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· Arriving & Settling in
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Kittens - Arriving & Settling In - 10 tips!
Congratulations on the new addition to your family! Welcoming a new kitten to your home can be an exciting and fun time. If this is your first experience of having a kitten, you will need to prepare yourself in a number of ways. If this is not your first time, it may still be a good idea to brush up on your ownership skills. Remember that the experience of coming into a new environment can be overwhelming for a new arrival. Try to ease this process by providing the following:
Provide a quiet, warm and well ventilated area/room where they can retreat and let them explore this area at their own pace. Restrict access to one room initially as this reduces confusion and can speed up the process of toilet training. Make sure to supply clean cat litter regularly.
- Food and water.
Provide ‘easy clean’ food and water bowls in an area away from the litter tray. The bowls should be heavy enough not to get pushed around when used. Clean, fresh water should always be available. Avoid milk as it can cause diarrhoea and allergy problems. You should try to get your pet used to set meal times rather than letting them ‘graze’ during the day or giving ‘on demand’ feeding. Initially offer a good quality dried food (can be softened down with warm water at the start if needs be) 3-4 times a day. Dried food is much better for the teeth than tins / sachets. If you are changing foods, try to phase in the new food over a five day period. Treats should only be given as a reward for good behaviour, not because the kitten has just given you the cutest look! They need to be scarce enough to hold some meaning in the context of training.
- Comfort and Reassurance.
Provide a cosy bed. Kittens can play hard but will also sleep lots at an early age. A ticking clock (mimics mother’s heart beat) close by and maybe a warm ‘hot water bottle’ under the bed cover may help. You can also try leaving a radio on at low volume. We also supply pheromone sprays for cats which can be used to provide a calm environment for the settling in period.
Introduce your kitten to new experiences in a clam manner e.g. car, vacuum cleaner etc. Bear in mind that an unvaccinated pet should not be put down where other animals frequent, as there will be little or no immunity against a battery of common diseases. The first 3 months are an important window for learning to accept new experiences as normal. Make the most of this phase.
Make sure your house and garden are safe. Bear in mind objects that could be ingested (e.g. needle and thread) or chewed (e.g. electrical flexes, blind cords etc.) The area must also be escape proof. Many houseplants and garden plants can be toxic for cats if ingested. Examples are; lilies and azaleas. You can’t empty your house and garden, but just be aware.
- Existing pets.
Use caution when introducing a new arrival to existing pets. The first meeting should be initially at a distance and carefully supervised. Both the new and existing pets should receive the same amount of attention. Allow the older pet to sniff around the new pet and calmly reassure. Be relaxed but cautious. The process sometimes takes weeks before a more relaxed atmosphere is restored. Make sure feeding is done in separate areas as that can be a prime situation for conflict.
- Great Outdoors.
If your cat is to be allowed outdoors, then you need to ensure that you provide access to an area which is wind and rain proof and has good insulation against the cold. For many people, this means giving the cat access to the house through a cat flap. If there is no easy access to the house then you need to provide alternate shelter.
- Plenty of attention and interaction.
Don’t rush them. Timid cats may try to hide initially but when they start to feel more comfortable, you can begin to show them more affection or play gently with them. Try not to spoil your pet by allowing them to lie on you bed or constantly carrying them around. They need interaction but also need to learn that they are safe even when there is no physical contact or when they are alone in a room. Grooming can be useful as a means of calming and getting your pet used to being handled. You will also be more likely to discover first signs of unwanted passengers!
- Something to chase!
Kittens will really enjoy chasing and catching toys. Don’t overdo it – it is better to have just a couple of toys so your kitten can become attached to them and enjoy them more.
- Means of restraint and identification.
A collar can be introduced within a few days of arrival. Make sure it is loose enough to allow you to pass two fingers underneath. Your kitten may initially scratch at it but will soon learn to ignore it. Regularly check that it isn’t getting too tight. An identification tag with contact phone numbers is important. You may consider micro-chipping at a later stage. A reflective strip is a good feature to a collar. Some cat collars also come with a safety release, should the collar become entangled in a dangerous manner.