A safe journey
Choose the date you pick up your new cat carefully. The ideal time is a quiet weekend when there are not too many people around.
For the journey, a cat box is essential – travelling with your kitten loose in the car can be dangerous. Choose a cat box that will accommodate your cat when it is fully grown, and bear in mind that cats often find boxes that are dark inside more reassuring. Kit out your cat box with a blanket and bedding for comfort, and include some paper towels to mop up any accidents that might happen during the trip.
Setting up home
When your cat arrives make sure your house is quiet, calm and safe. Remove any possible hazards and ensure everything you need – feeding bowls, accessories, bedding and so on – are in place. Not sure what you need? View our full list of kitten essentials below. Decide in advance where your kitten will eat and sleep – she needs peace and quiet for both, especially in the early days. An out of the way corner is ideal.
If the atmosphere is noisy or disturbed, your kitten could grow into a nervous and fearful adult. The best approach is to move gently without shouting, and to avoid passing the kitten round for everyone to cuddle. Gain your kitten’s trust by keeping her safe.
Your home could be dangerous for a young kitten so check to ensure that potential hazards are kept out of access before your kitten arrives. The list to the right is a useful guide but is not exhaustive so please speak to your vet for further advice on keeping your kitten safe at home
- Plastic bags and foam
- Oven Hobs
- Electric wires and sockets
- Pesticides and weed killers
- Small items such as elastic bands and drawing pins
- Washing machines and tumble dryers
- Dustbins and toilets (always keep the lid on and the toilet seat down)
- Some plants can be harmful for cats, avoid Holly, Lillies, Mistletoe, Wisteria, Rhododendron, Ivy and Sweat pea
- Sewing materials
- Permethrin-based spot-on flea treatments for dogs (avoid contact with treated dogs)
Introducing your kitten to other pets
Introducing a kitten is a little more tricky when you already have pets in the home. Introductions to other pets should be made under supervision and over a gradual period. Mishandled introductions may leave your current pet feeling frustrated or jealous, which could result in your pet leaving home temporarily.
A well socialised dog will easily accept a young kitten. Older dogs may be less tolerant, but a small scratch from your kitten will soon make them less aggressive and integration will generally take place quickly and without major problems.
An adult cat does not really appreciate the arrival of a kitten in her territory, and she will show her displeasure in the form of threatening behaviour. Total acceptance may take several months. During the introduction process, do not allow any aggression. Do it on neutral territory during play or meal times. Repeat the operation until both cats no longer mind the others presence and begin to share. A hierarchical relationship will then be established between the two cats – one that you should respect.
When introducing a new kitten, it’s best to maintain your old pet’s privileges for the first few days. Give them plenty of reassurance on their own personal territory. Keep the kitten in a small area to start with, so that she gradually learns her way around and doesn’t hide under furniture.
What to buy for your new kitten
When you get your kitten home, show them where things are kept, starting with the litter tray, then the basket which will become a place of refuge for peace and safety, and finally her toys and accessories.
Choose one with comfortable bedding where the kitten will feel safe (although don’t be surprised if your kitten chooses to sleep elsewhere).
This should be a container with a scoop to remove droppings. A covered tray can help avoid accidental spills and limit smells.
Use a small one for cat food (an adult cat only eats 60 to 70 grams of dry cat food a day) and a bigger one for fresh water. Water should be available for your cat at all times. Ensure dishes are a minimum of 50 cm apart from one another and from bedding and litter trays. Use the n+1 rule for water bowls and litter trays. (ie, if you have 2 cats 2+1=3 litter trays/water bowl, 3 cats=4 etc).
A scratching post can help avoid damage to other furniture in your home.
Can be bought from the pet shop or home made.
As kittens love to climb up high (it is the dominant position) a cat tree can help save your cat from vaulting on your furniture and at the same time as to satisfy their need for exercise.
Collar and lead:
A collar is the easiest and quickest means of identification for your kitten. A lead can also be a useful accessory for short trips without the cat box.
If you plan to allow your kitten to go outside, training her to use a cat flap is the easiest way. Electronic tags on the collar can be used, which only admit your cat rather than every cat in the neighbourhood. However, more owners are opting to keep their pedigree cat indoors.