You've decided to get a new kitten. Small and fluffy, with big round eyes, for you it's love at first sight.
However, while exciting for you, introducing your kitten to their new home can be scary and unsettling for them.
When you bring home a new kitten – how do you make sure that you're doing the right things to help them settle in and make them love you?
Important things to consider
- Your kitten's playfulness can lead to trouble, and some household items can be dangerous or even deadly for cats. Spend an hour or so kitten proofing your house, to ensure their safety.
- Bring your kitten home when you are around a lot, but also when it won't be too noisy, which may scare them.
- Create a 'safe spot' in your house to house them safely for the first 14-days, or until they feel comfortable to explore the rest of the house.
- Choose a name for your kitten and use it often, and always at feeding time.
- Keep things calm and spend lots of time interacting and playing with your kitten to give them the best start.
Introducing your new kitten to existing cats and or dogs
If you have an adult cat, keep the kitten away from them (in their safe space) for up to 14 days. Your adult cat may smell at the door, make sure you reward calm behaviour with affection and treats. Once your older cat seems comfortable, swap them over, so that your new kitten can explore while your older cat checks out his safe spot. Once they seem comfortable, you can place your new kitten in a cat carrier and watch the interaction closely. If they appear fearful or aggressive, separate them, and return to the beginning.
With dogs, the process is similar. Keep them apart for 14 days and then supervise first interactions through a glass door (pop your dog outside) so they can see each other. When you think they are ready, place your dog on the lead and allow them to meet indoors. Supervise all interactions and make sure your kitten has places they can jump up to escape if needed.
The key to creating a harmonious household is to take things slowly and supervise all early meetings.
As with all behaviours you want to encourage, reward and reinforce positive behaviours with well-timed treats and praise, and take any progress steps slowly.
How to create an unbreakable human-animal bond
Take things slowly and always go back to basics if your kitten, or your existing animals, seem stressed or aggressive. For some kittens, the settling in period might be a few days, but for some, it could take weeks. Use this time to get to know the personality of your new kitten and rest assured that it is normal for them to need time to feel comfortable in their new environment.
Be patient, and you will be well on the way to having a well-adjusted friend for the next decade and more!