Welcoming a new kitten into your household is a lot of fun, but you’ve got some work to do before they arrive! We hope the advice in this article makes the experience as positive as possible - for human and furry family members alike.
Kitten proof your home
So, you’re ready to welcome home a new kitten! One of your first jobs will be to kitten proof your home. This includes removing toxic plants and chemicals from reach and protecting electrical wires from curious teeth. You should bring your kitten home in a safe carrier, preferably with a familiar blanket or toy.
Find a vet
You should find a vet as early as possible. You’ll need to get vaccinations at around nine weeks and three months, and soon new legislation will soon be introduced saying cats must be microchipped by 20 weeks. You’ll also want to consider insurance, so you don’t end up with unaffordable veterinary bills.
Make your kitten comfortable
Before bringing a kitten home, you need to create a safe and cosy space for them to settle into your family. This space should be away from the hustle and bustle of the home, so your new pet isn’t overwhelmed. Don’t forget to put food, water, a bed, a litter tray, a scratching post, and some toys in this safe zone. Somewhere to hide like a cardboard box will help your kitten process any anxiety as they settle in.
Your kitten’s first 24 hours at home is bound to be a little stressful. You can help ease the stress by giving them the same food they are used to and placing a blanket from their first home in their bed. The scent of their mother and littermates will be comforting.
Set the ground rules
It’s best to decide on any ground rules before your kitten arrives. Think about whether they will be allowed upstairs, and make sure children know to be gentle and quiet around your new pet. You can also decide what times you will feed your kitten, and which family member will do this.
After the appropriate settling in period, many kittens love playing with young people. Do make sure your children use appropriate toys instead of little hands that could become the target of boisterous kitten play.
Introduce the family
Introducing the family doesn't need to happen all at once. Give your new kitten time to settle down in their safe place, and introduce new family members as your kitten relaxes. Introducing dogs and other cats should happen slowly, starting with protected contact through a stair gate.
Cats can be territorial, so don’t be surprised if any existing feline family members don’t seem very impressed with their new sibling. Giving them separate beds, litter trays, and food bowls will help avoid any spats as they get to know each other.
Letting your kitten explore
Don’t rush to get your kitten exploring the great outdoors. Making their way outside will be a gradual process, and they should be comfortable and relaxed in your home before taking the next step. The last thing you want is a frightened kitten bolting into the distance and getting lost!
You can start by introducing your kitten to the cat flap. Hold it open and encourage them to sniff and walk through it with some treats. In the following weeks, you can spend short bursts of time outside. But don’t let your kitten have the run of the neighbourhood before they are at least six months old. They are too young to defend themselves from other cats or dogs until this point.
You need to make sure your kitten has been vaccinated and microchipped before letting them explore outside. And we highly recommend neutering early on. Spayed and neutered cats tend to live for three to five years longer, and you won’t end up with a litter of unwanted kittens.
Give your kitten time
It’s normal for kittens to feel a little anxious at first. Don’t rush them by pulling them out of the hiding area. Instead, respect their need for space, and you will soon earn their trust. Don’t be shocked if your kitten has a few accidents in the early months, and remember to keep a close eye on your kitten with other family pets until they have their bearings.
Now you’re feeling fully prepared for your kitten’s arrival, check out our advice for how to handle their first night at home.