Tips for Bringing a New Kitten Home
Bringing home a new kitten is exciting, but also a big transition for you and the kitten. The good news is that younger kittens are able to adapt relatively quickly to new environments. Cats can suffer from stress and anxiety just like humans. Stress factors, like changes in environment, can affect your new kitten and may lead to behavior problems. Kittens are also delicate and can develop various health problems when faced with stress. Here are some tips to help you and your new kitten make the transition into a happy home environment.
Most likely you will drive your car to transport your kitten to her new home. Car rides can be frightening for cats, especially if they have never been in a car before. Therefore, it is important to make your kitten feel as safe and comfortable as possible during the car ride. Never allow your kitten to be loose in the car. She could crawl under the gas or brake pedals, on the dash board or hide in dangerous places. Cats have been known to experience motion sickness, and they may feel anxious and even vomit in the car. This is why it is safer and more comfortable to place the kitten in a cat carrier. The kitten might start meowing and may attempt to get out of the carrier. Talk to her in a soft voice and make sure she knows you are right there. Once calm and relaxed, your kitten may even fall asleep after some time.
Give the kitten her own space for the first few days and up to a week. A small room, a bathroom, or even a larger closet is perfect for the initial space. All you have to do is place a litter box, kitten food and the water in this little space. Make sure the food and water bowls are placed far from the litter box. The food and water should be placed far away from the litter box.The kitten will feel safe there and will start exploring the new environment knowing that she has a safe place to run back to in case of problems. Felines feel at ease knowing that they can quickly return to safety.
Use Familiar Smells
Get some blankets or items of clothing that have the kitten’s smell on them from her old home if possible. If her new home smells familiar, the kitten should settle in more quickly. Smell is one of the most important senses in a feline. Finding her own scent in the new environment can help the kitten calm down. The kitten will still need time to explore all the new areas. However, you will notice that she will spend more time in areas that have her scent. It is not unusual for kittens to sleep only on specific pieces of clothing that they know and that have their smell on them.
Also, keep in mind that her old toys are very important. Take them with you and place them around the home if possible. Known objects that kittens associate with positive feelings will make them more comfortable. Your kitten may even start to play with some of her toys as soon as he finds them.
Your kitten will start exploring every corner of her new environment. Your kitten does not know what dangerous objects are or that some substances may be harmful. It is your job to make sure the kitten is safe in your new home.
Any opening to the outside world, such as doors and windows, will eventually attract your kitten. Make absolutely sure she cannot get out.
Store small objects and sensitive items safely because your new kitty may knock them off tables and break them. Also, ensure there are no dangerous items such as household cleaners, poisonous plants, loose wiring, etc.
The fireplace is also a danger for cats until they learn that it is not a safe place. Never underestimate a curious kitten. Kittens are able to open cabinets and can fit in the most impossible places. They are also drawn to open windows, and love to climb curtains and get into all kinds of boxes.
Kittens are very energetic, so don’t take any chances with them around potentially dangerous places, objects or substances. Keep in mind that kittens are very fragile; unpacking heavy things with the kitten around your feet is very dangerous for the little fur ball!
Provide a Hiding Place
Beyond the initial safe room, make sure your kitten can always get to a spot where she can feel safe.
Cats like small places to hide and sleep but feel safe. Your kitten should have a small, comfy place where she can retreat when she feels anxious. You can use her cat carrier or a box with a hole in it for this purpose. Make sure it is warm and cozy inside her little refuge and place it somewhere she can reach easily.
In some cases, your kitten will refuse to use the box or carrier for sleeping purposes. She may prefer to sleep under the couch or inside one of your closets. This is normal, as cats instinctively choose the places where they feel most secure. Let her sleep wherever she wants and do not force her into the box or carrier if she doesn’t want to be in it. Otherwise, you risk alienating the kitten and forcing her to associate the carrier with negative feelings and she will avoid it at all costs.
A kitten is naturally curious and needs toys that are safe and fun to play with. Choose toys made especially for cats, meaning the kind that cannot be splintered, torn apart or swallowed. A ball that rattles, a catnip mouse or a hard rubber ball is a good start. Toys don’t always have to be store bought and there are lots of DIY cat toys you can make. Consider offering your kitten an empty spool of thread, toilet paper cardboard roll, corks or knotted cord.
Create Vertical Space
Have you noticed that cats like to climb up to high places? They do this because it makes them feel safe. Kittens instinctively know that it is less dangerous somewhere high than on the ground. Vertical space will also increase your kittens living space and is a good way to decrease stress. If possible, purchase a cat tree or arrange for some higher areas for your kitten to climb to.
Provide a Scratching Post
Put a new scratching post inside your kittens safe room. Scratching is a natural and comforting behavior for cats. It’s also important that the scratching post is new and has not been used by other cats. Your kitten does not want to be stressed by the smells of other cats while she adapting to her new surroundings.
Make Sure Your Family is Ready
If you have children, it is important to teach them to be gentle with the new kitten. Children will want to snuggle and play, but at first this has to be limited as your kitten needs a lot of rest and may feel overwhelmed. Get your kids involved from the beginning by allowing them to help pick the cat’s name, and establish ground rules for interaction with their new kitten. As your kitty adjusts, she’ll show signs that she wants to explore. Make sure other pets or family members will not startle her while she gradually expands her territory. She may be ready to play, so you will want to furnish some cat toys.
Give Your Kitten Space
Moving to a new home is very stressful for your kitten, so patience is a must. It is very important to not force the cat to do anything she does not want to do. When you release the kitten in to your home for the first time, let her do whatever she wants. Just open the carrier and let her exit on her own. If she wants to remain in the carrier for some time it means she feels safe there and should be allowed to stay.
If you do not approve of what the kitten does or how she reacts to her new surroundings, do not shout or frighten her. She is already anxious and doesn’t need a reason to fear you. She may want to just hide under the bed but will eventually get tired and start exploring her surroundings.
Introduce Your Kitten to Other Pets
The ability of animals to get along together in the same household depends on their individual personalities. There will always be one who dominates.
Keep your dog confined until the cat feels secure in his new home. Introduce them indoors with the dog under control on a leash. Do not allow the dog to chase or corner the cat, even out of playfulness or curiosity. Supervise them carefully and don’t tolerate any aggressive behavior from your dog. The cat should have a safe retreat, either up high or in a room inaccessible to the dog.
Adult cats are generally more accepting of kittens than of other adults. Consider putting up a baby gate and allowing them to sniff each other through it. If the kitten likes her carrier she can be placed in it while the old cat sniffs her. Allow them to approach each other on their own. Once the cats seem to be calm at the sight of each other, it is probably safe to introduce them without barriers like the pet carrier and baby gate.
Your new kitten needs lots of affection and playtime in order properly adjust to her new home as well as supervision to keep her out of trouble. The truth is that as adorable as kittens are, they can be exhausting. Keeping your new kitten safe and happy takes planning and patience for everyone in your household.
Amy is the founder of Cat Mania and a life long cat lover. She also writes for various other pet related websites. She is passionate about helping pet parents create a healthy and happy lifestyle for their fur-babies.