Cat adoption

Tips for the First 30 Days of Cat Adoption – woo-hoo, you’re in for a treat!

Preparation is the most  important thing when bringing a new pet into your home. Cats are particularly sensitive to new surroundings and some may hide for days or even weeks. This is in most cases perfectly normal. Follow these guidelines to avoid some of the main pitfalls:

Before Bringing Your Cat Home:

  • Cats are territorial, and coming into a new home leaves them feeling really uneasy. There is a lot of new unexplored space. Do him or her a favour and provide a small area to call their own for the first few days or weeks. A spare room or office-space works well. This room can be any size but must have a secure door and ceiling. Furnish the room with food, water and a litter box. As you’ll want to spend time with your cat, so make sure there’s a comfortable place for you to sit as well
  • Fill a litter box with one or two inches of litter and place it in their room where they can use it undisturbed. Although cats do not need this privacy necessarily, in the first few days or weeks it is a must. In the wild cats bury their poop as the smell can attract predators, and so given their new environment it makes sense to help them feel safe
  • Set up a feeding area with food and water bowls. Locate it away from the litter box, and if possible also locate the water away from the food, as in the wild water can become contaminated by the freshly killed food. I also recommend feeding wet food over dry but more on that in my cat food article
  • Cat safe haven. Cats love to get away from it all in small places, and you can provide one for your new cat as his own little safe haven. If he or she came home in a cat carrier, that might be a good choice (having your cat feel safe in his or pet carrier is a massive advantage when you need to get them in it for vet trips, believe me..). We all also know that cats love boxes (if you didn’t now this, please do yourself a favour and have a look at YouTube’s many cat and boxes videos (“if it fits, I sits” is  a great one). You can make one by cutting a doorway for him or her in the end of a box or you can buy a covered cat bed at a pet shop. In either case, make sure the space is big enough for the cat to stand up and turn around in. Cat “feng shui” also requires that he or she be able to see the door to the room from his hidey hole, so he won’t be startled
  • A cat’s claws need to be worn down, and they do this by scratching on things. Since you prefer that it not be your chairs and sofa, provide your cat with a socially acceptable scratching item / post. Some types are made of corrugated cardboard and lie on the floor; others are posts which have to be tall enough so that the cat can extend himself upward to scratch. You can encourage your cat (once he has arrived) to use the post by sprinkling it with catnip or dangling a toy at the top. He’ll get the idea. You’ll probably want a scratching post in each room where there is soft furniture, perhaps blocking access to it. You can also install sticky tape (available at pet supply stores) to corners of upholstered furniture to dissuade scratching. Do not ever think about declawing your cat
  •  It’ll be much easier to spend the time making sure your home is cat-safe before you bring in your newest family member. If you haven’t lived with a cat before you’ll be surprised at the places a kitty can hide and the trouble she can get into. Look at cat-proofing as you would baby-proofing but consider this “baby” as a super toddler who can jump almost seven times her height, squeeze into spaces that seem completely impossible, use her teeth to chew through cords, among many other talents that a new cat parent probably never thought possible
  • Look for holes or registers that leave ductwork accessible and cover them up. A kitten can easily slither into one of these. You won’t want firemen in the house, jackhammering the concrete floor to extract your cat
  • If possible, buy a cat tree for your new family member. Cats like to survey their territory, so a high perch is often a favoured resting place
  • If there are other human family members, go over the ground rules about your new pet. Remind them not to startle him and to keep the door to his room shut
  • Feliway saves the day. If your new cat is an adult, you can use a product called Feliway. Feliway imitates natural cat pheromones and helps a new cat feel more comfortable. Feliway comes in a spray and diffuser form

 

Tips for How to Introduce Yourself to your Cat:

  • Help your new cat get to know you. Place a t-shirt or a piece of your clothing that contains your scent in the safe room
  • Sit on the floor during the cat introduction. You’re way taller than a cat, and anybody would have cause to be nervous in the presence of someone so big. You’ll be less threatening if you make yourself smaller.  Reach your hand toward your cat and allow him or her to come to you. they will likely sniff you by way of seeing who you are and as a hello. They will then likely rub their head against you which is a very positive sign
  • Spend time with your new cat. In the beginning, visit frequently for short periods of time. Visiting can mean interacting directly with the new cat in the form of play or petting, or quietly reading a book or chatting on the telephone in the same space as your new companion. Keep in mind that a nervous cat may growl, hiss, twitch its tails or pull its ears back. The best response is to speak softly followed by giving the cat some time alone
  • In the beginning, visit frequently for short periods of time. Visiting can mean interacting directly with the new cat in the form of play or petting, or quietly reading a book or chatting on the telephone in the same space as your new companion. Keep in mind that a nervous cat may growl, hiss, twitch its tails or pull its ears back. The best response is to speak softly followed by giving the cat some time alone

 

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