Bringing a kitten home and their first week 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Your kitten’s first visit to the vet
It’s really important to take your kitten to the vet for a check-up once they’ve spent a few days settling with you. By being well prepared, you can make sure it’s a positive event for your kitten. And you can take the opportunity to learn more about caring for them.
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.
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 vital you make introductions in the right way.
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.
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.