Bringing Home Your New Family Member
Congratulations on adopting a cat or kitten. Here are some suggestions that will help make the introduction of the new family member as stress free as possible for both you and your new pet.
Before Arrival: Have a family meeting to get everyone on the same page about ‘kitty.’ You’ll want consensus on rules and expectations such as indoors only and daily litter box scooping. Get the needed gear, including a separate litter box for the new cat if you already have a resident cat. Kitten proof your home by removing house plants, wrapping electric cords, and making sure window screens are secure. Set up a ‘safe’ room for the new arrival. This is where the litter box will be along with water bowl and bedding. This is the room you want the cat to think of as home base. During the first week keep your cat in this room most of the time. Use a durable container to bring home your new pet. Never transport an animal loose in the car. Use a soft or hard sided carrier, a study box sealed with duct tape, or a pillow case tied close. Now you are ready to pick up your new pet.
The First Few Days: Restrict the new arrival to its safe room, returning it there after lengthening periods of exploration. Follow the rules the family set for your new pet including no feeding at the table, and placing cat on the scratching post when it shows interest in clawing the furniture. Introduce kitty slowly and quietly to other pets. Place the new pet in its carrier and let the resident pet spend longer and longer times around it. Then switch, confining the resident pet to its crate or carrier and allowing the new pet to be near it. Ask about your pet’s diet and schedule when you pick it up and provide the same foods. If you have to change foods, do it gradually by mixing new food into the accustomed food. Kittens especially have difficulty changing foods. Be there to bond with your new pet. Arrange pick up for the weekend when your family has more time available to spend playing with kitty. Remember cats and kittens sleep 12-18 hours a day so provide periods for rest. Limit guests so your new pet is focused on your family members. Settle on a name that ‘fits’ the pet and have all family members use it. Make the first visit to the vet. If your family has young children and this is their first cat, visit the public library for books and videos about pet cats.
Training Kitty for a Happier Home: Training a cat is really about training the family and providing the right stuff. Some cats are dainty diggers but many are litter slingers. Start with a deep, covered adult litter box. Roll up a towel to make a step to help kittens access the box. Ask the cat foster for a sample of your cat’s waste and place this on top the litter in the new box. Scoop the box every day. Cats don’t like a dirty, smelly box anymore than you do. Put cardboard scratch pads beside furniture that is ‘off limits.’ Have a spray water bottle nearby and use to ‘remind’ kitty to keep away. Put half a mothball in a tea bag and place on the soil of ‘safe’ house plants as you bring them back into your home. Provide lots of toys for kitty to play with, including paper balls, plastic bottle caps, small balls, feathers, and furry mice. Play gently with your kitten and it will learn to be gentle with you. Groom and trim nails as needed so your cat becomes accustomed to ‘spa’ sessions. Feed your cat in another room, at the same time your family eats, so it won’t try to join in family dining. Use a spray water bottle to keep kitty back when outside doors are opened. Cats may ignore verbal commands but they do respond well to a firm, calm “No!”
A well tended cat will reward its family with a lifetime of love, comfort and entertainment.