How to Bond With My New Kitten

Don't take it personally if she loves to hide.
i Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images

A new kitten doesn't bond like a new friend -- gossiping together over brunch won't do you any good. She's an inexperienced and potentially frightened creature. Respect her needs for security and sustenance. When you do, bonding with you will come naturally to her.

Give Her Space

When you bring your new kitten home, keep her in the same room with you whenever possible, but don't force interaction. Even if you're just sitting on the bed with a book or watching TV, spending time in the same vicinity shows her that you're safe to be around. Don't forcibly pick her up or hold her, because that can stress her out. Instead, let her come to you; when she wants to be alone, allow it. It's perfectly normal for a kitten to want to hide.

Introducing Touch

Before you try to scoop up your new kitten in your arms, practice gentle petting and brushing. Invite her to sit near you with a small treat or a sprinkle of catnip. When she joins you, engage her with light, calm and slow petting or brushing session. This mimics the nuzzling she instinctively expects from her mother, and the experience is calming for her. She may even choose to climb up into your lap, now that she sees how trustworthy you are.

Playing Games

Kittens love to play, so bond with her by doing it together. She's full of hunting instincts and youthful vigor, so play a variety of games to keep her on her toes -- literally. For example, dangle a feather or cat toy on a string over her head so she can practice jumping up and balancing on her hind legs. Shoot a laser pointer across the floor so she can experience the thrill of the hunt and practice pouncing. Hunting a toy can be anticlimactic for her -- after a play session, reward her with a crumpled paper ball to actually physically "capture" and a treat so she enjoys the spoils of victory.

Keeping It Simple

As the two of you bond, take it easy. It's possible to overstimulate her. For starters, keep her isolated from other pets in the household, especially dogs, until she is comfortable with you. Introduce kittens to other pets between the ages of 3 weeks and 7 weeks -- it may take a few tries. Focus on bonding with her one-on-one; once you master that, move on to the other pets -- doing too much too fast can stress her out.

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