Settling in your kitten
Get your kitten’s room ready
Before you collect your kitten, you'll need to organise a cat carrier, comfy bed, kitten food and water bowls, a litter tray with suitable litter, a scratching pole and plenty of kitten toys. These should all be in a hazard-free room where your kitten can get settled in safely.
- It’s smart to get a cat carrier for transporting your kitten, because you will need it in the future for vet and cattery visits.
- Get a high-sided or ‘cat cave’ bed that will be big enough for your kitten when they are an adult. Cats like to feel secure, rather than exposed.
- Get two separate bowls – one for water, one for food. Cats like their water in a different area to their food. Position both water and food away from the litter tray.
- When choosing a litter tray, choose a covered litter tray if your kitten will be an indoor-only pet, or if you have young children or a dog in the house. Otherwise, an open litter tray is adequate.
- See if you can find out what sort of kitty litter your kitten has been trained to use and buy the same kind. Later, you can move to the type of cat litter that suits you (clay, clumping, crystals, recycled paper or wood pellets).
- A scratching pole is a smart idea if you want to prevent furniture damage. Choose a tall one that’s stable enough for a fully-grown cat.
- Get a selection of toys to keep your kitten amused. They don’t have to be fancy - ping pong balls, rope balls, pom poms, felt cat-nip mice and bits of rope will do the trick nicely.
Download our easy checklist to help ensure you have everything you need before their arrival
Bring your kitten home
Carry your kitten in their carrier to the room you’ve prepared. Open the carrier and let your kitten come out when they're ready. At this point, it should be just you (the main caregiver) and your kitten. Other people can be introduced in a while. Talk quietly to your kitten, then leave them alone for a couple of hours to settle in. Don’t try to play with your kitten straight away; they need time to adjust to their new surroundings first. Make sure other family members understand what’s going on and why.
Making your kitten part of the family
Introduce new family members to your kitten one at a time and stay in the room while the introductions are going on. The best way to meet a kitten is at their level, so get down on the floor. Let the kitten approach the new person in their own time. Pats are good, but avoid over-handling by new people. Teach young children to handle the kitten gently, to avoid injuries for both the kitten and the child.
- As your kitten’s confidence grows, you and other family members can use toys to play with your kitten.
- Feeding time is a great way to build a bond between you and your kitten.Kittens love food and will be much friendlier towards someone who regularly feeds them, so consider having different family members get involved with feeding.
- Treats are another great way to gain your kitten’s confidence. Feed a couple of treats each time you go to say hi and soon your kitten will be coming to you confidently for a tasty morsel.
Introducing your kitten to other pets
It's best to keep all other pets away from your kitten until they are confident and comfortable in their new home. Then, introduce other pets to your kitten one at a time, similar to how you introduce human members of your household.
- If you’re introducing a dog or puppy, take them for a long walk first, so they are not too bouncy for the meeting.
- If introducing another cat, play with them for a while then let them calm down before the kitten introduction.
- Before a cat-meets-kitten introduction, feed both felines a few treats on both sides of the closed door – with your kitten in its safe room. This is a positive reward for being close to one another.
Leaving your kitten home alone
When you go out, leaving your kitten in their safe room is the best option. An unsupervised house is a risky proposition – open windows and toilets are just two of the hazards that can be dangerous.
- Make sure your kitten has food, water and a clean litter tray.
- Ensure other pets can’t access the room.
- If someone arrives home before you, make sure there are clear rules around letting the kitten out of their room.
Letting your kitten explore the home and outdoors
Once your kitten is comfortable in their room, you can slowly introduce them toother rooms in the house one at a time until your kitten is fully confident. Make sure windows and doors to the outside are closed during exploration sessions. While you’re introducing your kitten to more rooms, ensure they always have access to their safe room.
- We recommend you wait until your kitten is fully vaccinated, microchipped and desexed before they are allowed outside unsupervised. This is also the right time to install a cat door and teach your kitten to use it. Read more how to train your kitten to use the cat door here.
- For supervised visits to the outdoors, consider using a kitten harness and lead. Learning to walk on a harness is a useful skill for your kitten.
- Get your kitten used to wearing an appropriate cat collar, in preparation for greater freedom. Make sure the collar has a tag with your address and/or phone number. See kitten collars. You should be able to slip two fingers between the collar and your kitten’s neck. The safest cat collars have a section of elastic, so the cat can escape if the collar gets hooked on something.
- Consider putting a bell on your kitten’s collar. It will help you to locate the kitten and limit damage to the local bird life.
Kitten Guide and Checklist
Check out our guides to help you with your new fur-family member.
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