It is important to give your new kitten or cat a proper introduction when they join your home. This may be a bit different depending on whether there are children or other household pets already in the home.
First, have a room set up for your new kitten. This space should have access to a litter box, food, toys, and a bed. If your new kitten is an only pet he or she may only need this room for a day or two while they acclimate to the move, build their confidence and develop a bond with you and a sense of security in their safe zone. They also learn the location of their litter box! If there are multiple family members, it is important to introduce each member slowly so you don’t overwhelm your new kitten.
It is not uncommon for your new baby to dash underneath a sofa or bed. It does not mean they
Making the transition ... and making new friends!
are a shy or skittish kitten, but rather they have just experienced a giant upheaval to the world they know best by leaving their mother, littermates and their home. You will need to just hang out, sit on the floor and wait patiently for your kitten to come to you. It does not mean they will not love you, but just indicates that they do not know you or their surroundings. Time and gentle patience will change this as they feel more secure in their new surroundings and you gain their confidence.
If you have other household pets the process is a bit more controlled. Your kitten should have their own room for a minimum of 2 weeks. This is not only to provide a gradual introduction, but also to prevent the spread of any illnesses to your new kitten. Remember, just like human babies, their immune system is still immature and developing. They can catch things easier than an adult cat and it is not uncommon that the stress of such a move can cause a tiny sniffle or sneeze. This is why we vaccinate your kitten a minimum of twice before they leave our home. For full effect and protection they’ll still need one more booster by 16 weeks of age followed by their rabies vaccine at 4 months.
The other important aspect of separating your kitten is to help both your kitten and any resident pets. If you force an introduction too quickly this can have negative consequences ranging from aggression to inappropriate elimination habits. So, take it slow and take your cues from them. When making the first introduction to another pet, try keeping the newbie in a carrier or kitty condo so both the new addition and the resident pet feel safe yet can sniff and meet one another.
Once they seem more comfortable, short periods of supervised interaction can be tried. Do not just turn your kitten loose and then leave! That risks having your new kitten being intimidated, chased or worse and sets a precedent for future behaviors. Interactive play where both pets can participate in the game without paying too much attention to one another, will help them lose focus on the stranger in the room! When things seem to be going well during supervised play, then allowing more freedom to play and hang out at their own pace is suitable.
Taking the introductions slowly and carefully will help establish a loving rapport between your new kitten and ALL of their new family members!