One of the most exciting times in pet ownership is bringing a kitten into your home for the first time and welcoming a new member into the family. Having spent a lot of time planning and dreaming of this moment, we can sometimes forget that this experience can be stressful and full-on for a kitten in new surroundings. This blog post explores different ways we can act to ensure that a kitten feels safe in their new home. Starting on the right foot and building an enriching environment is essential for any new kitten to settle in and thrive.
To begin with, a kitten should be confined to one quiet room in the house to allow them to get comfortable. A confined space also ensures that a kitten can spread their scent and mark its territory. This space should be filled with all the day-to-day essentials, such as a litter tray, a food and water bowl, a warm bed and a range of cat toys.
It is vital that you check this space for any harmful houseplants, house chemicals or small gaps that might trap them. Placing a kitten into its own room ensures separation from other cats in the household to allow for gradual integration. Other pets, such as dogs, should also be kept away as a kitten might find them intimidating at first. By creating a ‘safe room’ for your kitten, she will have a space to retreat to when seeking some quiet and comfort. Kittens also sleep most of the day, so will require their own area to wind down.
Whilst we won’t cover other essential aspects of new kitten ownership such as diet or vaccines in this blog post, every owner must have a plan in place to ensure your kitten has the best possible nutrition and vaccine plan from the outset.
Once your kitten seems more confident and secure in this first room, now is the time to introduce them to the rest of the house. This transition should be taken room by room, and you should be present throughout to provide verbal encouragement. It is best to try and keep your kitten calm whilst also acting as a buffer between them and other interested pets in the home who might overwhelm them. Giving your kitten multiple hiding places throughout your home will allow them to retreat to a safe place if their new environment gets too much for them to handle.
Bonding With A New Kitten
Most cats prefer contact on their own terms. Therefore, any new introduction should be taken slowly and initial contact should be initiated by your kitten. Reminding everyone in the household, especially children, how to handle a kitten is important before any physical interaction is started.
One of the best ways to bond with a new kitten is through grooming. A strong connection can be built this way as this process will remind them of the bond with their mother. This is also a good time to remind your kitten of its new name and reward them with treats and attention.
Introducing Cats To Each Other
Cats are territorial by nature. Unless you are bringing sibling cats into a new household together, some negative feeling toward a new kitten from an established cat is common. Therefore, time should be taken to introduce a new kitten in a multi-cat household. Some tips include:
- Scent swapping. Let your cat and kitten smell each other’s scent by swapping sleeping blankets or beds.
- Meet by sight. It is best to introduce by sight first, either through a window or by keeping your kitten in a crate.
- Short and sweet. Keep the initial introduction short. If the meeting is negative, end the session before any aggression is shown. Try again the next day until both kitten and cat are comfortable from a distance.
- Look for positive signs. Once any negative behaviour has subsided and both cats are comfortable in each other’s company, look for signs of positive behaviour such as grooming or purring. This is an indicator that both cats are bonding.
- Free rein. If this positive behaviour continues, you can allow your kitten and cat to play unsupervised.
Letting A Kitten Outside
It is recommended that a new kitten is kept inside for at least 2 – 3 weeks before outdoor access is granted.
Whilst we recognise that outdoor access might not be available for every kitten for a number of reasons, for those that are allowed outside, a new kitten must be familiar with the sights and smells of their new home first before being let out to explore.