If you are a cat lover, the very idea of bringing home a new kitten can be enough to get your heart pounding with excitement.
Even if you already have a couple fur babies, there’s nothing quite like welcoming a new addition to your family.
Still, it is extremely important that you handle this process correctly. All kinds of problems can result from a poor transition and, ultimately, it’s the kitten that ends up suffering for it.
Fortunately, we’ve assembled the ultimate list of tips for bringing home a new kitten successfully.
If at all possible, wait until they’re 10 to 12 weeks old
More and more these days, people are rescuing kittens from shelters. If that’s what you’re planning on doing, then this tip probably doesn’t apply to your situation.
However, whenever possible, let your kitten spend between 10 and 12 weeks with their mother. This extra time will allow them to learn from their mom and get used to human contact while still having a protective cat around to make them feel safe.
We know you can’t wait to have your furry friend home, but hold tight for at least 10 weeks and the kitten will be better off for it.
Use a ticking clock to combat loneliness
Some kittens will be noticeably lonely when you first bring them home. They’ll miss their siblings and mother and may regularly meow out of confusion.
Whenever your kitten does this, pick them up, pet them soothingly and speak to them in a warm tone.
Another handy trick is to get a clock that ticks and wrap it in a towel. Then place it near their bed. The ticking noise will remind them of their mother’s heartbeat and help them sleep at night.
Cat proof your home to keep your curious kitten safe
You don’t have to be an expert on cats to know that these inquisitive little creatures have an insatiable curiosity.They are miniature explorers, detectives and naturalists, constantly seeking to understand their surroundings. No wonder they take so many naps!
As the old saying goes, though, curiosity can harm your cat as well, which is why it’s important that you cat-proof your home so there is no way they could accidentally hurt themselves.
For example, some plants are poisonous to cats. You’ll want to get rid of them before bringing your little friend home.
Another common problem is the cord for drapes or blinds. Your kitten will definitely want to play with it, but it could end up choking them if you don’t anchor it to the ground or otherwise keep it out of reach.
Electric cords need to be bundled up with a cord manager and then kept somewhere your kitten can’t get to as they may try chewing on them.
Anything small like rubber bands, jewelry, children’s toys, etc. should be kept somewhere safe as well. Sometimes, kittens will chew on these objects and end up swallowing them instead.
A good rule of thumb is that anything that would be a potential threat to a toddler is also going to be dangerous for a kitten too.
Do not let your kitten outside
Although it’s probably for the best that all domestic cats remain indoors at all times, we know that some people prefer to let their furry friends go out and explore the world beyond their home.
Whatever you do, though, do not let your little kitten leave the house. Yes, they may stare out the window and cry to be let out. Still, we can’t advise enough against giving in.
Full-grown cats who are allowed outdoors are at a greater risk of contracting diseases and fighting with other animals.
Obviously, much smaller kittens are going to be even more vulnerable to these kinds of threats. They can even become disoriented and unable to find their way back.
Go easy with petting and cuddling at first
Kittens are so cute and adorable, it can be nearly impossible to resist picking them up and cuddling them every chance you get.
Do your best to resist the temptation to do so with your new kitten, though—at least for a few days after you bring them home.
I know this sounds impossible, but it’s really for the best.
At first, let your new kitten come to you and get used to your touch. Then, introduce each member of your household, one at a time, the same way.
If you have children who are five years old or younger, it’s probably best that they don’t play with the kitten quite yet unless they’re closely monitored. Though they may have the best of intentions, young children can be a bit rough (this is why some shelters won’t let families with young children adopt kittens).
Put together a secure room for them while they adjust
Furthermore, during these first few days, your cat needs time to become comfortable with these new surroundings. So set up their bed, put their food dish nearby and show them where their litter box is (we’ll cover that topic in a moment).
Ideally, put these three things in a secure room where they can be left alone while they become acclimated. Include some safe toys for them to play with too—more on that below.
Long after your kitten gets adjusted, put them in this secured room—with the items mentioned above—whenever you leave. If you won’t be back before nightfall, give them a nightlight too. Putting them in a secure room will keep their curious minds out of trouble until you return.
Provide them a safe space they can retreat to
Even after you open your home to them, you should give your kitten a safe space they can run to at a moment’s notice. This may be the carrier box you brought them home in or some other small, secure space. Something as simple as a cardboard box could work.
The idea is that you want them to have somewhere they can retreat to and feel comfortable in if they hear a loud noise or simply become anxious about this new territory.
Just be sure it gives them enough room to turn around in so they can look at what’s going on outside.
Supervise other pets around them
For a lot of cat-parents bringing home a new kitten, the moment of truth is when they introduce their little pal to the other furry members of their family.
Before you do this, take your other cat or dog to the vet so you know they don’t have any diseases they could pass on to your little fur kid.
As we mentioned above, you should give your kitten their own secure room for the first few days. During this time, your other four-legged friends will pick up their scent and probably sniff around the door.
This serves as their first formal introduction, but your new kitten will still feel safe because of the door standing between them.
When you introduce a kitten to their new home, there may be a bit of hostility. In that case, separate them and wait a few days before trying again.
With dogs, it’s best you keep your canine-kid on a leash, just in case. You also don’t want your kitten to have enough space to run away. If they do, your dog’s instinct may be to chase after them.
Always supervise your dog when it’s around your new kitten until the latter is fully grown just to be on the safe side.
Choose appropriate toys that won’t end up hurting them
Once your kitten feels comfortable with your home, expect the furry little ball of energy to begin looking for every opportunity to play.
Most cat-parents buy their little cat-kids toys to help satiate this non-stop desire for fun.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but once again, safety must come first.
Don’t get your kitten any toys with buttons, ribbon, yarn, bells or any other small features that your little baby could chew off and potentially choke on.
The safest of bets is to get them small, stuffed toys that are too large for them to fit the entire things into their mouths. Balls are a good idea as well.
Make quality nutrition a priority, especially when they’re young
Go the extra mile with your cat’s diet, especially during their first year when their bodies need the very best for proper development. Correct nutrition means you can’t just buy the canned food you find at your grocery store and call it a day. Opting for high-quality food also means you’re going to need to spend a bit more too.
However, in the end, these sacrifices will be worth it.
Bringing home a new kitten can come with a number of challenges. By giving your kitten the nutrition they need, you can rule that out as a possible source for any issues that may arise.
Be patient with litter training, but make it a priority
Compared to dogs, cats are usually a bit easier to welcome home. Specifically, you don’t have to worry about the long and arduous process of housebreaking them.
That being said, although a cat will instinctively bury their own waste, you can’t just buy a litter box and expect they’ll do the rest on their own.
Instead, it’s going to take some patience on your part, but if you follow these easy steps, you’ll quickly be rewarded by a kitten who knows exactly where to handle their business.
Just do this:
After your kitten is done eating or wakes up from a nap, place them in the litter box.
If the little guy or girl doesn’t begin scratching the litter, take one of their front paws and gently simulate doing so for them.
When they use the box, be sure to lavish them with praise’cats are extremely smart and will almost immediately make the connection.
Until your new friend is using the box consistently, place them in it every hour or so.
Whatever you do, don’t punish them for going outside the box. Again, kittens learn so quickly, this shouldn’t be an ongoing problem if you stick to the above tips.
Take your kitten to the vet within a day or two
Take your new fur baby to the vet ASAP. Don’t let more than a couple of days past before you do this.
A proper trip to the vet will involve getting your little kitten checked for fleas, ear mites and worms, amongst other things. They’ll also schedule a follow-up appointment for vaccinations.
By eight weeks, your kitten can be spayed or neutered as well if you want.
As you can see, bringing your kitten home requires more than just moving them from point A to point B. If you want your little bundle of fur to acclimate well and grow up healthy, you need to put a bit of thought into the process. The good news is that following the 12 tips above is actually really easy to do and will result in your kitten quickly becoming comfortable with you and their new home.