New Kitten’s First Week Home

Dr. Ragen T.S. McGowan, PhD
By Dr. Ragen T.S. McGowan, PhD
Updated: 5/17/20242-4 minutes
a kitten in the arms of a boy

Bringing a kitten home is exciting. Kittens are cute, playful and like to cuddle, too, but introducing your kitten to her new home requires a little planning.  

Prepare for your kitten’s first day and week at home (and beyond) by stocking up on the essentials, like kitten foodlitter and other supplies in advance and setting your home up for a curious and energetic kitten to explore.   

Bringing a Kitten Home: New Kitten Tips

Before you bring home your new kitten, make sure you have everything you need:   

  • Kitten food  
  • Food and water bowls 
  • Cat litter and litter box  
  • Toys  
  • Bed  
  • Cat carrier  
  • Scratching post  

This list should be enough to supply you with the necessities, so you won’t have to make a run to the pet store to pick up any last-minute kitten products. You may also want to consider some kitten treats to help reward good behavior, but be careful to not feed your kitten too many.  

What to Expect With Your New Kitten

Your Kitten’s Sleeping Habits 

Kittens can sleep up to 16 hours a day. To help her get plenty of rest, find a comfortable spot with little foot traffic. This area should include her bed, some of her favorite toys and a scratching post for stretching and scratching when she wakes up. 

If she doesn’t take to her new sleeping spot right away, be patient. She’ll come around eventually. 

Your Kitten’s Sleeping Schedule

Since cats are nocturnal animals, don’t be surprised if you hear her scampering around the house at night. You can try to alter this behavior by playing with your kitten in the early evening to help her expend some of her excess energy. Another strategy is feeding her dinner early. 

If she still wakes you up at night, resist the urge to feed her or play with her, as this will only reward and reinforce this behavior. 

Kitten Feeding Tips

Providing your kitten with a complete and balanced diet that’s formulated to meet her unique growth needs is a great way to help her start out on the right track. Newborn kittens rely on their mother’s milk or a kitten milk replacer to get vital nutrients, but as the weaning process begins, solid foods can start to be introduced. 

What to Feed a Kitten

protein-rich kitten food will help support her growing body and ever-increasing energy levels. Make sure there’s plenty of calcium for her to develop healthy teeth and bones and DHA, to help brain and vision development. Since kittens have different nutritional needs than adult cats, they need higher levels of certain nutrients, such as protein, fat and calcium.  

Try starting your kitten off with wet kitten food or moistened kibble to help her transition from milk. Combine one part warm water and three parts of dry or wet kitten food until it has a consistency similar to oatmeal over a period of around two weeks. Then decrease the amount of water and increase the amount of food. 

How Much Food Should I Feed My Kitten?

Your kitten’s daily caloric needs will increase as she grows. To help her thrive, you’ll need to adjust her food amounts, depending on her age and weight. Consult the kitten feeding chart on the food label and reach out to your veterinarian with any questions on how much to feed your kitten. 

Socializing Your New Kitten 

During your kitten’s first week home, you can expect her to be curious and frisky. Sometimes it might be hard to tell if she’s being aggressive or playful.    

You may notice her stalking and pouncing on unsuspecting toys or scraps of paper. Don’t worry, this is just her way of exercising her natural predatory instincts in a harmless—and often amusing—manner.   

Just be sure to provide her with appropriate toys so she can act out these instincts on objects and not on you. Give her wads of paper, ping-pong balls, or kitten fishing toys to enhance playtime. Also, avoid toys that can be shredded, shattered or swallowed. Supervising her when you provide new toys is a good idea. 

Finally, do not allow her to use your hands, fingers, feet or clothing as playthings, as this may teach her that it’s OK to claw them. When you’re playing together, stick to safe kitten toys and you’ll both have fun. 

When correcting inappropriate behavior, do so gently. Make sure you praise her for good behavior much more often than you chide her. 

Introducing Your Kitten to Children

For children, meeting a brand-new kitten is exciting. Talk to them before meeting the kitten to prepare them. Introducing your kitten to children, especially younger ones, should be done gradually and for short periods. Frequent handling and gentle playing are important, but children must be taught that your kitten is a sensitive, living creature.  

Show them how to pick her up and hold her by slipping one hand under her chest and holding the front legs gently but firmly with your fingers. At the same time, cup the other hand under your kitten's hindquarters. Encourage slow movements and help the children understand that fast, choppy movements can scare the kitten. 

Never pick her up by the scruff of the neck or by her hind legs. Children must learn not to pull the kitten's tail or ears, squeeze her or poke her, make loud or threatening noises or move toward her too suddenly. These points should be mentioned to the children prior to meeting the kitten. 

We hope these new kitten tips for the first week together help you adjust to your life at home with your new kitten. 

Get more kitten training tips from our experts on our Pet Expertise page. 

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