Sacred Birman black and white kitten playing with red ball

Collecting your kitten and their first week with you

Collecting 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’ll 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 collecting them 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 vet and beginning to socialise them. And it’s important to know how to introduce your kitten to friends, family, children and other pets. As well as how to handle their first adventures outdoors once they’re vaccinated.

Kitten being held by its owner
Persian kittens sitting together on a cat tree

Are you ready to collect your kitten?

It’s important to be fully prepared before collecting 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 tray 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 vet you trust and make an appointment for a check-up a few days after collecting them.

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 box for the journey. And it’s best to find a vet 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 collect your kitten when you have a couple of quiet days to spend at home with them and no visitors scheduled. Aim to collect them in the morning so they have time to get used to your home before night time.

Ask what your kitten’s been eating and find out about their feeding routine and litter tray arrangements. Check if they’ve seen a vet and had any vaccinations or worming treatments, and whether or not they have an ID chip. 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 the familiar smell is comforting for them on the journey and when you get home.

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

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 journey.  Keep the carry case close during these journeys to comfort your kitten.

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

To help your kitten feel secure, drape a light blanket over the cat box and put any toys or blankets that smell familiar in the box. It’s safest to leave them in the box during the journey, 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.

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 litter tray. Turning out the light will help to establish your kitten’s sleep patterns, but on the first night you might 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’ 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 journey 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 tray 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 diarrhoea. 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 vet.

Learn about kitten nutrition and feeding

Your kitten’s diet should contain all the nutrients they need for each phase in their development. So you’ll need to adapt the food and rations you provide as they grow.

Feeding your kitten
Sacred Birman black and white kitten eating
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.

Read the article

Kitten socialisation

Socialisation 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 socialise your kitten.

Socialising 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. And 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.

White kitten walking outdoors in grass

Kittens can go outside with your supervision when they’ve had their booster vaccinations at around four months old. But they’re not ready to go outside unsupervised until they’re around six months old.

As well as your kitten being fully vaccinated, you should also make sure:

  • They’re identifiable via a microchip or a well-fitting collar and identification tag.
  • Your garden is kitten-proofed.
  • You know their favourite things so you can use them to encourage your kitten back inside.

Before your kitten goes outside unsupervised, they also need to be neutered or spayed to prevent unwanted litters.

Your kitten’s first trip outdoors can feel daunting, but here are some ways to help ensure it’s a positive experience:

  • Choose a quiet time and keep children and other pets away.
  • Go out before dinnertime so you can use your kitten’s food to attract them inside again.
  • Walk with your kitten as they explore so they don’t get lost.
  • Leave the door open so they can see how to get back inside.
Black and white kitten laying down in grass
Pack shot of kitten products

Our Kitten Ranges

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

View kitten range