Bringing a new kitten home

Bringing a new kitten home

It’s an exciting time welcoming a new kitten into your home. Kittens are full of fun, energy, mischief and are endlessly entertaining. They steal our hearts instantly. But those first few days in a new home can be pretty stressful for the kitten. There are many ways as a new kitten owner that you can make the move easier for him.

Preparing in advance

You will likely have to purchase a few items before your new kitten arrives and prepare your home in advance. It is a good idea to speak to the breeder or rescue centre to find out which litter the kitten is using, what food he has been eating and if there are any particular toys he enjoys.

Once you know this, you should replicate these routines in your home. This familiarity will help your new kitten feel less stressed as he moves into his new home.

It is a smart idea for the breeder or rehoming shelter to give you a towel that has been in with the mother and kittens. You can place this in the kitten's new set-up in your home to provide comfort as he settles in.

First few days

It can be quite daunting for a kitten as it leaves it’s home and moves away from it’s mother and littermates. To help make the move easier, it is a good idea to bring the new kitten home at a time when you can be in the house or apartment with them for a few days. You should keep the house quiet and calm, without visitors or lots of activity going on.

It is common for kittens to cry or whimper through their first few nights in a new home, but you can try to make the nights less stressful by placing their bed in a nice cosy, quiet spot. You could also leave a small, dim light on in the room where they are sleeping, but it is more advisable to have the room dark so they can adjust to their new routine quicker.

Finally, you should ensure they can access their food, water, and litter tray.

 A small ginger and white kitten sleeps on his back. He is lying on a fluffy, white blanket.

Don’t be surprised if your new kitten sleeps for up to 20 hours a day; this is quite normal and is all part of him staying happy and healthy


Little kittens' stomachs are sensitive and can be easily upset. Therefore you should continue to offer the same kitten food that he has been eating in his previous home. If you decide to change your new kitten's food, you can do this once he has settled in. You must take time to do it gradually over 7 days. Mix the 2 foods together whilst increasing the amount of new food and decreasing the amount of the old food each day until he is only being offered the new food.

It is often thought that kittens need or want kitten milk; in fact, most cats are lactose intolerant, so you are best to avoid this.

Kittens have tiny tummies, so they should be given small meals frequently. A kitten who is around 2 months old should be fed 4 times a day. As they grow, the number of meal times decreases. You should always follow the feeding directions on the food packaging to ensure your kitten is fed the correct amount of food to help him grow strong and healthy.

Keeping calm

Cats produce many natural pheromones. They have glands all over their body, but most of these pheromone glands are located around their faces (around 40 different chemical pheromones are secreted from the face alone!). Cats can identify what each pheromone means.

The important one for a new kitten is a calming pheromone. You can purchase synthetic pheromones to help with creating a calm and familiar environment. There are diffusers which work in one room, or you could try a spray which can be applied to carriers, blankets etc. Be sure to follow the product instructions when using the spray as often they are required to be applied sometime before the cat enters the space, if you use them just before putting them in the cat basket, for example, they might react negatively to the fresh smell.

 A silver tabby kitten pulls himself up on a wooden table with his two front paws. His big blue eyes are staring into the camera.

Pheromone therapy can help when bringing a new kitten home.

Litter training

Many kittens arrive at their new home already trained to use a litter tray. But don’t worry if your kitten is not quite there yet when he moves in with you; with some encouragement and positive reinforcement, he will soon be using the litter tray like a pro!

After bringing a kitten home, show him the litter box, sit him in it and let him have a little explore of it. After meals and when he wakes from a nap, lift him and sit him in the tray to allow him to use it. And if you see him sniffing around or crouching in an area of the house, lift him and pop him in the tray. If he uses the litter tray, it’s time to reward him with lots of verbal praise (don’t go over the top, he is still little, and you don’t want to scare him!) and offer him a kitten treat or a piece of his kibble.

Finding a vet

It is worthwhile deciding on a vet clinic to use before bringing a kitten home. You might already have a vet that you used for a previous pet or you may need to find a new one. You can speak to other cat owners for recommendations, do some online research or phone around local practices to ask about their services and get a general feel for them. Once you have decided on a practice you can register with them and know they are there for you as soon as you bring your new kitten home.

Keeping your new kitten healthy

Kittens should receive a vaccine course to protect them against infectious diseases. You should check with the kitten's first home to see if he has had any or part of his primary vaccinations. If they have had their complete course, that is great, and you don’t need to worry about further vaccinations until they are 1 year old. If they have not received any or only some vaccinations, then you should contact your vet to arrange an appointment for this. It is a good idea to allow the kitten a few days to settle into their new home with you before you take them on a trip to the vets.

It is also essential to treat your new kitten with parasite prevention medication. Again, you should check with the breeder or rescue centre if your new kitten has recently had any medication to protect against parasites and follow this up with your veterinary practice.By preparing for your new kitten's arrival, taking time to care for him and a little patience, your new kitten will adjust to his new home with you, and it will feel like he’s always been there.

Author: Gillian Davidson,  RVN (Registered Veterinary Nurse), Scotland.

Author: Gillian Davidson, RVN (Registered Veterinary Nurse),Scotland.

Gillian began working in a veterinary practice in 2007 and qualified as a Veterinary Nurse in 2011. Gillian has worked in various animal practices in the West of Scotland, and is particularly interested in behaviour medicine and weight management. Gillian has also been a clinical coach for student veterinary nurses for 10 years.

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