Bringing your kitten home is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful for you and your kitten if you’re not fully prepared. This article will give you some expert tips to help make sure your kitten settles in happily and safely.
Creating a safe environment
Kittens are naturally curious, but they may also be feeling a little insecure when they arrive in their new home. The easiest way to make them feel safe is to secure one or two rooms in the house where you think they will spend the most time (e.g. the kitchen or living room).
It is natural that your kitten will want to have somewhere to hide and escape to, so provide a covered cat basket or a simple cardboard box with a comfortable blanket inside. Position it somewhere your kitten won’t be disturbed and you can also place a bit of kitten kibble inside to reward them if they settle down there.
Block off any areas they may be able to creep under and where they may get scared or stuck (e.g. under kitchen appliances or cupboards or behind the sofa).
Ensure that all windows and doors remain closed, to prevent any escape attempts! This also stops your kitten from getting caught in a closing door or falling out of a window and seriously injuring themselves.
It’s vitally important to think about all the things that may tempt your kitten to investigate, but which could cause them harm (e.g. scissors, lengths of string or other small sharp objects). Keep all of these safely locked away in cupboards or out of reach.
Finally, consider your houseplants and other potentially toxic materials around the home. A curious kitten may be easily poisoned by chewing on a toxic plant or licking a dribble of hazardous cleaning fluid.
The equipment you need
Your kitten should already know how to use a litter tray when she arrives in your home, but if not it’s relatively easy to train them to use one. Try to ensure that you have the same type of litter that your kitten is already used to and place it in a quiet and secluded area.
It’s important to have a separate food and water bowl and these should not be located near your kitten’s litter tray area. It is neither hygienic nor appealing to your cat to have to eat beside their toilet!
It’s a very good idea to get your kitten used to being groomed and handled from a young age. Have some soft brushes suitable for kitten fur and start a routine where they get used to daily grooming, tooth brushing (with cat toothpaste) and handling that makes them comfortable with you checking their ears, eyes, mouth, claws, tail etc. This helps later in life when they need to visit the vet or you need to give them medication at home or clip their claws.
A scratching post is another good basic investment for your kitten. They will love stretching up along it and using it to sharpen their claws. Some of them even have perching/sleeping areas high off the ground, where your kitten will feel extra safe and secure.
Choose the right toys
Fishing rod toys are best for both kittens and cats. They keep your fingers and toes safe from being pounced on and can provide hours of endless fun and exercise as your kitten learns how to hone their hunting skills in a safe way.
Balls are also a good toy to teach your cat to play. Some kittens will also love learning how to fetch crumpled up balls of paper!
Empty boxes also provide endless entertainment and can be used for hide and seek games between you and your kitten. Just make sure they can’t be trapped inside anything.
Don’t teach your cat to play with string or ribbon, as this can be swallowed and cause serious gut problems that may require emergency surgery.
Likewise, all toys should be larger than your kitten’s mouth and robust enough not to fall apart, so that they can’t be accidentally swallowed or pose a choking hazard.
Finally, have fun! Getting to know your kitten and bonding with them emotionally, is probably the best part of having a companion cat.