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 and cook).
    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 feeding place.
    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.
    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 right away.
    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 in them.
    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.
    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 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.
    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!
    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 presence.
    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.