When you first bring your kitten home, it can be a good idea to be home with them for the first few days in order for them to get used to you and their new surroundings before being left alone. When you do go off to work, for instance, there are some steps that you can take to make it easier for your kitten to cope.
It is also a good idea to start leaving them alone for short stretches of time at first — for instance while going to the shops — before leaving them alone for most of the day.
Start with one room
Do they have a favourite room? Or perhaps you kept them in one room when you first brought your kitten home? Then it’s a good idea to make a bed for them in that room. Put their food and water there and — some way away from the food — their litter box. And don’t forget a few toys!
This will give them all they need should they feel too scared to go far while they are home alone. Rather than having your kitten have an ‘accident’ on the carpet, they then have their litter box right there.
If you want to, you can also, for the first few days, close the door of the room so that they have a safe and secure place to play and stay in while you’re at work. However, be sure that the room where they are is properly kitten-proof with no glassware standing around, no cables that they can chew on or use to pull electronics down on them by accident.
Also make sure that there are no poisonous plants in the room with them that they could chew on.
You can then slowly make the space your kitten has to play in while you’re gone larger and larger until they’re king (or queen) of the castle while you’re gone.
Make some noise
It can also help to keep on a radio or the TV while you are away. This will not only be a distraction for the little one, but will also keep the house from become too quiet. You can even look for some white noise playlists if that will soothe them.
Try out what works best for them while you are still at home. For instance, if you listen to a specific radio station or podcast while you are at home, let this play while you are away. That way, your kitten will feel safer rather than having new voices and noises in the home.
Don’t make a big deal of your leaving, and don’t show that you are stressed and worried as your kitten will pick up on this. Rather act as you normally would and say a quick goodbye, showing them where their food, etc. is.
You can also spend some time playing with them before you leave to make sure that they are tired. If your kitten is tired they are less likely to be overly worried when you leave. You can also leave them some puzzle balls containing treats to play with while you’re gone. This will not only take their minds off being home alone, but will also let them get some extra exercise.
You may find that your kitten cries when you are not at home or even when you are getting ready to head out the door. Another sign of separation anxiety is not using their litter box even though they have been trained to do so. It can sometimes help to make a point of spending time with them after you get home again by playing with them and petting them. In that way, they will realise that you are returning and that they will get attention once you get home.
Getting a playmate
If your kitten’s anxiety levels remain high while you’re gone, it is a good idea to look into adopting another kitten to keep your kitten company. As this is quite a big step to take; as adopting any pet is, the decision should not be taken lightly.
If needed, speak to your vet to make sure that there isn’t any underlying health concern that needs to be treated and that may explain their behaviour.
Getting a second kitten is also a good idea because the kittens will learn to socialise with each other. And, if you adopt a kitten from a shelter, for instance, you could be saving their life!
Photo by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash