Bringing a new kitten home is an exciting experience! As you prepare for their first night, figuring out sleeping arrangements is a must. Your kitten should sleep somewhere in your home that’s quiet, safe, and warm. This could be in your bedroom or in a separate room, like a bathroom, laundry room, or spare room. Either way, your new feline friend’s space should be filled with kitten essentials. Since your kitty is moving into a new environment, their first night may be challenging, depending on their personality. Not to mention, a full night’s sleep is unlikely.
While it’s important to put a lot of consideration into your kitten’s first night and prioritize their comfort, don’t stress too much. Stephen Quandt, a certified feline training and behavior specialist and founder of Cat Behavior Help, says a kitten’s first night isn’t going to affect their lives and how well they settle. They might simply just need some time to adjust.
“It will be helpful if you try and help them settle in by offering them a cozy bed, toys, and enrichment, as well as your gentle handling and attention,” he says. “Some kittens may need a few days to adjust, and others, if they are not fully socialized, may need more intensive work.”
Where Should A Kitten Sleep On Their First Night?
Your kitty has a few options of places where they can sleep comfortably: in your bed, in a crate in your room, or in another room. If you want your kitten to sleep near you, Quandt recommends bringing a crate into your bedroom so they can safely sleep close by. This is also a good option if you toss and turn a lot.
Additionally, Quandt says kittens are generally safest in a small, confined space where they can stay warm and secure. As for the bed itself, it should be warm and oh-so-soft. You can place their bed on the floor or at a level that’s easy for them to climb up to and down from.
Lastly, cats and kittens enjoy cozy, warm temperatures. Somewhere around 70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for kitties.
Can a Kitten Sleep Alone on the First Night?
While a kitten can technically sleep alone on their first night, it’s up to you whether you feel it’s in their best interest.
“You can let your kitten sleep on your bed if you want to, so long as they are able to safely jump on and off on their own and the room has been kitten-proofed,” says Zazie Todd, Ph.D., a psychologist specializing in pet behavior, and author of “Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy.”
Additionally, your new kitten should have access to a litter box so they can do their business when needed; place it in an appropriate spot in your room.
If you’re OK with your high-spirited kitty possibly play-attacking your toes through the covers, licking your hair, or even sleeping on you, they can sleep in your room. However, if you prefer uninterrupted sleep, Dr. Todd says it’s best to set up a place for them to sleep elsewhere and think about where you want them to sleep in the long run. She adds that if you have two kittens, they can cuddle up with the other when they want to sleep.
Rest assured, kittens will be OK left alone overnight, but for no longer than eight hours. Because no cat is the same, some kitties may be happy on their own, while others may need some extra love to help them adjust.
How to Prep a Kitten’s Bedroom For a Cozy, Comfortable Night’s Sleep
When you first bring your kitten home, Dr. Todd says it’s best to confine them to one room to start. She adds that your kitten should be the only pet with access to this room. Once they’re settled, they can begin to explore the rest of the home.
The room should have all the kitten essentials, such as a litter box, kitten bed, soft blankets, and food and water bowls. (Be sure to place your kitten’s litter box on the opposite side of where their bed and food and water bowls are.) Other items your kitten will appreciate include a scratching post, a variety of kitten toys, and maybe even a cardboard box!
Dr. Todd shares the following tips on how to kitten-proof your new feline friend’s room:
- Make sure there’s nothing dangerous in the room. This includes toxic houseplants, electric wires, cords or strings, tiny spaces, and household cleaners or substances.
- Put a latch or lock on any cupboards so your kitten can’t get in.
- Prevent injury by removing or securing anything that might fall or tip over if your kitten knocks it.
- Remove any personal belongings that you don’t want your kitty to possibly damage.
She adds that kittens are also good at climbing—so good that some may even climb up you! If there are shelves in your kitten’s room, Dr. Todd says to make sure they’re safe for your little climber, too. A kitten playpen may be helpful in keeping them safe overnight. If there’s nothing for them to climb, consider getting a cat tree to satisfy their innate behaviors.
Will a Kitten Sleep Through the Night?
It’s no secret: cats sleep a lot. However, kittens can sleep up to 20 hours a day! “A kitten will likely go to sleep at night, but they are not necessarily going to sleep all night long,” Dr. Todd says. Cats are crepuscular (not nocturnal), meaning they’re the most active before sunrise and after sunset. Because they sleep in short bursts multiple times a day rather than all at once, they have what’s called a polyphasic sleep pattern.
Nevertheless, they experience REM sleep, dreams, and deep sleep just like us.
3 Ways to Match a Kitten’s Sleep Schedule to Your Own
Regardless whether your kitten spends the night in your room or has their own, it can be challenging getting proper rest trying to keep up with them. With all those hours kittens spend sleeping, they waste no time putting their curiosity and energy to great use when they’re awake. Such great use, in fact, that it can cost you your sleep.
If you’re wondering how to get your cat to sleep at night, you’re not alone. The good news is that with consistency—and patience—you can align your and your kitty’s sleep schedule in no time.
It’s worth mentioning that though the following tips may help, every kitten is unique, so it’s possible not every kitten will respond to these changes. It might help to bring in a professional cat behaviorist if you’re having trouble aligning schedules.
1. Change mealtimes
Make sure your kitten has some food before bed. Dr, Todd says they’ll likely settle down to sleep when you do. She explains that kittens 8–12 weeks old need four small meals a day due to their tiny tummies. Once they’re 12 weeks old, three meals a day is OK.
No matter the frequency of meals, Dr. Todd says it’s a good idea to spread your kitten’s meals out across the day, with the last one being close to bedtime.
2. Play and exercise with them
Like human babies, playing with kittens before bed tires them out. A solid playtime session of about 10–15 minutes before it’s time to go to sleep will help them exert some energy and make them want to snooze.
“It’s very important to make time to play with your kitten, including with a wand toy (always put it away when not in use to keep your kitten safe),” Dr. Todd says. “You can also feed your kitten via food puzzle toys.”
Although kittens are highly enthusiastic, natural athletes, it’s possible to over-exercise them. Cease playtime if you notice your kitten is panting, exhausted, or showing signs of overstimulation.
3. Help them feel safe with a familiar object
Cats have an excellent sense of smell that ultimately provides them a sense of comfort if they’ve marked an object, especially when it comes to adjusting to a new home.
“If bedding has their scent, that familiar scent helps them to feel safe,” Dr. Todd explains. “They transfer pheromones when they rub their head on things, and that helps them to feel safe, too.”
In addition to providing them with familiar objects like blankets, toys, and scratching posts, Todd says you can also use a Feliway diffuser to help make them feel safe.
While welcoming a kitten into your family is a joyful time, it can bring with it new challenges for new and seasoned pet parents. With a little patience and a whole lot of love, navigating your kitten’s first night of sleep and taking care of them in the long run will be a breeze.