Bringing a sweet young kitten home is an exciting moment. But as the day wears on and night approaches, what will you do with this small bundle of fur?
The following tips will help your kitten adjust to their first few nights.
- Use a blanket with the smell of their mum and siblings on.
- Calm your kitten before bedtime.
- Bed your kitten in a safe & secure room.
- Provide a deep, soft bed.
- Add a soft cuddly toy & special blanket.
- Provide a small snack in case they wake up hungry.
- Have water and litter box handy.
It is only natural for your kitten to cry for at least the first few nights as they miss their mum and siblings. Offering a hot water bottle in their bed on a cool night will provide additional warmth and help to lull them to sleep.
Spend the first few days getting to know your kitten. Give them cuddles and play games so that they can get to know you and form a lifelong bond.
It is a scary time in a kitten’s life, so don’t overwhelm them with too many new things. Let them come to you and be there to comfort and support them as they make the transition from their mom to you.
Make sure your home is kitten proof before you let your kitten loose to explore the house. Remove anything that could hurt them, such as medications, dangling cords on blinds, toxic plants, and so on. Remember everything is new to your kitten, and they will explore and try new things.
Use a Blanket With Their Mum and Siblings Smell
When you go to pick up your kitten, whether it be from a breeder or the shelter, take a small blanket with you or ask the kitten’s owner in advance to put a blanket in with the mother cat and family so that their smell transfers to it. Then wrap your kitten in it for the drive home.
This blanket will be a comfort to the kitten on their first few nights away from home. Tucked into their bed, it will be a familiar scent until they adapt to you and your home.
Introduce Your Kitten to their New Home.
Here are a few more tips when introducing your kitten to your home.
- If you have a dog or another cat, shut them out of the room when you introduce the kitten to your home. Meeting another unfamiliar animal may scare them until they get used to their smell.
- If your kitten immediately hides, don’t be disappointed. This is your kitten’s coping mechanism – it provides safety while your kitten adapts to this new environment. Once they get used to the smells and sounds of your home, they will venture out again.
- Give them time to adapt at their own pace and try not to overwhelm them with too many new things or people. Teach children to be calm and quiet while the kitten gets to know them.
- Don’t stare directly at the kitten; to a feline, this is aggressive body language.
- Show them where the litter box is. Most kittens are toilet trained, but anxiety may cause a mistake or two. Keep calm, wipe it up, and move on. Just make sure the litter box is handy, clean and lavishly praise your little one when they get toileting right.
- Introducing them to one room at a time is best as the grand tour of your home may intimidate them all in one go.
- Use a gentle voice and encourage cuddles and snuggles to hasten their bonding.
- Keep noise levels low, so they are not frightened by loud sounds till they adjust.
Some kittens are outgoing and brave, taking on the world without a care. Other kittens can be timid and shy, they require your support and lots of praise to overcome their fears.
But all kittens need positive treatment. You have to lead them with praise and rewards to get them to do what you want because, by nature, kittens are independent souls who want to do things their way.
Calm Your Kitten Before Bedtime.
As the day slowly comes to a close, you should start winding down the playtime for your kitten, and try to get them to a calm state before bed.
During the day, your kitten has been exploring, playing, cuddling, finding new toys and all sort of wonderful things. It has been a great adventure for them.
In the hour or two before bed, let them expend the last of their energy. But then slowly start winding down the pace to a crawl. The last thing you want is a hyperactive kitten at bedtime.
Put away the noisy toys, encourage snuggles and cuddles. Speak in a soft calm voice, and keep the household noise low key.
When they get sleepy, bring their bed into the lounge and put them into their soft deep bed that has the blanket with their mother and littermates smell on it. This will be reassuring as they adapt to their new home.
Once they doze off, carry their bed into their special sleeping room and quietly close the door. The first night is always the hardest, but with careful planning, it can be the beginning of a wonderful new friendship.
Bed Your Kitten in a Safe & Secure Room.
While it is tempting to let your kitty sleep with you, they can get hurt jumping down from a high bed, or they may even get hurt if you are a restless sleeper. Be aware that your kitten could also be carrying fleas or other parasites.
Your kitten may spend their first few weeks using the laundry as their nighttime base. It’s a small room, but it must be warm, not draughty, as kittens like their comforts!
Kittens spend a lot of time snoozing, and they can spend up to 18 -20 hours asleep. But it isn’t always the same hours as when you are sleeping. They may wake during the night ready to explore.
This is why it helps to use a secure small room such as the laundry for the first month or two as their special bedroom.
Their room must have the following.
- It must be safe and locked so that they can’t escape into the night, and if you have a toilet room within the laundry, make sure the door is well secured.
- Give them a few hiding places to explore, such as a box or two with holes cut into them so they can have fun clambering in and out.
- A scratching post right next to their bed will be a welcome fun addition as they can scratch to their heart’s content.
- A fresh litter box. Check with the kitten’s owner what litter they use and get some of the same to use. It will be familiar to your kitten and be one less thing that worries them.
- Leave toys with strings for the daytime when they can be supervised (kittens can swallow strings, which can cause internal problems, or they can get tangled in them and hurt themselves). When they are on their own at night, softballs and fluffy toys to play with are best.
- Consider leaving a radio playing soft music for company.
- Kittens have great eyesight, and even if they wake to a dark room, they will have no problem finding their way around. But you could leave a soft night light on to make them feel at home if you like.
Provide a Soft, Deep Bed.
Don’t we all like a soft, snuggly bed! And your kitten is no different.
They have been used to cuddling with their siblings and mum, so give them a bed that will remind them of the comforts they left behind.
Kittens require warmth, as they are used to sleeping layered with their siblings.
- If you live in a cold area, a water bottle that is covered and warm but not hot will help them to settle.
- Provide a bed that is deep and allows your kitten to burrow in and snuggle.
- The bed needs to be big enough for them to grow into it and have high sides to provide extra warmth.
- Furry blankets that are soft, malleable, and fun to knead will feel reassuring to your kitten.
- If they have a favorite toy, it should also go into the bed with them.
Kittens love comfort, they love fun, and they love sleeping. A bed that feels like a cave would be awesome to snuggle into.
Give Kitty Soft Cuddly Toys and a Special Blanket.
I mentioned this earlier about getting a small blanket and leaving it with the mother and kittens before picking your kitten up. You could also add in a small toy to be scented for your kitten.
Once you bring your kitten home in it, this will become their favorite blanket or toy for a while. When they are sleepy, put them to sleep in their bed and with the blanket.
As they gain confidence, they may not need to resort to their favorite blanket as they will have you, and they will start cuddling up to your shoes, your tops, your trousers, and more!
But as a comforter for a small timid kitten, these things work a treat to give confidence to a young kit.
A Midnight or Early Morning Snack.
At first, your kitten is bound to wake up during the night, as the first day was pretty scary and overwhelming, and the night a bit lonely. Where is mum and all those annoying brothers and sisters they had?
In their secure room, they can get up and wander around. There is the scratching pole to climb, a toy or two to attack and bite, and of course, there is their litter box for their comfort stop.
A small snack to get them through the night will be welcomed by a notoriously hungry kitty. It doesn’t need to be much, just enough to quieten their tummy and allow them to go back to sleep. A little of their favorite food will go down well.
Soft lighting and music will take the scary silence off the room and allow them to get used to the night.
As they get older, nighttime often turns into their playtime. Many an owner has awakened to the sound of padded feet thundering along the hallway while their kitten chases a rubber ball in a game of ‘catch and kill.’
It is a kitten thing, so roll over and go back to sleep.
Keep Water and the Litterbox Handy.
The final point in getting your kitten used to being alone at night and to enjoy this time, is to add in the other vital ingredients to a good night-time routine.
- Always ensure your kitten has a bowl of fresh water available. They may get dehydrated during the day, so ensure they can top up with plenty of water during the night. Perhaps have two bowls in case they bounce into one and spill the water.
- Provide a clean litterbox for them to use. On the first night, it may pay to leave one little ‘present’ in the box so they can find their way to it. And use the litter that their original owner used as they will be used to it.
- Consider crate training your kitten to provide a safe refuge even if you keep the door open for them. Load it full of blankets and a few soft toys to provide their special place where they can go for quiet and sleeping.
And with that, your kitten should have all they need to a happy, sleepy night.
The Last Word about Managing Your Kitten at night.
They will be lonely, and will cry a little – that is only to be expected. But if you follow the above recommendations, you will make the transition so much easier for your kitten.
And once they realize that they are the boss of the house and they own you ( yes they do – this is a typical feline assumption), you will have made a friend for life.
As they bond with you, your heart will be wrapped around their little paw forever, and as they get older, they will allow you to share your bed with them. 😊
Writer: Jean Brewer