Welcoming your new kitten into your home requires a lot of love, patience, and preparation. With the right equipment and our expert tips, you can make your cat's introduction to your home, family, and other pets go smoothly.
Basic Supplies for a New Kitten
Here's a list of items that will help you and your new kitten get off to a great start:
- Bed or sleeping area
- Water and food bowls
- Litter box and litter
- Cat carrier
- Brushes and combs
- Scratching post
- Kitten Food
- A collar (and ID tags)
You can provide a comfortable sleeping area to discourage your new kitten from using the furniture. Check pet stores or make a kitten bed in four simple steps:
- Step 1: Find a cardboard box with the sides intact. (A small box is good for a kitten; a larger cat should be able to stretch out while lying down.)
- Step 2: Cut out a door opening on one side of the box.
- Step 3: Line the box with an old blanket, a small pillow, or a cushion covered in a washable fabric.
- Step 4: Place box in a warm, quiet spot.
- Each pet in your house should have his or her own food and water bowl.
- Choose bowls designed especially for cats—shallow, broad-based metal or ceramic bowls.
Kitten toys, like toys for small children, are wonderful amusements and should be chosen carefully. Use these tips:
- Avoid toys that have sharp edges or parts that your kitten might swallow.
- Choose soft toys that bounce erratically (the more bounce, the better).
- Beware of yarn and toys with strings. Yarn or string is dangerous if ingested. Supervise all play with these toys.
When you bring your new kitten home, at first she may miss her family. She may wake up and meow during the night. Pick her up and comfort her by speaking soothingly and stroking her gently. If this doesn't calm her, try these two tips:
- Put a ticking clock by her bed to remind her of her mother's heartbeat.
- Put a hot-water bottle (100° to 102°F.) wrapped in a towel near her. This will remind her of her siblings.
Easing the Transition of a New Kitten to Your Home
Introduce your cat to your home gradually by following these helpful hints:
- For the first day or two, keep your kitten confined to one room with a litter box, food, and water. Let her become comfortable in this room before introducing her to the rest of the house.
- After your new kitten is relaxed and acclimated, allow her to explore and roam the rest of the house.
Introducing Children to a New Kitten
Show your children how to properly pick up a kitten and how to play with their new pet. Teach them that cats don't like to be teased or have their ears or tail pulled. Always supervise your children's interaction with your new kitten, especially when they have friends over to play.
Other Pets and Your New Kitten
Before you introduce a new kitten to the household, be sure she (as well as your resident pets) is disease-free and has been recently checked by your veterinarian. Older, settled-in pets may resist sharing their domain, and it may take a month or more before your new kitten is an accepted member of the family. Follow these steps for smooth introductions:
- Step 1: Put your new kitten in a separate room away from other pets for the first day or two, and leave her travel crate open in the room. The familiarity of the crate may make it a safe haven. (Resident pets will become aware of her presence from her scent.) If you have another cat, he may prowl around the doorway and show signs of aggression.
During this period, spend extra time with your resident pet to relieve any anxiety and minimize tension. Confine him to his favorite part of the house while the new kitten is allowed brief journeys out to explore your home. When your new kitten seems comfortable, allow the animals to start viewing each other.
- Step 2: Allow your pets to meet. Stay in the room while they get acquainted. Let them sniff out each other's space and one another. Make sure each pet has an easy escape route in case one or the other wants to leave. Some hissing or growling is to be expected.
Tips for Successful Pet Introductions
- If one cat shows hostility toward another during the initial introductions, don't punish him; that action could backfire. Instead, start the whole process over again after separating the animals for a day or two.
- Respect each pet's territorial rights. If your older cat has claimed the living-room sofa as her favorite spot, allow her to keep that space as her own domain. Help your new kitten find a different spot she can call her own.
- Establish separate but equal relationships with each pet to prevent jealousy.
- If you have a dog, keep him on a leash at first, and monitor him closely. In the beginning, don't let him chase or bother your new kitten, and don't make your kitten remain in the same room with the dog if she's uncomfortable or scared.
- Buy separate food and water bowls.
- Give each cat a separate litter box; this will help them resist the temptation to find a private privy in an inappropriate place.
Kitten Proofing (Cat Proofing) Your Home
Your cat's inquisitive nature can be dangerous. Follow these recommendations:
- Keep all medicines and household cleaning agents locked up.
- Shut the bathroom door when you run water in a bathtub.
- Keep stringy material away from your kitten, except under your supervision. Items like string, yarn, fishing line, and thread attached to a needle can be lethal if swallowed.
- Close toilet lids, and make sure the fireplace is tightly screened.
- Secure unscreened windows. Cats may jump out of open windows. Cats often lean into screens as they nap, so secure the screens on all other windows. Contrary to popular belief, cats don't always land on their feet when they fall and can be seriously injured.
- Close all garage and appliance doors. A warm dryer or a car engine may entice cats in search of a warm place to nap.
- Immediately place opened tin or aluminum cans behind closed doors or in containers with secure lids. The edges of these cans are extremely sharp and can cut or sever your cat's tongue.
- If possible, replace the antifreeze in your car with a nontoxic brand. Antifreeze tastes sweet to pets and is the most common feline poison. Ingesting just a teaspoon of antifreeze can cause kidney failure. Keep all other chemicals in the garage out of reach.
- Set rodent traps out of a cat's reach.
- Keep easily swallowed small items such as balls, bits of fabric and baby-bottle nipples away from your kitten.
Many cats will nibble on your greenery, and some plants may be toxic if eaten. Avoid purchasing the following plants, and check gardening and home-safety books for additional lists and pictures of common toxic plants:
- Easter lily
- False Jerusalem cherry
- Common or cherry laurel
How to Properly Pick Up a Kitten
Teach your children the correct way to pick up a kitten and an adult cat:
- Step 1: Never grab or pick up a kitten or an adult cat by the scruff of the neck. Place one hand under the chest, just behind the front legs. Put your other hand under the hindquarters to support the cat's weight and lift with both hands.
- Step 2: Hold your cat in the crook of your arm, gripping firmly to prevent her from getting loose.