How Should I Introduce My Kitten to His New Environment?

Cats are naturally inclined to investigate their new surroundings. We in the veterinary field suggest that their area of exploration be limited initially so that these natural tendencies do not create an overwhelming task. After confining your new kitten to one area for the first few days, slowly allow your kitty to access other areas of the home.

kitten proof home

How do I keep my kitten safe?

First and foremost, you want to keep your precious kitten safe. And although you don't want to worry yourself too much over this, you should be aware that kittens' curious nature can get them into some precarious situations. A bit of kitten-proofing will go along way in keeping your kitten from harm. Keep toxic cleaning products and other household items that are toxic to cats out of reach. Also, keep knick-knacks out of reach for the kitten period. Pull your bathroom shower curtain up and out of the kitten's way. Ensure your vents and windows are securely fastened to avoid a kitten making his or her great escape. Reclining chairs have also been found to be dangerous to kittens, as kittens can go inside and then get accidentally stuck or injured if an unknowing person doesn't realize the kitten is in there. In short, the best way to approach your living space is to view it through the eyes of a mischievous kitten and remove anything that will be tempting or dangerous to avoid injury.

How should I introduce my new kitten to my other cat?

Most kittens receive a hostile reception from other household pets, especially other cats who may be solitary and/or territorial. The other cat usually sees no need for a new kitten in the household, and these feelings are often reinforced if the cat perceives favoritism. Your resident cat shouldn’t feel that it is necessary to compete for food or attention. Give your new kitten his or her own food and bowl, and do not allow your kitten to eat from your other cat’s bowl. A similar strategy with litter boxes is also recommended; make sure to place the litter box for each cat in a separate area.

How do I facilitate the relationship between my new kitten and my cat?

Begin by arranging for each cat to have his or her own living space, whether in a closed-off area or a separate room. You may wish to keep them separated by a partially closed door to begin with, which allows them to get used to each other through smell first. It's very possible that they will start interacting with each other through the crack in the door. Over the course of a few days or weeks, allow your cats a little supervised time together.

How do I prevent my resident cat from being jealous of my kitten?

Although it is natural to want to spend time holding and cuddling your new kitten, be aware that your resident cat may quickly feel that they are being neglected. You may find that the transition will be smoother if your existing cat is given more attention than usual. Fighting may occur occasionally, but the introduction period will usually last only a couple of weeks.

Also, give consideration to the cats' personalities. If one is energetic and the other prefers to be alone, this could cause contention between them. However, if they are compatible felines, your existing cat will soon learn to tolerate the kitten. And perhaps, with time, bonding will even occur between them. They will likely play together, groom each other, and sleep near each other. This is more likely to occur if the competition is minimized or if the existing cat has been lonely for companionship.

How do I make sure that my kitten is comfortable in his or her new home?

Of course, you want your resident cat to be happy and adjust well to your kitten, but you also want to make sure that your kitten feels safe in his or her new home. Set up a crate for your kitten that's off of the floor, as cats feel safer if they’re higher up where they can see their surroundings. As previously mentioned, don't rush the socialization, as your kitten will likely need time to get used to the new surroundings before meeting too many family members and your other pets. We know you'll want to snuggle with your sweet kitten, but avoid approaching him or her too quickly. Talk softly and keep the volume down on any music playing and the TV. If the kitten is extremely young, you can even try wrapping a ticking clock in a towel or blanket to simulate his or her mother's heartbeat. Gradually let them get used to your house's sounds by leaving the TV on and/or leaving the kitten's crate in a busy part of your home. As with anything, reward any positive socialization on your kitten's part with treats. At the same time, be patient with any hiding, hissing, or spitting, as those are signs of fear rather than aggression.

kitten vaccinations

When should my kitten be vaccinated?

We have the ability to prevent many feline illnesses—including fatal diseases—through the use of vaccines. In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections. Ideally, the vaccines are given at around 8, 11, 14, and 17 weeks of age. However, this schedule may vary depending on several factors, which your veterinarian will discuss with you to help you decide on a vaccine schedule for your new kitty.

There are many more questions new kitten owners often ask, especially if they're dealing with possible intestinal parasites, ear mites, or behavioral issues. You may also be wondering when to spay or neuter, what the best food is to feed your kitten, and what to do about fleas and heartworms. If you have any questions concerning your new kitten’s health, please feel free to call us. Our entire staff is available to help.

Contributing DVM