Introducing a New Kitten to Your Family

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Your family is introducing a new pet kitten. Follow these simple steps and the adjustment will be easy for everyone.

When making the decision to purchase or adopt an animal as a pet

it is important that the whole family understands what will be involved and what will be expected once the animal arrives in your home.

A family discussion is the best way to clear up any misunderstanding regarding pet ownership, care and family responsibilities.  Personal decisions will be discussed regarding the type of animal your family is best suited for.

When the choice of family pet is a kitten, there are several steps you should take to ensure that both animal and family members adjust to the new environment.

Before stepping into a pet shop or adoption center, you will need a book on caring for kittens.  Such a book will outline the basic care requirements to ensure your new kitten remains healthy and happy for many years.

When you are ready to make your purchase/adoption ask a staff member to explain what items you will need to begin caring for the newest member of your family. You should not bring any animal home before having these items purchased.

You will need:

* a litter box (preferably a large one with a lid)
* a bag of litter (preferable a brand that clumps)
* a scoop for cleaning out the clumps from the litter box
* food dish(es)
* the brand of food the pet store/adoption center is using.  It is ideal to continue using the same brand of pet food currently being given to your kitten.  Should you wish to change brands later, do so gradually and only after the animal has had a chance to adapt to it's new home.

There are additional items that you can purchase that are not necessary, but definitely beneficial.
* a carpeted post for the kitten to climb and play with.
* a cardboard scratch pad (with cat nip)
* balls and toys that roll and make noise

When you are ready to leave the pet store/adoption center with your new kitten, be sure to place your animal in a cardboard box complete with air holes. This may seem cruel, but your kitten will be calmer if she is not aware of the drastic change in her surroundings.

As she cries out, soothe her with your voice, ensuring her that everything is all right. If you have decided on a name, start using it when you talk with her in the car ride home.  She will begin to associate the name to her cries.

When you arrive home, set up your litter box with litter and place it in it's permanent area.  Take your kitten directly from her cardboard box and place her in the litter box.  Move away and allow her to become familiar with her new litter box and her surroundings.

As much as the children want to pet her and pick her up, it is best if you allow her the time to orient herself.  Cats are very intelligent and independent.  If you give her the opportunity to find her own way out of the litter box, she will be more successful in her toilet training.

Give her the space to explore her new home.  Cats are very independent and like to explore on their own. Family members can watch nearby, but it is best if the kitten is left to make her way around.

It is not suggested that you don't pat her, just allow her the time to become familiar with you and your home.  At the same time, allow yourself the opportunity to become acquainted with having an animal in your house.  There will be little changes in your lifestyle (from not leaving the door open, to feeding your new pet on a regular basis).

Your kitten should be offered fresh water at all times of the day.  Her moist food should be included with her dry food, in the morning and then by the afternoon, she should have only dry food to eat.

Let your new pet know that she is not alone and that she is loved.

At bedtime, allow the kitten to wander wherever you permit.  Make these boundaries known immediately.  If you don't mind her sleeping with the children, keep their doors open.  If you would prefer she sleep outside the rooms, keep the doors closed.  After about a week, the kitten will have developed her own bedtime rituals and will not have the desire to go into the bedrooms.

You are training your family pet.  As we teach our children, we must also teach our kitten.  By allowing her to do things because they are cute, she will think it is allowed.  If you don't stop her when she is young, she will continue and then it will be difficult to break any bad habits.

If you follow these simple steps to prepare for your new pet kitten, you will have years of happiness together.

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