Bringing a kitten home is an exciting but scary time for you and your young cat. Kittens are seriously cute and whilst you’ll want to bring them home immediately, it’s important they only leave when ready. Most kittens will be fully weaned and ready to brace their new home by 7-9 weeks old. After this period, it’s over to you! Fear not, we’ve got some tips and tricks to help prepare ahead of your new arrival so the process can be stress-free and enjoyable.
Here’s our survival guide for new pet parents to get you fully prepared for bringing home your bundle of joy…
the journey begins
So, you’ve chosen the perfect kitten and are eagerly awaiting the pick-up date. But don’t get ahead of yourself just yet. Even before you bring the little one home, there are things you can do to make the process easier.
familiarise your scent
Cats rely heavily on their sense of smell to feel safe and comfortable. Ease your new kitten’s anxiety by taking a blanket from your home and leaving it with them for a few days. This way, when it comes to bringing your kitten home, it already has a source of comfort that they have become familiar with.
Kittens can occasionally suffer with gastrointestinal issues when settling into a new home. A few trips to the vet may be on the cards to stop anything more serious developing. Some breeders and rehoming centres offer up to 4 weeks of free pet insurance to cover these issues. If not, make sure you have adequate cover to avoid unexpected vet bills.
Kittens are inquisitive, playful animals and will eagerly explore their new home. Make sure they’re safe on their expeditions by putting away any loose wires and tying up long blind strings. Like their big cat cousins, kittens also love to hide in high-up positions. Try to provide an easy, safe way for them to recreate this natural behaviour.
set-up a room
Your new kitten needs a room to feel safe and comfortable. Choose a room, ideally in a quiet area of your house, where your kitten can adjust to life in its new home. Make sure you remove any breakable objects or poisonous plants from the room beforehand.
food & drink
It makes sense to set up a feeding zone before collecting your kitten. After this, a kitten-friendly food will make sure they’re getting all the essential nutrients with no upset stomachs. On top of that, you don’t need to give your kitten milk. They will have fed from their mother until they were old enough to be apart, so water is best.
Your kitten should always have access to a clean litter tray. Place it away from their bedding and eating area, somewhere quiet and safe but where they can easily find it. Be sure to refresh it regularly, there’s nothing worse than a smelly loo! Introduce your kitten to the tray first thing in the morning, last thing at night and after meal times. They will soon get the idea. If you have existing cats it’s best to have a tray per cat, as they don’t like to go in each others area.
Your new feline friend needs a place to rest their head. Don’t worry about getting a fancy, expensive bed – a cardboard box is perfect for most kittens. Line your box with cosy blankets. Cats love to hide, so give be sure to give them plenty! Remember to put your scented blanket in there too, to make them feel at home.
You’ll need to get a suitable cat carrier before picking your little one up for the journey home. This will also prove useful for future trips to the vet or family visits. There are loads of options out there, so do your research and make sure you get the ideal carrier for you and your pet.
first trip home
You’ve readied yourselves and your home and picked up your new fur baby – the fun starts now. Remember your kitten is still young and getting used to being away from their mother, so settling in may take some time.
let the kitten lead the way
It is important to let your kitten settle in and feel comfortable before interacting with them. Open their carrier in their room, leave the door ajar and wait until they feel comfortable enough to venture out. Try sitting on the floor and gently speaking to them, letting them approach you when they’re ready.
We understand that children are excited and can’t wait to hold their new best friend. But it can be overwhelming, and sometimes dangerous, to let your child make the first move. Avoid letting young children handle the kitten too much, and don’t leave them unsupervised until you’re confident they can handle them properly.
and your pets…
Let’s not forget the pets that are already settled in at home. Cats and dogs should be separated from your kitten at first, before being slowly introduced. Keep them supervised when they’re in the same room – and offer treats to your older pets for good behaviour around the new arrival. Remember to give your other pets plenty of attention, so they don’t feel like they’re being left out or replaced.
the big outdoors
Choosing to let your kitten have access to the outdoors is an important decision and you should be careful to consider if it is suitable for your cat and the local environment. Some breeds are not suitable to be allowed outdoors alone and some areas have dangers to consider – main roads, other animals etc.
If you do plan to let your cat have access to the outside world there are some important things to think about first. Most importantly, make sure they have all their immunisations before letting them out. Keep your kitten indoors until it knows where home is too, so it doesn’t get lost. Try letting them outside when they’re hungry, initially, so you can entice them back with food.
If you have to leave your kitten home alone, for any reason, make sure they are safe and comfortable. Secure your little one in a room with plenty of food, drink and toys. Some cat parents have found that playing music or leaving the television on in another room can settle the kitten and put them at ease.
trip to the vet
Visiting the vet can be an overwhelming, intimidating experience for all animals, especially for the first time. Your kitten should see the vet ideally within a day or two of coming home – so best to book in advance. They will usually check for worms (most kittens have them) and make sure they are up to date with injections.