cute kittens

Caring for your new kitten/cat

When your new kitten first comes home it will be missing its littermates and will be scared from the car ride. To make a smooth transition to its new home it is important that you do the following:

  • Set up the kitten in a small room with a litter box, and food/water dishes. Put the litter box as far away from the food dish as possible. A bathroom will do, just put down the lid of the toilet to prevent drowning. A blanket for a bed and some toys would be nice, too. DO NOT let the kitten have the run of the whole house, at least not a first. This will prevent the kitten from hiding under the bed or not knowing where his litter box is.
  • Let family members visit the kitten (ONE PERSON AT A TIME). If there are young children in the house who are very excited they may frighten the kitten by their noise and activity. We don’t want the children to be scratched or permanently scare the kitten.
  • Feed the kitten the SAME food it was fed in the shelter(Cats Exclusive feeds Science Diet). If you introduce new food do it slowly by adding a little more of the new food each day to the food that it was originally eating. If you give new food all at once it can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea. Never give a kitten milk. Plain water is good. Never feed a kitten table scraps. Dry kitten food is preferred as it helps clean their teeth.

When the kitten has settled in well and seems comfortable you can then let him/her explore the rest of the house. He will always run back to his original room as his safety spot. Always show the kitten where the litter box is located.  If you move the litter box do it in 2 feet increments over a number of days so the kitten will follow the box to the new location. Until the kitten is 6 months of age the litter box should be on the same floor of the house that the kitten spends most of its time on. After 6 months you can change the box to the second floor or basement level as an older kitty will follow the box once shown where it is located.

Introducing Your New Cat

If you have another cat currently – DO NOT LET THE NEWCOMER AND THE RESIDENT CAT MEET AT FIRST. The newcomer will be nervous upon arrival not knowing where he or she is. The newcomer will emit an odor of fear (that we cannot smell but the existing cat will.) After a day or two, that smell will disappear and a meeting of the two cats will go much better.

  • Restrict the newcomer to one room. In that room, place rood and water dishes, a bed(a blanket or towel will do), various toys and a litter box as far away as possible from the food dish(you wouldn’t like it if you ate next to your toilet would you?) Visit and play with the newcomer as often as you can. But, make sure that you pay special attention to your resident cat as well.
  • Allow newcomer and resident cat to be separated for at least one to two weeks.
  • Meanwhile, rotate blankets and toys between cats so your resident cat smells the newcomer’s things and the newcomer gets a whiff of the resident cat’s things.

After about ten days, allow the newcomer to roam the house and the resident cat to tour the newcomer’s room for an hour or two at a time. Do this once a day for the next ten days, if you can. The cats will mark each other’s territories with their own scents using their cheek pads.

When it is time to introduce the cats, do so gradually beginning with a mere few minutes of togetherness at a time. During these brief meetings, give each cat a tempting treat such as chicken, baby good, plain low fat yogurt or tuna. Each will quickly learn that it receives a treat only when the other cat is present. If all goes well, begin to let the cats interact. There may be some hissing and the resident cat will assert itself, but that is to be expected. It may also be helpful to have an interactive toy such as a clothesline or round ball track toy that will interest each cat but keep them separate during play. You can wiggle BOTH ends of the clothesline with a cat at either end and before you know it they will both be playing together without realizing it.

It is best to separate them at dinnertime. If you allow free feeding, and the newcomer is a kitten, put a hole in a carton or box just big enough for the kitten to squeeze into, but not large enough for the adult cat. Put the kitten’s food dish inside the box, where the kitten will eat, and the older cat’s food dish outside the box. Separate litter pans may be necessary until it is apparent that the resident cat does not mind sharing. Following these suggestions may ensure a long and happy relationship between your two new friends!