When you get a kitten, it is very important to remember that your new baby moving into your home is under a lot of stress, so you should be patient and understanding during this rather busy period. All cats, like humans, are unique individuals. Therefore, every kitten’s reaction to the new home and the length of the adaptation period will vary from one to another.
Transporting the kitten in a carrier will greatly reduce their stress. It is best if you don’t carry your new kitten in your hands, even if traveling by car. Never forget that the kitten may get scared, or that unexpected events on the way may force urgent and violent reactions. So, put the kitten in a carrier, which you will hold on your lap, if you are not the driver.
At the New Home
If possible, provide a calm environment without loud noises and many people. A cat needs a room in which there aren’t any hiding places, such as under the furniture, from which you couldn’t pull it back out. It is a natural reaction for cats to jump headfirst and run and hide somewhere. Also, do not rule out the possibility that the kitten may curl up in the carrier and refuse to leave it. In both cases, you mustn’t forcibly take it out from its chosen refuge. Give it time to recover, to sniff the new smells in its surroundings and to calm down. Keep in mind that sooner or later, either curiosity, thirst or hunger will triumph over fear and cause your kitten to come out of its shelter.
Many cats are very scared in a new environment. Let them discover it in a smaller room, like a small bedroom, or any other room which you can close. Put all of their supplies in the room. When you bring your new cat home, confine other pets (and humans!) to a separate area, and carry your new cat into this “starter” room while still in its carrier. Set it down, and open the door softly. Allow the cat to come out (or not) at its own pace. Leave the carrier in the room so your kitty can hide in it.
Setting up a litter box with litter in it according to the label’s instructions is very important. Check and make sure that all possible escape routes (windows, loose vent grills, etc.) are securely closed. Unplug or securely tape down all electrical cords, and store away any small objects — just as though you were child-proofing the place for a 2-year-old.
The kitten will always try to hide when frightened, so access to its chosen hiding area should be possible at all times. Another important factor for your kitten’s easy adaptation to a new home is the constant presence of a human for the first couple of days. Therefore, it is best to move the kitten in before the weekend, when you have enough time to care for it properly. For the first three weeks keep your kitten on the exact same diet it was used to until the big move to its new home.
Introducing the Kitten to Other Pets
One of the most important things about bringing a kitten to its new home, is that it needs to be given special attention. If you already have an adult cat, then both felines should be allowed to come to terms with the presence of a new partner without direct contact. Limit the new cat to its own room, from which the “old-timer” will be kept away for a certain period. The smell in the room will get the new kid on the block used to the fact that it will live with a senior fellow cat. Periodically allow the adult cat into the little one’s room so it can familiarize itself with the new smell in the house. During these encounters, you should at all times keep the kitten in your arms. Both cats may growl and hiss at each other, but that should stop after a few days, once they get used to each other’s scents. Your task is to prevent aggression which can lead to injuries. Even though it may seem like a bad idea, both cats should be allowed to “yell” at each other. This is just their way to establish a relationship.
If you have a dog, you must make sure it’s friendly to other animals. Otherwise, psychological trauma can ensue and no mutual acceptance or good relationship can be established. Animals, like humans, may be extremely jealous and selfish, so just be sure to make their initial encounter the best possible.
The principle of acquaintance is the same whether it be with a dog or a toddler. Only the duration of the “intermediate” phase may differ. Dogs are more susceptible to any kind of change, so make sure it understands that it is still loved as before by giving equal amounts of attention to both.
If your house has birds, hamsters or the like, do not forget that your kitten, despite its young age, remains a predator! Whether it be today, tomorrow or any other day, it will pose a real threat to smaller companions. Therefore, you must ensure the safety of both parties.
Given all of these factors, it’s safe to say that there is no recommendation for speeding up the kitten’s adaptation. It can only be optimized and made as smooth as possible through care and patience. Give your kitty lots of love and let mutual understanding reign in your house.
When bringing a new kitten to your home, it is important to keep in mind:
- Take the kitten to your own veterinarian within the first 72 hours of arrival at your home, for both your peace of mind and your kitty’s health. If the vet feels that the animal is ill and that the illness was present prior to your cat’s adoption, you should contact the cat’s previous caretaker at once, before any major treatment has begun (except in an emergency situation), to find out whether the condition was known before and how it should be treated.
- Provide proper housing, diet, fresh water, parasite control and a clean litter box at all times.
- Keep your kitten on the exact same diet as before, for at least three weeks.
- It is recommended to provide your cat with a scratching post and / or a cardboard scratchboard, as well as plenty of toys.
- When confinement is necessary it should be in a well-ventilated space, of reasonable size, and with good sanitary conditions.
- Your kitten/cat should receive a yearly veterinary examination, including any care needed to maintain its ongoing good health. You shouldn’t deny your pet veterinary care, ever. Make sure it gets medical attention when necessary.
- The kitten/cat should not be allowed outside except when on a leash (under close supervision), or in a completely enclosed area. Also, make sure you don’t cage your cat, and allow it to be and feel free and unconfined.
- Due to the social nature of cats, you must provide frequent and loving attention to your kitten.
About The Author
Olga Shatokhina, a professional breeder of Bengal and Oriental cats.
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