There’s nothing quite as exciting as bringing home a new bundle of joy — especially when it’s a furry one! Adding a kitten to your family is a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to remember that a new home filled with brand-new sights, sounds, and smells can be frightening for a tiny kitten. After all, your new baby likely just left behind their mother, a litter of playful siblings, and the only home they have ever known.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to make the transition a bit easier.
Whether you are new to pet parenthood or already have a few furry friends at home, we’ve put together this post with some helpful tricks for easing your kitten into their new home.
Stock Up on the Essentials
Shopping for your new kitten before bringing them home is part of the fun! Make sure you have everything your new feline friend will need before you pick them up.
A few essentials you’ll need for your new kitten include:
- Bowls for food and water
- High-quality kitten food
- A low-sided litter box and litter
- A soft, cozy bed
- A cat brush
- A sturdy and well-ventilated cat carrier
- A scratching post
- Fun toys (We recommend buying a few different kinds so you can figure out what your new best friend prefers)
Set Up Your Kitten’s Space
Setting up a special space for your new kitten is another step you should take before bringing your new pet home. Giving them full access to your entire home will overwhelm them — especially if you have other pets — so we recommend giving them a designated area for them to settle in.
Choose a quiet space away from hectic, noisy areas. A spare bedroom or rarely used bathroom is a good choice. Outfit the space with separate food, water, and litter box areas. Make sure your kitten will have places to hide, too, along with access to a higher area for perching and looking over their new surroundings.
Place your kitten’s bed, blankets, scratching post, and a few toys in the room, too. Before bringing your new friend home, inspect the area to ensure there aren’t any hidden dangers. Secure cupboard doors, remove electrical cords (and anything else that may look like a tempting toy to a kitten), and eliminate access to secret hiding holes. Kittens are mischievous little creatures, and it’s up to you to keep them safe and out of trouble.
Bring Your Furry Friend Home
With everything set up for your new best friend, it’s time to bring them home. For your kitten’s safety, you’ll need a sturdy, well-ventilated cat carrier. To make it a bit cozier and less frightening, consider placing a soft blanket inside.
Place your kitten in the carrier, and make sure the door is secure. Chances are, your new pet won’t love being in a carrier, and you’ll probably hear some loud protests. Don’t fret! A carrier is a new and strange environment for a kitten, and it’s natural for them to feel frightened.
Put the carrier in the backseat of your car, and secure it in place using the seatbelt. Make sure your heating/air conditioning vents are not pointed at your cat. Drive as smoothly and consistently as possible, and keep noise to a minimum. Now isn’t the time to crank up the stereo or drive aggressively! Plan ahead so that you can go straight home without making any stops. The sooner you get your kitten home, the sooner they can get settled.
Gently Introduce Your Cat to Their New Home
Once you have arrived home safely, take your kitten to the room you’ve set up for them. Open the carrier door, but do not force them to come out. Let them explore at their own pace. We understand how tempting it is to shower a new kitten with lots of love as soon as you bring them home, but it’s best to take things slowly. If your furry friend seems frightened, talk to them in a gentle, soothing voice, and offer treats. Give them space to adjust and acclimate to their surroundings. For the first few days, keep them in their own space. Then, gradually let them start exploring other areas of your home as they become more confident.
Let Them Meet Your Family
When introducing your kitten to other members of your family, take things slow. Meeting everyone as soon as they arrive in your home can be overwhelming, so try to make introductions one at a time. Make sure young children know they need to be gentle and calm when interacting with their new family member.
Remember that cats have unique personalities, and some enjoy spending time with people more than others. If your kitten is shy, that’s okay! With time and patience, your kitten should gain confidence and feel comfortable around your family.
Introduce Your Kitten to Other Pets
If you have other pets, introduce your new furry family member to them slowly. Letting them sniff each other from opposite sides of a closed door is a good place to start. Scent swapping is another excellent option. Pet each animal with a clean, soft cloth. Then, put the cloth with your new kitten’s scent in your current pet’s environment and vice versa. This allows all of the animals in your home to get accustomed to each others’ smells before meeting face-to-face. Repeat the process until your pets don’t show any reaction to the scent.
When you are ready to let your pets meet, take things slowly. If you have a dog, keep them on a leash, and don’t let them corner your new kitten. When introducing another cat, watch for signs of aggression. A bit of growling or hissing is typical, but neither cat should physically lash out at the other. Keep a close eye, and separate your pets if you have any reason to suspect that the situation might turn sour.
Schedule Their First Vet Visit
Bringing your cat in for regular exams and wellness services is a huge part of being a responsible pet parent. As veterinarians, we encourage you to schedule your new furry friend’s appointment as soon as possible after bringing them home. With our help, you can start your new bundle of joy off on the right paw with vaccinations, parasite prevention, and other essential services. And as your partner in pet parenthood, we can help you overcome obstacles like choosing the right food and meeting your kitten’s environmental needs.
The Drake Center for Veterinary Care is an AAHA-accredited animal hospital located in Encinitas, CA. The Drake Center loves being a source of information for all pet owners across the country however if you have any questions regarding pet care and do not live in Encinitas, CA or surrounding cities, we encourage you to contact your local veterinarian.