Have you been swayed by one too many adorable cat videos and now you’re considering getting the real thing? Welcome to the dark side. Or should we say the warm, snuggly, fluffy side! Cats make wonderful pets and are much more loving than the haters give them credit for, but there are some things to keep in mind before welcoming a kitty into your home. Here are 5 tips to help you make a cat’s transition as smooth as possible.
- Have a separate space ready
Whether you’re bringing a new kitten or a rescue cat into a new space, it’s always important to give cats time to adjust to their new environment. Offering a separate room or space away from you or other animals will help cats calmly transition and open up. The first few days or potentially weeks they will likely be very wary of you so don’t expect to be videotaping adorable interactions just yet.
If you have other animals, especially other cats, it’s important to keep them separated for the first week or so to help scent affiliation. Many cats are not happy about new intruders in their space so starting interactions between these pets through closed doors or sliding windows is a great way to slowly familiarize them with each other. This will make the first physical introduction much easier in the long run. When these physical interactions happen, keep the animals calm in a controlled space with many exit options for either one.
- Prepare for preference testing
Cats can be picky with lots of things, just like humans. When you first get your kitty, it’s a good idea to get small bags of food or a few different brands to try and weed out what they’ll end up liking. Some cats like only wet food while some eat only dry food. In the case of the latter, make sure you have plenty of water sources around the house to supplement any fluid they may not be getting from their meals.
Some cats can be picky with treats, so get a few different kinds to see which ones have your kitties running your way as soon as you shake the container. A recent favorite of our cats is the squeezable treats. They practically trip over each other for another slurp.
Cats may also be picky about their litter, especially if you’re trying to use a less dusty substitute to the usual clay clumpers. It will take time and patience to transition your cat to something new, which may make things more stressful when they’re already stressed in a new environment, so it may be good to do whatever they’re used to first. You can always adjust them down the line.
- Set aside time for bonding
While it may take your kitty some time to get to know you, most cats are attention-seekers and will eventually get curious and approach your space. Enjoy these moments and make them a positive experience for your cat. Offer treats and praise, pets if they want, or play with toys together. You will become more important the more you interact with them so encouraging interaction by setting aside time in your day when your kitty is feeling social is a great idea.
Unlike most dogs, cats are not attention-seeking all of the time. They will go off and do their own thing. If they are forced into interaction when they don’t want it, they’re likely to get irritated or angry, so wait for them to approach you. Eventually you’ll get to know the extent your kitty likes to be fawned over and can adjust to meet both of your needs.
- Have the necessary supplies
Cats do need a little more than an Amazon shipping box and a toy mouse, but it’s probably not as much as you’re thinking when you eventually float down all the isles of Petco. The main items a kitty needs are a litter box – multiple litter boxes if you have multiple cats – a bed/blanket that is theirs and they can leave their scent on, basic food and treats, a carrier for travels/vet visits, food and water bowls, and a scratching post. You can buy expensive toys or towers, but cats are pretty self-entertaining so only a few toys may suffice. My cat’s favorite toy is a string I pulled off an old hoodie of mine.
Scratching posts are really helpful in keeping cat claws healthy and give cats an outlet to exert energy on besides your sofa. A bed/blanket can be the special spot that belongs to that cat and can be with them in their special space from the beginning. This way they can rub their scent on it and get comfortable in their new territory.
- Visit the vet immediately
This is for every cat out there, whether they are a new kitten or an older adoption. Most of the time you’ll be getting your new friend with updated medical records of shots or procedures they’ve had, however there are times some cats fall through the cracks. There are also a lot of illnesses that can pass around in shelters or foster homes.
It’s important to understand where your kitty is in life, what difficulties they may have that their previous caretaker may not have known of, and how best to care for them in the future. A visit to the vet can offer a level of comfort if this is your first cat. They usually have recommendations for foods or treats that could benefit your kitty long into their life.
Vet visits can become expensive if your cat has a problem that goes undiagnosed for a long time so by getting the first visit out of the way, you’ll have the upmost knowledge you’ll need to make sure you’re giving your kitty the best care they need.
A new cat can be a huge blessing to your life and it doesn’t take much to get ready for them. With just a little time and consideration, you and your kitty will have a such a great experience in this next chapter of both your lives!