kitten playing with a ball

Picking up your kitten and their first week with you

Picking up a new kitten is really exciting, but it’s a big change for them as they leave their home, mother and litter mates. Here are some things to remember to help your kitten settle with you.
Kitten being held by its owner

What you need to know to care for your kitten

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to welcoming a new kitten. You’ll need to be fully prepared before bringing them home and know how to approach their first day and night with you, including what to feed them.

During the first week, it’s best to begin establishing routines as well as taking them to the veterinarian and beginning to socialize them. And it’s important to know how to introduce your kitten to friends, family, children and other pets. It's also important to know how to handle their first adventures outdoors once they’re vaccinated.

Persian kittens sitting together on a cat tree

Are you ready to bring home your kitten?

It’s important to be fully prepared before picking up your kitten. Make sure you’ve kitten-proofed your home and set up a room with everything they'll need, including a bed, food and water bowls, a litter box and toys.

You’ll need a cat box to carry your kitten in too, and some of the food their previous owner’s been feeding them. It’s also a good idea to find a veterinarian you trust and make an appointment for a check-up a few days after picking them up.

Your kitten’s first day with you

Kittens are very sensitive to new surroundings, so it’s crucial to be careful when welcoming your new arrival. Following these key tips will help make things less overwhelming for your kitten.


Keep your house calm

The new sights, sounds and smells in your home, and the separation from its mother, may make your kitten feel stressed. So keep your house very calm and quiet.

Kitten standing indoors

Let your kitten explore

When you arrive home, put the cat carrier in a room you’ve prepared for your kitten and open the door. Let them come out to explore in their own time and resist the urge to cuddle them straightaway.

Kitten walking along a windowsill indoors

Show your kitten their bed

After your kitten’s explored their room, they may be ready for a nap so show them their bed rather than trying to play with them. Make sure they are also aware of where their litter box is located too.

Kitten sitting in a cat bed

Keep an eye on your kitten

Your kitten may be timid initially but will soon want to explore further. If your home’s kitten-proofed, allow them to do this while watching them. Or keep them safe in their own room, with windows and plenty of social contact, for the first few weeks.

Kitten sitting on owners lap

Stay around

Get them used to being alone by leaving them for five minutes each hour and gradually extending it. With some breeds, it may be beneficial to consider adopting two kittens for companionship.

Kitten being held by its owner

Give them their space

Cats need their territory organized in separate areas for feeding, resting, cleaning (going to the toilet) and playing. Watch how your kitten uses the space and make changes if necessary so they’re comfortable. You may, for example, need to move their bed higher or their litter tray further from their food.

Kitten lying on a wooden windowsill next to a plantpot

Your kitten’s first night with you

Kittens are often very disturbed during their first night and it’s normal for them to cry during the following two or three nights too. Here are some tips to help your kitten settle.

Kitten sleeping on a grey and white blanket

Provide a safe place to sleep

Put your kitten's bed in a cosy, quiet place with a blanket and make sure they have access to their water, food and a litter box. Turning out the light will help establish your kitten’s sleep patterns, but on the first night you may want to leave a night light on while they adjust to their surroundings.

For their health and wellbeing, kittens need lots of sleep in a quiet place where they can relax and feel secure. Your kitten may sleep for around 20 hours out of 24 and may still need as much as 18 hours of sleep as an adult cat.

The best kitten food and feeding habits

The first time you feed your kitten is an important step in their life with you. Understanding what they need will help you make sure it goes well.

Stick to the same diet at first

Any sudden changes in your kitten’s diet can cause digestive upsets and stress. So, for the first week, give your kitten the same food and feeding routine as their previous owner. Then you can slowly switch to a different routine, if you choose, and kitten food suitable for their age.

Provide somewhere quiet to eat

This should be somewhere your kitten feels secure, away from where you and any other pets eat. Cats don’t like to eat too near their litter box and should always have fresh water available. It's important to keep water bowls away from their food to avoid contamination.

Don’t give your kitten milk or table scraps

After weaning, kitten’s lose the ability to digest the sugar in milk and cow’s milk can give them diarrhea. If you feed them scraps from your meals they may begin begging or become ill or overweight from eating too much of the wrong foods.

Be patient with your kitten's reduced appetite

The stress of moving to a new home may mean your kitten doesn’t eat very much at first, but their appetite should return once they’ve settled. Also, remember that cats don't naturally eat large meals – they eat several small meals a day. If you are ever concerned about your kitten's eating habits, consult your veterinarian.

Sacred Birman black and white kitten eating

Learn about kitten nutrition and feeding

Your kitten’s diet should contain all the nutrients they need for each phase of their development. As a result, you’ll need to adapt the food and rations you provide them as they grow.

how to transition onto new food illustration

How to change your kitten’s diet safely

A kitten’s digestive system is very delicate and can be upset by sudden changes. When you’re ready to change your kitten’s food, it’s crucial to make the transition carefully and slowly to avoid digestive issues. See our guide to changing your kitten’s diet safely.


Take your kitten to the veterinarian

Your kitten will need to see a veterinarian after a few days of settling in with you. As well as giving them a general health check, they’ll set up a vaccination schedule and can advise you on deworming, nutrition and more.

Kitten being held and examined by a vet

Travel in the car

Your kitten may need to travel in a car for visits to the veterinarian, so it’s important they get used to it. If you didn’t collect them in a car, it’s worth taking them on a car journey during their first week with you. Start by making sure they feel comfortable staying in the cat carrier, then introduce them to the car without the engine on. Once they are settled, start to familiarize them with the engine and motion.

Kitten lying down on a white blanket in a cat carrier

Use a cat carrier

It’s always safest to collect your kitten in a cat carrier. If you didn’t, it’s important to introduce them to a cat carrier sooner rather than later so they’re comfortable with it during visits to the veterinarian. You may even want to encourage your kitten to use the carrier as a safe sleeping place.

Kitten coming out of a cat carrier at a vet clinic

Learn about socializing your kitten

It’s your responsibility to help build your kitten’s confidence and get them used to their environment. By gradually introducing them to new experiences and giving gentle encouragement, you can help socialize your kitten.

Neva Masquerade kitten sitting indoors

Introduce new sounds

Sounds can startle kittens and make them anxious, so keep introducing them to new noises while reassuring them. This could include sounds such as a washing machine, music or hairdryer. Make sure that you only introduce new sounds if the kitten seems comfortable with it.

Sacred Birman kitten walking in a kitchen

Help your kitten explore

Your kitten will need to cope with a variety of terrains. You can help them become acclimatized by carefully introducing them to stairs, an indoor climbing tree and a range of surfaces.

Kitten exploring outdoors

Get your kitten used to handling

Your veterinarian will want to give your kitten a thorough check. To prevent this agitating them, it’s best to let your kitten get gently used to being picked up and handled all over their body.

British Shorthair kitten being stroked by owner

Play with your kitten

Spend some time playing games that gently encourage your kitten to display natural behaviours, such as stalking, pouncing and swiping.

Kitten playing in a kitchen chasing a stick
Sacred Birman mother with two kittens in black and white on a white background

Kitten socialization

Socialization should start as early as possible to avoid any unwanted behaviours and help them develop into confident, even-tempered adult cats. Find out how you can socialize your kitten.

ginger kitten being examined by a vet

Your kitten’s first visit to the veterinarian

It’s really important to take your kitten to the veterinarian for a check-up once they’ve spent a few days settling with you. By being prepared, you can make sure that it’s a positive event for your kitten, and you can take the opportunity to learn more about caring for them.

First veterinarian visit

Your kitten may feel unsettled by their move to a new home, but you can help them to stay calm. Always move slowly and gently and handle them very carefully. Use a soft voice and give plenty of reassurance as you gradually introduce new sights, sounds and smells. Make sure you keep the number of visitors to a minimum initially.

brown tabby kitten being held by owner in a grey top

How to introduce your kitten to children, pets and other adults

Kittens can easily be overwhelmed or even terrified by encounters with other animals and people, so it’s crucial you make introductions in the right way.

Introducing your kitten

Your kitten’s daytime routine

Your kitten’s first few days and weeks with you will influence how they integrate with your family and whether they grow into a happy, sociable cat. Here are some ways to establish routines that will give your kitten the best possible start.


Using the litter box

Many kittens learn to use a litter box by watching their mother. If your kitten’s not housetrained, put them in their litter box and scratch the litter with one of their front legs. Do this after each meal and when they wake up. Make sure the litter box is somewhere quiet, always accessible and away from their food and water bowls.

Kitten sitting in a litter trey


Follow the same routine as your kitten’s previous owner for the first week. Then you can gradually transition to your own routine. There are three main options:

  • Put your kitten’s daily portion of dry food out and let them nibble on it as they choose.
  • Feed them several small meals a day.
  • Put out a smaller portion of dry food for grazing on and feed them wet food at set times.

Whichever option you choose, you should stick to it so your kitten learns what to expect.

Kitten sitting on a white rug eating from a red bowl


Make sure each family member spends time playing and bonding with your kitten. Their play area is the most important part of their territory and they need space to run, climb and hide. Cats particularly love being up high, so if there aren’t enough places for them to perch it’s worth buying a cat tree.

Grey and white kitten playing indoors with a red ball

Behaviour & training

While it’s important to always be gentle with your kitten, they need to understand boundaries. One of the best ways to address unacceptable behaviour, such as digging in the rubbish, is to distract them with a toy and repeat a simple command.

Bengal kittens playing together indoors


One of the most active times for cats is dusk. Your kitten will appreciate you playing with them at this time and it will help to tire them out and get them ready for bedtime. Another active time for cats is dawn. If you’re not an early riser, try a food puzzle to entertain them in the early morning.

Grey kitten walking through grass

Bed location

Put your kitten’s bed in the place you intend it to be throughout adulthood because once they’ve begun sleeping somewhere it won’t be easy to change the location. Although your kitten’s bed needs to be in a quiet place, it’s best to be fairly close to your living area as they’ll enjoy watching you.

Neva Masquerade kittens sitting together in a grey cat bed


Make sure your kitten has everything they need such as access to the litter box, fresh water, food, a favourite toy and a blanket. Then use a signal, such as turning the lights off or down, to show it’s bedtime. They may cry during the first few nights, but they’ll soon learn that you’ll return in the morning and feel secure in the routine.

Siamese kitten standing on a table indoors
kitten pack Canada

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