While they may be called the “dog days of summer,” these warm months are known as “kitten season” in the animal rescue world. It’s a time where most kittens are born and is typically when shelters need cat adopters and fosters more than ever. In fact, National Kitten Day is celebrated on July 10 to raise awareness and encourage adoptions! In honor of this day — the ultimate Caturday! — we’ve pulled together some tips from the experts at Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) and MUTTS lovers alike to help you introduce a new kitten into your home.
Prep Your Space
When adopting any pet, it’s important to prepare your home for your new friend. Think like a curious kitten as you scan for possible threats. Make sure things like cleaning supplies or other chemicals are securely closed and out of reach, hide or cover any electrical cords, store food out of reach, and ensure that any houseplants you may have are not poisonous to pets. Once your space is safe from these potential hazards, make sure it’s an emotionally safe place for your new feline friend to adjust.
“A new cat needs to have opportunities to hide and observe their new environment on their own terms. By offering hiding spots both on the ground and higher up in the home, you are helping your cat feel in control of how and when they decide they want to investigate; and this in turn builds confidence. You can help your cat by offering boxes and covered cat beds on the floor, as well as shelves, perches or cat trees to provide higher points of observation.” — ACC
“Some are scared and need a safe place — a dedicated room to start so they aren’t overwhelmed. Give them a while to get used to the house sounds (toilets flushing, you and your family, door bells, TV, etc.). When they are comfortable with you, then start letting them out of the room to explore. Also, if you have small children, consider having a “safe place” for kitty — a place where they can escape to when kitty needs a break from the energy and noise of the kids.” — Sharon O.
Take It Slow
The urge to cuddle your sweet, new bundle of fur will be strong; however, it may not be the best course of action. As your kitten gets to know you, their new surroundings, and their new housemates, they will probably need time to adjust. This period of adjustment is totally normal, and the best thing you can do is give them time and space to get settled in on their own terms. Your patience will pay off once they feel safe to explore and be themselves!
“Always remember to let your cat choose when and how they interact with you. Never force an interaction on a nervous cat. Let them choose to come to you, let them investigate on their own terms, and reward with treats for each brave step they take. Your cat needs to feel as though they decided it was time to interact. Follow their lead.” — ACC
“Be patient. Your new family member will need time to adjust. Be flexible. Every cat will have some individual needs that you might need to adapt to. Be observant. Cats will tell you through their body language how they like to be petted, how they like to play, etc.” — Linda F.
Sometimes Two Is Better Than One
Whether a pair is bonded — meaning they become stressed, anxious, or depressed when their companion isn’t around — or they just enjoy the company of another kitten, adopting two can be double the fun. Additionally, bonded pairs can often be harder to adopt out, so if you have the resources for two, don’t be afraid to consider it!
“Adopting a bonded pair has many benefits. When bringing them home the first time, they’re likely to thrive and keep each other company during a potentially scary transition period. If a pair is truly bonded, the benefits of keeping them together highly outweigh the drawbacks. You’d also have double the fun and cuddles, so consider adopting a pair of animals today (whether bonded or just good buddies)!” —ACC
“Adopt in pairs! It’s so much easier for them to grow socially. Plus, it’s twice the entertainment!” — Michael B.
You’ve Got This
Looking for more tips to best care for your new kitten companion? Check out all of ACC’s cat behavior resources!
“My best tip: ‘just do it.'” — Sue R.