Follow these steps to ensure that your kitten feels at ease in her new home.
There’s nothing quite like the affection and joy you’ll receive from a lovable new kitten. Whether you’ve taken a long time to decide which furry friend to adopt, or received a kitten as a gift, you should have your camera ready to capture a flurry of feline antics! Bringing your kitten to the vet for a checkup is also a good idea within its first week under your care, so be sure to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
Before she arrives, stock up on food, toys, a litter box, grooming tools, a collar with ID tag and a crate with a bed that includes a warm blanket or towel so your kitten can start getting comfortable right away.
By now you may feel prepared to welcome home a new kitten…but is your apartment ready? Here are a few tips to help your kitten (and your furniture) get through the transition unscathed.
Prior to Arrival: Kitten-Proofing 101
Before your kitten arrives, be sure to remove any items she might chew or swallow. Paper towels, tissues, paper clips or pencils lying around may pose choking hazards. Tape exposed wires or electrical cords to baseboards and put caps on outlets. Remove household plants that might be toxic to pets and put away cleaning products, medications and any food that can be easily opened.
In the laundry room, remember to keep washer and dryer doors closed, as a kitten may climb into a warm dryer for a nap.
Save your furniture and curtains from your kitten’s claws by providing a sturdy, rough-textured scratching post—at least three feet high—to allow her to stretch completely while scratching.
Without littermates or a mother nearby for comfort, your kitten needs to feel secure as well as warm. Choose a low-traffic room that children and other pets don’t frequent to become your kitten’s own area as she gets her bearings. Arrange her bed, food and water bowls, toys and litter box here.
Give her some time alone in her room to get comfortable before you come in to play. If you have other pets, it’s a good idea to keep your kitten separated for a few days and allow the other animals in the house to become familiar with her sounds and scent.
Many people may want to hold and play with your new kitten, but it’s important to limit handling for the first few days while she adjusts. Introduce one family member at a time, allowing the kitten to come to each person gradually.
The Grand Tour
After you’ve kitten-proofed and your new pet seems at peace in her own space, introduce her to the rest of your apartment one room at a time. Place the open carrier in whichever room you are introducing her to so she has a retreat available, and let her explore while you sit quietly.
A Little Routine Goes a Long Way
Give your kitten a little structure to start out with. For the first few weeks, provide her with a consistent brand of food and litter, and stick to a regular feeding schedule. Later on, if you wish to switch to different products, try to make a slow transition.
The Scoop on Litter
Litter training is relatively easy since cats instinctively bury their waste, but a little patience helps. Place the litter box in a corner or other sheltered spot. After your kitten wakes from a nap, or shortly after eating, place her in the box. If she doesn’t dig or scratch, gently hold one of her front paws and simulate digging with it. Praise her if she uses the box, but never punish her if she doesn’t. She may need to be placed in the box every couple hours until she gets the hang of it.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Leaving your new kitten alone may be difficult after you’re treated to a few hours of cuddling and purring. But when you’re away, be sure to secure the kitten in one room with a bed, litter box, scratching post, food and water. If you’ll be gone until evening, add a nightlight.
Turn on a radio with soft music and make sure to have enough safe toys nearby to keep Kitty’s attention focused on playing instead of tackling the furniture. If you are away for the majority of the day, remember to spend extra time petting and playing with your kitten when you return!
A new kitten will depend entirely on you to ease the transition from mother’s side to an unfamiliar new place. With a little planning and a lot of love, you and your kitten will enjoy a purr-fectly happy relationship!
Photo credit: iStockphoto/Xseon