How to Introduce a New Kitten to Your Home

Getting a new kitten is an exciting time. You may have been anticipating getting a kitten for some time or you might have not even known a kitten was about to join your household. But regardless of the circumstances of the arrival, the first month with your new kitten is a month of changes, and there are things you can do to make these changes go smoothly.

Before Bringing Your Kitten Home

If you are planning to bring a new kitten into your home, then you should take some time to prepare for the kitten’s arrival. Purchase the items that your kitten will need and place them in your home for other people and pets to start adjusting to. Pheromones can be diffused prior to the arrival of the new kitten to help both your older cats and the new one feel calm and relaxed. Even if you already have a cat, make sure the new kitten will have its own bed, food and water dishes, and a couple of toys. Set up a bathroom or other small room with these items for your kitten to stay in for the first few nights in its new home.

First Day

Day one with your new kitten is very exciting, but you’ll want to be careful that you don’t overwhelm it. Let the kitten explore in the small room you have already set up, or if you didn’t have time to prepare for its arrival, set up a safe room and sit on the floor while the kitten acclimates to it.

If you have other pets, allow them to sniff the kitten while you hold it but be sure to keep the kitten safe at all times. Place the kitten in the small room with its belongings when you can’t supervise it, so you won’t have to worry about anyone getting hurt.
Make sure the kitten knows where the litter boxes are and that they eat and drink. If the kitten wants to sleep, let it sleep. Keep the carrier you brought it home in accessible to it, in case the kitten is nervous and wants to curl up inside of it.

10 Days

After a few days, your kitten will explore its new home and get used to where the litter box, food, and water dishes are. It might even claim a favorite spot to sleep and befriend your pets.

Make sure your kitten continues to eat and drink and monitor their litter box habits during this time. If you see any parasites, blood, loose stools, etc. in the litter box, it is a good idea to bring this sample to Companion Animal Hospital to have a medical care team member take a look. Regardless, you’ll need to make an appointment during this time to get your kitten checked out.
If your cat is going to wear a collar, choose a collar that fits and add some identification, like a name tag with your phone number, in case your kitten gets outside. Microchipping can be discussed with your vet as a more permanent form of identification.

30 Days

By the end of the first month, your kitten should be eating, drinking, and using the litter box normally. Your cat should be adjusted to its new home by now, so the scratching of surfaces, wrestling, climbing, etc. will probably be observed. If there is a behavior that is less than favorable to you that your kitten is starting to exhibit, be sure to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. Provide your kitten with appropriate scratching surfaces, items to climb, and toys to play with. Use treats and catnip to entice it to the areas you want it to play in and on. If scratching surfaces continues, ask our receptionists about trying Feliway. It offers help in many situations. Feliway has been proven to be 90% effective in reducing scratching, urine spraying, stress related to travel and adjusting to new homes and situations. However, all cats are unique and results may vary.

The kitten should have also been to Companion Animal Hospital at least once for booster vaccines, a fecal check, and a physical examination, but refrain from taking your kitten anywhere other than our office until they are fully vaccinated. Stay on schedule with the recommended initial vaccines and while there, ask Dr. Anderson or a medical care team member about monthly preventatives for fleas, heartworms, intestinal parasites, etc.

Allow Your Existing Cat to Establish a Hierarchy

Don’t panic if you have another cat and it isn’t getting along with the new kitten just yet. This process can take time and 30 days may not be enough for your cat to adjust.
Cats need to have order and a new member in their home must know where they rank. Your older cat may have a period of time when they try to establish a hierarchy with the new kitten. They may hiss and swat at the kitten when they do something your older cat does not want them to do. This is completely normal and as long as they are just hissing and swatting, do your best to not interfere. Your older cat is establishing their role as the dominant cat in the household and the kitten is being taught where their boundaries as the new cat are.
Allow your older cat to observe this exploration and retreat if they want to. Do not force an interaction between your cat and kitten. If your cat has a favorite interactive toy, like a feather wand or laser pointer, try playing with both cats at the same time. This will encourage a mutual activity. You can also give them both treats at the same time and feed them at the same time from separate bowls. Be sure to leave enough space between the food bowls so your older cat does not feel threatened.
Encourage any positive interactions your older cat has with the kitten using praise, treats and physical affection. You want your cat to associate the kitten with happy, positive things.