First of all, you’ll need a cat carrier. The carrier should measure at least 20 x 11 x 11in. A carrier is a good investment for every cat owner, since it will be essential for taking your kitten to the veterinarian’s office (for vital vaccinations) as well as all the other occasions when you may need to transport it.
Many cats are upset by the confinement and the noise and smell of a car or bus. Accustom your kitten to associating its carrier with treats to lessen the ordeal.
Settling In Safely
Once your kitten is safely home, it’s best to confine it, for the first few days, to just one room in the house. The room chosen should be free from hazards, such as trailing electrical cables. Kittens can and do find their way into the tiniest of spaces and can be very difficult to extricate. There should be no open windows or doors when the kitten first arrives, for even the most placid of kittens may be upset by its first journey into strange surroundings. Make sure that the kitten knows where its litter tray is, and put its bed in a warm, draft-free place.
A small alarm clock with a loud tick into its bedding may help your kitten sleep. The rhythm of the ticking will remind the kitten of its mother’s heart-beat, and may help it to settle down more quickly.
Remember that kittens need lots of rest and sleep; if there are small children in the family be sure to explain this to them. A young kitten, just removed from its mother and brothers and sisters, will not unnaturally be a little homesick at first, so plenty of care, affection and understanding is called for. Some kittens, too, are more timid than others, and will need longer to adjust to their new surroundings. If this appears to be the case, don’t rush your kitten, but allow it to ‘hide away’ if it feels like it. It will emerge as soon as it feels more confident.
During the first few days don’t allow the kitten to be overhandled by strangers or squeezed too affectionately by youngsters.
First Meeting With Other Pets
If you already have a dog or another cat in the household, it’s important that the first meeting between the newcomer and the resident pet is under strict supervision. It’s often sensible to keep the older pet shut up for a while, to allow the newcomer to get used to its scent. Cats and kittens being introduced to one another react primarily to scent, and it is sometimes helpful to rub a little talcum powder into the coats of each animal, under the chin and around the base of the tail.
Most mature animals are tolerant of young ones but occasionally jealousy can turn to aggression. Do introductions slowly, with ‘retreating’ space available for all concerned. Or obtain a mesh play pen to protect the kitten while the established pet learns to accept its presence. Do not let resident pets feel neglected – this may worsen natural jealousy and lead to behavioral reactions such as aggression and persistent attention-seeking.
When bringing home a new kitten, it may take several weeks for all cats to be comfortable with each other. There is no set timeframe for this, so don’t get discouraged and give up if it doesn’t happen immediately. A recent pet care client did not give adequate time for all three of their cats to get comfortable with each other. As a result, two years later the two resident cats and the newer cat must be separated to prevent fights.