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Best tips when bringing a kitten (or a cat) home

Kitten in front of a window advice
© Pexels

It can be daunting for a cat or a kitten when they come home for the first time. Here are the best tips to remember on the day your feline friend comes home for the first time.

By Nick Whittle

Young or old, a cat will be daunted by its first few days in a new home. Kittens especially will find the whole experience a challenge. Don’t forget that most of them will have been separated from their mum at the same time, and so will feel more than a little edgy.

Introducing your kitten to his new home must be done sensitively.

To know how to help your cat through this moment is important part of being a car owner: doing things the right way will lead to your cat growing up to be the happy and contented pet you hoped he would be.

Bringing your cat or kitten home for the first time

Any reputable breeder will warn you of receiving a kitten before the age of 8 weeks. A kitten is not well adjusted to an independent life before that time and in fact is only thought to be best adjusted after the age of 13 weeks.

By the time he is three months old a kitten will have learnt lots of vital skills by observing his mother; these types of skill are important to his existence and relate to eating habits and house training.

Cats are fastidious toilet goers: their manner around a litter box is exceptionally hygienic.

It is this type of learning that your kitten will receive from his mum. To go without that training could make your kitten vulnerable to accidents, and agitated.

At the same time that a kitten learns all he can from his mother he becomes more adventuresome and independent. It is at this stage of his young life that a kitten will adapt better to new surroundings; hence why most animal behaviourists warn against taking on a kitten younger than two months old.

Older cats that have already experienced living with people (including young children) may not be as edgy when they are introduced into a new home. But you should still be vigilant of their signs of unhappiness and agitation.

Preparing for your kitten’s arrival

Before you bring your kitten home you will need to purchase or borrow the following paraphernalia:

  • Cat carrier (big enough to house an adult cat)
  • Litter tray (preferably low-sided)
  • Litter scoop (for clearing the tray)
  • Cosy bed (again big enough to house an adult cat)
  • Shallow bowls for water and food
  • A scratching post
  • Kitten (or cat) toys

If you are re-homing an adult cat some of these materials may accompany him to your house. If not, you will have to purchase them. If your new cat has any favourite toys or quirks of habit then you should be told about these before your cat arrives home. Scratching posts cost relatively little.

Food

You will also need to stock up on kitten or cat food, and plenty of it. If you are taking in an older cat it is vital that for now at least you buy the same kind of food that he has been used to. The change from house to house as well as a change of diet can cause him undue upset.

Here are a few more things to remember before your cat arrives:

  • The new room. A quiet room that is NOT a walk-through is ideal. Make sure the room temperature is just right, and that your cat has what it needs in the room. Do not put your cat’s food and water bowls near its litter tray. Even lions don’t like to poop where they eat!
  • The climbing area. A cat will feel more at ease if he has somewhere he can survey his new domain. If at all possible arrange somewhere up high to where he can safely climb.
  • The litter tray. This should not be near the cat’s food and drink station. Position the litter tray somewhere private and quiet. Unlike dogs cats are quite particular about pooping in front of people: in other words, they don’t like to.
  • Cat carrier. As mentioned this should be big enough to house your cat even when it becomes an adult. Kittens grow at an astonishing rate. If you buy a kitten-sized carrier it will be redundant within two or three months.

Other things to remember

Cats and kittens need love and affection, especially in the first 24 hours and then over the course of the first few days of a new home, but they also require practical support. Here are some other things you may want to consider buying:

  • Brushes, combs and scissors for grooming
  • Gentle cleaning products such as cat shampoo
  • A cat flap for the front or back door
  • A collar, a label and a microchip
  • Plenty of toys

When your kitten arrives at his new home he will be scared and probably unhappy that he is no longer with his mum. Be patient with your kitten: a scared or unhappy animal will be timid, will want to be left alone and may even exhibit aggression. To understand your kitten will make you a far superior owner in the long run and the one that can give the kitten a good life.

For the arrival of a kitten or an older cat the house should be quiet to begin with, with no sudden noises such as a loud doorbell or phone. Showing him where his food and water bowls are is one of the first things you should do.

A good idea is to point your cat to where his room will be and let him explore by himself. As his confidence grows he will explore more of the house and feel more at ease.

If you have other household cats and dogs do not introduce them to your cat until you are certain your cat is not only comfortable with his surroundings but also not still on edge about moving home.

Do not let a kitten roam outdoors until she has been fully vaccinated and wormed. Your kitten can become very sick from picking up unseen germs in grass and on concrete.

After bringing home a cat you may notice he becomes aggressive. This is due to two reasons 1) he has always been aggressive and you were not told about his problem behaviour or 2) he is scared and confused. You will need to tread carefully with an aggressive cat and let him approach you when he is ready.

Good luck.