Sleeping kitten under a blanket
Sleeping kitten under a blanket

Our top tips for new kitten pet parents

With more time at home, many of us have been considering adding a new furry friend to our household. Stroking a cat can help humans release the feel-good hormones oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine, reducing anxiety and even the chance of having a stroke or heart attack. Which is something a lot of us need after the challenges of the past year, from figuring out working from home to starting a new daily routine. But a new kitten is also a big responsibility, and it’ll take a bit of time and preparation to settle them in. If you’re thinking of adopting a kitten, we can help. Here’s a few top tips from our pet experts to help start your new adventures as a kitten parent!

Remove any hazards in your home

Before bringing your kitten home, make sure your space is safe for your new arrival. Cats are naturally curious, so it’s important to make sure they don’t get themselves into any trouble while they explore, climb and play.

Some potential hazards include:

  • Blind cords – Kittens can’t resist dangling cords, but they can be very dangerous if they get caught around your pet’s neck. Tie blind cords up and out of reach with an appropriate blind safety device, or invest in new blinds that are safe by design.

  • Loose items – It’s easy for kittens to swallow small loose items. Tidy up any hair ties, sewing supplies and board game pieces that are lying around.

  • Electrical cables – Kittens might be tempted to chew on electrical cords as they explore and play, so remove wires from their reach.

  • Toilets – If your kitten gets thirsty, they might try to drink from the toilet. Keep the toilet lid closed at all times to prevent them from falling in, as it is possible for them to drown.

  • Plants – Make sure that none of the greenery in your home or garden is toxic to cats. Some of the most common flowers that can pose a danger are lilies, philodendron, azaleas and daffodils.

  • Rubbish bins, laundry baskets, and washing machines – Kittens are always looking for warm, dark places to sleep. Keep the lids on any bins, laundry baskets and washing machines closed so they don’t become trapped inside.

  • Household chemicals – Common chemicals like bleach, antifreeze, detergents, garden fertilisers, insecticides and rodent poison can be toxic to cats. Keep them out of your pet’s reach, and make sure your kitten doesn’t walk across chemicals as they may later lick their paws.

  • Medicines – Paracetamol and ibuprofen are highly poisonous to cats. Always keep any medical supplies in a locked medicine cabinet.

Cat by a window with water bowl
Cat by a window with water bowl

Make your kitten feel at home

Bringing a new pet home is exciting, but going to a new place without their mother and siblings can be scary for a kitten. It’s a good idea to put your kitten’s own blanket in the cat carrier for the journey, then put it on their bed once you’re home. Cats have a much better sense of smell than we do, and they find their own scent reassuring.

Keep your kitten in one room at first, so they don’t get overwhelmed. Somewhere quiet is best, where you won’t be coming and going a lot throughout the day. Once they’re feeling a bit more at home, you can let them explore the rest of your house, starting with one room at a time. Although kittens are curious, they still might feel a little shy. Put a cat carrier or enclosed bed close by so your pet can hide if they want to.


Don’t crowd your new pet

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Kittens are adorable, and we bet everyone will want to cuddle and play with yours. But it’s a good idea to introduce them to your family slowly. If you have children, it’s important they learn how to be gentle with your new arrival. Kittens may be small, but their claws and teeth can be sharp! Teach them where to touch a cat – they like to be stroked on their chins and between their ears – but let the kitten come to them. You should also make sure they know the signs that a cat is unhappy, such as hissing, arching their back, and holding their tail out straight. Not understanding a cat’s body language can lead to scratches and bites if you’re not careful. Playing with cat toys can help your kitten get used to their new family while having fun.

Black kitten playing with a laces on a shoe Black kitten playing with a laces on a shoe

Introducing a new kitten to your cat

Cats don’t always get along unless they grew up together, so if you have another cat, take time introducing them to your new kitten.

The following steps may help:

  • Let your cat and kitten get used to one another’s scent – Before they meet, swap their blankets so they can smell each other.

  • Introduce them visually at first – Let them see one another through a glass door or keep your new kitten inside a crate.

  • Give your pets positive experiences – When your pets meet, give them treats or play with them. It’ll help distract them and make them associate each other with good things.

  • Keep introductions short and sweet – End the session while both cats are happy and enjoying their treats or toys.

  • Separate your cats if they react negatively – If one or both of your pets becomes aggressive, take them out of each other’s sight right away.

  • Have supervised playdates – After your cat and kitten have seen one another a few times without showing aggression, keep them in one room and let them interact for a short time.

  • Watch for friendly behaviours – Cats that get on will play together and groom each other. If you see this, it’s a good sign!

  • Stop supervision – If everything seems to be going well, let your pets interact for a short time without you there. Make sure they have plenty of things to keep them busy, like hiding places, scratching posts, food and water.

  • Let your pets share your house – In time, you can give your cat and new kitten free rein indoors.

  • Talk to your vet if your cat’s behaviour is causing problems – If your cat and kitten don’t get along, your vet can give you advice.

Kitten chasing a butterfly
Kitten chasing a butterfly

Start litter training right away

Cats are intelligent animals and can quickly learn how to use a litter tray. Your kitten might have already started to pick it up from watching their mother. They also have a strong instinct to bury their mess. But if they need some help learning, here’s what to do:

  • Choose a litter tray that’s suitable for your kitten. Trays with deep sides or a removable hood are good for adult cats, but they might be hard for little legs to climb into!
  • Put the litter tray in a quiet, private area, away from your kitten’s food and water bowls. If they’re disturbed while using the litter tray, it might put them off.
  • Introduce your new pet to their litter tray as soon as you bring them into your home, so they know where it is.
  • Kittens often want to use their litter tray when they wake up from naps and after meals. To help your kitten use theirs at the right time, put them in the litter tray when they wake up, after they’ve eaten, and before they go to bed.
  • Kittens will often sniff, scratch and crouch when they need to use the litter tray. If you spot this behaviour, put them in the litter tray right away.

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  • When your kitten uses the litter tray, reward them with a toy or a treat. Never tell them off for having an accident – it might only make your kitten more anxious, which will make it harder to train them.
  • Clean up any accidents quickly, as the smell might make your kitten think that area is the toilet and go again in the same spot. Don’t use cleaning products that contain ammonia as it can smell similar to urine – enzyme cleaners are best.
  • Taking proper care of the litter box will encourage your kitten to use it. Scoop every day, replacing the litter when needed, and disinfect the box whenever you change the litter.
An alert kitten watching something intently An alert kitten watching something intently

Watch what your kitten eats

While your pet’s still young, it’s best to feed them kitten food rather than adult cat food. If you know the brand or type of food they’ve been eating before you brought them home, keeping it the same can help reduce stress as they settle in. Although your kitten may be interested in your dinner, too, human food and drink isn’t always suitable for them. In fact, some things in your kitchen might actually be toxic to your kitten.

Kittens are good climbers and love exploring, so it can be difficult to put anything out of their reach. Keeping bottles and containers closed and out of the way can prevent a curious cat from coming across them. If your kitten consumes any of these items, call your vet immediately as they can be fatal, even in small quantities.

Human food and drink that’s toxic to cats

  • Onions, garlic, shallots, spring onions and chives

  • Chocolate

  • Caffeinated drinks – such as coffee, tea, and some fizzy drinks

  • Turmeric

  • Alcohol

  • Raw yeast dough

  • Raw eggs, meat and bones

  • Milk and dairy products (these can cause diarrhoea)

  • Grapes and raisins

We hope these tips will help with your new family member. Good luck as a kitten parent – we hope you have a purrfectly wonderful time together!


Comic strip of Top tips for now kitten parents
Comic strip of Top tips for now kitten parents

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