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Bringing a new cat home
Bringing a cat or kitten home for the first time is very exciting but it takes a bit of planning.
BEFORE BRINGING YOUR NEW CAT HOME
Whether you are going to bring an adult cat or small kitten home, its needs will be very similar, especially regarding administration. Here are some things to take care of before your cat’s arrival:
- If you still don’t have a vet, ask for advice from local cat owners or breeders. It brings more peace of mind know who to go to, or registering with a vet, just in case it gets sick or needs to be sterilized.
- When you get there, arrange to have your new cat or kitten permanently identified with a microchip in case it ever gets lost.
Once the administrative issues have been solved, it’s time for the fun part: shopping! You will need:
- A safe cat carrier box.
- Two bowls: one for food and the other for water. Instead of metal ones, choose glass saucers or ceramic, which are easy to clean (some cats don’t like seeing their the reflections in metal bowls when they drink). Make sure they are big enough so that they can tilt and lick their bowl without their whiskers touching the sides, as this can confuse some cats.
- A litter box and kitty litter. It’s best to use the same kind used by the breeder or adoption center, at least until it has settled in. This way, it will recognize it and, most importantly, will know what its for!
- A cat bed: many prefer igloo-style beds to feel comfortable and safe, or a bed raised off the ground (for example, as part of a playground).
- Grooming products, especially if they have long hair.
- A scratching post made of tree bark or wrapped in sisal. The scratching post helps keep your cat’s nails in top condition. With a little luck, having a post just for them will distract its attention from your furniture and carpets.
- A variety of toys. Its favorite games will be those in which you participate, such as toys attached to a string that you will move as you please so that they can chase and pounce on them. This gives them a safe way to express their natural hunting instincts.
- Food. Feed your new cat or kitten with the same diet it was fed by its breeder or shelter for at least a week, and change its diet little by little, only if you prefer to or if there is a medical reason to do so.
A NEW CAT AT HOME!
Hurrah! The long awaited day has arrived!!! Congratulations!! Despite your enthusiasm, try to stay calm at every moment so that your new cat can adapt without getting scared. Here are some tips that will help you to enjoy the experience of having a new cat at home:
- Make sure you can spend time with your cat while it adapts to its new environment, and help it get used to an established routine. This could involve planning work from home or taking a few days off to spend quality time with your new pet.
- Prepare for the trip home. Car trips can be a little disorienting and stressful for your cat, so spray your carrier with a tranquilizing pheromone spray, place it in a safe space that is flat or on the floor, and cover it with a blanket. You will realize that the spray, darkness and slow driving help it stay calm. Go straight home after picking it up - it's not time to go shopping!
- When you get home, place the carrier on the floor of a quiet room, open the door and let it come out at its own time and pace.
- Children and other pets will be jumping for joy to meet the newest member of your family, but their excitement could scare the newcomer. Supervise them at first until your new cat gets used to its new home.
- It is always fun to choose a name for a new pet. Once you have decided, use its name each time you interact with it, so it learns it quickly.
- All these emotions can be exhausting, especially for a small kitten, and it will want to take a nap. Place its bed somewhere warm, quiet and out of the way of drafts so it can get some rest.
- Place its litter box in a quiet place in a room that is easily accessible, and where it can’t be bothered. This should be far away from its bed and feeding area. Check it, at least, twice a day, and remove solid waste and dirty sand immediately. Empty the tray completely and disinfect it at least once a week.
- Feed it several small meals a day, as this will help it develop a close bond.
- Keep your new cat indoors for 2 to 3 weeks to give it time to get to know you and the family, as well as the different smells and sounds of its environment, so it can explore every corner of its new home. If it's a kitten, wait for the vet to give its approval before it starts exploring the outdoors.
- You will want your cat to be safe, so make sure there are no open doors or windows out of which it can fall. They should only be allowed out on the street when both you and your cat feel confident. If not you are sure when this will be, talk to your vet, who will be happy to advise you.
- Remember that everything will be new, stimulating and exciting for the newest member of the family, and it can be a bit overwhelming. Get used to the idea that it might be a bit shy at first, but it will adapt to its new home and family life soon enough. If it seems like it wont come out of its shell, talk to your vet.
- If you have given a rescue cat a new home, ask the shelter staff what they know about your new pet’s preferences. There may be something you can include in its diet or offer your cat to make it feel more at home.
Your kitten's breeder and vet will be happy to offer you more help and advice on how to take care of your new cat, look after its health and make it feel at new home. The only thing you have to do is enjoy getting to know, playing and having fun with your new furry friend.
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