Settling a Kitten
- Please establish a “safe space” for your kitten from the very beginning.
It should be a place in a quiet part of the house/flat, that will suit your
cat even when he’s grown up. Your kitten should always have access to it.
It should be a place where he can retreat to rest or when he feels unsure or
overwhelmed. A place where he feels safe and that he feels able to control.
It’s a place for you to spend quiet quality time with your kitten - even if
you only sit with him and read a book or watch TV.
Especially in the beginning: Please encourage your kitten to come out of
hiding places and keep introducing the safe space (you might have to
reconsider the safe place if your kitten won’t accept it - just try
different places throughout your house / flat).
Please put a t-shirt or old cloth that smells of you in his safe space,
so your smell is always present in the very place where he rests and
eels comfy. That way you (via your smell) become part of his comfort zone.
- Please ALWAYS talk to your kitten in a calm, reassuring tone, so he gets
used to your voice. Keep talking (or reading aloud from a book) while you
spend quality time with him.
Please establish the feeding place/s in a quiet part of your house / flat.
They should be accessible for your kitten from his safe space without him
having to pass through many very busy parts of your house / flat.
With time, and when your kitten has built up trust and confidence in his
new home you can gradually move his food bowls to a place that is more
convenient for you (e. g. the kitchen, where all the family get together
The same should be sought for placing his litter tray - in a calm place
that is easily accessible from his safe space, and ideally from his
Litter tray and feeding place should be as far apart as possible!
Especially for very shy, unhandled or traumatized kittens: It would be
best - if possible - to settle your kitten in his own room in the
beginning. It’s not overwhelmingly big, and he has enough time on his
own to plug up the courage and come out to explore.
Until your kitten has built up trust and confidence, please spend a lot
of quality time in his room with him, even if you just sit there and
read or watch TV.
- PLAY, PLAY, PLAY!
Please encourage your kitten to play - on their own (balls, bells, sticks,
cardboard boxes etc.), but more so with you! Playing is a great way to
take tension out of new situations / after big changes.
Especially for shy or unhandled kittens a “feather stick” (any bigger
bird feather you can find will do! - attached to one end of a short
stick) used as a toy is a great way to spend time together and briefly
come close without having a focus on direct physical contact.
Please be persistent with that and don’t give up if it doesn’t happen
So called “toys on strings” and wool balls can be very dangerous and can
cause severe injuries and even death to a kitten, if they get tangled up
PLEASE NEVER LET YOUR KITTEN PLAY UNSUPERVISED WITH STRINGS,
WOOL, WIRES, CABLES ETC.
The same goes for toys attached to scratch posts etc. with string or
elastic band - please make sure they are tied up securely or cut off.
- HANDLE, HANDLE, HANDLE!
Please insist on direct physical contact, even if it is only very brief
in the beginning.
DO NOT just “let your kitten be”, because he doesn’t seem to want cuddles.
He is still a kitten, and, especially when he is shy or unhandled, he
won’t have a lot of experience with being touched / stroked / handled.
If you don’t persevere with him from the very moment he comes to live
with you, he will always struggle to allow being touched once he is
grown up, let alone enjoy it.
PLEASE ALWAYS LET YOUR KITTEN SNIFF YOUR HAND / ARM, BEFORE ANY
Please start with calm, gentle attempts of little strokes around his
head and over his back, maybe at first just with one finger. If he shies
away from your hand, again try the feather stick to “playfully” mix in
stroking / touching action with playing (“feather strokes”). Along the
stick, gradually move your hand closer and closer, until your hand touches
with the feather.
If your kitten allows strokes / touch / being picked up, but tenses up
considerably (“freezes”), please fit in a lot of brief touching / picking
up-and-holding times, but let him go when he wants. Try again some time
later. Gradually try to stroke / hold him longer and longer.
- PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE!
Please don’t give up! It seems a lot of detailed work, but it will be
very worthwhile in the end! Your kitten deserves the chance to grow into
a confident, trusting cat, who enjoys cuddles and can relax.
We are at present and have in the past been working with adult cats and
kitten cats, who have not been adequately handled as kittens, and - with
time, patience and perseverance - they have learned to love cuddles!
- IF YOU ALREADY HAVE OTHER CATS / PETS
Please settle your kitten in a separate room to start out with - DO NOT
let them just mix with your already existing pets! Spend as much time as
possible with all of them, and make a big fuss of your pets - they need
to be shown that they won’t miss out on food and treats, but more even
on your love and attention.
Please be led by the kitten and your existing pets - they will show you
when they are ready to meet the new housemate. Please provide only
supervised contact to start out with, until you can be sure that all
pets including the kitten feel confident and safe in each others
Everyone needs time to adjust to a new situation and it wouldn’t be fair
to expect your existing pets or the kitten to just accept their new
housemate / new environment. You play a very important role in getting
them used to each other, because you can act as a “mediator” and point
of reassurance for all sides. Please be patient and give everyone all
the time they need to adjust.