Bringing Your New Kitten Home
A new home can be a scary place for a kitten, so how can you help?
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!Read more about introducing cats
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