1. Before Bringing Your Kitten Home: How to Prepare
Before you are ready to bring home a new Bengal kitten, you will have a little prep work to do! Read my post on “Preparing for a New Kitten” for details on how to get ready for kitty’s homecoming.
Before bringing your kitten home, make sure you have all the necessary supplies:
- Glass or stainless food and water bowls (shallow bowls or plates for food)
- Cat toys
- Scratching post and/or scratching pad
- Litter boxes (one per cat plus one extra, and extra when they are learning a new area)
- Unscented scoopable litter
- Cat bed
- Optional: Cat tree or condo, Leash and harness, Cat plants
2. Bringing Your Kitten Home: Best Practices
Being moved into a brand new environment with total strangers, away from mom and siblings, is terrifying for a little kitten. Choose a time to bring your kitten home when you have a few days to focus on helping him or her make a smooth adjustment. Some kittens will be more scared and cautious than others – this is okay, be understanding and allow the kitten to adjust as his own pace.
The goal is to help the kitten adjust slowly, with minimum stress and while making a bond with you at the same time. To do this, you will need to start with a “Safe Room.” This room should be a small, quiet room that will permanently contain a litter box. A bathroom, large closet, or laundry room (if you can avoid running the machines for a few days) will work well. Set up the room with an open litter box, a water bowl on the opposite side of the room, a scratcher, some safe toys, and a bed.
When you come home, bring the carrier straight to the Safe Room. Take him out of the carrier and place him directly in the litter box. That way, he starts his exploration from this point and always knows how to get back. Sit down and let the kitten explore however he wants to. Let him come to you, do not make sudden movements or grab for him. Watch his body language to assess how he is feeling. Spend some time in the Safe Room with the kitten while he is becoming comfortable – it could take hours, days, or even a couple of weeks. Just read a book, sit on your computer, or play with the kitten if he is open to it. Once the kitten greets you with a raised tail and is clearly comfortable in the Safe Room, you can allow him to have guided excursions throughout the house, making sure he always has access to his Safe Room. Eventually, when you can read the kitten and tell that he is comfortable throughout the house, you can allow him to have free roam of the house unsupervised. But until then, continue to keep the kitten in the Safe Room when you cannot keep an eye on him.
It is important to not make any drastic changes to litter or diet in the first few days. Use a traditional, unscented clumping litter and the raw food that we have provided. You can gradually make a diet change over the course of approximately two weeks.
3. Living with a Bengal Kitten: What to Expect
Kittens are curious creatures, and they will want to explore everything that you let them. Be aware of these potential dangers in your home.
For the most part, kittens will play, eat, sleep, and repeat! Kittens adjust quite well once they are past the initial period of fear and missing their cat family. Once you have formed a bond of trust with your kitten, you can even introduce him to new adventures (like car rides) or other animals – just try to keep all experiences positive. Always read the kitten’s body language and don’t push something that is causing extreme stress. A kitten will be scared of new situations at first, but once they learn that they are okay, they will be more inclined to the experience in the future. Bengals in particular love action, and if you can enrich the kitten’s life when he is young, he will continue to be open to adventures.
I also recommend avoiding creating bad habits. Whether it is playing with your hand, allowing the kitten to play in the grass outside (without a harness), or scratching at furniture – these behaviors may be innocent in a kitten, but will be very problematic when he becomes an adult. Encourage only appropriate behaviors and habits, and redirect bad behaviors (such as scratching your couch) to good behaviors (scratching the post) whenever you can. This way, you can enjoy a well trained cat for years to come!