When You Bring a New Cat or Kitten Home

kitten closeup14Congrats on your new feline family member!

Help Kitty adjust to her new surroundings so she feels secure in her new territory and learns your house rules.  Follow these guidelines to make her transition smoother:

  • First, take Kitty to your veterinarian.  She’ll receive a thorough physical exam, and your vet will give you guidelines for your cat’s future health care, including a vaccine schedule.  Follow your vet’s recommendations for a healthy, happy cat.
  • Set up a room to confine Kitty when you can’t supervise her.  She’ll enjoy having her own space, where she can acclimate to her new home @ her pace.  Her room should include  a litter box, a scratching post (ideally by a window), toys, and food/water.  (See “Prepare Your Home for a New Feline“.)
  • When you’re home and Kitty is out of her room….. supervise, supervise, supervise!
  • Cat proof and cat-ify your home to keep Kitty safe and to minimize undesired behaviors as she explores & plays.
  • If you catch Kitty misbehaving, distract her with interactive play.  Then cat proof that new trouble spot she just showed you.  Never scare or hit Kitty.  Cats respond poorly (aggression, house soiling, destructive scratching, etc.)  to physical punishment.
  • Keep Kitty’s nails trimmed to minimize destructive scratching.  (Ask your vet to show you how to do this.)  You CAN train your cat not to scratch destructively.  Start by giving her several sturdy scratching posts that double as window perches that she can jump on & climb.  Skip those tiny, wobbly posts or she’ll use your sofa!
  • Play daily with your cat.  Several short, interactive play sessions are ideal.  This gives her a constructive outlet for her natural predatory instincts.  Use interactive toys (see our suggestions) so you can spend quality time with Kitty and teach her not to use teeth or claws on you.
  • If you’re introducing a new cat to a resident cat, take it slow.  Don’t force them to meet.  Let the newcomer relax in her room (see above), which is not, ideally, your other cat’s favorite room.  Allow the resident cat to roam the house as usual.  Spend special time with your original cat, doing things he loves to reassure him: interactive play, catnip parties, cuddling, treats.  A bit of hissing & swatting is normal, but it should pass quickly if all is going well.  The new cat can have more freedom, supervised, if the resident kitty is relaxed.  Do not let more than a week go by if either cat is still stressed – call a cat behaviorist for more guidance.  There are many more ways to successfully create a multi-cat household.

Remember, an adult cat can be a wonderful, kitten-alternative addition to your family.  Consider opening your heart & home to an older feline.   Enjoy your cat!

Article by Ruth Hagen.

© 2013 CritterConsulting.com

© 2013 TheSoulfulPet.com

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