A kitten’s first night in a new home is likely one of the biggest challenges they have ever faced. Here are a few things to know and what you can do to help your new kitten sleep peacefully through the night.
Welcoming a new kitten home can be nerve-wracking for both the owners and the felines involved. While we’re fretting over which cupboard is best for keeping the cat food and which local veterinary practice to choose, the kitten has a whole set of different concerns to deal with. There are new people to meet and new sights and smells everywhere. Their new home looks nothing like the one they lived in until not so long ago and there’s no sight of their mum and littermates. In short, everything is different and a bit scary.
Then just as they’re getting settled, night time arrives and they are left to sleep all alone in this new, strange house. A kitten’s first night home can be challenging but there are plenty of things a cat owner can do to help your little ball of fur settle in quickly.
Do kittens sleep through the night?
Not always – it’s common for kittens to wake up throughout the night. While it’s true that kittens love snoozing and they can sleep up to 18-20 hours a day, it doesn’t always happen when humans are asleep. Cats are generally active at dawn and dusk. Add to this the unfamiliar environment a new kitten has to adjust to in the first few nights and you’re in for a few longer nights than usual.
However, sleep is essential for your kitten’s development which is why it’s important to let them have this peaceful time off during kittenhood to make sure they grow up healthy and happy.
Where should my kitten sleep?
A major part of getting a kitten to sleep has to do with how well the sleeping arrangements match their needs. Kittens will look for warmth and cosiness when they want to sleep. This means that the best place for a kitten to sleep is a secure spot, sheltered from draughts and warm enough is the best set up. It is a good idea to have the kitten close to you for the first few nights. Find a cosy place next to your bed and you can even choose a spot up off the floor if possible. Kittens will love the height to make them feel safer.
How to set up a kitten bed
Choose a kitten bed that is comfy and has high sides to keep their toys close by. Don’t forget to add lots of soft blankets for a great night’s sleep. Make sure the litter tray, water and food bowls are not too far away should your kitten need them during the night. A scratching post nearby will win you extra points with your new feline friend. Your kitten will be able to stretch and scratch to their heart’s content as soon as they’re ready to start the new day. What bliss!
Should I leave the light on or off?
Cats can see in very low light, so it’s likely that even with the lights off they’ll be able to move around effortlessly. However, it can take a bit of time before they get accustomed to their new environment so having a low night light on to make things easier at the beginning is a good idea.
Should I let the kitten sleep in my bed?
You may want to wait a while before sharing your bed with the new kitten. It takes time for kittens to be litter trained so if you want to keep your sheets in mint condition it’s best to invest in a separate kitten bed. If they are really young, they might even have trouble negotiating their way out of your bed without hurting themselves. Plus, your kitten might even prefer to have their own space to sprawl as they please.
Many owners do allow their cats to sleep in their bed, but it’s important to give your kitten their own space to spend the night.
How to get a kitten to sleep at night
Play and exercise
An exhausted kitten is more likely to sleep through the night. Schedule a play session close to their last nap of the day so they can exhaust all the extra energy before going to bed.
Change the meal time
Sometimes even feeding them a late meal can help as kittens will often go to sleep to let digestion do its work. But be mindful of the calorie count before introducing an extra or a larger meal.
Introduce familiar objects
Having something that smells familiar can be a huge step towards getting a kitten to sleep at night. Shelters are often happy to let you have their favourite blanket when you adopt a kitten so they can keep a piece of their old home close as they’re getting adjusted to the new life.