Purr-fecting the Welcome: The art of settling your new kitten

Purr-fecting the Welcome: The art of settling your new kitten

Guest blog by Dr Emmanuel Fontaine, Scientific Communications Veterinarian at Royal Canin North America 

Welcoming a kitten into your home is an exciting journey filled with love, laughter, and countless moments of joy. Yet, amidst the joy and excitement this furry bundle of joy brings, it’s easy to forget that for the kitten, this transition is as daunting as it is thrilling. Indeed, the echoes of a mother’s purr fading in the background, the familiar scent of siblings replaced by a collage of strange new odours, the kitten enters an entirely new universe. The purpose of this blog? To guide you, the new parent of this delightful creature, in this delicate dance of initiation. To offer a compass as you navigate the complex labyrinth of helping your kitten transition from its former life into its new home. This is not a journey of speed, but one that reveres patience, as we help our kittens blossom into their curious, playful selves. 

Peeking into a Kitten’s Mind: Why Patience is Key 

Picture a tiny kitten standing at the threshold of a new world, its heart pounding with a mixture of fear and curiosity. This isn’t just an unfamiliar house; it’s an alien landscape brimming with new scents, sounds, and sights. It’s a world that lacks the comforting presence of its mother and siblings. For the kitten, this change is not just disorientating—it’s terrifying. 

It’s vital, then, to approach this journey with a deep reservoir of patience. We are their guides in this new world, their lighthouses amidst a sea of uncertainty. Our role is to reassure them, to demonstrate that this new world, though daunting at first, is also a place of safety, warmth, and love. 

Speed is not our ally here. Instead, we must slow down, step into their tiny paw-prints, and walk alongside them at their pace. This approach is not only about ensuring their comfort but also about establishing a foundation of trust. 

Over the next few days, your home will slowly transform in your kitten’s eyes, morphing from an intimidating unknown to a space brimming with possibilities. However, this metamorphosis hinges on your patience. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Each moment of patience you invest during this initial phase will pay dividends in the form of a confident, happy, and trusting cat in the days to come. 

Kitty’s Cozy Corner: Setting up a Safe Space for Your New Kitten 

Think of your home as an uncharted landscape, a vast jungle full of towering furniture, hidden nooks, and the intoxicating allure of the unknown. To us, it’s home; to a kitten, it’s an overwhelming sensory overload. 

Our goal here, then, is to transform this boundless jungle into a cozy, comforting den for our little explorers. This initial safe space, a quiet room, is like the kitten’s base camp – a secure launch pad from where they can gradually explore their new world. 

Consider this room a canvas, a stage set where your kitten first takes on the role of the explorer. The bed is their mountain, the window their lookout, the toys their prey. A place of comfort where they can retreat when the world seems too big, too loud, too much. 

Your kitten might seem tiny, lost in this room, their plaintive cries echoing in the silent hours of the night. They might weep a little on the first few nights, their tiny bodies curled up in the corner. This is their song of longing for what was familiar, what was home. Remember, this is not a cause for alarm but a signal of their adjustment to the new environment. 

As you observe this, bear in mind what we mentioned earlier: you need to guide your kitten gently, with empathy and patience, from fear to familiarity. Your role is not merely of a caretaker, but of a patient companion who understands the pangs of this separation and responds with gentle reassurance. 

This quiet room is the first step in their journey of discovery. Here, they begin to unravel the mysteries of their new environment, learning to trust the sights, sounds, and smells that will soon become their home. Your patience and understanding during these crucial first days lay the foundation for a bond that will only deepen with time. And this will be the start of a beautiful friendship! 

Kitten’s Odyssey: Gradually Expanding Your Kitten’s World  

The next step is to gradually open the doors of their base camp, unveiling new territories for them to conquer. Here again, this process is not a hasty one, but a gradual unveiling of the house. Each room is a new chapter in their book of adventures, filled with new sights, sounds, and most importantly, smells. 

Cats, unlike us, perceive their world through a rich tapestry of scents. Each room carries a unique fragrance, a signature scent that tells a story. The kitchen with its heady mix of food aromas, the living room bearing the scent of frequent human activity, the laundry room with the comforting smell of clean clothes – each room is a new chapter in their olfactory journey. 

This is a significant turning point, where the initial fear begins to dissolve, replaced by an insatiable curiosity. Here, the kitten starts to truly engage with their new environment, their senses awakened to the myriad experiences their new home offers. 

Once again, remember: patience is your ally here. Allow your kitten the time to adjust, to explore, to understand their new surroundings. With each new room they explore, they are not just expanding their territory but also growing in confidence, inching closer to being the curious, playful creatures they are destined to be.  

Purr-spective: Supervision and Spotting the Sneaky Hazards 

A kitten’s curiosity, while endearing, can sometimes lead them into potentially dangerous situations. 

Every house, no matter how kitten-proof, hides potential hazards that our tiny explorers, with their inquisitive paws and noses, can quickly uncover. A loose cord, a small toy, an unattended pot on the stove – through the lens of a kitten, these mundane objects transform into enticing puzzles, each demanding investigation. 

Understanding potential risks allows you to create a safer environment for your kitten. As their human guardian, your role is to supervise their adventures, stepping in when their curiosity leads them towards danger. 

This doesn’t mean watching their every move, but rather being aware of their environment and intervening when necessary. Supervision is an act of love, a testament to your commitment to their wellbeing. It’s about creating a space where their curiosity can flourish within the bounds of safety. 

Scent-imental Journey: A Powerful Tip for Smoothing Your Kitten’s Transition 

For cats, smells aren’t just odours; they’re a language, a means of communication, a map of their territory, and a comforting blanket of familiarity. Taking this into account, here is a powerful tip that can significantly ease your kitten’s transition. 

The idea is simple yet powerful: use a rag to collect facial secretions from your kitten’s cheeks and forehead and rub it against the bottom of the walls in other rooms. To us, this action might seem insignificant, but to our kitten, it’s like spreading comforting whispers of familiarity throughout the house. 

Imagine the reassurance your kitten feels as they explore a new room and find their scent marking their surroundings. It’s a reassurance that speaks to their most primal instincts, a signal that they belong, that this place is their home. 

Your journey with your kitten is just beginning. This initial stage is not just about them adapting to a new home, it’s about you and your kitten learning to coexist, to communicate, to understand one another. Each day brings new discoveries, new experiences, and a gradual strengthening of the bond that ties you together. Remember, there are no shortcuts in this journey, only small, patient steps towards a lifelong companionship! 

 Emmanuel Fontaine graduated from the Toulouse Veterinary School in 2004, he continued his studies at the Alfort Veterinary School (Paris) as trainee Vet in the domestic carnivore unit of the Reproduction Department. From 2005 to 2011, he worked at the Centre d’Etude en Reproduction des Carnivores (CERCA) [Research Centre for Reproduction in Carnivores], a unit specializing in pet breeding assistance. Emmanuel Fontaine is also qualified at the European College for Animal Reproduction (ECAR) and completed his PhD in 2012 on the use of GnRH agonists in canines. From September 2011 to September 2018, he worked as Technical Services Veterinarian for the PRO team at Royal Canada. He then was in charge of Scientific Communication for the Americas until August 2022. He now works as Senior Scientific Communications Veterinarian for Royal Canin North America.   

The post Purr-fecting the Welcome: The art of settling your new kitten appeared first on Ontario SPCA and Humane Society.

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