Getting a new kitten is very exciting and all that cuteness can be hard to process! But during the first few days, make sure that you give your new kitten the space they need to settle down in their own time.
Kittens might be small, but preparing to welcome one into your home takes a lot of time and effort. From kitten-proofing your flat or house to buying the right food and choosing a tiny bed for your new friend, there’s a lot to do. Follow our checklist to make sure you’ve got everything covered for your kitten's first day at home.
Before your new kitten arrives
Check your home is going to be a safe and welcoming space for your kitten. Take care of potential hazards including poisonous plants, dangerous foods and toxic cleaning products. Keep these well away from any areas your kitten could access.
It’s a good idea to set up one, kitten-safe room where your kitten can relax and adjust to their new surroundings. Tidy away any loose cables, block up any small gaps, and make sure the windows are closed. In this room you can set out everything your kitten needs, including:
Make sure you’ve got all the other essentials you’ll need like food, a pet carrier, and grooming supplies.
Keeping things familiar
When you collect your kitten, ask if you can take away a blanket that smells of them and their current surroundings. This can be a good way to bridge the gap between their old and new home as scent continuity is really important to cats. Place this blanket in your kitten’s new bed to help them feel more relaxed and secure.
You should also try to use the same brand and type of food as they’ve already been eating. This can encourage them to eat, but also reduce the chances of any gastrointestinal issues from a sudden switch of diet. Once your kitten is settled into their new home, you can gradually transition them onto a different brand of food if you’d like to.
The first 24 hours
When you arrive home with your new kitten, place their carrier in the allocated room, open the door of the carrier and let them come out in their own time. Some kittens will be bold enough to charge out right away while others will need a little more time to build up the confidence to come and explore. Let your kitten set the pace and don’t pressurise them into doing anything they’re not sure of.
Allow your kitten some time and space to come to terms with their new surroundings. While you might be tempted to invite friends and family over, it’s best to wait for at least the first few days so your kitten isn’t overwhelmed. Some kittens may need longer. Don’t worry if your kitten finds small spaces to hide, like behind the sofa or under the bed. This is a natural reaction and they’ll soon come out again!
Rather than expecting your kitten to interact with you, spend some time quietly sitting in the room with them. Don’t put any pressure on. Just wait to see if they approach you. If they do, you can give them a few treats to help build their confidence. Keep young children away and don’t try to pick your kitten up until you’re sure they’re settled.
The first night with a new kitten
Your kitten’s first night at home, away from their mother and littermates, can feel overwhelming for everyone. You can help them feel as safe and settled as possible by following these steps:
- Add a synthetic pheromone diffuser to the room (ideally at least 24 hours before the kitten arrives home);
- Put a pet-safe microwave heat pad into their bed (making sure they can easily move away from it);
- Put on some quiet, calming music;
- Make sure they’re ready for sleep by having a short play session in the early evening (but not immediately before bedtime as they might get overexcited).
Introducing a kitten to other pets
After the first day or two, or whenever your kitten has settled into the room and is confident, you can start allowing your kitten to explore other parts of your house as long as you’ve checked they’re safe. Kittens play hard and tire easily, so when your kitten needs a nap, bring them back to their allocated room. Every kitten is different, so you’ll know when the right time is to allow your kitten more freedom, or to introduce them to other pets, friends and family.
When introducing your kitten to other pets, it’s wise to plan your approach ahead of time to keep these meetings positive. Prior to choosing a kitten, check whether the kitten has met other pets when they were with the breeder or rescue centre during the socialisation period of between two and seven weeks of age. It’s important that they had regular positive experiences during this time.
Now is also a good time to start gently training your kitten, and enjoying spending time with your new friend.
As your kitten’s confidence increases, you can also start introducing them to new people and experiences, but always allow your kitten to set the pace. Before long, your kitten will be confidently exploring their new home — and you might be struggling to keep up!