There’s nothing more fulfilling than welcoming a new pet into your life. Still, though…becoming a cat parent is a lot of work upfront.
When bringing home your new cat, make sure to take into account the type of environment he’s coming from. Was it noisy or quiet? How much space did he have? Was he around other animals? Changing all of these variables at once can be very stressful for your new cat. Here’s what to keep in mind.
Your home is a brand new environment, and cats hate the unknown. Making a safe room is the best way to keep your new companion calm when bringing him home. A safe room will allow him to get used to the new scents and sounds of your home in a feeling of relative security. Be sure to spend lots of time with your cat in that room! Once your cat begins to get used to you and all the new stimulations of the safe room, you can gradually start to introduce himm into the rest of your home.
What should you put in your safe room?
- Cat food (only at specific times, unless you don’t mind grazing), fresh water, and a clean litter box as far away from the food as possible.
- A cozy cat bed where your new friend can sleep.
- Toys your cat can play with on his own, and also with you. Try to always include toys when playing with your new cat lest you teach him you’re the toy!
- A scratching post, if you like, that will keep your cat from scratching your furniture.
- A place to hide, such as a box with openings at both ends.
Cat-Proofing Your Home
Cats are extremely curious and will play with anything that can move, so once your cat starts leaving his safe room you’ll want to be sure he’s actually safe. A few important but easy-to-overlook things to think about are include blind cords, electrical wires, furniture hidden spaces (i.e. reclining chairs and sofa beds), and open cabinets. Also be sure you don’t have any houseplants that are poisonous to cats. Keep any loose items that may be dangerous (i.e. medications, rubber bands, needles) in closed cabinets. If you realize your cat can open cabinets, use baby proof latches to keep him out.
Choosing the Right Cat Food
Cats’ basic nutritional needs include protein from meat, fish, or poultry, taurine, and other vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids. Talk to your veterinarian about the right nutritional makeup for your specific cat, including whether or not he should be on diet food. Cats tend not to drink enough water, so getting water through canned food can be an easy way to keep yours hydrated. Cats eat until their nutritional needs are met, which means that they will eat more if of a low-quality food just to fill themselves up.
Don’t Stress About Stress
Listen, your cat is probably going to be pretty stressed out the first couple of days at home. It’s normal, but he should start to relax a little after a few days of acclimation. Some more serious signs of stress can include decreased grooming, hiding, lack of interest in attention or affection, and decreased appetite. If any of these symptoms persist for more than 48 hours, it’s time to call your vet.
Have Other Pets?
When introducing your new cat to your other pet(s) for the first time, it’s best to do so slowly to ensure everyone gets along. Before any introductions happen, make sure your new cat has gone to the vet and started his vaccinations. Also ensure all your other pets’ vaccinations are up to date as well.
If you have a dog, supervise a leashed meet and greet. Allow your cat and dog be around each other for the first few days while the dog is is confined. A baby gate between a doorway fits the bill. This allows them to each get used to each others’ scents over the course of a few days. When you’re not around, be sure to keep your dog and cat separated until they’re ready for unsupervised interactions. Never leave them alone together until they’re both completely relaxed in the same room together.
One of the very first things you should do when you bring home your new cat is to make an appointment with a veterinarian. Your new cat should be seen within 48 hours of coming home.
Instead of traumatizing your cat in a carrier at the vet’s office, why not have your vet come to you?