Bringing Home a New Kitten
You've picked out your cute cuddly kitten and now it is time for the big trip home. Though kittens are less work than dogs, there are some crucial first steps you must take to ensure that her transition is as smooth as possible. If you are adopting a semi-feral or unsocialized cat, you will need extra patience so she can acclimate.
Pick a room in the house that is "hers"
Prior to bringing home your kitten, pick out a room that will be designated as her safe room. There are a few things the room should have:
- It should be away from the hustle and bustle of the home but a place where she will get regular human interaction.
- There should be no difficult hiding places. This includes behind appliances, under beds, or under heavy pieces of furniture that are not easily moved. Think like a cat. You would be shocked at the places their little bodies can hide.
In most cases, a bathroom is a great location. There usually aren't a lot of hiding spots and you and the family will be going in and out regularly enough that she will get used to hearing, seeing, and smelling your scent. If a bathroom doesn't work, you can use a bedroom (that doesn't have a bed) or a den. Don't think you can jerry rig a way for your kitten to stay out from under the bed. She'll find a way!
Make it comfortable
Since you are not giving her any hiding spots, you do want to provide her with a bed, a cat post, or cardboard box that she can use to feel like she is "hiding" when she is stressed or nervous. Place a small litter pan in the room, plus water, food, and toys.
If she is upset at night, try wrapping up your shirt in her bed so she sleeps with your scent. A radio with classical music or soft speaking might help to soothe her fears. If this is her first time without her mother, she is bound to be upset.
When you first arrive home, place her carrier in the safe room. Open the door and let her come out on her own time. Just make sure that the carrier is facing directly in front of the litter pan. She needs to know where it is immediately.
Checklist of Kitten Materials
Purina One, Iams
Consider an enclosed litter box
Get two: one small and one large
Consider the one that keeps the water fresh
Ceramic or stainless steel work best
This is a must for transporting in the car
Something soft that she can sleep on
Feathers, balls, little catnip filled mice
If you do not have one, your kitten will use your furniture!
collar with a bell
To keep track of her!
Keep her there for several days
If your kitten is shy or nervous, she will need ample time to get used to her space before attempting to explore the whole house. If you have other animals in the house, it is absolutely crucial that you keep her separated from your other animals.
When you or your family members want to interact with her, go into that room and give her a chance to approach you. Play with her using a feather wand or small mouse. If your kitten is curious and unafraid of humans, this will be an easy task. If she is shy and afraid, you will have to approach slowly and take your time.
Introduce the other animals slowly
After a week or so of complete separation, you can open the door a crack and offer a treat to your resident cat and your kitten at the same time. Try playing with both and if things seem stressful or tense, you can separate them again and try 24 hours later. If you have more than one resident cat, introduce the alpha cat first. He will set the tone that all the other cats will follow.
When introducing a dog to a new kitten, make sure your dog is crated or on a leash. Even if your dog isn't prone to aggression, he might simply not know his own strength.
Where did you get your kitten?
Schedule a vet appointment for the first week
You will want your local vet to look over your new kitten and check for parasites or the presence of Feline Leukemia (many shelters will do these tests for you, but it depends on the age of the kitten). You will also have to vaccinate her, and schedule an appointment for spaying or neutering.
Most shelters require you to spay your animal by six months. In fact, many places will spay your cat before you even bring her home! There are various arguments about the advantages and disadvantages of spaying a young kitten, so talk to your vet about your options.
Stray Kitten Help
- Kittens - Help, I Found a Kitten, What Should I Do
We found a kitten outside on a dark and stormy night, about a year ago. Here is the story of how I rescued a kitten; a person previously allergic to cats now a cat lover. Here is some advise on how to take care of a rescued kitten.
Dealing with an "ultra" shy kittten
There is a fine balance with a kitten. You want to force opportunities for interaction and holding since this is the thing that will convince her you are not the enemy. Offering treats and canned food can help when a kitten is very unsure.
On the other hand, it is important that you don't over stress a new kitten. Kittens who are over-stimulated can develop respiratory infections due to stress. Make sure she has ample time to rest and recover after an intense session of petting and holding. Give her opportunities to see you in the room- talking, interacting with each other, and carrying on with regular life- this way she'll begin to realize that you don't represent stress.
About the author
Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer and mother of three. She is currently the proud owner of two cats, a dog, and a kitten as well. She has adopted all of her animals from rescue shelters.
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