It is exciting bringing a new kitten home, whether you have cats or animals already or this is your first pet, there are a few things you need to do to prepare for your new kitten.
When Can I Bring My Kitten Home?
If you’ve visited a breeder or shelter and fallen in love with a kitten it can be tempting to want to bring them home straight away, however it is important to wait until they are at least 8 weeks old.
Waiting till they are at least 8 weeks will mean they will be weaned and should be litter trained, most breeders will not let kittens go till they are between 8 - 10 weeks, this is for the welfare of the kitten.
In this time kittens will be less dependant on their mother and be weaned, they will also be beginning to be socialized so waiting to bring your kitten home will benefit the kitten and you.
Most kittens will have had their first vaccinations at this age, some breeders will keep the kittens until their first course of vaccinations is complete so may ask you to wait until they are 12 - 14 weeks old. If not a reputable breeder will give you up to date vaccinations and let you know when the next vaccine is due so you can book this in with your own vet. You should keep your kitten indoors until they are fully vaccinated.
Depending on your state you may need to microchip your kitten, however even if it is not mandatory in your state it is a good idea to microchip and properly register your cat to make sure they do not get lost or stolen.
Some breeders will do register and microchip your kitten for you with the first vaccinations, in this case it will just mean transferring the registration to your own name and address.
What do I need for my new kitten?
Buying for a new kitten can be very exciting, kittens don’t need a lot of expensive things but they will need a few essentials ready for bringing them home.
When getting ready for your new kitten make sure you have:
- A water bowl
- A food bowl
- Food and water – ideally, continue feeding your kitten what they are used to, this will help them settle into their new home
- A soft bed and blankets
- A litter tray with cat litter they are used to
- A sturdy scratching post or scratching board
- A cat brush to keep their fur groomed
- A cat carrier
- New toys and games – a fishing rod toy is the great to play with kitten and help you bond
When you get your kitten the breeder or home may give you a little bit of cat litter to scatter in the new litter box, this way they will recognize the smell. You should find out what cat food they have been eating and make sure you have some to feed them. Keeping the diet consistent in the first few days/weeks will help them settle in.
How Long Will It Take For My Kitten To Settle?
All animals will have different personalities, some will be more confident, some a bit shy, your kitten will be unique in how they settle in.
Some kittens will feel at home almost instantly and in a few hours be running round the house and playing with you. Others could take a couple of weeks to fully settle, they may find safe spaces such as cardboard boxes or, the inside of your sofa to hide and sleep in.
Cats and kittens feel safe in enclosed spaces so to help your kitten settle get them a bed that is enclosed, or put some blankets in a box for them to settle in.
Be patient with your new kitten, they may be unsure of you at first but playing games such as a fishing rod toy can help them bond with you.
Introducing Your Kitten To Your Family
If you have children, they will want to cuddle and play with your kitten as soon as they arrive, make sure your children understand the kitten is to be treated gently and given space.
You can give your children jobs to help the kitten(s) settle, such as making sure there is always plenty of water in the bowl and getting them to gently play games with the kittens. Getting your children involved early will help the transition and they will grow together and become lifelong friends.
Introducing Your Kitten To Other Animals
Children may not be the only family members you need to prepare for the arrival of your new kitten; you may have an older cat or dog(s).
With other animals you find it is often easier to integrate a kitten as older animals can become protective of a baby animal. However this isn’t guaranteed and any introduction of another animal will change the dynamic in the house.
If you can, get a blanket or something with the kittens scent on it before you bring the kitten home. Letting your other animals smell the scent will help them prepare for the kittens arrival.
When your kitten comes home you may need to keep the other animals separate to give your kitten the chance to roam the area and get used to their new surroundings.
Once your kitten seems settled introduce the other animal slowly. You may want to use a crate or a carrier for the first introduction and swap blankets over so both animals get used to the smell of the other animal.
Based on the reaction of your pet you can choose how quickly or slowly you integrate the animals. Remember to be patient with both, this is a new and exciting experience but could also be a bit scary.
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