New kitten? Congratulations! Here are a few tips to ensure your kitten settles in well and has the best start to family life.
Setup for kitten
While settling in, it is best to allow a kitten a single room or kitten pen to settle in to. This room should have a litter tray, food bowl, water bowl, scratching post and a bed (ideally a box so they have somewhere to hide) and the kitten should be put in here for the first few days, and then allowed free access to this area. Putting the kitten in this room at night will help prevent mischief and accidents also.
Introducing kitten to kids
For young children, kitten time should always be supervised. This will prevent the cat from having unpleasant and stressful encounters with children as it is trying to settle into the home. It will also help safeguard against any bites or scratches that may occur if the child pushes things too far with the cat before the cat feels totally comfortable around them. Regular picking up of cats should be limited to kittens or very sociable and tolerant adult cats that actively enjoy it. Toys on strings are great as both kittens and children will enjoy the game and hands are safeguarded! Do not let your kitten play with hands or feet, as this could escalate as they get older.
Introducing your new kitten to your dog
If you are unsure how your dog will react to a feline, then you need to take care, and ensure your new kitten feels safe at all times. Ensure your dog is under control, and that the kitten can escape/hide if they wish. Introducing them with the kitten in a crate can be useful, but ensure they have a hiding place and that the dog remains calm. Reward your dog for calm behaviour and never allow them to chase.
Supervised interaction at first is recommended and also that the cat has a safe area that they can go to if needed. Cats and dogs can become great friends if they are carefully introduced!
Often introducing a new cat to the household is the hardest thing- but if you do it gradually it is usually successful. First think cat and disperse the new kittens’ scent through the house so it intermingles. Then allow them to see each other but not interact at first. Then you can distract the kitten with food (so they aren’t boisterous and jump all over your cat!) while the cat smells them. At first only supervised interactions should be allowed.
Allowing the cats to have separate rest areas with their own litter tray and food bowls is very important, even once they have been fully introduced.
Kittens can be habituated to scary objects like the vacuum cleaner by introducing them slowly without scaring them. Allowing them to have places up high to rest in will help also, as would feeding your kitten treats for bravery.
Kitten handling is important, but do not force yourself on your new cat or they will avoid contact with you. Let them initiate contact and then stay to the face, head and back of your kitten. With time and treats you should work on handling all areas and then picking them up.
Lastly, all kittens can be trained using marker (clicker) training and treats! This is a great way to bond with your kitten and children can get involved also. There are many internet resources for cat training with positive reinforcement, and for example you can teach your cat to sit, wave or even to jump through your arms.