Tips to Manage the First Month with your New Cat

Plan and Get Ready.

It seems simple enough to adopt a cat and bring it home, but there are few things to consider.

Be prepared.

Cats are sensitive to new surroundings and some may hide under a bed or in a closet for days or even weeks.

You can avoid pitfalls with your new fur baby and help him or her adapt by following these guidelines:

Before You Bring Your Cat Home:

Cats are territorial, and coming into a new home leaves them feeling uneasy. There’s all that unexplored space, and who knows what may lurk there. Do him a favor and provide a small area to call his own for the first few days or weeks. A bathroom or laundry room works well. Furnish the room with cat amenities, such as food, water and a litter box. 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 his room where he can use it undisturbed. After all, everyone deserves some privacy when going potty, and this will help him like the litter box.

Set up a feeding station with food and water bowls. Locate it away from the litter box.

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 came home in a cat carrier, that might be a good choice. You can also make one by cutting a doorway for her in the end of a box. If you prefer, you can buy a covered cat bed at a pet supply store. In either case, make sure the space is big enough for the cat to stand up and turn around in. Cat “feng shui” requires that he or she be able to see the door to the room from his hidey hole.

Cats don’t bite their nails. Cats wear down their claws by scratching on things. So those cats do not scratch your chairs and sofa, give your cat with an acceptable scratching place. Some scratch items are made of corrugated cardboard and lie on the floor. Posts 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 should put a scratching post in each room where there is soft furniture, to stop access to it.

  • Apply sticky tape from pet supply stores to the corners of furniture to stop the cat scratching. Read this article if you think you want to de-claw your cat.
  • Look at your house with a curious cat’s eye view for its climbing and exploring potential. When your cat is comfortable in your home, you may find him on top of the upper kitchen cabinets! Make sure there’s nothing on display there or on other high shelves that can be knocked
  • Look for holes or registers that leave ductwork accessible and cover them up. A kitten can slip 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 favored 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.
  • Bone up on how to introduce your cat to other pets. Keep her door closed other pets racing in will shock him or her. See also: New Cat Introductions and How to Live with Cats and Dogs.

First Day:

Now, you are ready for your cat’s homecoming. Bring her home in a cat carrier. It will feel safer to her. She has seen a lot of excitement, so take her straight to her new room. (Make sure the toilet lid is down, if she’s to acclimate in your bathroom.) Introduce her to the whole family, as everyone is going to want to see her. Remind them of the ground rules you’ve set up.

  • Sit on the floor and let her come to you. Don’t force her. Just let her get acquainted on her own time. If she doesn’t approach, leave her alone and try again later. Some cats are particularly frightened, and she may retreat to her room hidey hole. She may not come out when you’re around at all. She may only come out at night when the house is quiet. Give her time.
  • Your adopted cat may not eat much or at all at first. It’s best to give your cat the same food she had at the shelter or in her foster home, at least at first. Keeping some things familiar will make her feel more secure. Be sure to change her water at least daily and make sure that she is drinking. If your cat hasn’t eaten for a few days, call your vet to ask for advice.

Following Weeks:

It may take your cat a week or two to adjust. Be patient.

  • As your cat adjusts, she’ll show signs that she wants to explore outside her safe haven. Let her explore and learn about her environment. Make sure other pets or family members won’t startle her. She may be ready to play, so you can furnish some toys. Many cats like feather wands from the pet supply store, but homemade toys are often favored. A wad of a tissue paper to bat around or a paper bag to hide in can be fun. For more ideas on how to keep your cat entertained.

Congratulations! If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to having a well-adjusted feline family member.

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