February 17, 2023 4 min read

Adopting a Kitten – What You Need to Know

Collecting a new kitten is really exciting, but it’s a big change for them as they leave their home, mother and littermates. A new home with new sights, new sounds, and new smells can be a scary place for a young kitten - here are some things to remember to help make the transition easier for you both!

Remember – you should never take a kitten away from their mother before 10 weeks of age. By this age, kittens will have been naturally weaned by their mothers; their eyesight and hearing will have fully matured; and they will have learned how to play and groom themselves properly.

Making your kitten feel at ease

Ideally, your new pet should begin to feel comfortable with you as soon as possible, so it’s best to start by interacting with them on their own turf where they feel safe and secure. You should begin your relationship by playing and cuddling them first in their familiar environment. It's recommended that you also pet their mother and siblings if they are there too, this helps to bring home their comforting scent to their new environment. You should also bring a towel or old piece of clothing which you can rub on the rest of the litter and mother, to bring the scent home with you.

The journey home

The car journey home will possibly be your kitten's first time in a moving vehicle, and you should try to make the experience as pleasant as possible. A trick that can make them feel more at ease, is to place the towel (with the scent) in the carrier you are using to transport them. Usually, cats do not mind getting into carriers as they like cosy and small spaces. However, if they resist, it’s best to take the roof off the carrier rather than nudging them inside. Using a carrier helps to provide a safe and secure place when travelling, as well as beginning a routine for car trips. To reduce the risk of them being unwell, you should avoid giving them food or drink during the car journey. Of course, if the journey exceeds 2-3 hours you should offer some water intermittently. This is especially important if you are travelling with kids. They will be understandably very excited to be bringing home their new pet, but your kitten should be left alone on the journey home to ensure it’s as stress free as possible for them.

Settling in at home

It’s important not to overwhelm your new cat with a very large, new space right off the bat. Let the kitten explore in the small room you have already set up, or if you didn’t have time to prepare for its arrival, set up a safe room and sit on the floor while the kitten acclimates to it. Like human babies, kittens can be sensitive to sudden changes in environment or diet. They can even suffer from food allergies. These factors can cause diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. KittyRade is an ideal product in this situation; it contains prebiotics that help to support gut health, improve digestion and nutrient absorption. It also includes glutamic acid, an amino acid that is beneficial for intestinal function. It is suitable for kittens of six weeks and upwards.

Cats naturally choose a secluded place to go to the toilet and so it’s best to locate their litter tray in a quiet corner opposite the door. They are very clean animals, so it’s important to clean out the tray regularly, as if it’s dirty, your kitten will probably choose to go somewhere else! 

In the wild, cats do not eat in the same place as they go to the toilet. Make sure to position your kitten’s food and water bowl as far away from the litter tray as possible, ideally in different rooms. Cats will often prefer shallow bowls, as the low sides won’t bang their sensitive whiskers. They are notoriously fussy eaters and drinkers too! YummyRade is a tasty gravy topper that enhances the taste of boring pet food (and is also low fat and low calorie!). KittyRade is the perfection solution if you find your cat is not drinking enough water. Remember, one in three cats will develop kidney issues in their lifetime, so it’s very important that they get enough fluids!

Introducing your kids to their new kitten

A cat is a wonderful gift to your kids, as long as time is taken to ensure they are both comfortable together. Rushing introductions between the kitten and children could make the cat nervous or vice versa. Gradually introduce them over a week or so, once your cat has been given enough time to fully settle into their new environment. Keep the kids calm and let all interactions be instigated by the cat. Have cat treats handy to tempt your cat a bit closer to the children. Be ready to create a boundary if the child gets over excited or tries to grab towards the cat and make sure to keep emphasising how important it is to be gentle. You can gradually build up the time your cat and children spend together over the first few weeks. First impressions count for a lot, so try not to rush the introduction stages!

Tips for kitten-proofing your home

  • Use a stairgate across open stairways; small kittens can tumble downstairs and injure themselves
  • Stow away any exposed electrical cords; dangling wires are very tempting for kittens to chew and pull on
  • Make sure not to leave plastic bags lying around; cats love small spaces and may be tempted to climb inside
  • Check open fridges, dishwashers, microwaves, ovens, washing machines and tumble dryers for curious kittens before shutting doors and/or turning on these appliances