How to Bring a New Kitten Home

Bringing a new kitten home or even an adult cat to their new home is stressful for all parties involved. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to completely eliminate it.

In our previous article we talked about choosing the essentials your new kitten will need. In this article, you’ll learn what you need before you get a new kitten, how to reduce their stress, and how to introduce a brand new kitten to their new home so the stress involved is minimized as much as possible.

A grey and white kitten with blue eyes sitting on a yellow towel, looking a little apprehensive as they are in a new home

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Thinking about how to prepare for a new kitten?

We have written different articles on the different aspects of bringing a new kitten home. Please refer to those articles if you are looking for what to do in these specific situations. These are things like How to Help Your Cat and Dog Get Along or How to Choose Kitten Essentials For Your New Cat. Our advice below is suitable for all cases. Either you are bringing a new kitten home to an empty house or to a home already inhabited by other pets. Please understand that if it’s the latter, meaning if you have a dog or a resident cat already, additional training on both sides will be required. See the first article we mentioned about How to Help Your Cat and Dog Get Along.

What do you do when you first bring a kitten home?

The first thing to do is to get something from your kitten’s previous home. Something to remind them of their home. Good breeders usually know this and usually offer a small blanket or a cat toy along with the kitten to their new owners. The familiar smells of their mother or litter mates will help reduce their anxiety of being in new surroundings.

One tip we strongly recommend at our veterinary clinic to all pet parents that bring home a new four legged feline fur baby is to keep feeding the same type and brand of food. This should be done at least initially and we can’t recommended this more strongly. The same advice applies to your new kitten’s feeding schedule which benefits both stress level minimization and digestion problems. Many breeders and shelters will have a small bag of the food they used and may send you home with it. Check on this before bringing your new kitten home so you can make sure you have some at home when the big day arrives. Talk to your breeder or staff at the shelter about what schedule they fed your kitten. Try to stick with that schedule for at least few weeks. Later you may gradually shift it to your desired feeding times.

Also, if you find you have an overly energetic kitten, you may try to use a cat pheromone diffuser. A 2017 study shows synthetic pheromones will help your kitten feel more calm and secure. These are not drugs, just a synthetic derivative of a substance cats use for positive territory marking. For more information on this topic, please refer to our article about feline pheromones in this article.

What is the best way to introduce your new kitten to your home?

Next thing you want to do is to create a separate room or space in your home for your new kitten. It doesn’t matter if there are other pets in your home like older cats or not, you should do it. If you have pets, it helps initially to prevent your new kitten from physically contacting other pets if you have any. The reason for this is to provide a safe space for your kitten, where they can be with familiar objects and smells. But more importantly, it helps to introduce your kitten to their new home gradually. They can leave and explore at their own pace.

We already mentioned that coming to a new home is a huge amount of stress for your kitten. Keeping their new experiences in your house and their new home to a minimum will reduce it significantly.

Place everything your new cat will need in this room. Make sure to include their cat food bowl, water bowl, litter tray or litter box, cat bed, cat carrier, scratching post, and maybe even a cat tree or something else that will allow your cat to sit on an elevation like a cat shelf. For more information on ways to provide your cat with elevation spaces, you can read our article on Best Cat Wall Shelf.

For this purpose, you should choose a room that is not a passage to other rooms and one with a door that can be closed.

How can you help your kitten enjoy physical contact?

When your kitten is settled into their new digs, try not to overwhelm them with your attention. Make sure that other family members don’t jump all over or distract the kitten unnecessarily.

However, this doesn’t mean you should leave the kitten isolated and alone. They will very much still need your presence, but in a non pushy or overly attentive manner. How much attention depends on every case. It’s all about finding the perfect amount of attention to give to make your kitten enjoy your presence and touch. A 2019 Washington State University study shows that petting helps reduce stress in cats and dogs.

For example, if your new kitten is willing to play, encourage them by dragging a cat toy along the floor. If your kitten is slightly cautious when you are around, you may also try to gain their confidence by inviting (not pushing) them to a play. This this from a greater distance, acting like you are playing with the toy yourself. Hopefully your kitten will get curious about how much fun you are having and approach you. However, if your kitten is extremely afraid, it may be better to leave them alone, or sitting in the same room, and doing something unrelated like reading a book or cruising the net on your tablet. For help with a kitten that seems to be afraid of you, please read our article Why Is My Kitten Scared Of Me? 8 Fixes.

Kitten being introduced to his new home by playing

A new home can be a scary place for a kitten, so how can you help?

When your kitten feels comfortable in their new environment, you might start letting them explore the rest of the house. If they were socialized properly by the breeder and there are no other pets in your household, the amount of time you have to keep the kitten in their dedicated room may be as short as one to a few days.

Open the door to the next room and allow the kitten come out. If he wants. Most likely he will, however, you may encourage him by a toy, as well. Kittens love playing, and, in nature, kitten usually learn to explore their environment during playing with other kittens.

If you carried out the dedicated room introduction properly, your kitten will move on rapidly. Before you know it, they will feel confident wandering around your whole house. However, some challenges may be remain if your kitten is afraid of you or other family members.

Now you know what you need before you get a new kitten, how to reduce their stress, and how to introduce a brand new kitten to their new home. This will go a long way towards a long and happy life for you and your new kitten. And keeping your Pet Happy is what we all want.

This article is a part of a series intended for beginner cat owners.

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