When you adopt a new kitten or adult cat in a new home, there are several things you can do to make the transition as stress-free for your family and your new family member. It’s important to consider every family member’s needs and concerns. Do you have young children, elderly family members, or another pet? Here is a guide to welcoming your new cat or kitten into your family.
Adopting a new kitten for the first time
Every kitten has their own unique personality and because of this, there is no hard timeline for your kitten to be fully adapted to the new environment and people. It may take a few hours, weeks, or up to two weeks for your new kitten to feel secure enough to show you affection. New owners can help the new kitten feel secure and comfortable by giving lots of love and being patient with the kitten, especially if the kitten shows fear, irritation, aloofness, or a tendency to distancing. Some kittens have no appetite when they first arrive in a new home, while others will overeat. Some kittens love hugs and kisses while others prefer to initiate affection. Some kittens are quiet and some will meow till the fall asleep. In any of the above situations, owners should observe their new kitten to understand their new kitten’s personality, behaviour, and needs.
When bringing a new kitten home, you should provide your kitten with a:
- Comfortable place kitten can call their own
- Clean litter box with clean sand
- Appropriate kitten food for the few days at least
- Kitten appropriate toys (store bought or homemade)
- Scratching post
- Show the kitten their litter box.
- Give the new kitten time to roam around the house during the day and night.
- Never force your kitten onto your lap or force affection on your kitten, cats need personal space, too.
- Be patient and let the kitten approach you on their own terms.
- Understand your kitten is adjusting and may have times that they don’t want to play or communicate.
- Find a vet and get informed about the new kitten's health and needs.
Adopting a kitten from breeders
Adopting a new kitten from a reputable breeder has many advantages, especially for new cat owners. Breeders can share lots of valuable information about your new kitten's health, breed traits, and their parent’s personalities. Breeds have standards so you will have a good idea of how your kitten will look as a grown cat, including weight and size. In general, breeders make sure their kittens are veterinary treated, vaccinated, microchipped, and have reached the appropriate age for adoption. It will still take time for your new kitten to adjust to your home and for you to bond but adopting from a breeder provides a lot of information about your kitten.
Patience is important
You should give your new kitten plenty of patience and space to explore their new home to build their confidence and security. New kittens are adorable and playful. As you watch them, you will learn their needs and habits. Do they eat all their food at once or do they nibble all day? Are they startled easily or very mellow? This will help you be a great pet parent and build a loving bond between you. Your bond will develop through time and coexistence. It's essential to be available to your new kitten but to also give them freedom to roam.
Adopting a stray kitten
If you choose to adopt a stray street kitten, you should visit the vet at the first possible opportunity. A stray kitten can have internal or external parasites and health issues that can’t be detected visually. An examination by a veterinarian will evaluate your stray kitten's health. Be prepared to learn your stray kitten may have lifelong health issues or be struggling to survive. It’s also important to make sure your kitten is free from parasites and infection.
Introducing a new kitten to your older cat
To make your new kitten and your older cat feel secure together, you should:
- Arrange a veterinary check for your new kitten to ensure they don’t carry any illness or parasites that could be transmitted to your older cat.
- Give your older cat their favorite treats to show them they’re loved.
- Introduce your kitten slowly – allow your older cat to smell your new kitten through a closed door, cage, or carrying box. Supervise this interaction.
- Make a comfortable area for your new kitten away from the areas your older cat likes to inhabit. Your new kitten and older cat should have pathways to avoid each other if they choose to.
- Supervise any interactions between your older cat and new kitten. If your older cat bullies your kitten, separate them and give them each attention and space away from each other.
- Make sure both your older cat and new kitten have toys available to help reduce their stress.
- Give them both attention and affection.
- Be patient. It may take a few months for the older cat and kitten to get used to each other. Be ready to accept that they may not be best friends but only co-exist.
- Do not force their companionship
- Keep an eye on your older cat's and kitten's body language to recognize aggression and fear.
- Be prepared that they may not be best friends and may only co-exist together.
Cats are territorial and introducing a new adult cat to your adult cat takes time. Your adult cat may feel threatened or your new adult cat may feel bullied. Introduce the cats through a closed door or a carrier. Give them time to get used to each other’s scent and presence. Make sure their are escape routes for each cat to avoid each other and make separate areas for each cat with toys and beds.
To introduce your new cat to your adult cat, you should:
- Be sure your cat and your new adult cat are healthy.
- Keep the cats separated until both cats have a clean bill of health.
- Slowly supervise short introductions between the cats
- Incrementally bring the food bowls closer
- Never force your cats to be together.
- Keep your daily routine so your adult cat feel secure and loved.
- Be patient, it may take up to 1,5 months of slow supervise introductions before your cats can co-exist.
- Supervise their socialization until you know it is safe to leave them alone together.
- Be accepting if they never become good friends and don't despair – it happens often.
- Play with both cats in the same area after the introduction phase.
- Make time for giving each cat individual attention and love separately from each other cat.
To-do list before adopting a new cat
Whether you choose to adopt a kitten or adult cat as your first pet or as a addition to your cat family, you should prepare for your new pet with these basic steps:
- Make a veterinarian appointment for your new kitten or cat.
- Provide your new pet cat with their own space.
- Provide a comfortable bed for your new kitten or cat.
- Allow your new pet freedom to explore their new home.
- Provide litter boxes, one for each cat plus one more box (for 2 cats, you need three boxes, for three cats, you need four boxes, ect).
- Provide the cat with appropriate food according to the cat's age, activity level and needs.
- Get some soft blankets, toys, and scratching objects.
- Show your new cat affection and love.
- Be careful and gentle – cats are sensitive. And take responsibility for your new feline companion!
And finally, remember, cats can positively affect your life in many wonderful and unexpected ways.
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