Kittens are adorable, aren’t they? Little fluffy balls of love with big, beautiful eyes. They emerge into the world, blinking in the light, looking for someone to take care of them. And they find you! It’s easy to see why so many people prefer to adopt kittens instead of cats. It’s equally understandable that some point can’t bear to part with kittens once their pregnant cat has given birth. But not everything always goes smoothly when you introduce a new kitten into a household. In a lot of ways, it’s like introducing a new baby.
In some ways, it can be even harder than having a new baby! Your baby might cry and keep you awake all night, but it’s unlikely to shred your curtains. It won’t dig up your carpets or go to the toilet in inconvenient places around the home either. When you introduce a new kitten into the household, it’s a very exciting time, but it can also be very trying. That’s why we’ve put this guide together in the hope that we can reduce your stress levels. And we’re talking about both you and your new furry friend!
Before we get into the specific steps, here’s a word of general advice. Take things slowly. Whether your kitten was born inside your house, or adopted from elsewhere, it’s still completely new to your environment. You, and everything in your home, are enormous and terrifying to your kitten. Nothing should be forced or rushed as they get used to their new surroundings. Let your kitten explore this strange new world around it on its own terms. No need for a grand tour of the house, or a walk around the garden!
When you introduce a new kitten to a household, everything has to move at the kitten’s pace. You’re looking to build a long term, loving relationship with your kitten, and so you want it to view you as someone who it feels safe with. Be as patient as you can possibly be.
Introduce A New Kitten To Your Home One Step At A Time
With the above in mind, let’s look at a step by step process for making your new housemate feel at home.
1. Choose A Limited Living Space For Them
It’s not in your interest, or the kitten’s, for them to have the full run of your home from the moment they move in. There are far too many places for them to get lost, and all the space can just be too much for them. Whilst the kitten is very young, they need to be sheltered from much of the outside world. This is doubly true if there are other pets in the house – it’s not time to meet them yet! For the first few days – and probably up to the first week – they should live inside one room. A spare bedroom or something similar would be a great choice. Anything with a door and a way of shielding them from external factors will do just fine.
2. Give Them Somewhere To Hide
Your kitten probably feels very vulnerable. If it’s been taken away from its mother, it will definitely have anxiety issues. Cats are very security conscious creatures, and they’ll spend their whole life seeking out familiar hiding holes where they can observe the world without being seen. It isn’t good for your kitten to feel exposed and on display all the time. Make sure whichever room you choose has somewhere they can hide, and feel safe and secure. If the spare bedroom has a bed they can hide under, that’s perfect. Behind a cupboard or a chair works, too. If there’s nothing like that already in the room, make them a little den out of cardboard boxes or clothes!
3. Give Them A Perch, Too!
Kittens love to climb. We mentioned that in the opening paragraph. We’re repeating it here just to make sure you get the message that your curtains really are now at risk! Hiding and climbing are two basic behaviours that cats display in the wild. A cat with a high vantage point can see all around it, and therefore is safe from the approach of predators. They can also spy on their prey without being seen. We know there are no predators or prey in your spare room, but your kitten isn’t convinced about that yet!
Having something in the room they can climb upon and see all around them is great for reassuring a kitten. A climbable wardrobe would be a big plus. A decent sized bookcase would do the job just as well. If you have neither option available, you may want to purchase some cat furniture. We’ll get on to that shortly. If your kitten can hide when it chooses, and survey its domain from on high, it will soon begin to feel at home.
4. Choose A Suitable Litter Tray
There’s more to introduce a new kitten to than just your home. There’s also all of the fixtures and furnishings that they’ll be using for the rest of their lives to get used to as well! Cats – and kittens – are intelligent creatures. A lot of them understand what a litter tray is, and what it’s for, on sight. That doesn’t mean it can just be left anywhere, though. Like we said above, cats like to feel safe and protected at all times, and they can also be self conscious. Your kitten’s first litter tray should be positioned in a corner, far away from the door, so your new friend feels safe when nature calls. We have a guide to litter trays, and how to train a cat to use one, right here.
5. Find Suitable Food And Water Bowls
We’ve got plenty of things to introduce a new kitten to yet! They also need to get used to eating and drinking from bowls or feeders. Again, placement is everything here. Cats are very clean creatures, and kittens are born with that inherent sense of cleanliness. They won’t eat if their food is too close to their litter tray. Where they put food in should be very different to where they put food out again! Go for a different corner of the room to a litter tray so there’s plenty of space. A bowl or feeder with low sides is a good choice for a very young kitten, as it means they don’t bump their head or whiskers while trying to eat. See our cat feeders guide for more information.
6. Select A Cat Bed
This may well be a redundant purchase, but we should at least give your kitten the choice. Many cats and kittens will choose several favourite spots around the home to sleep in, but they should also have a nice, warm cat bed to use if they feel like it. There are many styles to choose from, but its best to stay basic for a kitten. Just like with everything else, put their bed somewhere secure. Cats need to feel protected when they sleep – having walls around them and a place to look out of is a big plus to them. If you put their bed in the middle of the room, they’re unlikely to use it, because they’ll feel too exposed.
7. Get Some Cat Furniture
We told you we’d get around to this bit! Kittens are little bundles of energy, and they need entertainment and exercise to blow off steam. If you don’t want your carpets and curtains to be full of claw marks, you’d best get some appropriate scratching posts and cat furniture! If you introduce a kitten to specialised furniture at an early age, you’ll instil a sense of playfulness in them which should carry over into adulthood. Plus, as we discussed earlier, it’s great for them to have something to climb on so they can get a better view of the world around them. Once again we’ve got your back; we’ve covered the latest and best in cat furniture in detail.
8. Spend Plenty Of Time With Them
It might be sensible to take a few days off work to spend with your new friend. When you introduce a new kitten into your life, you also become its primary caregiver. If you’re not around enough in these early days, it won’t bond with you the way it needs to. They want to get to know you, and spend time with you, so they can trust you. So spend time in their room with them, stroke them, and play with them. Get some cat toys. Consider getting some grooming equipment so you can give them a good pamper session – that’s a surefire way to make them feel at home!
When To Introduce A New Kitten To The Rest Of The House
There’s no hard or fast guideline on this. We definitely recommend they stay in one room for at least three or four days. They’ll give you little clues as to when it’s time for them to see the rest of the home. They’ll notice that you come and go through the door, and when they start to feel at home with both you and their room, they’ll naturally become curious about where you go. If you start to find your kitten follows you to do the door – or tries to get out when you open it – it’s probably time to let them take the extended tour. Just supervise them at all times, and keep them inside the house. A kitten should be in a new home for at least two weeks before you even consider letting them outside, and even then it should only happen once they’ve been vaccinated.
Thanks for stopping by and reading our article. If you are considering whether to introduce a new kitten to your life, we hope you found this information useful. And if you did, please share it with your cat and kitten loving friends!