Acclimating Your New Kitten

4 incredibly cute Bengal kittens

The only thing better than a new kitten is a bunch of new kittens

The internet is powered by kittens.

A new kitten can stir up a household like few other additions, but for the best results there is an acclimation process that should be followed.

I know most of us have memories of family cats that were handled by and cuddled by one and all immediately upon entering the home. Most  of us also have memories of the family cat acting unpredictable,  sometimes anti-social or even occasionally appearing to be psychotic.  The root of these less that desirable behaviors was often found in those first few hours or days after the kitten was brought home.

Setting the stage with the proper ground work is important because you will live with the results for many years.

Before the Kitten comes Home ( or immediately afterwards)

So before the kitten is brought into the house you need to decide what room will be used. The acclimation space can be any small room like a bedroom, bathroom or even a walk in closet will work fine. You need to childproof the room and remember this child can climb and jump. Set out the food bowl and water, fill the litter box with litter and arrange the items near where the carrier will be placed. Try  to  keep the water and food at least a couple of feet away from the litter.

If you are picking your kitten up from the breeder in person than you should receive a months worth of the food the kitten is used to.  If not you should know the brand and type so that you can have it on hand when the kitten arrives. The same is true of the litter.

Once the kitten settles in it can be gradually switched over to other brands or types. We  include a zip lock bag of lightly used kitty litter from the kittens litter box. It is to be used to scent seed the new litter box making the acclimation space seem immediately more like home and to ensure the kitten immediately recognizes the boxes purpose.

Your kitten finally comes home

Just like an infant child you need to move slowly and cautiously when you first bring it home. A simple mistake at this point can permanently affect a kittens personality.

The idea now is to bring the carrier containing the kitten into the room that you prepared previously and close the door.

It is hard to resist but do not put your face up tight to the carrier trying to see the kitten. Think about that from the kittens perspective.

Now, with the carrier sitting in its final resting place, open the carrier door and that is it. Do not force the kitten out.

At this point you can fill the food bowl and spread the litter in the litter box. These are familiar sounds, sights and smells.

The kitten is likely still in the carrier but its senses are fully engaged and it understands what you are doing.  There is no harm in sitting in a corner and reading a book or surfing the net but leave the kitten alone.

Regardless of whether its days or hours, the point is to allow the kitten to come out in its own time. Once the kitten leaves the carrier and starts exploring do not close up the carrier or remove it. Leave it open in the same spot so that it has a refuge. We generally give a piece of cloth from the kittens birthing box as well as a familiar toy or two. The cloth should be placed in the carrier and the toy (s) around it.

Once the kitten leaves carrier you pretty much need to just wing it.

What we will do is leave only doors open that lead to the living room. We close all of the other doors in the house and in our house most every opening has a door.  The kitten will get curious and slowly work its way out of the room in a day or two, some with in hours.

What we will do is leave only doors open that lead to the living room. We close all of the other doors in the house and in our house most every opening has a door.  The kitten will get curious and slowly work its way out of the room in a day or two, some with in hours.

Some kittens come right out and head for the living room almost right away. Some will spend a week before they are ready to leave the room for good. What ever it takes just let it happen on its own and you will end up with a much better companion.

Those first days it is nice if you can spend as much time as possible with the kitten. If it is exploring than it will likely play with you if given the chance. One of those 2 ft long plastic sticks with feathers on the end are a good way to get a kitten engaged from a distance.  If it is not out an exploring try sitting in the room with a book, a gameboy, a smartphone, what ever, just be there so it gets used to you.


Meeting the family

Family of purebreds from Bengals

They felt safe as part of their own family, now it is your job to make them feel the same about your family.

You need to show the same patience and care with this process you did with introdicing them to the acclimation space.

I’ve seen a kitten mishandled by a vet and that kitten was never the same from that moment on. In one moment of poor judgement it went from a purr factory that loved to cuddle and be held to a cat that five years later I still can not pick up. It is a loving cat, you just need to be ready to bleed if you think your going to cuddle it in any way. She  simply does not trust humans to not hurt her.

Sometimes that is all it takes. Some kittens are very sensitive, some are not. Bengals are a very intelligent breed and they tend to be quite intense as kittens. One mistake, one moment in time, one experience and the kittens relationship with you, or humans in general, can be defined for years to come. In that vein you need to introduce children, dogs, other cats and various family members cautiously.

A good way to get young children and dogs used to the new arrival is keep the kitten in it own space longer and place a childs gate at the door. The idea is to stop the kitten from getting out, the others from getting in and give them all a couple of days to get used to each other.

Do not ignore the possibility of jealousy in the existing pets or children. You should always acknowledge the previous family members when you see them.  Do not gush over  the kitten and ignore the older pet on a repeated basis as jealously is often the result.

Kittens will warm up to most anything pretty darn quick. Even the toughest dog can have its heart melted by a kitten but obviously you need to keep an eye on things. Older pre-existing cats can be another deal altogether.

They often have a low tolerance for the newbie on the block. That is partially territorial, partially due to cats generally not liking change in the home and partially to the fact that the home is no where near as relaxing as it was previously. Kittens have a habit of pestering the heck out the older pre-existing king of the domain. That generally will change over time though. Usually the older cat will get inticed into playing sooner or later and it all just sort of falls in place from there. Not always, but usually that is how it goes

So that is the basic of acclimating a kitten to your home. For the most part treat it like a new born baby … that came in a box … that takes dumps in a box 😀

Results May Vary

WeeWilly giving me the look.

Woosh Woosh Woosh sounds result in this glare from  WeeWilly.

We have an adult male that I shared an office space with on a daily basis for years. He was raised and socialized in a manner that has allowed his true personality to develop and flourish. He truly believes we are equals.

Turns out his true personality is that he is a jerk.

He is a funny, intelligent confident strongly opinionated companion that happens to be somewhat of a jerk… and that is fine with us. He is our cat and he will spend his life being loved as we love any family member.

As a side note, when ever he acts like a jerk I make a wooshing sound which reminds him that he is scared of ceiling fans (don’t ask) and I feel better… at those times he appears to think I’m a jerk as well. He is an excellent friend and companion and we happily share our home