Welcoming Your New Kitten Home
Welcoming a new kitten is exciting, but there's more to it than just telling him to make himself at home. With planning, you've already kitten-proofed your home. Admittedly, that can be a difficult job when dealing with an animal that is both so small and so curious, so a better plan is to totally kitten-proof one or two safe rooms and confine him to them for now. The safe room should be in an area where he can watch your family and be close enough for comfort, but can stay out of danger.
Bring your new kitten home in a carrier. Otherwise he can even get into mischief inside the car. Don't let him out until you're inside the house and inside his safe room. If he's frightened, he could run for cover, and it could be in a place you can't reach him.
Block off any areas in his safe room you don't want him taking cover in. Make him a cozy dark space where he can watch what's going on without feeling threatened. You can use a small crate or even a box with soft towels placed in the bottom. Draping a towel over the top of any open part will give him added security. Giving him several such places, some high and some low, around the room can help him feel better about exploring once he's up to it. Place his food, water and litter box as close as you can to his hiding place. Also place some toys and a scratching post within reach.
As soon as you bring him home, take him to the safe room and show him the litter box. Bring him his meals at first so he comes to associate you with good things and think of you as his provider. Feed him the same diet he was eating before coming to you. If you want to change it, wait a few days then gradually add in a small portion, adding a greater percentage of the new food over several days. You can gently rub or groom him as he eats or sleeps. He may want to sleep in your lap for warmth and security. Playing with him will also help bond with you. Play gently at first so you don't scare him.
As tempting as it is to invite all your friends to meet the new family member, now is not the time to further confuse and possibly frighten him. He needs to know who his new family is, and having lots of other strangers around won't help. It's also best to postpone introductions to other family pets. He has enough new sights and experiences without being overwhelmed by a possibly frightening dog or cat.
If you already have a cat in residence, introduce them gradually after the first day or two home. At first just let them in adjacent rooms where they can smell and hear, but not see or touch, one another. Then let them meet through the wire of a cage or by playing footsy beneath a door. When they do finally meet face to face, expect some hissing and posturing from the resident cat. Keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't attack the kitten; if it seems he might, separate them and wait longer. When they finally seem to be getting along, supervise them at first. Cats are slow to accept new feline friends, so don't expect them to be instant pals. Give them each a separate litter box (you should also provide one extra litter box), and feed them out of bowls that aren't right next to each other.
If you have a dog, hold the dog on leash when he meets the kitten, and make sure the kitten can always get up out of reach. Never put the kitten in a situation where he might run, which would entice the dog to chase him. If you're unsure about how your dog will act, keep the dog in a crate or exercise pen at first when the kitten is loose in the room (or vice versa - crate the kitten and let the dog assess the new addition).
Your kitten's first night away from his old family is going to be confusing and very likely, frightening. Do not make him sleep all by himself in another room. Even if you don’t intend for him to stay in your bedroom in the future, make an exception so he has some company at first. If your bedroom is not an option for a safe room, have him sleep in a carrier beside you. Don't let him sleep loose in your bed; he could wander off and get into trouble or get trapped somewhere, or you could roll on top of him and hurt him. If he seems uneasy, hold him on your lap until he falls asleep, then place him in the carrier.
Kittens tend to adjust quickly, so he'll be eager to explore more in short time. Make sure he explores only kitten-proofed areas, and supervise him as he does so. Once he's more at ease, you can move his bowls and litter box to their permanent locations. Be sure to show him where they are, or to move them gradually.
This may sound like a lot more work than the way you envisioned it, but a little work now will ensure a long future with your new family member---and a lot more time to play!