Bringing home a new kitten is exciting! Your life is about to be a whole lot more fun. It's a big change for everyone - you, your family, and your new kitten. The little kitten is leaving behind the familiar and settling down in a brand new environment with you. It can be a traumatic experience for a young kitten, leaving home for the first time. Here are some things that you can do, to help your new kitten settle in.
Prepare for kitten’s arrival
1. Kitten-proof your home Go from room to room and look at each space from a kitten’s perspective. Look for possible holes that a young kitten can slip through. Remember to look up at the high shelves, top of your cupboards, and fridge. Remove any breakable or treasured heirlooms. Protect your furniture and rugs that your kitten may use as a scratching post!
Tie up all the loose cables and keep all drawers and cabinet doors closed. Stow away small personal items like pieces of jewelry, watches, and stationeries from your home office. Put away any poisonous ingredients – plants and human foods that are poisonous to cats - and household cleaning products.
2. Dedicate a safe room Decide where you would like to set up your new kitten’s haven. To help your new kitten settle in, it is best not to shuffle him all over the house on the day of his arrival. It can be overwhelming to a new kitten, creating uncertainty and fear.
Introduce him to the safe room first. Let him stay in the room over the next few days but visit him often as he acclimates to his new environment. Once he is comfortable with his room, you can introduce him to the other places around the house but do it gradually, one location at a time.
3. Things to buy for a new kitten At the very least, you will need to prepare the following items for kitty in the safe room.
Litter box. Some owners will include the Kit Cat Litter Locker Mat to protect the floor from litter spills and reduce litter tracking. It is not uncommon for cats to get litter stuck in between their paw digits and this can be uncomfortable and even painful for them.
Crate to bring your new kitten home. Choose a crate that comes with a car safety belt like Stefanplast Gulliver 3 Cat Carrier (Powder Pink). The car safety belt helps to hold the crate firmly to the car seat preventing it from shaking and moving around as the car moves.
Kitten’s first day home
Kittens are very sensitive to new surroundings, so it’s crucial to keep the environment calm and welcoming when your kitten first arrives. Take the carrier straight to the safe room and let him explore the safe room. Resist the temptation to cuddle him straight away!
If you have young children at home, it’s probably best to prepare them for the arrival. Let them know that the kitten should be left alone for a while. Introduce them to each other later, when the new kitten has learned to be comfortable in this new environment. For more tips on how best to manage this introduction, refer to our earlier article on Kids and Cats: How to Adopt a Cat into a Family.
Inside the safe room, offer food, water, and a freshly prepared litter tray to the kitten. After all the anxiety and excitement of moving to a new location, he may not show much interest in food or toys. Most new kittens prefer to take a kitty nap once they settled in. If your furry kid is not interested in his food, that’s ok. Show him to his bed instead.
Over the next few days, visit him regularly. During those visits, if he is receptive to play, spend time playing with him. Let him have his kicks with the Kong Kitten Kickeroo Cat Toy. This Kickeroo™ is sized for kittens. It has a long body that encourages lots of healthy hind paw kicking, promoting full-body action. The crinkle sound that the toy makes will add excitement that keeps kitties playing.
If he is disinterested, do not force him to play but do be present. You can read a book or watch a video in the room. Your presence in the room will allow him to familiarise himself with you and before long, he will learn to trust you. If you have young children, allow them limited supervised contact initially to avoid the kitten being over-handled.
Kitten’s first night
Cats are generally active at dawn and dusk. Add to this the unfamiliar environment, you’re in for a few longer nights than usual. However, you can work on the sleeping arrangements to help them rest better at night.
Kittens will look for warmth and cosiness when they want to sleep. Choose a bed that is comfy and has high sides like this Stefanplast Sleeper 1 Anti-Slip Cat Bed (Apple Green) so that they can snuggle in. This bed comes with non-slip tabs inserted at the base to prevent the sleeper bed from slipping and sliding. It is also equipped with air slits on the base to facilitate ventilation and reduce the heat accumulated in the bed while your kitty is all snuggled up inside. Remember to keep their soft plushy toys close by. Place the bed in a secure spot, away from heavy household traffic and sheltered from draughts.
Other things to expect over the week
Feeding If possible, feed the kitten the same food it has been used to. A sudden change of diet combined with the stress of adapting to a new home can cause stomach upsets and diarrhoea. Once the kitten has adapted to its’ new environment, you can start to transition his diet if necessary. Transition gradually by mixing the new food into the old. Slowly replace the old food with the new food, a little at a time, over 7 to 10 days.
Kittens have small stomachs and must be fed in small amounts but often. Kittens aged 8-12 weeks need four meals a day, 3-6 months three meals, and kittens over 6 months old, two meals. Fresh drinking water should be always available.
Toilet training Kittens will usually have learned to use a litter tray from their mother. You may just need to show your new kitten where the litter tray is. It is also good practice to place him on the litter tray every morning upon waking up, and after meals to set a toilet break routine.
Brushing Acustom your kitten to being groomed from an early age. Brushing regularly allows you to check for parasites such as fleas and ticks and helps to remove excess loose hairs which can cause fur balls to build up in the stomach. Start very gently so your cat gets used to being brushed or combed. Use a gentle, soft brush like the Petz Route Rubber Cushion Pin Brush For Cats & Dogs. This brush comes with rubber cushion pin brush that is gentle toward your pet’s fur.
Playing Your new kitten may not wish to engage with you in the first few hours upon arrival. However, over the next few days, little kitty will need his playtime. Most kittens will do well with 15 to 20 minutes of playtime, 3 times daily. Use a variety of toys to fulfil his instinctual desires to chase, hunt and capture his prey.
Make an appointment to see a vet
A new kitten will need a health check-up shortly after arrival. Once your kitten has settled into his new environment, make an appointment to see the vet for his vaccination and microchipping. Refrain from taking your kitten anywhere other than a vet’s office until they are fully vaccinated.
Lastly, do check out our Kitten & Senior Club (KSC) membership. This is a Curious Cat People exclusive - a club designed for kittens and senior cats. We understand it's hard to find stuff that suits them in most big-box chains or online pet stores. For example, nutrition, supplements, mobility and comfort needs of kittens and senior cats become different as they move through different stages of life. As members, you are entitled to 5% OFF on all kitten and senior items!
KSC is a lifetime membership and does not expire. To qualify for KSC, your cat must be less than 18 months old and this is the best time to apply so that you can take full advantage of KSC’s benefits. Let’s get started with KSC’s application here.
Before you know it, you have survived the week with your new kitten. This is a start of a beautiful journey together, as both of you will learn from each other's nuances. Over the week, your kitten will get used to his environment and he might even claim a favourite spot to perch while birds and people watch.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.