Squee! The day has finally come for you to bring your sweet little fur ball home and you absolutely can’t wait! I know the feeling, and it never gets old even in all of the kittens I’ve seen and brought home. This is a big day for a lot of reasons, and it’s important to understand it all.
Since the purpose of this is to serve as a guide through the kitten’s first full year, I’m going to help you see what you should start to see as far as your kitten’s progression in his life as well as his place in your family. Get ready to see a whole lot of cute coming your way!
Tips for Bringing a New Kitten Home
The first day
When the day arrives, you’ve got to make sure everything is ready, just like when you are bringing home a human baby. While everyone wants to cuddle up close and come see the new addition, you should go to pick up your new arrival with two people, or even just a single person. It’ll keep the confusion down, and you’ll be able to make sure that your kitten gets started in making his way into your family the right way. Remember that you have to do what it is best for your sweet kitten above all else.
Picking your kitten up
When you actually leave to get your kitten, you have to make sure that you bring a carrier with you. Due to safety and security issues, you always are going to want to transport your kitten back and forth in a carrier. This carrier should be a size not too small and not huge where it is hard to fit in your car. You can make it more appealing by putting a soft blanket and perhaps a toy or two into it. This will be a comforting heaven for your kitten.
Another way to make it more appealing is to ensure that you cover the carrier with a blanket once you put him into it. This will make him feel safe and secure and will curb a lot of his anxiety about being in a foreign spot.
Transporting your kitten
When you get him in the car in his carrier, it’s best to put him in the back seat, just like you would with a baby. In case of an accident, a kitten would be much safer in the back in his carrier, than he would be in the front seat in a carrier.
Talk to him in a gentle and soft voice as you drive and don’t be alarmed if he starts to cry and meow and make other sad noises. He’s just confused and scared, but don’t worry he will get over that soon.
Settling your kitten into the room
Once you get him home, you need to focus on getting him to your kitten’s new room as soon as you can, with as little disruption as possible. Keeping the cage covered, instruct other family members to keep other pets away and talk in quiet and gentle voices. As hard as it might be, don’t allow anyone into the cage, as this will just alarm your kitten. Help him feel safe and protected by keeping that cover in place.
Once you get the kitten into his room, close the door, set the carrier on the floor in clear view of both the litter box and the food and water that you’ve put out for him to nibble on. Lift up the carrier so that the front is uncovered, but the sides still are, and then slowly open the door to allow him to come out. It might be helpful if you make sure that he can see all of the different places he can hide in (such as the kitten beds or tunnels), as this will make him feel safe and secure as well. The cage would be best going in the corner of the room, too, as they feel much safer in these kinds of locations.
Once you open the door, you can leave the room to give him time to adjust or stay in the room if you really want to, but you’ll have to make sure that you stay quiet, unobtrusive and off to the side. That way when he comes out, he’ll see that you are there and not be alarmed by you sitting close by and making him feel trapped.
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The first night
The first night can pose a few problems as a new kitten owner. Since your kitten is used to being in a litter, he’s going to be confused as to where his siblings and mother are. Since cats are traditionally nocturnal, your kitten will wander his room at night, eating and using the litter box and searching for his brothers and sisters and mother.
You’ll probably hear him yowling and crying, and it’s going to be very hard for you to deal with at first. This is normal, and if you feel as though he isn’t calming down, it can be beneficial to go and check on him, talking to him in soothing tones and reminding him that he isn’t alone at all, though he may be alone in the room. This could be all that he needs to know: that he isn’t alone.
Another option to consider for settling in
If you want to make the settling in easier and better for everyone, you should consider adopting two kittens at a time instead of a single one. As far as finances are concerned, there isn’t much of a difference, and having one of his litter mates with him would greatly reduce his fear and anxiety in each step of the process.
While it’s understandable that you might not want to adopt two, it’s just something that you can consider that will give your kitten a lot of comfort in settling in, and you’ll always have a playmate for your kitten (and two kittens to play with!). There are several perks to enjoy with the idea of having two such as:
Less Emotional Distress
The move is hard for all kittens, even the bold ones, so having a sibling along for the ride is great in terms of making sure that you reduce the emotional upheaval as much as possible. Plus, it’s more cuteness to love on your end!
A Cuddle Mate For Each Other
That first night will be scary for your kitten in his room all by himself, but if you have two kittens, they’ll cure up together for comfort and safety, and you can rest easy knowing that they’re both okay, safe, and comfortable.
Company At All Times
When you have to go to work or other life commitments, they’ll always have company with them that will keep them out of trouble, and it won’t make them feel abandoned, which can be great when you need to be gone for a few hours at a time (especially in the first few weeks while they’re still adjusting to their room and are not wandering the home freely.
A Playmate For Each Other
Kittens love to play! They’re also very energetic, so having two to tire each other out is great for you, and it will also ensure that they don’t destroy too many things, which is also great for you. If you are hoping to keep them out of trouble, two is better than one, as strange as that may sound.
Getting two kittens are not essential to the settling in process, especially if you are not interested in having two, but it is an option to seriously consider if you want to make sure that you give two loving and deserving kittens a home. It will do wonders for both of them in terms of getting used to your home and family.
It’s definitely worth considering, and, in my personal opinion, it’s the best way to go. I’ve brought home kittens both alone and in pairs and having two kittens have been much easier and better than one. The extra mess and fees are minimal, and the joy is doubled for both you and your family, as well as the quality of life of the kittens.
The first week
After you make it through the first night, you’ll start your way into the things to expect from the first week. Your kitten is constantly growing and getting adjusted to the new world, and you’ll begin to see that around throughout the first week: it’s a fun time with a lot of great parts.
As you get used to being a pet parent, you’ll get used to the different responsibilities and the different things to watch for as well. Here’s what you’ll be able to start expecting and looking for in the first week of having your kitten living with you.
Your kitten is tiny, but he’s still going to be using the bathroom quite a bit. As such, despite the fact that there is still lots of clean space in the litter box, you need to remember to clean this regularly.
Your kitten is a clean creature, and it won’t take much for him to be upset over the dirty litter box. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on it throughout the day, and as far as a rule of thumb, it would be a good idea to change it every other day or once a day (if you have more than one kitten). That will help you to make sure that your kitten stays content and clean.
Cleaning The Room
Let’s face it, your kitten is going to make a mess. Between playing with all of his toys, spilling his food and water, and playing in his litter box – yes, really – you are going to have quite a mess in the room. For your own sake, you should try to keep the room swept as often as you can (he’ll love to play with the broom, too) and you can try tidying up the toys as well.
It’s important to clean the room regularly as well because you have to keep an eye out for broken toys that could present a choking hazard for your kitten.
Throughout the first week, you’ll notice the personality traits of your kitten coming out. You’ll start to learn about whether he’s adventurous, shy, cautious, mischievous, cuddly, etc. This is one of the best parts about the first week: getting to know your little fur ball.
As your little guy gets used to his new home, you’ll start to see him getting curious about the world outside the door. As you notice him getting less fearful, you can even start to encourage him to go out into that foreign world.
We’ll talk about that more in detail in a separate chapter, but some things you can change after he starts to get curious would be moving his food and water bowls to be directly beside the door, which will connect “good” feelings (from the food) with the door, which signifies the outside world.
This will help the kitten want to begin to explore when the time is right, which is definitely going to work in your favor. The first week, in terms of what to expect, may vary from day to day. Sometimes you’ll be able to see that the kitten is still adjusting and slightly fearful, and sometimes you’ll see that he is doing great for getting more confident. It’s important not to get rough or impatient with your kitten even if you’re anxious to bring friends over. You need to move at his own pace.
Here are Six Things That You Can Do within That First Week that will help you see that you are progressing.
- Notify your vet that you’ve got a new kitten and book an “introductory” appointment some point within the first month of bringing him home.
- Decide on a name for him or her.
- As your kitten adjusts, you can bring in some of the other people in the family (and family friends) as long as you instruct them to sit quietly and wait for the kitten to come to them (just like you did). Your kitten will probably enjoy playing with a toy with them, too, which is a great idea for kids to keep them from grabbing at the kitten.
- Get used to playing with your kitten with a laser pointer or throwing balls for him to chase, etc. Make sure never to point the laser directly at the kitten, as it may harm his eyes.
- Start picking him up (at his own pace) and holding him up for a while, getting him used to your touch.
- If he’s curious about the door (again, we’ll talk about this more in depth in the next chapter), you can try opening it a crack and allow him to smell and see the outside world. Just make sure that he doesn’t slip out, and make sure that no one – namely, your other pets – gets in.
The first month
You’ll see your kitten fully adjust to life with you and your loved ones throughout the first month that you have him home. During this time he will have his first vet appointment (with the proper shots), he’ll meet the rest of the adoring fans who want to get to know him, he’ll become more confident in scampering around his room and getting into trouble, etc.
Within the first month, you’ll begin the process of introducing him to your home and your kids, and maybe even your other pets. The important to remember, as with everything to do with your kitten, is to do it at his own pace. You may find he is super excited to meet the other pets, but not explore the home, or vice versa.
We understand that you want to have it all done and over with and get used to enjoying your kitten knocking stuff off the counter and sticking his feet on your supper plate (okay, so maybe not exactly those things), but you have to always move at the pace he sets. This is important for a good and strong connection with you as well as a happy kitten who is not going to suffer any of the serious and real setbacks of being forced into something he isn’t ready for. There is no real checklist in this particular part of the book because a lot of the events in the first month are going to be covered and discussed in the “how to introduce your kitten to your family and home” part, which is the very next chapter.
The key thing in your kitten’s first month is that he’ll have his health checked over, you’ll show him that life with you is going to be grand, and it’ll set him off to have a whole fantastic year and life. This will get him heading in the perfect direction to make sure that you give him the best chance for success possible.