The first year of cat ownership is the most important, but it’s the most difficult as well. Learn how to give your kitten proper care during their first weeks and months with you.
The new sights, sounds and smells in your home, combined with the separation from their mother, stresses your kitten. Keep the environment calm and quiet to ease their transition.
When you arrive home put the cat carrier in the room you’ve prepared for them, with the kitten still inside. This allows them to get acclimated before opening the door. Then allow the kitten to explore a closed-off area.
Resist the urge to cuddle your kitten right away. Don’t let children sit around the carrier or poke their fingers through. Remember: calm & quiet is key to a successful transition.
As your kitten gains confidence in its new surroundings, they will want to explore more. Make sure the environment is prepared
- electrical wires and outlets covered
- windows, balconies and stairs secured
- small or sharp objects put away
This way they can safely explore with your supervision. (And you don’t have to keep saying, “no” to your new fur baby.)
If there are possible hazards, a designated room with windows and plenty of social contact for the first few weeks may be better.
Creating a Safe Place
Kittens can tire easily. After a little exploration time, give your kitten access to a bed in a cozy, quiet place with access to water, food and a litter box. Turning out the light helps establish sleep patterns, but on the first night you might want to leave a night light on to help with the adjustment.
Provide somewhere quiet to eat. This should be somewhere your kitten feels secure, away from where you and any other pets eat. Cats don’t like to eat too near their litter boxes and should always have fresh water available.
Kittens grow rapidly, but their digestive and immune systems develop slowly and they have specific nutritional needs that are different from adult cats. Any sudden changes in your kitten’s diet can cause digestive trouble (diarrhea issues), so for the first few days keep the same feeding routine as the previous caretaker. Ask them for some food to take home with you.
You can slowly switch to a different feeding routine if you want, especially as you transition to kitten food suitable for the appropriate growth stage. Don’t change from one food to another immediately. Add a little of the new food to the food they’re eating now. Keep changing the mixture ratio to more new food than old food until they make a transition.
Your kitten should see a veterinarian as soon as possible. In addition to a general health check, your vet can help you create a vaccination schedule and give advice on deworming, nutrition and more. Always use a carrier to transport your kitten safely while in the car and into the vet’s office.
Gradually introducing your kitten to new experiences can help with socialization. New sounds can startle a kitten, so be ready to offer plenty of reassurance. You may also need to introduce new terrain like stairs or unfamiliar surfaces. Gentle play and careful handling can help your kitten become more comfortable with being touched.