That sweet little kitten you brought home is issuing pitiful cries from her hiding place beneath the sofa. Despite your best efforts to lure her out with warm milk and tuna fish, she’s having none of it. Your little howler might have a case of separation anxiety.
Like other animals, your kitten has built-in defensive instincts that help keep her safe in dangerous situations. During the first few weeks of her life, she felt secure, playing with her siblings under her mother’s watchful eye. Coming to an unfamiliar place without her brothers and sisters is a big adjustment. If your kitten’s former owners did not take the time to hold her and play with her, she might not have the social skills necessary to respond to you in a warm and loving manner yet. Given time and encouragement, she’ll come around.
Best Age to Bring a New Kitten Home
Before a kitten is 8 weeks old, she isn’t ready to leave her mother and siblings. She hasn’t yet developed the social skills necessary to adapt to new surroundings without feeling fearful. Between 8 and 10 weeks of age is a good time to bring your kitten home. If the kittens are not yet 8 weeks old, ask the litter owner to keep your kitten a week or so longer to give her more time to develop socially.
As your kitten adapts to her new surroundings, her anxiety will decrease and she’ll begin to bond with her new family members. If you have another kitten-friendly pet, introducing the two can help your kitty adapt more quickly. When you hold your kitten, gather her paws gently to her tummy to ease her stress. Place her litter box, bed and food bowl in a quiet spot, all within close proximity. This allows her to eat, sleep and take care of her toilet duties in a relatively secure spot as she adapts.
Socializing Your Kitten
Socializing your kitten should start as soon as you bring her home, but don’t force it. Talk to her in soothing tones and tempt her out of hiding by pulling a string along the floor where she can see it. Put her food down and walk away. She’ll come out to eat when she’s hungry. Hold your kitten as often as possible and teach youngsters how to hold her gently. It can take a couple of days for a well-socialized kitten to adapt to life without her siblings, but it can take a week or more for a kitten who isn’t used to humans to feel at home.
- Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images