Bringing a new kitten home is an exciting time in our lives but for the kitten, sometimes the experience of moving to a new home can be overwhelming. Leaving his mum and siblings, who he'd had around 24 hours a day, new people and possibly pets, different home, smells. It can be all too much, particularly in younger kittens.
They may either react with fear and hide in a quiet corner, or they may cry. Both of which are distressing to both the kitten and his new owners.
Why is my new kitten meowing all the time?
It is very common for a new kitten to cry and meow excessively when he moves into a new home because he is scared and lonely, it is a big change for him and crying is perfectly normal, particularly on a night. I have only experienced this with one kitten, and she cried for around 3-4 days. For the rest of her life, she was a quiet cat. This can happen with any kitten, but is more common in younger kittens, which is another good reason not to adopt a kitten before the age of 10-12 weeks, so that they are more independent.
There is a difference between a kitten meowing from the time he moves into his new home to a usually quiet kitten who suddenly becomes vocal, the latter could be due to either sickness (some cats can meow more when they're not feeling well), or if you have a female cat, she could have come into heat. Some females can have their first heat as early as 4-6 months.
It should be mentioned that some kittens and cats are naturally more talkative than others. Siamese and other oriental breeds are well known for this. When choosing a cat, speak to the breeder or shelter about your needs. A constantly talking cat can drive owners to distraction and it is not unheard of for cats to be returned to shelters because they meow too much. So if you don't think you can handle a talkative cat, try (if possible) to choose a quieter one. The breeder or shelter will be able to tell you which ones are talkers and which ones are quiet.
Kittens and mother cats meow to each other, however, adult cats reserve meowing only for humans and not other cats. There are many reasons cats meow at their human companions and many types of meow. From the nagging 'feed me immediately before I die of starvation' meow, to the friendly chirp as they greet you, the 'let me in/let me out' meow, and the very noisy meow of a cat in heat and some cats just like to give a running commentary on life (see previous paragraph).
What can be done about a meowing kitten?
Time, love and patience. Your kitten needs time while he adjusts to his new home, love to make him feel secure and patience from you while he settles in. I have found my kittens tend to settle in within a few days and the crying abates.
- Firstly remember that this should pass. It will take your kitten a week or two to settle in and once he does, the meowing and crying should stop, or at least be greatly reduced. In the meantime, you need to help him to settle in. I recommend that you keep your kitten close to you during the day, as much as is possible, so he has company and can get to know you.
- If you are out for long periods of time, it is a good idea to adopt two kittens, so they can settle in together and keep each other company.
- On a night you have two choices, have him in your bedroom with you, or confine him to a small room in the house (laundry is ideal in case of accidents). If you choose the laundry option, make him up a snuggly bed, and if it is cool, put a 'warm' hot water bottle or heating pad under half of his blanket, and wrap up a ticking clock which can mimic his mother's heartbeat. I also like to add a small, soft teddy bear to his bed to snuggle up with. Make sure he has a litter tray, fresh food and clean water in the room with him.
- During the day, try to schedule several 'play sessions' with your kitten. In the wild, a cat hunts his prey, kills and then eats it, followed by sleep. Try to mimic this with your kitten. Wand toys are particularly good for this, let him chase and hunt the toy, at the end of the game, let him catch and kill his prey, then give him some food, and hopefully afterwards he will be tired out and will sleep well. Not only will playing help him sleep, but it will also assist in helping him get to know you.
- Feliway is a synthetic pheromone which mimics the cat's natural 'feel good' pheromones which are secreted from glands on the lips, cheek and forehead. This is a great product to help induce a sense of well-being in your cat. It comes in a spray or plug in form and can be of assistance in a nervous or anxious kitten.
- I always recommend taking a new kitten to the vet within a day of bringing him home, just to make sure everything is okay. It is also not a bad idea to take him to the vet if the meowing hasn't decreased after a week or so.