Great news - the time has finally come when you can welcome your new kitten into your home! Just like bringing home a new-born baby, you’ll want everything to be just right so that they’ll settle in quickly and feel right at home.
Before bringing a kitten home
Before your new kitten sets a single paw into your home, spend a bit of time preparing them a safe, quiet and secure space from where they can slowly begin to explore the rest of the house. This should be away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Settling your kitten into their new home
Open the door of their carrying basket once on the floor, and let them come out in their own time. They’ll probably have a good sniff around before finding their bed. When they’ve investigated every nook and cranny, give them a little cuddle and see if they need a rest.
Kittens love to sleep, and they need plenty of it. So after all the excitement of the car journey and exploring their new home, they’ll need a nap. Try to resist the urge to start playing with them straight away and give them lots of opportunities to explore and rest undisturbed.
If it’s feeding time, do offer them some food but don't be surprised if they don't eat it. Cats often go off their food for a while if they’re a bit stressed, so give them time to settle in and their appetite will soon return. Read more about feeding your kitten.
Meeting the family
Once they’re rested and confident in their room, then it’s time to meet their new human family. This is obviously a very exciting moment, but do try to keep everyone calm. Before introducing a new kitten to the home, everyone should sit still on the floor and agree one rule - only touch the kitten if the kitten comes to you. There mustn’t be any grabbing or arguing between the kids, or it will frighten your pet. If the kitten tries to hide, coax them out with a toy or a treat to encourage them to be sociable, but never grab or force them.
It can be a good idea to use synthetic pheromone spray and plug-in diffusers, as these will let your kitten know the area is safe and will help them to feel relaxed and peaceful. If using diffusers, distributing one or two throughout the house should be enough.
Synthetic pheromones mimic a scent naturally produced by cats. They use these pheromones to greet other cats and show them that they’re in a friendly mood, and to scent mark familiar objects around the home.
If you think you’re excited about your new kitten, just imagine how children feel! To get their friendship off on the right footing, teach young children how to pick up and support the kitten’s weight properly, and how to stroke the cat gently. Toddlers can often 'pat' rather than ‘stroke’, which can be uncomfortable or even painful for tiny kittens. Also, teach them where to stroke the kitten - the top of the head and along the back. Although tummies are irresistible when a kitten is rolling and playing, most are rather sensitive about this area and may lash out. And remind the kids to leave kitty’s tail well alone – and never to pull it.
Although it can be tempting to watch a beautiful kitten sleep, they do need some privacy. Make sure they’re left alone when they’re eating, going to the toilet or sleeping – and keep their litter tray away from toddlers. You certainly don’t want your children playing with it!
Wash your hands after handling the kitten and especially after cleaning the litter tray, and encourage little ones to do the same.
The secret to introducing your new kitten to other pets in the house is patience. Never put them in a position where they could fight with your other pets. Cats and dogs often learn to love one another, or at least live together without problems, but the same can’t be said of all pets. Keep pets like rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, birds and reptiles away from your kitten at all times, as they can see them as prey.
Animals recognise each other partially through smell. So, when introducing your kitten to a dog or a cat, try to intermingle their scent. Stroke one and then the other so the scent is transferred, swapping their bedding as well. This way they will start to associate nice things (sleeping comfortably and being cuddled) with the other animal's smell. Read more tips about introducing your cat to other pets. If you’ve followed the advice but are still having problems integrating your kitten into your home, speak to your vet. They may recommend a feline behaviourist.
Once they’ve settled in
Once your kitten’s found its confidence, it will soon be dashing around the house. Watch your step – they can appear suddenly from nowhere!
They’ll be up for plenty of play but will still need their naps, so give them a nice quiet spot where they can cuddle up without being disturbed.
It will help them settle in if you can stick to a routine, particularly with feeding, play and stroking.
See more at: Welcoming your cat home