Connecting Space Method
Connecting Space Methodis a tried and verified way, destined to make the cat or kitten feel safe and secure as he gets used to his new house.
Place water and food in the Connecting Space, away from the toilet.
Before your new cat (cat or kitten) even arrives: make one space in advance, where he will be confined to begin with. Letting a kitten the run of the whole house straight off can be overwhelming - he will be much less stressed if he only has to cope with a small environment at first. The space should be comfortable and quiet, such as a spare bed, somewhere that you don't have to keep going in and out of. This will be your Connecting Space.
Place some water and food in the space, and a toilet, being sure to keep the food and toilet as far apart from each other as possible - kittens are clean by nature, and don't like to eat near their toilet. A Feliway plug-in diffuser will help the kitten feel more calm and relaxed.
Leave some bedding or whatever for the kitten to sleep on, and a toy or two. A catnip toy is good as 85% of kittens enjoy catnip, and it can help to calm him, or a jingly ball, cotton reel or similar. Better still is to allow the kitten to bring with him any bedding or toys that he/she is already used to, as that will already have his smell on, and will act as a comforter. Also, make sure there are safe places for the kitten to hide within the space - you can buy items such as wig-wams or kitten-tunnels, but a good hiding place can be as simple as a cardboard box, or having a bed to hide under, or a chair to hide behind. Some kittens may even choose to hide in the transporter for a while.
New Kitten's arrival
When the kitten arrives: place the transporter, with the kitten still in it, into the Connecting Space, then open the transporter doorway, quietly go out of the space, shut the doorway behind you and leave him! This may seem strange to us, but we must remember that a kitten's anxiety level is largely controlled by the confidence they have in maintaining control of their territory, so a kitten will feel less anxious if he is left alone at first to assess his new environment.
Letting the kitten hide: Initially, the kitten will look for the first hiding place he can find and stay there until he feels comfortable with the situation. You can beg and plead and stand on your head, but he will not come out until he feels safe. Do not take this personally - Just let him hide!
Your new animal needs to become familiar with the smells and sounds of his new house. He must get used to your voices, the telephone ringing, toilet flushing, and all the normal sounds you take for granted.
He must also get used to the smells of your carpeting, furniture, cooking, and even of you. This can take time, depending on the kittens ability to process information and feel safe. Now would not be a good time to invite the whole family over to see your new kitten. Do not plan any parties or loud goings-on for a while, either!
Averagely, a new kitten may stay in the Connecting Space for 2 - 7 days, but the kitten will let you know when he is ready to explore further.
Beginning of friendship
A few hours after the kittens arrival: go slowly into the space, sit or lie on the floor, speaking in a friendly, soothing voice. Don't attempt to reach for the kitten unless he comes to you. If he doesn't come to you at this first meeting, you may need to have several sessions with him, leaving him alone in between visits.
Regularly be for some time with the kitten in the space. Reading aloud can help the kitten get used to you and your voice.
Be for some time with the kitten
Spend as much time as possible in the space, ideally sitting on the floor or a low-down chair or beanbag. Talk to him, read a book, play board games, write a letter, take a nap - you are basically just letting him get used to you, and then leave him alone. Each adult in the house should take turns going into the Connecting Space and spending some time with the kitten, never trying to touch or cat the kitten until he comes to you first.
Play and Care
When your new kitten is comfortable in the Connecting Space, you could try brushing him (go gently though, some kittens may be unsure of brushes if they are not used to them) and also use toys to make friends. One of the best interactive toys you can use is a good old shoelace. Most kittens can't resist pouncing on it when it's trailed along the floor. This is often the first game you can have together, which will help the connecting process. If he's been used to a domestic environment, it shouldn't take too long for him to come up to you for a fuss.
Young kids should always be accompanied by an adult in the Connecting Space, because they may become too excited and slow down the connecting time.
If the kitten is particularly stressed, you may find the first few visits, or even the first few day's worth of visits, consist just of you going in to put down water and food, and to change the toilet's litter, then do a little more speaking (or reading) to the kitten, and then going away again. Follow the same steps as above, but be aware that some kittens, if they are particularly stressed, will take longer to come out of their shell. Winning round a stressed kitten is hugely rewarding, when finally he comes to trust you, and lets you stroke him for the first time. Just let him take things at his own pace - even if that takes days, weeks (or even months in extreme cases) it will be worth the wait!
Toilet and Food
Be calm! Because often, your new cat will eat, drink, and use the toilet when you don't see that process! However, many kittens can withhold these functions for several days. No need for worries. Keep trying to soothe your new cat with your voice. On the other hand, most kittens won't put you through this trauma! There is no way of knowing what their reaction will be to their new environment. In the event that your new kitten is not eating, drinking, or using the toilet after two days, call your veterinarian for advice.
Cleaning - a good excuse not to!
While the kitten is in the Connecting Space, using of vacuum cleaner is definitely out! Either make do with a dustpan and brush, or coax the kitten into his transporter, and remove him to another space whilst the vacuuming is going on.
Let the kitten take things at their own pace. Given time, even very stressed kittens can blossom into friendly, happy kittens!
Let the kitten decide: your new kitten will let you know when he is ready to explore beyond the Connecting Space. Averagely, a new kitten may stay in the Connecting Space for 3 - 6 days, but generally the kitten will let you know when he is ready for the next step. He will come to you when you enter the space and will be comfortable in your presence, and when he is ready, may try to follow you out.
Before letting the new kitten out of the connecting space, make sure all doorways and windows are closed, and if you have a kitten-flap, make sure it is closed - he will need a couple of weeks getting used to your house before being allowed outdoor access.
When you feel the kitten is ready, open the doorway to the Connecting Space and let him/her explore the house. Leave the doorway to the Connecting Space open, so that he can return if he wishes. Don't chase the kitten, just let him/her explore and get comfortable.
Let him feel secure
Cats will often return to the Connecting Space when they feel the need for security. This is normal. You will know if you have released your kitten too soon if he runs and hides. Should this happen, say the kitten's name in a friendly, gentle manner. Do not attempt to touch the kitten if he hides. Simply be there in a non-aggressive way so the kitten does not feel cornered or threatened. It's far better to let them hide when they feel they need to.
Outside of the House
A new kitten should be kept inside of the home, ideally for the first 2 weeks, to prevent him straying back to his old house, or simply getting lost or run over. Cats from rescue centers are almost always desexed prior to adoption, but if your kitten is not desexed, please make sure they are before you let them outdoors. You should also ensure your kitten is microchipped / has an ID collar (or both!) before being allowed out.
The first time you allow him outside, it should be just before a meal, so that he is hungry and has a good reason to come in quite soon! Let him out, but stand at the open doorway, let him sniff and explore the garden for a few minutes, then call him or rattle the biscuit box, to (hopefully) encourage him back for his meal. A few small things like this, over the period of a few days, will ensure that he is familiar with his immediate vicinity, and that he knows where house is!