Bringing Kitten Home
Our kittens are rescued from shelters, feral colonies, and brought to us by members of the community who found orphaned kittens. Because the kittens often have difficult beginnings, we place them in loving foster homes where each foster does their best to raise the kitten to be healthy, socialized and acclimated well in a home environment. Keep in mind, all kittens may take a bit of time to feel safe, comfortable and trust you enough to show affection, as transitioning homes again can be stressful. We have done our best to socialize and train these kittens, but their development is not over. These instructions are intended to help you do the best job you can to continue to raise these kittens in your home so that they are happy and well socialized.
Kittens in general:Kittens LOVE to play and snuggle when sleepy and will be happiest with another kitten or puppy friend in the house. Often kittens around adoption age (10-12 weeks) are in a phase where they are a tiny bit bitey when in play mode. We advise that you do not permit this behavior or encourage it. You may regret it as the kitten ages. Remember cats “hunt” as play and your hand should never be the “prey”. Always play with a toy with the kitten and not with your hands. Only use your hands to pet and care for the kitten. If the kitten starts biting your hand, gently pull it away and don’t let it continue to bite you. Put the kitten down if it persists. Offer a toy to bite. Kittens also like to nibble toes – so beware of bare feet around them!
If you want a lap cat, make sure you consistently allow the kitten to sleep in your lap at least once a day. Offer your lap by placing them in it when they are sleepy. Or pat your lap for them to come join you. Once they fall asleep allow them to stay there for at least 15-20 minutes without disturbing them. Don’t over pet, because over stimulation is easy to achieve with cats. If you over pet, they may choose to avoid your lap. Pet for a few minutes, then stop. As they age, continue to invite them to sit on your lap or on your bed as you sleep to keep them snuggly. This usually works, but some kittens’ personalities become a bit more reserved as they age especially if there are stressors in the home.
If you have children in the house, they may inadvertently cause the cat to dislike being touched/held if they are always trying to control the kitten and force it to be held, get over excited about the kitten, are loud around the kitten, etc. Help your children learn to respect the kitten’s choice to get down or away when they want to. Know that the kitten/cat has every right to bite or scratch if a child is hurting them or scaring them.
Bringing the kitten home (please do these things!):Always keep a cat or kitten safely enclosed in a carrier while walking to and from the car and while in the car. If you let your kitten out of carrier in the car, they may hide in the car in a very hard to reach spot and not come out. Or if you open a door or window, they may jump out and run away before you can snag them.
When you get home, select a smaller area to keep the kitten. We suggest a bedroom, large walk-in closet, or a bathroom. It is best that the kittens stay for 1-2 days in this space before letting them loose in the house. Remember, kittens have feelings! Going to a strange place, via a car, with strange people can be pretty scary. They need time to acclimate to the new environment. So, set up all their needs in that small space – litter box, food, water, bedding, toys, scratching post. Keep the food and water as far from the litter box as possible. Visit them in this space several times in the first day/s. Allow them to get to know you, your voice, the smells of the environment, the noises of your home, the scent of other pets. Kittens usually warm up to their new people within a few hours to a few days but may still “spook” easily in the new environment for several weeks. When they get spooked, they will hide and hide good.
If you don’t do this process – do not be surprised if your kitten “disappears” as soon as you arrive home and set them loose. They will find the most remote and tight hiding spaces and can stay there for hours or days. Fosters frequently get calls that the cat is “lost” or “hiding” on the first day or two after adoption because the family didn’t listen to the advice to allow the kitten to feel safe by slowly warming up to the new people and environment.
If you have other pets in the house already, do careful and slow introductions. Never leave the kitten alone with other pets until you are confident there will not be conflict between them. Kittens will almost always hiss and swat at dogs at first because they are scared and want to show their fierceness to help keep the dog from hurting them. Adult resident cats will almost always swat and hiss at your new kitten because cats are very territorial. It can all work out very nicely, it simply takes a few days or weeks. Just be careful about how you integrate the new kitten. You can Google for instructions or videos on how to slowly integrate a new pet with other pets (be aware some videos show poor ways of integrating that would not be recommended by professionals). Or purchase and read a resource book from our short list of recommendations below.
You agreed with this adoption that you will keep your kitten indoors. We know many people do indoor/outdoor kitties, but please do not let your little kitten outside. Kittens this small can easily be carried off by an owl or other birds of prey and are defenseless against neighborhood cats and dogs. They don’t know how to safely navigate cars. They can’t defend against other wildlife like racoons. Life expectancy of kittens outside without a protector (mother cat) is very low. Cats in general live shorter lives when they go outside regularly. These stats help paint the picture: indoor only cats live on average 12-15 years, indoor/outdoor cats live on average 5-7 years, and outdoor only cats (adults) on average live 3 years. Unprotected kittens outside rarely reach 1 year. However, having safe outdoor time is great for cats. You could provide a “Catio” (covered and secure patio/deck/porch), a window seat or window box for cats, or leash train your cat to take walks with you outside. If you can safely provide “outdoor time” for kitty, that is wonderful.
Kittens are often not yet fully scratcher post trained. Please be sure to provide multiple types, sizes, materials of scratching posts around your home. Some cats like to scratch horizontally, some vertically, some both. So, have flat on the floor scratchers and tall scratchers. Scratching posts for vertical use need to be heavy. If the scratcher tips and falls over easily (like kitten sized scratchers), the cat won’t use it. If scratching of carpet or furniture is happening, remember that cats DO NOT RESPOND WELL to negative reinforcements like angry yelling, spanking, chasing, or water bottles. A firm “no, no!” and a clapping of hands helps curb in the moment, but not overall. Spray Comfort Zone on places they are scratching, offer good scratching alternatives in the same location if possible, use double sided sticky tape on the spots you don’t want scratched, shake a jar of pennies to change their focus every time you catch them scratching a spot they shouldn’t, etc. ALSO, most importantly, praise them and give them a treat or affection when they use the right surfaces for scratching.
What you need for kitty:If you already have a cat at home, you still need to set up a brand-new litter box for the new kitten until both cats are fully integrated without conflict issues. A resident cat may bully a kitten who uses “their” litter box. Same goes for bedding, toys, dishes and scratchers.
We recommend using unscented litters. The dyes and perfumes are for people and cats do not enjoy those odors. Cats like clean potties – so scoop daily.
If possible, we tell you what the kitten is used to eating. It is best to keep them on these foods and slowly transition to other foods you prefer to feed. Quickly switching foods frequently causes tummy upset and diarrhea. We also suggest you stay on kitten foods for the first year and use mid-to-high grade foods. Low-grade cat food has little valuable nutrition and can lead to more vet bills in the future. Typically, Walmart and grocery stores only carry low-grade foods. Pet stores or online shopping carry more of the the mid-to-high grade foods.
Always have clean water available and freshen it daily. Cats prefer water not be right next to their food and will drink more if you put it in a different spot from the food bowl. If you are feeding a lot of dry food over wet food, your cat really needs to have access to water in a way that entices them to drink more frequently.
We suggest you have the following items for kitten:Large litter box/scooper (we advise you avoid automated litter boxes as many cats dislike them because of the noises they make and can lead to litter box issues)Cat bed/sMice and ballsString toys and laser lights that you can use to play with themSeveral scratching posts (can accumulate over time)Brush/nail clippersCarrierPet food bowls (ceramic or glass are best, plastic and metal are not great)
Other items you may want:Clicker training supplies (treats, clicker, book on how to train cats)Leash and harness
Good cat books to read:The Secret Language of Cats by Heather DunphyThink Like a Cat by Pam Johnson-BennettCat vs. Cat by Pam Johnson-BennettCat Mojo by Jackson GalaxyClicker Training for Cats by Karen Pryor
If you have any questions during this transition time with the kitten, please feel free to call us. We love and expect picture updates!