How to Raise a Kitten into a Confident Cat
Provide your kitten with safety and a sense of security.
New kittens are dependent on you to help them stay safe and thrive in their new homes. Here’s what you can do to provide your kitten with safety and a sense of security:
Give them time
10 to 12 weeks is the ideal age to adopt a kitten. Some are adopted as early as 6 weeks, but adoption at that age can be stressful for kittens and may make them fearful or shy. A kitten that has been gently handled by humans will be friendlier and more well adjusted, so look for inquisitiveness and confidence in a new kitten.
Cover the basics
Young kittens need a place to feel safe—something reminiscent of being surrounded by their mother and siblings. A blanket-lined cardboard box or cat bed can be a great replacement. For the first year, kittens require the extra protein and calories found in kitten-formulated foods, so be sure the food you choose is created just for them. Begin litter training by placing your kitten in the box after meals or right after waking and gently simulate digging with the kitten’s paws. Never punish a kitten for missing the box, and always praise him for using it correctly. Provide a scratching post to prevent furniture damage.
Introduce new family members slowly
Place the kitten in a quiet room, along with a bed, litterbox and food, until he gets adjusted. Introduce family members one at a time, providing extra oversight with children. Teach children how to gently interact with the kitten and remind them to wash their hands after handling him.
Kitten-proof your home
Bundle electric cords and place them out of the kitten’s reach. Put all small items away and remove poisonous plants and insect traps. Close the toilet seat lid, along with kitchen cabinets and the lids to washers and dryers.
Go room by room
Give your kitten the grand tour of the house, one room at a time. Try to prevent him from hiding under or behind furniture. To discourage climbing on the bed simply place him back on the floor when he jumps up or starts the climb.
Prepare your other pets
If you already have pets at home, be sure that they’re in optimal health before introducing a new kitten to the mix. To help ease anxiety, give older cats extra attention. Then allow them to approach the kitten briefly so that they can sniff each other. If they demonstrate physical hostility, separate them and try again in a few days. If you have a dog at home, don’t leave your new kitten alone with him. Introduce them with the dog on a leash. Prevent the kitten from running so the dog doesn’t try to give chase. And remember to reward all pets for their good behavior during these introductions.
Keep playtime safe
Choose toys designed with kittens in mind—nothing with any small parts that could be ingested. Small stuffed animals or feathers on the end of a small fishing pole are good picks.
Get the first check-up
Make a vet appointment within a few days of the kitten’s arrival and let the vet know the kitten is new to your home when you call. It can help to make a list of any questions you want to have answered. And be sure to talk to your vet about spaying and neutering, which can help prevent health issues and overpopulation. Typically, kittens can be spayed or neutered at 8 weeks of age—but you and your vet should decide when is best for your pet.
Provide comfort while you’re away
Secure the kitten in one room before you leave, and include a bed, litterbox, scratching post, toys, food and water. Consider adding a nightlight or leaving a light on if you’ll be gone all evening. You may want to try playing music or talk radio, too—the sounds can be soothing to a kitten that’s alone.
Share twice the love
Single kittens can get lonely—so consider a pair when you adopt! If you opt for just one, here’s a great way to help with loneliness: Wrap a ticking clock in a towel and place it near his bed—the steady sound is comforting, reminding him of his mother’s heartbeat. Then further ease his stress by picking him up and speaking to him in a soothing tone.