the journey home. This will also prove useful for future trips to the vet or family visits. There are loads of options out there, so do your research and make sure you get the ideal carrier for you and your pet.
first trip home
You’ve readied yourselves and your home and picked up your new fur baby – the fun starts now. Remember your kitten is still young and getting used to being away from their mother, so settling in may take some time.
let the Kitten lead the way
It is important to let your kitten settle in and feel comfortable before interacting with them. Open their carrier in their room, leave the door ajar and wait until they feel comfortable enough to venture out. Try sitting on the floor and gently speaking to them, letting them approach you when they’re ready.
We understand that children are excited and can’t wait to hold their new best friend. But it can be overwhelming, and sometimes dangerous, to let your child make the first move. Avoid letting young children handle the kitten too much, and don’t leave them unsupervised until you’re confident they can handle them properly.
and your pets…
Let’s not forget the pets that are already settled in at home. Cats and dogs should be separated from your kitten at first, before being slowly introduced. Keep them supervised when they’re in the same room – and offer treats to your older pets for good behaviour around the new arrival. Remember to give your other pets plenty of attention, so they don’t feel like they’re being left out or replaced.
the big outdoors
Choosing to let your kitten have access to the outdoors is an important decision and you should be careful to consider if it is suitable for your cat and the local environment. Some breeds are not suitable to be allowed outdoors alone and some areas have dangers to consider – main roads, other animals etc.
If you do plan to let your cat have access to the outside world there are some important things to think about first. Most importantly, make sure they have all their immunisations before letting them out. Keep your kitten indoors until it knows where home is too, so it doesn’t get lost. Try letting them outside when they’re hungry, initially, so you can entice them back with food.
If you have to leave your kitten home alone, for any reason, make sure they are safe and comfortable. Secure your little one in a room with plenty of food, drink and toys. Some cat parents have found that playing music or leaving the television on in another room can settle the kitten and put them at ease.
trip to the vet
Visiting the vet can be an overwhelming, intimidating experience for all animals, especially for the first time. Your kitten should see the vet ideally within a day or two of coming home – so best to book in advance. They will usually check for worms (most kittens have them) and make sure they are up to date with injections.
There is nothing more exciting than welcoming a new cat into the family, but before their arrival, you need to spend a little time preparing your house for a kitten.
Your kitty is just learning about the world, how to behave and fit in with their humans. As a fur parent, it’s your responsibility to create a home where they can do this safely, with all their needs taken care of.
So among all the excitement of going to meet your new feline and choosing a name, have a read of our top tips for making your home kitten-friendly.
Set up a safe territory
There is plenty in your house that could be dangerous to an inquisitive young kitten. Some are more obvious than others – sharp objects like scissors and needles should be kept out of the reach of Whisker’s claws, and cords and wires should be tidied away and covered where possible.
Then there are the less obvious risky items. Did you know many household plastics are toxic to cats, for instance? Or are there any household cleaning items at their level? Be sure to keep these well out of the way.
Cats also like a hiding place where they can sneak away, to help them feel safe. Try to ensure they’ve got a spot or two where they can climb and curl up for some alone time.
Pick up cat essentials
A trip to your local pet store might be in order, as kitty is going to require some essentials to make them feel at home:
- A cosy bed or basket
- Litter tray
- Water and food bowl
- Toys or a scratching post
- Food designed for young cats, like our Smitten Kitten!
- Carrying basket
Install a cat flap
A cat flap allows your four-legged friend to come and go as they please without you needing to leave any windows open, and you can now choose ones that don’t allow other cats to enter from outside. If your house isn’t already equipped with one, now is the time to make the addition.
A little training might be in order to help your kitten get used to it. It’s easiest to have a person each side of the door – one holding the cat flap open, and the other holding a treat to reward Felix with when they step through.
Who will give them company?
Once your house is filled with everything material that it needs, it’s time to start thinking about other ways you’ll help them settle into their new home.
After being used to the company of their mum and siblings, kittens can get distressed when they are left alone, so you’ll need to be there to keep any eye on them in their first week. If you do need to leave them alone, it’s a good idea to have a radio in the room with their bed, so you can keep it playing on low volume while you’re out.
So they don’t get overwhelmed, plan a quiet time in your house to bring your kitten home, introducing their new human friends to them one at a time.
Introducing the rest of your fur family
Speaking of meeting the family, do you already have a older cat at home? This needs to be handled carefully!
Set up your new kitten its own space in a room your older cat doesn’t spend time in, with bed, toys, food and water all here. As mentioned above, plenty of high spaces for both cats to climb up to if they are feeling threatened are also a must.
Before they meet, stroke each cat or swap a piece of their bedding. This helps your new kitten smell of home, and therefore more familiar to your cat.
What if you have dogs? Despite popular belief, your kitten and pooch can become good friends.
So, there you have just some of the way you can create a kitten-friendly home. Let us know if you’re a kitten parent-to-be and have found our post useful!
*The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified pet health provider with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s health*
A new home can be a scary place for a kitten, so how can you help?
Bringing your kitten home is a fantastically exciting time for the whole family. Making sure you have everything you need, and that everyone knows the best way to make your newest ball of fluff feel welcome and safe, will help your new kitten be a part of the family straight away.
Read more about bringing your kitten home
Before you buy hundreds of cat things, it is important to make sure your current house is ‘cat proof’. Curious by nature, and not always the most co-ordinated, kittens can cause themselves problems with even the most benign-looking of household objects.
- Drape curtains, bookshelves and tablecloths – kittens, with their needle sharp claws, love to climb. Sadly, getting up is often easier than getting down, and kittens can get stuck or fall from heights.
- Wires and hanging string, such as curtain pulls – Anything dangling is there to be chewed, and this may include electrical wires which can be very dangerous if chewed or pulled.
- Household plants – Sadly, some plants are not good for kittens. The worst is the lily; the advice is to not have lilies in your home at all if you have cats as even ingesting a tiny amount of pollen can be fatal.
- Rubber bands, ribbon, thread and twine – Anything long and thin is great fun for kittens, but can be deadly. Eating these can result in very nasty blockages, which need complex surgery to fix and can be fatal.
- Keeping the lid closed! Especially interesting places like bins and toilets can be a hazard for kittens who can fall in and get trapped.
- Cupboards and drawers – Keeping these closed, with child-proof locks if necessary, is especially important for cupboards containing cleaning or medical supplies. Nervous kittens may also flee into open cabinets or into impossible-to-reach spots like behind or under kitchen cupboards.
- Laundry, including tumble driers and washing machines – Kittens love warmth and comfort, and laundry can provide both of these. Heaps of washing ready to go in, and open tumble driers and washing machines, can be fun places to explore for kittens.
A good rule of thumb is that if it looks like it might be fun to play with or eat, or it looks like a dark and fun hidey-hole, your new kitten will give it a go!
When you first bring your kitten home, the best way to manage their introduction to the household is to have them in just one room for the first few days as they settle in. This:
- Means you know where they are
- Keeps them away from intimidating hustle and bustle of the house as they settle in
- Making managing litter tray use easier, as your kitten will always be close to facilities
- Allows them to explore and settle in their own time
- Allows busy households to regulate ‘kitten access’, which can be especially important in households with small children.
Spare rooms make good options if you have one, but anywhere you choose should have a door or some other way of controlling access.
The room should contain everything your kitten needs, including litter tray, separate food and water bowls, hiding places, floor level sleeping places, toys and a scratch post.
Bringing your kitten home for the first time is a really exciting time for the whole family, but can be a very scary experience for your kitten. Making the day as relaxed as possible for them will help them settle in faster, and help prevent any fear or anxiety from developing.
- Make sure you have a safe carrier to bring your kitten home in. You can spray this with pheromones to help it feel like a secure environment, and make sure it is lined with something absorbent in case of any little accidents.
- Ask whoever you are getting your kitten from what they have been eating, what their litter tray arrangements have been and what their favourite toys and blankets are. If you can get a sample to bring home, all the better! Anything that feels familiar will help your kitten settle in at home, and if it smells familiar too that will be even more reassuring. You can also take toys and/or blankets for your kitten and leave them with the breeder or rescue for a few days before you pick up your kitten, to bring back with you on moving day.
- While travelling, keep things calm in the car. It can be tempting to get your kitten out, but letting them settle in their safe carrier is best for the journey. You may want to cover the carrier with a light blanket to keep it dark as this can help calm your kitten, and if you have any blankets or toys that smell familiar, placing these in the carrier can be soothing.
- When you get your new kitten home, place the carrier in their pre-prepared area and open the door. Don’t be tempted to remove your kitten from the carrier – they will come out to explore in their own time!
While for adult cats, having time alone to explore a new place is best, for kittens they are used to constant companionship and staying with them while they explore their room is best.
Let them do this in their own time, and gently tap their litter tray, food and water to show them where they are. Speaking softly can help them feel comforted, as they will likely be timid at first.
Sit on the floor and let your new kitten come to you. Don’t force any interaction, and make sure everyone in the family is aware of this rule. If your kitten hides and won’t come out, then you can try leaving them for a little while to see if the peace and quiet gives them courage.
Once your kitten is bouncing around their room, and you are happy they are eating, drinking and using the litter tray happily, you can start leaving the door to their room ajar. They will explore in their own time, and you can enjoy watching their confidence blossom!
If you already have a cat, managing their relationship is key to a happy home. Have a look at our dedicated page for how to introduce cats to each other, to help you keep the peace!
Taking your new kitten for a check-up at the vets is always recommended, even if they have had their vaccinations.
You get to meet your vet, and they get to meet both you and your kitten and give them a thorough medical examination. You can also ask any questions – while Vets4Pets vets are trained to treat sick animals, they also have heaps of knowledge about keeping animals healthy.
Your vet can give you great advice on:
- Flea and worm prevention
- Vaccination schedules
Book an appointment
Adopting a new cat or kitten is such a fun time. Not only are you adding a furry family member but you are committing to a lifetime of love and companionship. Those first few days, it’s important to make sure you are doing everything right for a successful transition, especially since cats are sensitive to changes in their environment.
The smells, sights, and sounds of a new home, especially those with other pets, can cause fear, stress, and anxiety to the newcomer. The new cat may be anxious about finding food, water, and the litter box or be worried that the other pets may hurt or antagonize them.
So, what can you do to help your new cat feel at home?
When we look at how to make a cat feel more at home, we need to look at normal cat behaviors, and then determine how cats can exhibit those normal behaviors in an acceptable way. Some examples include:
–Scratching. Cats scratch to remove the outer layer of their nail, revealing a new, healthy nail. They also scratch to mark their territory, relieve stress, stretch, and communicate. So scratching is necessary for cats. Provide a scratching post (or several!). This gives cats an opportunity to scratch without tearing up furniture and carpets.
–Playtime. Cats instinctively like to run, jump, pounce, and play. They should have plenty of toys to play with to satisfy their hunting behavior and to encourage physical and mental activity. Things as simple as ping pong balls or crinkle balls can be a lot of fun for cats, especially if a person plays with them. Feeding time can be made into a game by using interactive feeding trays and toys. Many cats love drinking from a pet water fountain so they can drink water as it flows through the bowl.
–Appropriate elimination. Often times cat parents don’t give enough thought to the litter box, and that can make for a very unhappy cat. You should provide cats with multiple litter boxes. The general rule is one litter box per cat, plus one. So, if you have two cats, you should have at least three litter boxes. Some cats prefer a covered litter box while others prefer it to be open. Where the litter boxes are placed is important too. You don’t want to tuck them away in the farthest corner of your house or make it difficult for the cat to get to. You also don’t want the litter boxes in a high-traffic area of your house either. If it’s loud when the cat is in the litter box, he or she might get scared and associate the box with a bad experience, thus causing them to go outside of the litter box. Also, because cats are very tidy pets, scooping the litter box daily is recommended.
–Climbing and perching. One of the best ways you can maximize your cat’s indoor space and create an enriching environment for you cats is to supply a cat tree, perches, and cozy lounging spaces. This will help them be more comfortable and allow them to exhibit normal cat behaviors. Lounging spaces can be as simple as a cardboard box or paper grocery bag or could be a blanket placed inside of a pet tunnel toy. Perches and shelves can be installed by the window for safe bird-watching or on the wall so the cat can climb up high and keep an eye on things down below.
For more tips on feline behavior, check out the Humane Society of Missouri’s behavior page: https://www.hsmo.org/behavior/
The Animal Medical Center of Mid-America has veterinarians at three locations that can answer questions about your pet’s health. Call 314-951-1534 or click here to request an appointment online.
Like humans, cats have needs that make them feel happy and secure. To help understand the “core resources” your cat needs, think about what you need when you move to a new apartment/house.
What do you do to feel comfortable and make this new place your home? Typically, we clean, stock the bathroom and kitchen, make up our bed with our own sheets and pillows, and decorate with curtains, pictures, and personal items.
Your cat’s needs are similar and you want to make sure you have an place or environment that makes your cat feel comfortable and secure.
Meeting the Needs of Your Cat
Every cat needs a safe and secure place where she can retreat to and feel protected or that can be used as a resting area. Your cat should be able to enter and exit from this space from at least two sides if she feels threatened. Most cats prefer the safe space be big enough to only fit themselves, have sides around it, and be raised off the ground.
Multiple and Separated Key Resources
Key resources include food, water, toileting areas, scratching areas, play areas, and resting or sleeping areas. These resources should be separated from each other so your cats have free access without being challenged by other cats or other potential threats.
Opportunity for Play and Predatory Behavior
Play and predatory behaviors allow cats to fulfill their natural need to hunt. Play can be motivated with the use of interactive toys that mimic prey. Cats need to be able to capture the “prey”, at least occasionally, to prevent frustration. Using food puzzles or food balls can mimic the action of hunting for prey, and provides more natural eating behavior.
Positive, Consistent, and Predictable Human–cat Social Interaction
Cats’ individual preferences determine how much they like human interactions such as petting, grooming, being played with or talked to, being picked up, and sitting or lying on a person’s lap.
An Environment That Respects the Importance of a Cat’s Sense of Smell
Unlike humans, cats use their sense of smell to evaluate their surroundings. Cats mark their scent by rubbing their face and body, which leaves natural pheromones to establish boundaries within which they feel safe and secure. Avoid cleaning their scent off these areas. Some smells can be threatening to cats (i.e., unfamiliar animals, or scented products or cleaners) which may lead to problematic behaviors such as urinating outside of the litter box or scratching in undesirable areas.
Review Your Cat’s Environmental Needs Brochure for more information about each of these.
Five Items for a Secure Environment for Your Cat
Provide your cat with predictable meal times. If you have multiple cats, make sure you have individual food bowls for each cat in your household.
Cats need clean, fresh water. Use a location that is appealing to your cat.
Provide a convenient, clean, and private litter box for your kitty and be sure to scoop it at least once daily. As a general rule of thumb, the number of litter boxes should be one more than the number of cats in your household. Many cats prefer a larger litter box that is one and a half times the length of their body, and at least one and a half inches deep.
Safe Place to Sleep
Soft bedding, as well as familiar smells and sounds, provides security for your cat. Some cats also like to be provided with soft, cozy places to hide.
Familiar Territory and Elevated Spaces
Face-rubbing and scratching surfaces leaves your cat’s scent, and marks the territory with a personal touch. Be sure to supply plenty of scratching posts to encourage appropriate scratching. Access to an elevated area increases the cat’s vertical space and allows him/her to monitor their environment.
Meeting your cat’s environmental needs can help to avoid stressors that could initiate unwanted behavioral or medical consequences.
Learn more about the basic supplies you will need for your cat to feel secure.
Did you know that June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month? And as lots of older cats are hopefully finding their forever homes this month, we wanted to help all the new pet parents with their new cat’s transition from shelter to home. If you’ve adopted a cat and you’re wondering, “What now?” . Well, Congratulations on adopting a new furry family member! As for the “what now,” let’s get into it! Here are 4 ways to help your new kitty feel at home.
1. Be prepared
A big step in adopting a new cat is making sure your house is prepped and ready to go when they get there.
Cats are predators, sure, but they’re also small enough to be considered prey in the wild, and their instincts tell them this! That’s why many cats regard a new environment with fear, as they are unsure if there are larger predators lurking. To help combat this new environment anxiety, set up a safe space for your new kitty that will be just for them. Ensure this space, like a guest bedroom or even a second bathroom, is set up that no other resident animals can intrude. Outfit the room with all the basics: food, water, toys, and a litter box. Be sure not to place the food and water bowls next to the litter box, though.
Ask the shelter or adoption center where you got your new kitty what brand of food they were being fed, and what type of litter they were using – at least until they’ve settled in and you can introduce these changes slowly instead of all at once, which can be jarring to some cats.
Make sure to include some safe, comfortable places where your new cat can hide, like a cat bed or a covered cat tree that offers shelter; there are even collapsible tunnels that allow your cat to safely hide. This will give your new cat a chance to calmly observe her new environment, through sights, sounds, and smells, from a safe spot.
2. Take it slow
Don’t try to rush things. As exciting as it is for you to have a new best friend (and a new cuddle companion), all the new sights, smells, and sounds can be intimidating and often frightening for newly adopted cats. All cats are different, of course, but you should let the kitty set the pace! When you bring them home, release them into their private kitty room you’ve already set up.
Just sit quietly and watch the cat as they explore their new environment and don’t try to cuddle or hug them if they’re not feeling lovey-dovey. Watch them for signs of anxiety or fear, such as a lashing tail, wide pupils, and flat ears. If they’re exhibiting any of these, try backing off for a bit and give your cat some space to chill before trying again. You can offer them a shirt or towel with your scent on it so they can adapt to your new smell in the meantime.
3. Encourage bonding through treats and toys
Once you’ve given your cat a day or so to explore and adapt to their new environment, it’s time to bring in the treats and toys! It goes without saying that a majority of cats are food motivated, but some might be more willing to explore when there’s yummy food in the mix. Try hiding treats in different areas of their “room” so they’re encouraged to explore and are rewarded for it. Offering your new kitty treats by hand also will help your new cat to associate you with positive things (like yummy treats!) and emotions and fosters bonding.
Toys are another wonderful way to not only bond with your new cat but also help with stress relief. You might have to try a few toys to see what your new cat’s preferences are; we all know that, like humans, cats can be notoriously picky!
If your new kitty seems to like things that “fly” or flutter, try a feather wand or teaser toy to entice them to play. A cat that seems to like to kick and bite would benefit from a kicker toy so they can grab ahold and bunny kick away!
As a note for establishing rules with your new kitty, it’s important that you don’t let your cat play with your hands, as this will tell them it’s ok to bite and kick your hand whether you intend that or not!
4. Keep expectations realistic
Adopting a new cat is an exciting experience – but just remember that for your kitty, it can be a bit overwhelming. Don’t expect everything to be perfect straight away, or for them to be ready to cuddle 24/7. Cats are as unique as people, and each has their own personality – and their own experiences. Some cats may come from abusive or neglectful situations, making them more frightened. Some cats may be more well-adapted to handling new situations than others.
It’s important to remember to be patient and understanding – to both your new kitty, and yourself! Especially if you’re new to the world of pet ownership. You won’t get everything purrfect the first time around. But you and your new kitty will learn and grow together!
With a little patience and a lot of love and understanding, your new kitty will feel at home in no time at all.
Claudette on January 23 2022 at 12:17PM
Hi, thank you for this post. I got a female 1 yr 4 months, she gave birth to 6 babies on July 2021. She was getting a bit aggressive with the other cats in the house and with her own babies, so the owner gave her for adoption and I got her on January 21, 2022, first thing I did was to bring her to the VET for her to receive the basic needs and my house was ready with all kinds of fun stuff, trees to climb and other little beds in the house. But since she’s got home she’s been hiding ever since and places you wouldn’t believe, she’s the queen of hiding. I notice that, yesterday she eat, drank and used the litter box for the first time since she’s in my house. I cannot approach her, she’s not aggressive with me, she simply hide. Is there something else I should do to help her feel at home? Thank you for reading my message.
Meowingtons on June 05 2020 at 10:57AM
In response to Elizabeth zbrignoni –
Thank you so much for caring for the cats in your neighborhood and doing all you can to help them. There are some amazing resources on Alley Cat Allies’ website that may offer some more thorough tips in trapping a cat who is eluding you: https://www.alleycat.org/resources/how-to-help-community-cats-a-step-by-step-guide-to-trap-neuter-return/.
You may also be able to use their “Feral Friends” system to locate other TNR rescuers or organizations in your area: https://www.alleycat.org/our-work/feral-friends-network/feral-friends-network-connect/.
Elizabeth zbrignoni on June 04 2020 at 07:50PM
Hi any advice n bringing home a two month old feral baby taken to shelter n adopting after. If you have advice on how to capture pregnant mama. I’d appreciate that too. I’ve lived here short of a year now and she gotten pregnant three time. Only two babies have made it. She’s pregnant again. The Teo that I caught she made sure they could fend for themselves n left. She’s due any day but she alluded the cages. Can’t seem to catch her. I’d love to help get her fixed n have the babies adopted n not be born outside. We’ve caught about 6 males and 5 babies all pregnant. She’s the last one now but if she gives birth before I could catch her n it’s looking that way. I’m bk to square one. Waiting for them to be old enough to catch and she just might get prego again. I fear for her life this way.
Anything you can tell me I’d apprciate it. This is not a no kill shelter here. TNR is three hours away. 😔.
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How to Socialize a Kitten
Congratulations on deciding to foster and socialize kittens! Spending time with these fuzzy little guys, though a lot of work, will also be a lot of fun. We have tons of tips on how to help your mini kitties feel at ease around people, and how to help them grow up to be loving companion animals. Now let’s get down to business!
Socializing Older Kittens
Alley Cat Allies does not, in general, recommend trying to socialize a feral cat over 4 months of age. However, there is a gray area in which the personality of the individual cat comes into play. Between 4 and 8 months of age, if there is time and capacity and if the kitten is showing meaningful signs of social behavior, the decision may be made to place the kitten in a foster home for socialization and eventual adoption.
But keep in mind that socializing is time-consuming, especially for older kittens. It involves interacting with the kittens one-on-one for at least a couple of hours every day, and results are not guaranteed. It is important to do an honest assessment of the kitten’s progress during this time.
If she does not show increasing signs of socialization within a week or so, it is best that she is returned to her colony outdoors through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). To do otherwise is to expose the kitten to ongoing stress. Kittens will be safe and healthy in their outdoor homes with their feline families.
Help Kittens Feel Comfortable
First things first, set up the crate they’ll be staying in and make sure it’s off of the floor—cats feel safer if they’re higher up where they can see their surroundings. After you bring the kittens inside and get them set up in their crate, give them an initial two-day adjustment period before trying to socialize them too much–the change of scenery can be stressful!
When you do start to spend time with them, begin by moving slowly and speaking softly, and try to keep loud TV or music down. For very young kittens, a soothing technique is to wrap a ticking clock in a towel. It reminds them of their momma’s heartbeat.
After they’ve been with you for a few days, try leaving a TV or radio on so they can get used to people voices and sounds. If there aren’t other pets around, you can leave the crate in a busy part of your home, like the living room, so they can begin to see and hear other areas of the home.
Like anyone, kittens react positively to positive experiences and negatively to negative experiences. Don’t hold back! Reward kittens when they do well, like come up for snuggles, and avoid scolding.
If a litter of kittens are slow to socialize, you might want to separate the kittens into individual crates or spaces so that they can rely on people more. Or you can make sure to spend some quality time alone with each one. When they feel more comfortable with you, they can be reunited with their brothers and sisters.
Be patient! Spitting, hissing, and hiding are all expressions of fear, not signs of aggression.
Socialize With Food
Kittens love food (who doesn’t), and giving the little ones food creates an incentive for them to interact with you and also forms positive associations. Keep dry kitten food out all day, but when you feed wet food, stay in the room so they associate you with food and start to trust you. If they’re scared at first, try to give them food on spoon.
Over time, move the food plate closer to your body while you sit in the room, until the plate is in your lap and the kittens are comfortable crawling on you to get to it.
Pet the kittens for the first time while they’re eating so they stay put. Start petting their little faces, chins, and behind their ears and work up to petting all over. Also take your time building up to holding the kittens, and reward them with some canned cat food or chicken-flavored baby food on a spoon—kittens love people baby food! (Make sure it doesn’t have onion, which is toxic to cats.)
Don’t give kittens food on your finger though, and don’t allow them to play with your hand, or bite or scratch you. A bite from even a young kitten can be painful! Plus, it teaches the kittens that biting is okay (which it’s not!).
Socializing With Play
Playing with kittens can help them build trust for people. At least two hours a day of play (all together or broken up) can do the trick—it will go by fast, don’t worry! Take time to socialize each of the kittens in a litter individually, while you’re down on their level.
Once you’ve spent enough time with them that they let you hold them, hold the kittens as much as possible. Make sure they are close to your body so they feel your body warmth and heartbeat. If a kitten is particularly feisty, put her in a front-carrying pack or papoose (lightly, but snugly wrap) her in a towel with only the head out and hold her while doing things around the house. Around 3 to 4 weeks old, kittens will love to play with toys, and you should encourage that!
Once the kittens are comfortable enough to fall asleep on your lap or purr around you, they can move from the kitten room to a larger, kitten-proof room.
Introduce New Friends
The goal is to socialize the kittens so that they are comfortable around all people and pets and will be happy in their new homes, so introduce them to new some faces! As long as all are healthy, you can introduce kittens to a grownup cat, but keep a close eye to make sure everyone gets along okay. A neutered tom cat will likely play and groom the kittens, which is too sweet.
Kittens that were outside and are still frightened can hurt you if you are not careful, so don’t hesitate to wear gloves or protective clothing if you feel it is needed.
Don’t take chances. Sometimes you have to scruff kittens by the back of their neck to gain control. To do it safely, use your entire hand and gently but firmly grasp the fur on back of neck without pinching, pull the cat up, and immediately support her hind legs.
Keeping Kittens Safe
Do not use toxic cleaning products or leave them in the room with kittens. For cleanups, use diluted bleach solutions (one part bleach to 15 parts water) in small amounts.
If kittens are in your bathroom, pull the shower curtain up and out of the way, so they can’t scale it like the little monkeys they can be, and take all knick-knacks and cleaning products out of the room.
Don’t keep kittens in a room with a reclining chair. The kittens can be injured or killed if they go inside the chair and accidentally get closed underneath. Double check windows and vents to make sure they are securely fastened—kittens can be little escape artists!
With these tips, the litter of kittens you’ve taken under your wing will soon be on their way to being fuzzy, cuddly little friends!
This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows anything about cats, but our feline friends can be extremely territorial. In fact, “if they’re going into a brand-new territory—where they don’t own anything and there are new smells and sights and sounds—it’s going to take them some time to sink back into their skin and to feel they belong in that new place,” says Jackson Galaxy, a cat behavior and wellness expert.
That means when you bring your new cat home, he or she may need time to adjust. “They’re leaving all they’ve known and are entering a whole new world with different humans, scenery, and scents,” says Jessa Paschke, behavior and training specialist at Mars Petcare North America. But you can make their transition easier, and make them feel more at home, with these tips.
Introduce them to your home slowly.
When you bring your cat home, don’t give him or her the run of the house just yet, says Galaxy. Instead, he suggests creating a “base camp” where you place all of their belongings, like litter, blankets, or a bed. By doing this, “they can look out windows and get a lay of the land and just ‘own’ that one space before you start opening up the rest of the world to them,” Galaxy explains.
Spread their belongings throughout the house.
After a few days, allow your cat to roam your home freely. Place his or her belongings—things they have soaked with their scent, like their bed or fabric toys—throughout the house, Galaxy says. “When placed around the house, they act as territorial sign posts for your new cat, so whenever they walk by something that was in their ‘base camp,’ they smell it and they’re reminded that they belong and live [in your house],” Galaxy says. “It increases their confidence.”
Create routines for your cat.
Galaxy also recommends creating routines for your cat—rituals that can become a part of your pet’s everyday life. “Just like humans, cats thrive on stability from day to day and knowing how their day is going to go,” he says. “Nobody likes anarchy, so feeding times, doing the same thing when you wake up in the morning, and scheduling playtimes are all important because it gives your cat confidence. Make sure your cat has things throughout the day that become normal.”
Give your cat time to adapt.
It will take your cat time to adjust to his or her new home, says Paschke. “Every cat will need a different amount of time to get used to their new home,” she says. “It’s important to not flood them with too many new encounters too quickly, or expect immediate confidence. They’ll grow confidence in their own space first and then they can then begin exploring connected rooms. Let your cat make their own moves and not coerce them into situations they may not be ready for.”
When planning space for your new cat, think vertically. “Cats define their space vertically, from floor to ceiling, as opposed to how humans define space,” Galaxy explains. Maximizing your cat’s space and making him or her feel at home might mean creating pathways for him or her to walk without touching the floor. (For example, you might position a cat tower close to a window, or make space for them to walk on your bookshelf.) “This will increase their perception of the volume of space they have in your home,” Galaxy says. “It will give them a sense of belonging.” Try a hammock secured under your table, a drop-down shelf to your window, or even a basket mounted to the wall.
Enrich their space and life.
Even as your cat adjusts, continue to introduce rewarding things to his or her life, Paschke says. “Toys such as play mice, teaser toys, or catnip-infused items can help encourage cats to use some of their new space,” she says, while “food-based games and brain games can help them exercise their mind.” Or, put a bird or fish show on your TV to really entertain your new feline friend.
Whether you’re rehoming a kitten from us, or buying one from a breeder, this guide, approved by our vets and behaviourists, will tell you all you need to know to get ready for your new arrival.
Buying a kitten
Buying a kitten is a big decision and you will need to make sure that you’ve thought about whether you have the time and energy to settle them into your family.
Remember, cats can live for a long time, so it’s important that you have considered the long-term commitment involved.
If you’ve made your decision, or are thinking about it, we’ll help you through buying a kitten of your own. Whether you’re adopting through a rehoming centre or buying from a responsible breeder, we’ll guide you through what you need to look out for.
It’s essential that your kitten is at least eight weeks old before they come home with you.
What to buy a kitten
Here’s a list of essential items you’ll need to welcome your kitten home.
- A food and water bowl – cats prefer to eat and drink in separate locations, so placing their water and food bowls in different areas is best.
- Kitten food – speak with the rehoming centre or breeder about which food your kitten is currently eating as you’ll need to slowly move them onto their new food. Switching food too quickly can cause them to have an upset stomach.
- A cosy bed and blankets
- A litter tray – placed in a different room (once they’re settled in) to their food and water. You’ll need to use a small litter tray with low sides that’s easy for your kitten to hop into at first. But make sure you get a large one once they grow – cats needs to be able to comfortably turn around to toilet. If you have more than one cat, you’ll need one for each cat plus another one.
- A cat carrier – one that comes apart with the top half able to be removed from the bottom. Take a look at our advice on cat carriers for tips on how to get them used to their carrier too!
- Scratching post – scratching is an important behaviour for cats. And, for kittens, it’s a good idea to provide them with a safe outlet for this behaviour so they don’t start doing this on your furniture! We recommend a sturdy, tall adult cat scratching post as kittens quickly outgrow the smaller ones.
- Cat brush – a wide toothed comb for long haired cats or a bristle brush for short hair. We have some great advice on how to groom your cat.
- Toys – cats enjoy lots of different toys to keep them entertained. It’s important that you learn how to play with your kitten too. Check out the five best cat toys that your kitten will love.
- Collar with ID tag – if you’re planning on putting a collar on your cat, then we advise getting a quick release collar due to the significant risks of using other types. While they can’t go outside until they are at least five months old, it’s important to start training them to wear a collar as early as possible. See our advice on letting your cat out for the first time.
- Microchipping – Soon it will be mandatory for cats to be microchipped. So, we strongly recommend getting it done sooner, even if you plan on keeping them indoors, so they can be reunited with you if they do get lost.
As well as the above, your cat will need a constant supply of water. You may also want to consider getting pet insurance.
If you do plan to put a collar on your cat, then getting them used to wearing one is important, so start before they go outside. Keep an eye on the fit though, as kittens grow very fast!
It’s hard to think of anything else quite as cute as a kitten.
With their big eyes, tiny necks, and perky ears, a new kitten looks just like a living bobblehead doll.
Add a kitten’s awkward gait and uncontrollable curiosity to the mix, and you have a sure-fire recipe for heart-melting cuteness.
Sadly, there are thousands of kittens living in animal rescue shelters waiting for good homes. Until they find their forever homes, they’re left to learn the ways of the world from inside a cubicle surrounded by chaos.
While animal rescue professionals do their best to care for kittens and give them as much socialization time as possible, nothing beats raising a kitten in a home with a human family.
By being a cat foster parent, you can help foster kittens become properly socialized, minimize feline anxiety and the numerous health issues that stress can cause, and prepare that kitten to be accepted into a forever home.
If you’re considering being a cat foster parent, here’s what you need to know to earn that “#1 Foster Mom” coffee mug.
As a cat foster parent, your job is to help your foster kitten learn how to live with humans and adapt to changes in a healthy way.
If you don’t plan on homing your foster kitten through adulthood, your foster kitten will be adopted by another individual or family when the time is right. That sort of drastic change can be difficult on a cat, so teaching your kitten how to cope with change is crucial.
The best time to socialize a kitten is between the ages of three and nine weeks. Hopefully, your kitten will still have access to her mom during this time, but many rescue kittens do not.
However, don’t let that window deter you from being a cat foster parent to an older kitten. All kittens need love and guidance and are capable of learning new social cues.
In the early stages of kittenhood, your adorable little friend is taking in every bit of information from her environment that she can. With you being one of – if not the only – other living things to learn from, she’s going to take your reactions to her behavior very seriously.
Start by finding a cat treat that your kitten loves. Then, use that treat and positive attention to reward her whenever she does something or encounters a new situation that you want her to repeat.
For example, a great foster kitten will know how to travel in a cat carrier like a champ. Practice with your foster kitten by encouraging her to walk into her cat carrier on her own and giving her a treat. Close the door, give a treat. Sit with her with the door closed, give a treat. Pick the carrier up, give a treat. Place the carrier in your car, give a treat. Drive around the block and return home, give a treat.
While that may seem like a lot of treats, what you’re actually doing is making sure your foster kitten associates things that often stress out other cats – like traveling – with positive feelings.
You can use the same technique to take your kitten in to visit the vet, even if it’s just for a quick exam without any shots, to introduce her to a new family member or another pet ,
One of the most difficult things for many cats – kittens and adults – to overcome is the fear of meeting new people.
However, if you teach your kitten at an early age that new people are not to be feared, you can dramatically reduce your fur baby’s anxiety and help her transition to a new home smoothly.
Recruit a few friends to help you get your foster kitten used to new encounters. Start by having one friend come over and ply your foster kitten with treats, positive attention, behind-the-ear scratches, and toys.
A week or so later, have two people come over. The next week, invite three. If your kitten seems spooked by more people, continue the process until she comes around. Sometimes it takes a shy kitten a few opportunities to make friends before she’s willing to come out of her shell.
If you plan on being a repeat foster parent, first of all, good for you! It’s not easy to part ways with a dear feline friend when she’s ready to move on to her forever home, but remember that you’re doing your foster kitten and her new family an incredibly selfless service that will bring joy to them both for years to come.
As a cat lover, you probably know that cats are incredibly territorial . Just the smell of another cat can cause your foster kitten anxiety, especially if she is young and separated from her mother. Therefore, it’s important to use supplies that won’t carry the scent of one foster kitten to the next.
If you can’t afford to purchase a new litter box for each foster kitten, use strong litter box liners ( we like these ) as a barrier to prevent smells from permeating as much as possible.
Use laser pointers and edible treats as toys rather than plush toys that can easily absorb oils and saliva.
Have a “one kitten, one blanket” policy. Each kitten gets her own new blanket to lay on in her favorite perch. Not only will this help your kitten feel at home in her own space, but also it will provide some consistency when your kitten goes to her new home and gets to take her blanket with her.
Of course, it’s nearly impossible to completely eradicate the subtle smells left behind by a previous foster kitten, but these supplies will help you make a significant improvement for your next little one.
If you’re a cat foster parent or thinking about providing a home to a foster kitten in need, we commend you. Have questions? Post them in the comments below!
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Sharilyn is a proud cat owner, long time storyteller and researcher. Her work spans beloved podcasts, television shows, media outlets, and independent documentaries. She likes to strike a balance between education and comedy, which you can hopefully tell when you read her articles!