Bringing home a new kitten is an exciting event. As exciting as it is for the family or individual, high levels of activity and noise need to be moderated for kittens as it is a stressful event to leave their cat family. Some kittens may hide initially; others may be immediately comfortable. Either way, letting the kitten decide what level of interaction they desire is important.
Preparation is necessary ahead of time for a smooth transition. One room of the house or apartment needs to be designated as the kitten’s home for the first two weeks. A bedroom, a den or even a large bathroom works for this purpose as long as a family member is able to spend a lot of time in the room reading, watching TV or even napping.
Baby proofing the room is important. Kittens may bite electrical cords or get tangled (even strangled) in blind cords. New owners need to be aware of potential hazards. Water and food bowls should be easily accessible for a growing kitten. the on the food it was on prior to leaving the breeder for at least a few weeks. The litter box should be placed away from the food and water; nobody likes to eat in their bathroom. The preferred litter for most cats is unscented, clumpable clay.( yes, there is research on that). A secure scratching post and safe toys make for fun times during the adjustment period.
While all kittens need time to acclimate and decompress, some kittens may need more time than others, requiring patience. It is always best to allow a new feline to come out and greet its new person/family on its own. The kitty may be nervous and hiding. An easy thing to do is to read silently or aloud in the kitten’s room to give it a chance to think about the situation. I always recommend crinkle balls, little mice and springs as favorite toys. Teaser toys ( the toys that remind one of a fishing rod) are best used as an interactive toy with a person to draw the feline’s interest and put away when not in use.
When there are no other pets in the house, the kitten may go on supervised expeditions outside its room in a few days once it has developed ease and comfort in its private area and with its new family. It should return to its “base” when unsupervised.
In cases where there are other family pets, it is imperative to take time for a slow introduction. A bad experience for either the new kitten or the established pet can ruin the relationship between them for a lifetime. Initially, the new and old pet can get to know each other by smell on each side of the door. They may eventually meet via paws thrust under the door. Making these meeting a good experience by feeding treats on each side of the barrier can help set up the individuals for success.
An effective procedure to avoid confrontation is put the established pet in the “base” room to smell while the new kitten is comes out for its supervised exploration. A few episodes of switching places and the animals may be ready for a face to face meeting.
If the established pet is a rambunctious dog, a collar and leash on the canine for the introduction may come in handy to keep the kitten from being overwhelmed. A rule of thumb in introducing any animals is never to push it. If any appear stressed, it is best to back off and separate. Generally, two weeks is the amount of time I recommend to incorporate a new kitten safely into a home. A relaxed calm atmosphere is conducive for the building blocks of a life long relationship.