Guest Blogger: Introducing a new kitten to the family

Sep 10, 2013

Helping a new cat feel at home – By the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association

When you are planning to adopt a cat or kitten, especially if it is from a shelter or is a stray, you should keep in mind that cats are unique from other types of pets, and it may take time for them to adapt to your household. After visiting your veterinarian for your cat’s checkup, use the following tips when introducing a new kitten to the family.

Take Your Time

Taking things slowly is the best way to get your new cat or kitten relaxed and feeling secure and contented. Only through your actions will your cat learn that it is safe and loved, so be the source of petting, praise and treats. It is also important to only pet the cat when it seems to desire and enjoy it. Many cats have moods when they want attention, and other times they will act annoyed or downright mad if approached for attention. With cats, think in terms of weeks, not days, to settle into a routine and a new environment.

Provide Space

Set up a safe area that is your cat’s own where it can easily get to food, water and a litter box. Make sure the cat’s area is protected from small children and other pets, such as dogs. Let your new cat take time to get adjusted. It may keep to itself for a few days, but once it decides to come out, if it runs away from you, a child or a houseguest, let it go. Do not chase after or try to pick up a frightened cat.

Remember, a new kitten will take some time to get used to its surroundings, so don‘t let people or other animals overwhelm or frighten your cat. Tell children to sit on the floor if they want to play with the kitty rather than picking it up, and it is important to the safety of both pets and owners that the cat does not feel cornered by people or other animals, so if you have a dog, keep in on a leash and under control when around your new feline.

Protect Your Cat Indoors and Outdoors

With all new cats, but especially with kittens, be sure you supervise when they are out and about in your home, and do not allow them to escape outside. You may need to confine other pets at first so your new one can explore, and when you cannot supervise, put the kitty back in its safe area.

While it may be tempting to let your cat roam outdoors, it is especially important to remember the major hazards cats face when they are outside. If you live in an area with wild or stray cats or dogs that run free, it would be best to keep your cat indoors. Also, keep your cat indoors at all times if you live near on or near a busy road. However, if you feel you have a safe area for your cat outside, then many veterinarians recommend that you either carry the cat around your yard and your neighbor’s yard, or get a harness and leash your cat and let it wander while attached to you around the areas near your home, so it becomes familiar with where its “home” is.

As always, contact your veterinarian to determine your pet’s individual needs and keep these helpful tips in mind when considering bringing a feline friend into your home.

The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association (NCVMA) is a professional organization of veterinarians dedicated to compassionate animal care and quality medicine. For more information, visit, follow us on X at @NCVMA, or call (800) 446-2862 or (919) 851-5850.