The arrival of a new kitten at home is a critical moment, so it is very important to welcome him/her in the best possible way. The period of adaptation to the new family and the new environment lasts about 1-2 weeks. We have listed what you need to know in order to prepare your home.
Spatial and sensorial needs and environmental enrichment
The subdivision of spaces is essential for the well-being of the cat. It is very important to provide:
- a meal area, with food and water bowls, located far from the elimination area
- A litter tray area, placed in a quiet place of the house. If you have other cats, place a suitable number of litter boxes (one more than the number of cats) in different rooms
- rest areas /shelters: provide shelves at different heights
It is also advisable to provide scratch toys for the cat so that they can sharpen their claws, preventing them from damaging shoes or furniture, such as sofas and chairs.
Playtime is fundamental for the correct behavioral development of the kitten, as it helps to establish social bonds and refines communication skills, and it also contributes to a good physique for hunting. Climbing, jumping and running are activities that enhance the development of the muscles, the senses and the overall dexterity of the cat. Through playful interactions with the mother and siblings, the kitten learns to bite and scratch like a real predator (just a tiny one). Some kittens may confuse human hands and feet as prey and therefore attack people and objects. This is why it is important to ensure the predatory instinct of the cat focuses on games and playtime from an early age, while at the same time, teaching them that human hands are only a source of caresses and cuddles.
Litter management (cleaning and position in the house)
The litter box should be placed in a quiet spot, avoiding crowded and noisy rooms in the house, because if a cat gets scared while using the litter box, he/she may associate it with the negative experience and avoid it in the future. A natural, non-toxic litter that is soft on paws, such as Almo Nature CatLitter is a great option. It is also advisable that the litter box is large enough for the cat to move around in and is easily accessible.
The need for the cat to have a kennel is relative and subjective. Some individuals prefer other places to rest, possibly high and secure places from where it is possible to control the territory. The job of a good owner is to provide the possibility of using a kennel by placing it in a quiet spot that is easy to access if and when required. The cat will decide whether to use it or not and we will simply have to accept their choice without ever forcing them to try it out. A spacious box with a wide exit hole and a couple of soft blankets inside can be a very appreciated refuge to rest and sleep.
Nutrition: what, how, when?
The choice between dry or wet food depends mainly on the owner’s organizational needs and the cat’s tastes. In general, cats require and prefer food with a high level of protein and a strong smell. Their sense of smell is the primary sense cats use when approaching food, whether it is something they have always known or totally new. You should offer various types of food to the kitten, in order to broaden their preferences, which is why we recommend Rotational Diet.
Scratching and other ethological needs …… how to manage them at home
Cats have an instinctive need to scratch objects, leaving scent marks and visual cues for other cats. They prefer visible surfaces and do not discriminate between vertical or horizontal. In addition to marking their territory, cats also do this to get rid of external nail sheaths. By providing suitable objects such as scratch toys and pieces of bark or cork pieces, you can protect your furniture from being attacked. There are plenty of horizontal, vertical and inclined scratch racks available on the market, but make sure these are stable and long enough to allow the cat to stretch during use. It would be advisable to place them near rest or feeding areas or in places across the house where the cat tends to scratch.
Interspecific relations in the new family – human/cat relations
When your new cat first arrives at home, you will have to approach him/her in a very subtle way from the gentle day. Give them attention and give them gentle caresses in order to ensure that the contact with human hands becomes pleasant and familiar straight away.
It is important not to force the cat into interactions, but let them come to you, even if it means only a few furtive seconds of friendly contact. It is also advisable for the kitten to interact in a gradual and controlled manner with different stimuli and different types of people such as children. This helps them to adapt to various household situations. Some cats only tolerate caresses for a very short time. This can be linked to improper socialization with the humans, and can also lead to aggressive reactions (preceded by annoyance such as flattened ears or swinging the tail).
Intraspecific relations in the new family – cat/cat relations
The cat’s nature is adaptable and they can easily live alone or in a group. However, when introducing a new cat into a household with existing cats, it is important to introduce them gradually. Keep the new cat separate at first, in a room with all the ethological and nourishment needs covered. The interaction with other cats should take place in the presence of toys and food, ensuring these are pleasant moments. Also, ensure that there is an exchange of smells through the exchange of blankets and toys in order to encourage a communal group scent. The first meeting should take place through visual contact only, through a barrier, for instance, allowing you to assess the reaction of the cats and helping to avoid clashes and/or assaults.