Welcoming a new cat or kitten into your home is an exciting event. However, like any new experience, it can feel daunting to prepare your home for your new furry family member. Now is the peak season for finding kittens and adult cats available for adoption, as it’s the height of the kitten season. And of course, there are always wonderful adult and senior cats in need of forever homes, all year round.
Cats make excellent pets, especially for those who live in apartments or other areas with limited green space, which would be needed for a dog. Cats are also an excellent option for those with limited mobility who are in need of companionship. If you are considering opening your home to a new cat, here are some tips to help make the transition easier — both for you and for them.
1. Prep your home ahead of time
Before you go to pick up your new cat or kitten, make sure you’re all set up with the appropriate supplies. Here is a quick checklist of things to do and buy:
• Crate or carrier to safely bring home your new feline friend
• Food dish and appropriate food for your kitten or adult cat
• Water dish
• Quiet area to set up food and water
• Litter box, litter scoop and litter (if you have more than one cat, supply one box per cat so they have adequate space)
• Cats are very curious, so remove breakables on shelves or tables that cats could access
• Make sure you have no ductwork, HVAC registers or other holes that could be hazardous – or cover them up.
2. Choose a “starting room”
When you first introduce your cat to their new home, pick one room to isolate them for a few days so they can slowly get used to the new sights, sounds, and smells of your home. It should be the same room where their litter box is kept, so they’ll know that location from the start. Make sure to supply your new furry friend with clean water and food.
After a few days in the starting room, gradually open up more rooms of the house so your cat can explore. If you’re introducing them to other animals in the house, do so very gradually. Let them get used to each other’s smells first by swapping rooms for several days, before allowing any supervised face-to-face interactions.
3. Offer them a cozy hideout
Cats love small, enclosed places where they’ll feel safe and secure. You can leave a cat carrier open or supply a cardboard box or covered cat bed. Make sure the box or carrier is big enough for the cat to stand up and move around in. Put down a soft blanket or towel to make the box comfy.
If possible, position the box or carrier so it faces the door to the room. That way they won’t be startled by people or other pets entering.
4. Set up their first vet appointment
After adopting a new cat, it’s always a good idea to have it checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible. You’ll want to immediately get a sense of health issues and any special care that may be required. If your cat is adopted from an animal shelter, they may have recommendations for vets in your area.
5. Let them come to you
A new cat will likely be nervous at first. Give them time to become accustomed to their surroundings without rushing them or pushing them to be affectionate. If you’re quiet and still, they are more likely to come out and visit. Teach your children to wait patiently for the cat to come to them, and they will be rewarded over time. If your children aren’t used to cats, make sure to supervise them the first few weeks.
You can gently coax your cat to interact with a fun feather toy or tempting treats, and it won’t be too long before they’re ready to socialize — and to show you how happy they are to be living in their welcoming new home.
Are you ready to adopt a new cat or kitten? Learn more about how you can support animal rescue efforts, foster or adopt a new pet at: www.PetSmartCharities.org.