You’ve just brought home your new little ball of fluff, and you are in love. If you’ve never owned a kitten, be forewarned that, besides being the cutest possible thing, they are indeed curious creatures. To a kitten, this great big world is all new and exciting, and well, big!
Like any new owner, you are anxious to let your kitten roam around her new abode. But are you familiar with the phrase, “curiosity killed the cat?” By letting your new kitten explore her new home too soon, you are asking for either her to get hurt or your home to get decimated.
Should she then be relegated to the powder room for the rest of her life? Should you need to supervise her 24/7? As a new kitten owner, you want the answer to the question: when should I let my kitten roam the house?
The answer is the most annoying, it depends. Let’s look at what that answer depends on.
There are some questions to consider before you let her roam free. First: is she litter trained? Second: have you “kitten-proofed” your home to remove potential dangers? Third: is your home secure so that she cannot escape into the great outdoors?
Most kittens take to litter training naturally, but if yours doesn’t and you let her roam, the consequences could be ruined carpet, destroyed upholstery, or even soiling your bed. Also, getting rid of the smell of cat urine is a gargantuan task.
So, how do you litter train your kitten? Here’s where keeping her in a small room makes this training job easier.
- Get an appropriately sized box
- Kittens can be picky about litters, so choose a litter recommended by your vet.
- Place her in the litterbox.
- Scratch the litter with your fingers to give her the idea of what to do.
- Praise her when she does her business and give her a treat.
- Always keep the litter box clean. Cats don’t like dirty litter boxes.
Undoubtedly, your home has all kinds of nooks and crannies that could prove dangerous to your new kitten. Consider:
- Look at all areas where your kitten can climb and remove or put away anything that can come crashing down and either/or hurt your kitten or break the item.
- Discover small, hidden spaces where your kitten could hide and not be found.
- Put away all your breakable treasures.
- If you have houseplants, research to find if any are poisonous to your kitten and remove them.
Keeping Her Indoors
Kittens are little and fast. They can dart out an open door before you even notice that they’re gone. Also, think about open windows. Even if a window has a screen, if it isn’t tight fitting, a kitten can push it open and escape. Kittens can be escape artists, so always keep that in mind.
Now your question is, “should I let my new kitten roam the house?”
The answer to this question is entirely up to you, but some things to ponder in making your decision are:
- How do you feel about accidents?
- Can you be relaxed knowing your kitten is wandering about?
- How do you feel about scratching?
Cats and kittens are generally fastidious animals, as evidenced by their incessant self-grooming. However, some things that can motivate a kitten to have an accident are a litter they don’t like, or a litterbox being moved out of its usual spot. Cat and kitten pee is quite potent, so if your cat is having litter issues, will you be able to handle it?
Dealing with the Wandering
Does it bother you that your kitten is wandering about? Are you able to relax? Or are you constantly worried about where she is or what she may be into? Perhaps you need more time to keep her confined before you feel you can trust her.
Scratching is a very real concern, especially if you have expensive furniture in your home. You can discourage it by purchasing a cat scratcher, but sometimes that new chair is all too appealing.
So, let’s say all systems are go and your kitten is successfully roaming your home during the day without any catastrophes. Your next question is surely, should I let my kitten roam at night? Many of the same issues apply to answering this question, but here are a few things to think about:
- Has litter training been completely successful?
- Does your kitten have the lay-of-the-land in the area where she’ll be roaming? In other words, could she get lost?
- Are there any places where she could get stuck?
If your kitten has been completely litter trained, your chances of having a nighttime, roaming success without accidents is high. Place more litterboxes in the “new” area and be sure to show her each one. If you notice any accidents, it’s time to go back to square one.
The bigger the home, the more likely the kitten could get lost. It is heart wrenching to scour a large home looking for what you are sure is a completely missing kitten. If your home is large, do allow your kitten to roam, but limit the area where she is able to go.
Waking up to the panicked shrieking of a stuck kitten is the stuff of nightmares. Here’s where kitten-proofing comes in yet again. Before you open the doors for her first night of roaming, take another scan of your home to look for small spaces where she could get stuck.
Welcoming a kitten into your home is the stuff of love and happiness, but to make a smooth adjustment takes some effort and planning. The answer to your question, when should I let my kitten roam the house, depends entirely on you and your kitten. The suggestions outlined here will give you a good idea of when your kitten may be ready to join you and your family as a free-roaming soul.