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Sacred Birman black and white kitten playing with red 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.

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.

Kitten being held by its owner

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.

Persian kittens sitting together on a cat tree

FAQs: Bringing a kitten home

Make sure you’ve kitten-proofed your home and set up the room your kitten will be living in. You’ll also need a cat carrier for the trip. And it’s best to find a veterinarian in advance so you can book a check-up for your kitten a few days after they come home with you.

You should never adopt a kitten before it is eight weeks old, and some breeders may keep them with their mother and littermates until they are 12 weeks old. By that stage they should be weaned and have learned the basic social skills they need to interact with other cats. Between eight and 16 weeks old is also when they begin to understand their position in the household, so it’s a good time to resettle them with you.

It’s ideal to bring home your kitten when you have a couple of quiet days to spend at home with them and no visitors scheduled. Aim to pick them up in the morning so they have time to get used to your home before night time.

Ask what your kitten has been eating and find out about their feeding routine and litter box arrangements. Check if they’ve seen a veterinarian and had any vaccinations or deworming treatments, and whether or not they have a microchip and whether the ownership can be changed over. Also ask about their favourite toys.

If possible, leave some toys and a blanket with your kitten for a few days before collecting them so they get exposed to a familiar smell, which will be comforting for them on the trip home and when they come to your home.

However you’re travelling, it’s essential to take a cat carrier as it’s dangerous to carry a kitten loose in a car and they may escape if you’re walking or on public transportation.

Choose one that will accommodate your kitten when they’re fully grown and add a blanket for comfort. A darkened carrier will help your kitten feel protected. And remember to take some paper towels and a replacement blanket in case of accidents during the trip. Keep the cat carrier close during these trips to comfort your kitten.

If you’re in a car, keep things calm and drive slowly to prevent startling your kitten. Either fasten the carrier in with a seat belt so it doesn’t slide around or get another passenger to hold it steady.

To help your kitten feel secure, drape a light blanket over the cat carrier and put any toys or blankets that smell familiar in the box. It’s safest to leave them in the carrier during the trip, but you can help them stay calm by speaking soothingly.

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.

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.

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.

Kitten sleeping on a grey and white blanket

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.

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.

Feeding your kitten
Sacred Birman black and white kitten eating

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.

Read the article
how to transition onto new food illustration

Things to do in the first week with your kitten

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.

Socializing your kitten
Sacred Birman mother with two kittens in black and white on a white background

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.

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.

Your kitten’s nighttime routine

Our Kitten Ranges

ROYAL CANIN® Kitten ranges supports healthy growth and development by providing all the nutrients essential to their needs in the first year of life.

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