10 Top Tips For Bringing a Kitten Home

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So the date has been set – you’re soon going to pick up your new kitten. (Eek! I know, it’s incredibly exciting!) But what can you do to reduce stress when bringing home a kitten? And how can you then make them feel the most at ease so that they then quickly get settled in? Well, my friends, let’s break it all down. Here’s our top tips for bringing a kitten home; and making them feel as loved and cared for as you possibly can!

Tips For Bringing a Kitten Home

So what should you do when bringing a kitten home? Well let’s start from the top…

1) Try To Form A Little Trust Before

Bringing a kitten home and getting them settled in can be a slightly daunting thing.  After all, your new kitten is leaving behind their mother and siblings with someone who is – right now! – a total stranger.

Everything changes for them, and you want to make sure they’re happy. So how can you make it easier? Well…

The chances are – you’ve already met them. Even if it was “love at first sight”, like it was for us when we saw Cody, most people will still go and visit their new kitten at least once before picking them up.

Use this time to interact with them and see how well they interact with you.

Are they scared of people, or used to them? (This will show how “hands on” the breeder has been with them up until now. The more, the better, as it has a major impact on how they interact with people and how they will therefore be around you!)

The chances are, your kitten won’t remember you from their first visit, but it will familiarise yourself with them. What are they like? How scared are they likely to be? What’s their nature? What sort of personality signs are they showing?

When you then go again to pick them up, don’t hurry them straight into their cat carrier.

Instead, ask your final questions to the breeder whilst holding them or playing with them (whatever they’re comfortable with) and spend time building trust with them, in a place where they feel safe & secure, whilst you firm up the final things.

When we picked up Cody, he was in my arms, playing with a mouse on my shoulder for 10 minutes. By the time he then went to go in the carrier, he walked himself straight in and settled down.

Yes, he had a long journey ahead of him and still cried a little at the start, but it wasn’t such of an ordeal for him. It was just unfamiliar.

2) Make Full Use Of Scents!

Cats have incredibly good sense of smell. In fact, it’s 14 times better than humans! Pretty cool huh?

This is therefore something you can tap into. In two key ways:

  • Firstly – when bringing a kitten home, try to also bring with you a comforting scent from their current home.

Our breeder kindly gave us a blanket that smelled like his cat Mom (without us even having to ask!) but if you don’t have this, you can bring along a towel and rub that over your kitten’s cat Mom, or stroke your kitten’s cat Mom so that the scent is on your hand too. Familiar smells warm the heart and steady the nerves.

  • Secondly – you can use special scents to spray in the car that have a calming effect for cats.

I used FELIWAY’s Classic Spray, which I found via research, but was also recommended by our breeder and, our vet (so it’s well worth checking out.) As we already had the blanket that had Cody’s cat Mom’s scent on, I sprayed his otter toy just before we went in to get him and he ended up then lying on it for most of the journey back!

It was a tough journey – 3 and a half hours in the end! And of course I don’t know what Cody would have been like without the spray, but it certainly gave me peace of mind knowing that I’d done all that I could to create the calmest environment that I could for him.

As a whole – he actually travelled very well, so I would certainly recommend this purchase and wouldn’t hesitate to use it again.

What To Do When You Bring a Kitten Home

3) Keep It Calm

Whilst keeping with the “calm” tip when bringing a kitten home, you can also “set the scene” for your new furry friend by:

  • Playing classical music specifically composed for cats. And / or playing purring sounds. Uh huh, purring is calming not just for humans, but for cats too. There are even purring apps designed now for that very reason!
  • Getting the temperature right in the car – not too hot, not too cold. Depending on the day and the weather, you can therefore pop the heaters on or the aircon on, just before you get in.
  • You yourself, should also remember to be calm – especially when / if your kitten is getting worked up. The last thing you want to do is panic, and it only panics them more! Also bear in mind that, for cats, the “shhh!” sounds a lot like hissing, so try to avoid shushing if they are meowing. Simply sooth their cries with calming words and ride it out…

4) Make It Comfortable

Finding these tips valuable? I hope so. Now let’s talk about the best cat carriers when it comes to bringing a kitten home.

See, you want to choose a carrier that:

  1. Is large enough for them to stand up and turn around in (preferably.) As they’re a kitten, this shouldn’t be too hard!
  2. They should also be able to get in with ease (so not too awkward, or difficult entrances!) If you can take the lid off and lift them in – if needed – then even better. The last thing you want to have to do is push them in. No, no, no.
  3. You also want to weigh up the balance of them having enough gaps in the carrier in order to see out, whilst it not being too open that they feel vulnerable. As we have a Maine Coon, who is going to grow HUGE, we didn’t want to buy a cat carrier Cody would grow out of, so we just borrowed a basic one like this, which I was actually really happy with in the end. However, these cat carriers are super neat as they’re comfortable, welcoming and have mesh which means cats can see out, whilst remaining hidden. (Something they really like!)

Every kitten is different, but if your kitten looks frightened or wary of what’s going on around them whilst traveling, it’s also a good idea to cover the cat carrier (either partially or fully, over the top only) with a blanket (again, sprayed with Calming Pheromone) as it helps to make them feel safer.

Getting Your Kitten In The Carrier…

As mentioned, I was super lucky as our little Cody is very inquisitive, so when we popped him down, he wandered straight into the cat carrier and sat down, starting to play with the toys we put in!

However a few tips to make it easier:

  1. Leave the cat carrier open from the moment you get in, so that they can become intrigued by it themselves. Remember, cats like small spaces – it’s one of the reasons you’ll always find them jumping in cardboard boxes, so if you give them enough time, they are likely to investigate!
  2. Move the toys you have in there, to get your kitten playing and entice them in.
  3. Remove the top of the carrier and gently place them inside, shutting the doors quickly (but calmly!) before they can panic and try to get out!
safely transporting a cat

6) Position It Wisely

The next big deliberation when it comes to bringing a kitten home, is not just what type of carrier but where to put the carrier.

And I know, I know, it’s tempting to want to sit in the front and pop the carrier on your lap. You want to see them, and be near to them, right? But this isn’t the safest thing for your kitten. Instead, it’s better to:

  1. Either place the carrier in the back seat, using the seatbelt to secure it. (If the cat carrier has a seatbelt loop then all the better.)
  2. Place the cat carrier on the floor of the vehicle, behind the front or passenger seat. This area is actually the most secure, with the least amount of motion.

Regardless of where it goes, make sure the cat carrier is always facing forward as that too, helps to reduce travel sickness.

I personally, secured Cody on the back seat, with a seatbelt through, facing forward, and I sat in the front. It meant I could turn around and see him, and he could see me. I could also put my fingers through to comfort him or play with him, so this worked best for us as it was a long journey!

Drive Carefully Of Course…

Once you do get going – it goes without saying – drive as carefully as you possibly can. The smoother the drive, the easier it is. Try not to worry where there are some jumps and bumps. It’s more about driving carefully and avoiding any harsh or sudden breaking that can push your kitten forward.

6) Be Prepared For Accidents!

When it comes to kittens and new environments, you should always be prepared for accidents. (Especially on long trips!) After all, it’s better to be “safe than sorry” as they say!

So our next top tip when it comes to bringing a kitten home, is to be prepared for potential accidents – both on the journey, and when they get back.

See, cats can actually go a long time holding their bladders. They can also go 24 hours without pooping. However, you’ll have only just met your little one so you won’t know what to expect.

I therefore recommend popping a couple of disposable liners either above or below their blanket in the cat carrier; and some mini trash bags (should you need them.) These also then come in handy when cleaning the litter box at home.

Extra wipes aren’t a bad idea either – this way you can quickly and easily clean up any mess and continue with your journey to get your kitten home!

Then, once you are back – just keep an eye on them. Make them familiar with the litter tray; gently pop them in it once you get back home if they’ve not yet noticed it (digging around with your finger to highlight what it is, if you need to!)

Your kitten should already be trained to use a litter box, but it’s just about getting them used to it in their new home.

Tips For Bringing a Kitten Home

Tips For Bringing a Kitten Home

We’re flying through these tips for bringing a kitten home now! So far, we’ve covered the core essentials of the journey to get them, but what should you then do when bringing a kitten home, once he / she is finally back? Well…

7) Place The Carrier in The “Chosen Room”

When bringing a new kitten home, it’s always a good idea to think about what you’re going to do when you get back.

Now, it’s recommended that you should start by picking just one room to put your kitten in. Kittens need time to investigate their new surroundings, you see. So it’s less overwhelming for them if you initially limit the available space by keeping him in a single room.

This room should be cat-safe (of course), and have:

  • Food / treats.
  • Cat food bowl & cat water bowl. (I highly recommend the flat no-whisker-stress cat bowls as they’re far easier for your little kittens to eat from!)
  • A cat litter box in the opposite side of the room. (Preferably with the litter that doesn’t get stuck!)
  • Toys to play with. (In fact, the more of these, the better! Here’s 7 Simple Toys Kittens Love to get you started!)
  • Something they can hide in, like a cardboard box or cardboard cat house.
  • Not somewhere they can just scurry away and hide under (like a tight space under a bed.)

Our chosen room for Cody was my office, as it was the emptiest. We also put some left-over boards down from our cat room, to protect the floor.

Now as you may have seen with Cody’s First 24 Hours video – he was straight out of his box, exploring, eating, drinking, playing. And as soon as we opened the door to pop out, he was peering out. So we let him explore further, faster.

But every kitten is different. They will all have different personalities. So simply see how they’re getting on and gage it from there. This leads me onto my next top tip for bringing home a kitten…

Watch What Happened When We Brought Cody Back…

8) Give Your Kitten Time!

It’s important to understand that, when bringing a new kitten home, the journey to get them home is just the first part! It’s not just about getting them home, but helping them to feel settled in their new home and start to get used to it.

So, give your kitten lots of time to become familiar with their first room. When they are, you can then open the door and allow them to walk out and explore more once they’re ready. Try to then gradually introduce your kitten to the rest of the house, room by room, and always stay next to them when they are exploring.

If your kitten wants to sit in their cat carrier before coming out – that’s absolutely okay. If you think they’d be better to stick in that first room for the first night, that is too. It’s your call, your judgement, putting their wellbeing first… Always.

9) Be There For Them

Your kitten has just left their family. You are their new family now. So it’s vitally important that they can seek comfort from you. (Even if it takes them a little time for them to see that they can.)

To help with this, you want to:

  • Sit on the floor instead of towering over your kitten. Get on their level.
  • Keep it quiet and calming, once you are home.
  • Encourage your kitten to come to you, but don’t force them. When they do – gently play with them. (In fact, there’s heaps of different games to play with a kitten to distract from the new environment and get them having fun with you!) As they get closer and start to settle more, you can also stroke them, in a way that they’re comfortable with.
  • Speak softly to them, with gentle calming words – especially in response to their meows. (This is a big one!) Already picked your kitten’s name? Then use this to start to get them used to it too.
  • You can also try blinking slowly. Slow blinking is a valuable communication tool, and not only does your cat use it to communicate with you, but you can use the slow blink to communicate with your cat, too. When you slow blink at a cat, it’s showing them that you trust them and they can trust you. (It’s super interesting actually, and well worth reading up on!) I slow-blinked a lot at Cody when bringing him home – and in the following few days – and I swear it helped! It certainly didn’t do any harm anyway… And we quickly established a strong bond!
getting a kitten settled in

10) Make Sure You’re Fully Prepared… Before!

Last but not least then, the final core essential when bringing a kitten home, is to make sure you’re fully prepared for when they get there.

If you’re reading this days before collecting them – don’t worry, there’s still time!

Just start with our guide on “how to cat proof your home” which includes a tick-list for making sure your house is cat (and kitten!) friendly.

It’s important you do this before collecting him / her, as the last thing you want is to have to start to frantically panicking at any dangers / hazards for your new furry friend!

After this, bob on through to “how to prepare for a kitten” for the final run-through of things you need to do, get and know, before bringing a kitten home.

The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel bringing your kitten home. So take the time to make sure it’s all nice and safe; and you have everything you need – ready and waiting there for them.

Top Tips For Bringing a Kitten Home

So there we have it – our top 10 tips for bringing home a kitten. I hope you’ve found this helpful, and it makes you go into things feeling more prepared.

I’d love to hear your experiences of bringing a kitten home, so feel free to comment them below! For more advice, guidance and fun guides – be sure to subscribe too.

Good luck! Thanks for reading. Wishing you and your new kitten, all the happiness in the world!

Tips For Bringing a Kitten Home
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Ell is the Founder of Totally Purrfect & Cat Mom to Cody, The Maine Coon. Her areas of expertise lie in Cat Care, Enrichment & Training.

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