Bringing home and introducing a new kitten into your life is such an exciting time! During the last couple of months while we all faced an unprecedented pandemic, one of the most positive changes to emerge was the increase in pet ownership. Pets are such a loyal and stable part of our family so it’s no surprise that during COVID (especially lockdown!), we were relying on their companionship a lot more.
Bringing your new kitten home can be quite a daunting experience for them as they have just left their litter mates. To make the transition as easy as possible, we have complied some tips and tricks to help you.
Plan before bringing home your new kitten
It's a good idea to think about how your life with your new kitten will look. If you have flat mates or kids, include them in the conversation too. Will you allow your cat to jump up on the tabletop? Are there any rooms or areas in the house that are off limits?
Discussing these scenarios beforehand will ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the kitten does not end up being confused through conflicting messages.
Create a safe space for your kitten
Dedicate a quiet area of your home for your kitten. This place should ideally be in a corner or a small room and off limits to kids or other household pets. Furnish the area with toys, food, water and a litter box. Include a covered bed or box so that your kitten can relax and acclimatise to its surroundings. This gives your kitten a safe space to retreat to if they ever feel overwhelmed or just want to rest.
Be aware that it’s not uncommon for kittens to wake up in the middle of the night and want to play or cry for your attention. It may be hard but it’s best to ignore them. Getting up and indulging them will only set a precedent for the future.
Kitten proof your home
Kittens have lots of energy and are super inquisitive! Have a look around your home and close off rooms you don’t want your kitten to have access to. Remove anything fragile in places your kitten could potentially jump on. Check that cupboards, toilets, washing machines, and windows are closed properly to prevent your kitten from climbing through and getting stuck. At the same time, remove all loose items such as shoes, socks and laundry from the floor. Wires should also be secured or placed behind furniture, so they don’t get mistaken for toys!
How to choose good kitten toys
When choosing toys for your kitten, always take their natural behaviours into account. Their predatory instincts mean that they are more attracted to toys that create unpredictable or quick movement together with those that produce high pitched sounds. Always check that the toy you are selecting is made for cats and have been through proper testing.
Be careful about using your hands and fingers to play with your kitten. It may seem harmless and cute while they are young, however this is teaching your kitten to see your hands as prey and will encourage them to pounce on your hands (which will no doubt hurt as they grow older!). Therefore, it’s a good idea to invest in appropriate toys from the start. Here are our favourites:
Rechargeable Laser Cat Toy - One of our best sellers! This toy charges through USB and is great for bonding with your kitten through play time.
Fling & Chase Cat Toy – This lightweight, multi-sensory toy is great for encouraging independent play.
Rock & Roll Treat Dispenser - Fill this toy with food to slow down fast eaters whilst the puzzle element helps to increase mental stimulation.
Anytime you provide your kitten with a new toy, we recommend you keep an eye on how they interact and play with it. Remember to also check the toys regularly for signs of wear and tear and replace them if necessary.
Can you train a kitten?
Despite popular belief that cats are untrainable, it’s possible to train them. One of the first things you can do is get them used to their name. Do this by calling their name and rewarding them with a treat or a cuddle when they respond.
You can also proactively train and manage undesirable behaviours before they occur. For example, if you don’t want your cat jumping up on the tabletops, ensure that you are consistent with that from the first day your kitten comes home. For the first couple of weeks, have some treats on hand and proactively reward your cat whenever they are on the floor next to the tabletop. Show them the benefit of being next to the table. This is easier than waiting for them to jump up and then trying to redirect the behaviour.
Remember, it’s important to be patient and use positive reinforcement during training. Never shout, hit or punish your kitten.
Toilet training your kitten
Start by showing them where the litter box is. Most kittens will naturally know how to use a litter box since it’s in their nature to eliminate in sand or soil. They would most likely also learn from observing their mother. If you live in a bigger house or multi-story home, it’s a good idea to have multiple litter boxes around the home while your kitten is still settling in. This reduces the chance of an accident if they lose their way around the house.
Plan kitten enrichment activities
On top of physical activity, kittens also require mental stimulation to keep them entertained. Mental stimulation can be as simple as cutting some holes in boxes and scattering some treats in there for them to explore and hunt. Alternatively, you can also place some of their meals into puzzle toys. This will keep them entertained and direct their energy towards appropriate and fun activities.
Kitten essentials checklist
Before bringing home your kitten, here are some essential items you will need:
Food and water bowl
Treats and toys
ID tag, collar, harness and leash
Kitty litter and liners
Flea and worm treatments
Did you know? Rufus & Coco has a range of bundle packs with essential items that are especially selected for new kitten parents!
To make life easier for pet parents, we have gathered some of the major essentials into ready to go Bundle Packs. These packs are not only super convenient but at 20% off, they’re extremely cost effective for new fur parents. Shop all our bundles here.
Many people assume that cats are low maintenance. However, cats (especially kittens!) are very inquisitive creatures and do require a high level of attention and daily enrichment. Without those, they can easily get bored, which can result in destructive behaviours such as scratching your couch or chewing the carpet. Therefore, ensure that you provide your kitten with plenty of interaction with yourself and through toys.
Sharing your life with a kitten is such a fun time, so enjoy every moment of it! Share in their curious antics and watch as they become an important part of the family.