Preparing your home for your kitten

Introducing a new kitten to your other pets and young children need to be a process treated with much care and patience and it may take a good few weeks for your kitten to settle completely.

Your home should be prepared well in advance for the arrival of your kitten, much like you would baby proof your home for the arrival of your new human baby. Prepare a “safe-room” for the kitten with a bed, somewhere to hide, two litter boxes in less-trafficked areas, filled ceramic or stainless steel food and water bowls, a scratch post and some toys you can alternate.

It is important to make sure your kitten is kept in this room for at least a week to get used to her “safe-place” and to offer short, supervised exploration to other areas of the home only after the kitten has settled in.

Expensive ornaments and vases are a thing of the past and will need to be put away or put out of reach of curious, active cats. Your home will need to be secured to some degree, so that your kitten is safe to run around without escaping or getting hurt. Pesticides, plants, detergents, medication and disinfectants will need to be put away so they are inaccessible for the kitten.

You will need to research poisonous plants and household toxic substances in order to make sure you do not have these accessible to the kitten in your home. The most common poisonous plants are lilies and poinsettias but there are a huge array of potential harmful flora so please do your research.

A list of toxic human medications for cats can be found at the link below.

Top 10 Human Medications Poisonous to Pets

Taking your kitten home

If you are collecting your kitten, it should return to its new home in an escape-proof carrier and be allowed to settle into one room where they have access to clean, warm bedding, a litter box, fresh food and water and some toys (as explained above). Your kitten will also need human companionship during this crucial introduction stage and will be under immuno-suppression for the first few weeks. This means that although your kitten may not express that they are stressed outwardly, the change of environment will affect them physically because they are highly attuned to change in environment – different and new smells, being away from their mums and siblings, getting used to a new routine and meeting new people can all affect your kitten’s immune system function!

In order to reduce the stress of your kitten you may purchase some calming medications such as Rescue Drops, Anxitane (Relicalm), Calmeze and/or Allergex to give to the kitten for the first few days while it settles into a new routine and follow the recommendations your kitten’s breeder has sent you.

It is totally normal for your kitten to come down with a “cold” or fall ill in the first few weeks of her new home from the abrupt change in their environment, being exposed to new germs, and from being away from their mommies. Symptoms of some of these illnesses are as follows:

UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTION
Sneezing, snuffling, mucous build up in the nose or runny eyes, coughing, gunky eyes. For mild, cases you may give the following remedies after seeking veterinary advice.

OTHER SYMPTOMS
If your kitten is lethargic, activity level drops drastically, is battling to breathe, or has a runny tummy and is not eating, get her to a vet immediately as kittens may get dehydrated very quickly and merely feeding water is not sufficient.

If your kitten develops any skin lesions, get her to a vet immediately to determine if it is bacterial, parasitic or fungal so that you may treat it accordingly and quickly.

Introducing your kitten to children

Introductions to young children should be taken with care and should be done slowly and under supervision so as not to freak your new kitten out. They will hide if they feel stressed or scared so it is important to limit these “visits” in time and intensity, and try to maintain a calm and relaxed introduction where the kitten feels secure. Loud noises, boisterous behaviour and mishandling can destroy any chance of your child bonding with the kitten so take it slow and set ground rules and “visiting times”.

Visitors and Celebrations

It is also important to make sure that in the first few days of the kitten arriving in your home not to have visitors or parties at your home. Visitors may bring in unexpected germs or spores while your kittten is immuno-compromised in the first few weeks. Parties and get-togethers may cause the kitten undue stress with a handful of unknown people coming in and out of his safe area wanting to see him.

It is natural to want to show off your baby but give him time to settle in first.

Introducing your kitten to other pets

Introductions to pets should be handled in much the same way as introductions to young children and may take a few weeks to get everyone used to each other. These intros should be slow and short and always under supervision until their smells are intermingled and they are tolerant of each other. Never bombard your kitten with more than one additional pet at a time. Crating your kitten for short periods to get used to other pets and areas in the home safely over the first two weeks is a great way to make sure they feel secure. We prefer to use Cosmic Pets Collapsible Crates as they allow for a restricted amount of visibility, excellent air flow, and can be flat packed and stored away when not in use.

We find usually dogs are easier for intros if they are used to cats and do not take chase or bark at the kitten. Cats are a little more complex as they are attuned to their environment by the use of pheromones and smells. New additions may cause a threat to the hierarchy or territory of the existing cat(s) and your kitten will need to work out their place in the “family”, which may take time and a lot of patience while everyone’s noses are out of joint. A simple way of mixing their smells is to switch their blankets between pets so that they can get used to the new scent before meeting each other initially. Never ever force cats into a space and expect them to get along straight away. Take your time, be patient and support both animals. Your otherwise floppy, relaxed older cat may end up a spraying, anxious, freaked out mess!

Do be patient and do not rush this process as bullying can ensue and you will end up with a very scared kitten who will lose confidence very quickly and who may develop behavioural problems as a result.

THE GOLDEN RULE – TAKE IT SLOW AND BE PATIENT!