You're getting a new kitten! Yay! Your life is about to be filled with more head boops, entertainment, hair, and, potentially, lost hair ties.
But trust me, it's all worth it. And with a little preparation, you can avoid a lot of potential stress. Here are some ways to prep your home for a new kitten so they're set up for success on their first night.
Kittens have that "curious" reputation for a reason. They're seriously into EVERYTHING.
Here are some things to lock up or put out of paw's reach before your kitten gets home:
House plants (most of them are toxic to cats, sadly)
String/yarn (or any toys with a long linear portion at all, honestly)
Cords and cables
No-no foods (hide those oranges)
Medications (human and pet)
The garbage can
There are sort of two ways to approach kitten proofing:
Kitten-proof your entire home OR
Set up a safe zone where your kitten will sleep, eat, and live.
You'll probably need a combination of both on your kitten's first night home.
Of course, option one has to be completed eventually because your kitten will outgrow their little play area faster than you can imagine.
But if you're crunched for time, you can use baby gates, pens, or other means to keep your kitten contained in a safe zone. This is especially helpful on their first night when they're adjusting to all the new sights, smells, and sounds.
Get your supplies now
I know it's hard to know what your kitten will like, but it's a good idea to get all of the basic supplies now so you're not stressed out when your kitten's at home. This includes:
a litterbox and litter
Food and water bowls
a kitten bed (this could also just be a blanket)
Those essentials are a good start. One other option, particularly if you're getting a young kitten, might be a soothing stuffed animal with a heat pack and heartbeat like this one.
More on that next.
Know what to expect the first night
It's normal for your kitten to meow a LOT.
Especially their first night.
Especially if they're all alone.
So how can you make them more comfortable on their first night so you can both get some sleep?
Here are some tips for calming your kitten.
Keep pets and animals at bay; there's going to be plenty of time for your kids or other pets to meet your new kitten. On the first night, try to limit the amount of activity your kitten gets so they're not stressed out. Your kitten will crave comfort, so snuggles from you will probably be welcome that first night, but otherwise, keep it low-key.
Consider keeping them near you. I know this one's tough. You may not want to "spoil" your kitten by allowing them into your bed. But also, they're babies, and it might be their first time away from mom and littermates. Consider at least keeping them in your room so you can comfort them or check in to make sure they're OK. They don't have to be loose in your home—you could even use a large pen or crate.
Give them a soothing stuffed animal; there are plenty of stuffies with heartbeats out there. It might help. It might also not help at all. But it's definitely worth a try.
Get some white noise going: If it's your kitten's first night without littermates or mom—and you don't want to bed or room share—it's going to be quite an adjustment. Your kitten will be distraught, as you'd expect. Soothing sounds can help. A running dryer, a white noise machine, or rain sounds from your smart speaker.
If you want your kitten to sleep with you: talk to your vet. It might help you both sleep better, but if you have skin conditions or allergies, it may not be the best call.
Stick to a routine
Routines are incredibly important to cats, even on weekends.
Cats are the DEFINITION of creatures of habit. One study even showed that cats in a consistent environment exhibited fewer stress-related health issues. Disruption in routine led to both healthy and unhealthy cats acting "sick."
Even something as simple as regular meal times reduces stress and creates anticipation. Regular playtime can combat boredom and the potentially destructive behaviors that can result.
The bottom line
Welcoming a kitten into your life is an exciting journey that requires preparation, patience, and a dash of love. Let's recap:
Kitten-proof your home
Stock up on essentials
Create a comfortable environment to ease their first night
Embrace routines for a happy, healthy feline
Consider adopting a second kitten for added companionship.
If I could add a sixth tip, I'd suggest looking into a good kitten insurance policy!
An accident and illness policy is designed to help reimburse you for unexpected accidents and illnesses—in other words, the things you can't prepare for as a new kitten parent.