Bringing the kitten home
Moving to a new home is stressful for a kitten. Give reassurance and time to adjust to new surroundings before making introductions to other pets or people in the household. Ensure all doors and windows are closed and there is a guard in front of the fireplace. Ensure the kitten knows where his/her bed, litter tray and food bowls are.
The kitten’s bed should be a safe place to go when things get too much. It needs to be warm, dry, comfortable and draught-free. Buy a bed from a pet shop, or use a strong, dry, cardboard box with a hole cut in the side. It should contain soft bedding, and be placed in a warm, safe place.
On the first few nights a warm water bottle (not hot) under a blanket may help compensate for the absence of the kitten’s mother or litter-mates. If you happen to have, or can borrow, a large secure pen, this is ideal for providing a safe den and can hold the kitten’s litter tray and bed. It is also an excellent way to introduce other pets.
Introducing other pets & children
Introduction to the other household residents should be gradual, gentle and quiet. Children must be taught that the newcomer is not a toy, and they should not pick up the kitten but sit on the floor and wait for the kitten to come to them.
Playing stops when the kitten chooses and the pet should be allowed to go back to bed undisturbed. The children should be aware that the kitten may scratch and play-bite.
Introducing a kitten to a dog or cat needs to be done carefully. An ideal way is to have a large mesh pen in which the kitten can sit safely while the cat or dog becomes accustomed to the new presence.
Cats are fussy about toilet habits and kittens usually learn to use a litter tray by copying their mother. To toilet train your cat, you may just need to show where the litter tray is and place the kitten on the tray after meals, waking from a sleep, or when sniffing, scratching or beginning to crouch and generally looking as if they are about to go!
If your kitten is inclined to mess elsewhere in the house, confine them to one room with a litter tray until he/she learns to use it regularly. Cat toilet training can take time, but perseverance is key.
Toys and Play
Play is an essential part of your kitten’s life and will encourage a bond between you, as well as helping keep your kitten fit and healthy.
Many different types of cat toys are available but most kittens will play with anything that is light and small. Toys filled with catnip hold a special attraction for many. A scratching-post inside the house is helpful in protecting your furniture, even if your kitten is able to go outside.
All kittens should be groomed regularly. This keeps their fur and skin in good condition, allows you to check for any signs of ill health, and helps build the relationship between you.
Long-haired cats need to be groomed thoroughly every day to remove all tangles, otherwise they quickly become matted.
Your kitten should not be allowed outside until at least a week after finishing the first course of vaccinations (at 13 to 14 weeks old, depending on the vaccine). Choose a dry day (if possible) and a quiet time and accompany your kitten outside, allowing your pet to explore their new environment.
Continue to accompany your kitten until they are used to your garden and can find their way back to the house without difficulty. Do not leave your kitten alone outside until after neutering at about five or six months old.
Cats like to come and go as they please, and a cat flap allows them to do this. You can teach your kitten to use a cat flap by propping it open initially and enticing your kitten through with food. Gradually close it so that the kitten learns to push the flap. If you already own a cat that is using the flap, be aware that the kitten may watch and learn to let itself out before you are ready. Kittens learn quickly by watching other cats.