Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 21, 2021

A new kitten is an exciting addition to your family and home, and you’ll both likely need to adapt. Here’s what to expect. 

Before Your Kitten Comes Home

It’s natural for your kitten to be afraid or take a little extra time to settle into a new home. It’s a good idea to prepare before you bring them home. This includes:‌

Setting up your home. You will need some supplies to keep your new kitten happy and healthy. These include:

  • Litter box
  • Kitty litter
  • Food and water bowls
  • Cat bed
  • Carrier kennel
  • Canned food
  • Dry food
  • Cat collar
  • Some toys
  • Sturdy shelf or perch‌

Kitten-proofing. Like children, kittens are curious and get into everything. Before you bring them home, kitten-proof your space. This includes:

  • Moving plants out of reach
  • Wrapping up cords for your blinds
  • Packing away or moving breakable items
  • Finding a new place for garbage cans

Day 1: Bringing Home a Kitten

On adoption day, expect your new kitten to be afraid, shy, or upset. They may cry or hide at first. You can help them feel comfortable in a few ways.‌

Start by bringing your cat carrier and a towel with you for pick up. Spend some time petting and rubbing your towel along the mother cat and any other kittens before you leave. When you’re ready to go, place the towel in the carrier. This will bring some familiar scents home and help comfort your kitten. ‌

When you get home, place the carrier in a quiet room. Open the carrier door and place water, food, and the litter box nearby. Then let your kitten go in and out as they choose. If they are still inside after 30 minutes, take the carrier top off.‌

Most kittens are already litter trained for adoption, but they are sensitive to litter box changes. Try to get the same litter and a similar box as they were trained in. If you need to make changes, wait until the kitten is settled in and then slowly adjust. Sudden changes could make them avoid the litter box altogether. 

Days 2 to 4: Getting Used to Home

New places are overwhelming for kittens. To help your kitten adjust, confine your kitten to one or two rooms. Let them freely explore only those spaces for the first 2 or 3 days. ‌

Once they’re comfortable and exploring, you can introduce them to new rooms one at a time. Make sure to stay with them in the new space.‌

If you have children, you can introduce your kitten to them during this time. Kittens can be shy, so remind your kids to be calm and gentle with first introductions. As they get used to each other, the kitten will become more playful. 

Days 5 to 7: Meeting Other Pets

A new kitten can upset your other pets in the home. Take your time and slowly introduce your new pet. Waiting for a week might seem like a long time, but it’s especially important if you have another cat. ‌

Cats are territorial and don’t like to share, which means your resident cat won’t like having a new kitten in the house or sharing any space or items. This can lead to behavior problems like urinating around the house. ‌

Set both of your cats up for success by waiting and letting your kitten settle in. Also make sure your kitten has their own bed and litter box. ‌

If you have a dog, take them for a walk before an introduction. This will help them be calm and help with a smoother transition. You can start by keeping them separated with a baby gate. ‌

As they get familiar with each other, you can take the gate down. Keep your dog on a leash for the first physical introduction, though. This will stop them from chasing each other or getting too excited or hurt.

Caring for Your Kitten

For the first few weeks, expect to regularly check the kitten’s food, water, and litter box habits. You’ll need to give your kitten fresh water daily and, depending on the age, you’ll need to feed them several times a day. ‌

Check and change the litter box regularly. This will help you spot any problems or changes in routine right away.

Looking Ahead

A new kitten requires constant care and attention. You’ll need to plan to see the vet for a physical exam within the first month of adoption. Your kitten might have already had some vaccines by 12 weeks old, but they will likely need others. If you have any questions about raising your new pet or any problems in the first week and month, make sure to ask your vet. 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: “General Cat Care.”

Cats Protection: “Bringing a new kitten home.”

Cornell University Cornell Feline Health Center: “How Often Should You Feed Your Cat?”

Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center: “What to Expect…Your Kitten’s First Year.”

VCA Hospitals: “Bringing Home Your New Kitten.”

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