Congratulations on adding a new cat to your family! Whether you have had a cat before or not, here are some good tips to follow to help your new furry family member adjust to its new home.
Supplies For Your New Cat
To help your new cat have a smooth transition to its new home with you, do some shopping first. Here is a list of items you must have before you bring your new cat home.
- Pet Carrier
- Litter Box & Scoop
- Food Bowl
- Water Bowl
- Cat Scratchers
- Cat Food & Treats
- Blanket or bed
- Collar & Tag
- Cat Tower
Why is a cat carrier important? A cat carrier is important for safe traveling. You will need one when you go to pick up your cat. You will need it to keep your cat safe while in the car, so that it can't get loose. If you are in an accident, it could prevent serious harm or death. A cat carrier is an easy way to carry your cat to and from the car when taking your cat to the Vet.
Which cat carrier should you buy? There are a lot of options today when it comes to pet carriers. Ask family and friends which carrier they use for their cat, and what they like or dislike about it. Research online and read reviews. A lot of people prefer a carrier that opens from the front and from the top.
Litter Box, Litter & Scoop
You will want a minimum of 2 litter boxes for your new cat. The general rule when it comes to how many litter boxes should be in your home is 1 litter box per cat PLUS 1 more.
The litter box should be uncovered, and the size should be the length of your cat and a half. If you are getting a kitten, it's fine to purchase a small litter box, but as your kitten grows, you will want to slowly transition to a larger litter box. Your cat will thank you. Remember you will need a litter scoop!
Which litter is best? There are so many terrific options when it comes to cat litter these days. Ultimately, try to start off with the litter that your cat was previously using. If you want to change that litter once your cat has settled into its new home, that's ok. Just do a slow transition of reducing the current litter and adding in the new litter until there is only the new litter.
Cat's prefer unscented litter. Scented litter is for humans. If you don't want your home to smell, clean all litterboxes a minimum of twice daily. Generally, scoop after poop! Again, your cat will thank you. Keep the level of litter at about 2 inches. Clean as needed using regular dish soap and water (not bleach), but not more than weekly. You don't want to completely remove your cat's scent from the litter box, but if it really needs a thorough sanitization, use 1 ounce of bleach to 32 ounces of water so the smell of bleach won't be overpowering for your cat (they WILL smell it, even if you can't).
Food, Water & Bowls
There are a lot of terrific options available for choosing food and treats for your cat. When you first bring your cat home, try to continue feeding it the same food it was eating. Ask family & friends for suggestions of which food to buy, but also do your own research. There is a wide variety of brands and flavors to choose from. Transition your cat to the new food slowly so he or she won't have an upset tummy.
Choosing food & water bowls can be fun. There are all kinds of decorative and cute bowls to buy. Be sure to buy stainless steel or ceramic, as they are less likely to cause chin acne (yes, cat's can get acne!), especially when washed after each meal. The most important thing about bowls is that you choose ones that are wide enough that your cat's whiskers will NOT touch the sides. Cats can get whisker stress and sometimes the wrong bowl size can make your cat not want to eat. Providing a wide enough bowl will make your cat's eating and drinking experience much more enjoyable and comfortable.
Cat fountains! I am a huge believer in cat fountains. Always provide fresh water on a daily basis, even if you don't purchase a fountain. If you do get a fountain, be sure to get one that has more than 1 option of how to drink from it. Each cat has its own preference - drink straight from the bowl or from where the water comes out or is moving. Fountains are a great way to entice your cat to drink more often which in turn can help them stay hydrated and healthy.
Collar & I.D. Tags
You never know when your cat might try to get out of your house or the carrier to get outside. One of our cats, Rupert, has managed to get out of our house and it was terrifying when I realized it. Luckily, he was not far, and the rattling of a treat bag brought him back inside quickly. He has a break-away collar with a name tag attached. The tag also includes both my phone # and my husband's. The break-away collar is the best recommendation because if the collar were to ever get caught on something, if Rupert pulled enough, it would break off and keep him from being strangled. Your cat should be microchipped already, so if someone finds your cat, they can take him or her to be scanned for the chip by a veterinarian or animal shelter/animal control, which would lead back to you. Keep the microchip information updated.
Toys & Cat Beds
Buying toys and cat beds can be so much fun. There are so many types of toys and beds to buy. Keep in mind that what you might like, your cat might not. Cats can be choosy. Starting out, buy a variety of toys - different shapes, sizes, smells, crinkly or not crinkly, toys that your cat can play with on its own and wand toys so you can play and bond with your new cat. Rupert prefers anything with catnip, but he mostly prefers a red sparkly toy. Mufasa, even though he is 15 years old, is our most playful cat. On his own or with me, he loves to play with specific toy mice (we have at least 7 of them, and his favorite is still the green one). Mufasa also loves wand toys to chase after. Twyla loves wand toys, also. She also seems to prefer toys that are snake-like. Try not too buy to many at once, and alternate toys so your cat doesn't get bored with them.
Cat beds are fun to buy, also, but don't be surprised if your cat doesn't use it. It does happen. Mufasa has only ever used a cat bed when he isn't feeling well, which is rarely. He prefers the floor, couch, our bed, or one of our window ledges. Rupert usually is on our night table, but he also likes to climb into his cat bed that is shaped like a cave. He also loves boxes! Twyla prefers a lap, one of the cat towers, anywhere the sun is, and in the evening, my husband's chair. So, my recommendation is to either buy 2 different styles of a bed, or, wait a week or so to see what your cat might prefer. Be sure to have something for the cat to be able to hide in, though, while he or she adjusts to the new home environment. A hooded style of bed, a tunnel, or even a box would be ideal.
Cat Towers & Scratchers
Cat Towers are important to have for any cat, but especially if you have more than 1 cat, or have other pets. Cat Towers placed near windows provide enrichment for your cat, as they can look outside and watch birds, squirrels, etc... Towers are comfortable enough that your cat might sleep in them. Your cat might enjoy the climbing aspect of going from one ledge to the next, depending on the style and height. The taller the better, but make sure to buy one that is sturdy enough that it won't topple over when your cat is climbing and playing on it. Online reviews are very helpful in choosing a cat tower.
Cat scratchers are a necessity in your home! The most commonly used style is one made of sisal (rope). Your cat must have a scratcher that is taller than him or her when standing up. Cats need to be able to really stretch up or out when using their scratcher. We have a variety of them for our cats. We have vertical towers, sisal, cardboard, mats, triangular, you name it, we probably have it. Of course not only does this provide the cat the opportunity to perform a natural behavior on an appropriate item (and not your furniture), it can be a stress reliever as well. The SmartCat Pioneer Pet Ultimate Scratching Post is quite popular with a lot of cats.
Location and Set Up
Location, location, location. Just like people, cats have preferences for where their things are located and how they are set up.
Before you bring your new cat home, have 1 room set up to give your cat a place to take its time in adjusting to a new environment. Some cats will adjust immediately, and some could take days or longer. Most of the time, the adjustment period might be a day or two.
Set the room up with at least 1 litter box, a food and water bowl, a couple of toys, a scratcher, and a towel/blanket/bed. It will be important to offer something for your cat to have the option to hide in, so even a box instead of a bed would be fine.
Place the food and water bowl away from the litter box. No one wants to dine next to the toilet! Try to place the food and water bowl a few feet apart, if space allows. Some cats are finicky about having their water close to their food. They might be concerned with food being in the water and the potential for bacteria.
Time and Patience
Give your cat as much time as it needs to adjust to the room he or she is in. If he or she is walking around comfortably, and not slinking around or hiding, and also interacting with you, it is probably time to let your new cat out to explore the rest of the home. Leave the room with the cat's belongings in it for a few more days. Once your cat has adjusted completely to its new home, you can start to move things to their permanent spot. As always, do things according to your cat's preference and comfort level to ensure a happy cat.
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