Introducing A New Kitten To Your Home
You may have planned for it, you may have tried to resist (but not too hard, let’s be real), or maybe, things just worked out this way. You have a new kitten! Before long, you’ll feel like your kitten has been there forever. But the first days can often be a little nerve-wracking.
If you’re new to having a kitten around the house, or if you have an older cat you need to get to accept the kitten, you may not be sure what to do. You want to be able to start out on the right foot and raise your kitten to become a happy, well-adjusted cat.
Bringing a new kitten home should be exciting but not stressful. We have tips to help transition your kitten into your household smoothly. We also have helpful hints on getting your older cat to accept your kitten. Keep reading to learn more about introducing a new kitten into your home.
Bringing Your Kitten Home
If you purchased your kitten from a breeder, you have probably had time to meet and bond with her. If she came from a rescue or a shelter, you two may not have had time together beyond a brief introduction and play session. This isn’t a big deal; but keep in mind that this can affect the length of time it takes for her to adjust to her new surroundings.
If the kitten is already familiar with you, it will make going to a new home less stressful, and she may settle in sooner. Don’t worry if it seems like it takes a few weeks for your kitten to start settling in. Remember, everything in the world is new to them, so be patient.
On the big journey home, it’s tempting to hold your kitten in the car, but keeping her in a carrier is safer and will teach her to get used to a carrier for any future car rides. Put some kind of soft bedding in it. A towel or a soft blanket will make the carrier cozy and comfortable.
When you bring your kitten home, don’t drag her out of the cat carrier. Put her in a quiet area, and leave food and water out to tempt her. Make sure there is also a litter box nearby. Let her come out in her own time and let her explore the room. If she still seems scared and immobile after about half an hour, you may want to pick up her carrier and show her around the room. Show her where her food, water, and litter box are.
Keeping your new kitten limited to one room keeps her safe, especially if you have to leave the house. It also makes adapting to her surroundings less intimidating. Slowly show your kitten around your house. Take a few days to do it, don’t try to force it all into one day.
Make sure all rooms are kitten proofed with no dangly cords, small things they can eat, or places they might get stuck. Supervise your kitten around curtains in case she feels adventurous. Provide scratching toys and if you see them starting to scratch where they shouldn’t, redirect them to a place where they can.
Getting To Know You
The more comfortable your kitten is with you, the more easily she will settle into her new home. Start early to develop a bond with your kitten. A cat with a good human-animal bond will be less likely to display negative behaviors and anxiety.
Start with playing. Cats love interactive play that mimics hunting. Get a teaser toy and set aside time for you and your kitten to play. You can also make a toy with something as simple as a paper bag. Needing more ideas? Do a quick internet search. There are lots of ideas for cat enrichment activities that your kitten will love.
Provide your kitten with a cat tree to climb and a cat-safe nook to hide in. You can even DIY a cat castle with tunnels and holes from a few cardboard boxes. You should also consider putting in cat ramps or cat shelves. A lot of cats are happier if they have a place up high to go. This will also give them their own space and keep them off of your bookshelves.
Pet Meet and Greet
If you have an older cat at home, you may be worried about how they will respond to the new kitten. Some cats are surprisingly social, especially if they’ve been around other cats for most of their life. Others may take a while to come around. Over time, most cats will eventually accept the new kitten as part of the family.
When you bring the kitten home, let your older cat give them a good sniff while you hold the kitten. Don’t scold your older cat for getting to know your kitten by shoving his paw under the door of the room you’re keeping your kitten in.
Make sure you give your older cat plenty of attention and playtime. You can slowly start combining your kitten’s playtime with that of your older cat. Anything you do to help your older cat make positive associations with the kitten will encourage a bond.
The First Few Weeks
The first few days your kitten is home, keep an eye on food and water levels to make sure she is eating and drinking properly. Watch the litter box as well. Check for loose stool, parasites, and blood. These could indicate problems that need immediate attention.
Get your kitten into the veterinarian as soon as possible for a check-up. You will need to get her started on her vaccine schedule and get her on a routine to prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworm.
Your first few days with a new kitten will be a little hectic. Keeping an eye on her, and helping her navigate her new home all requires patience. But don’t forget to enjoy the early days with your kitten. The steps you take now are building the foundation for your lifelong relationship with your cat.