Bonding with Your New Kitten
You’ve brought home a new kitten, and you want it to grow into a loving, happy member of your family. Rolan Tripp answers questions on how to make it happen.
Q: What’s the best age to bring a kitten home?
A: The average age for people to get kittens is eight weeks. That age has its pros and cons. If the breeder knows what they are doing and the kittens are socialized correctly, that’s fine. But if the kittens don’t get that critical socialization by seven weeks of age, the brain starts shutting down. The kittens can still be socialized, but it will never be as good. So ask how much the kitten was handled before you got it.
Q: If I get two kittens, will they become too attached to each other and ignore me?
A: I recommend getting two kittens. Yes, they may be more focused on each other than on you, but they also can take their energy out - biting, scratching, fighting - on each other. Kittens have so much energy. If you don’t give them something to do, they’re going to find something to do.
But if you get two kittens, separate them for periods of time each day so they get used to it, especially for feeding and play sessions with you.
Q: Should I keep my kitten in a low-key, quiet environment for a while, or thrust him into our everyday life?
A: Initially it’s good to bring a new kitten into one room. Put his food in there, a scratching post, his bed and let him get used to that.
Then start introducing him to all the things that will be a part of his life. But you have to learn to read the cat. If you introduce your kitten to something and he’s acting fearful - moving away from you and twitching, with tense muscle tone and hyper-alert, step back and take it slower. But if he’s acting friendly and relaxed, you can keep going.
Q: Should I keep my kitten away from people, or let everyone who comes in handle him?
A: It’s good for a variety of people to handle a kitten, but it’s also important that all the interactions are gentle and positive during this formative time.