Be prepared should be your mantra when bringing a new cat into your home. Cats are particularly 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 cat and help him or her adapt more easily by following these guidelines:
Before You Bring Your Cat Home:
- Cats are territorial, and coming into a new home leaves them feeling really uneasy. There's all that unexplored space, and who knows what may lurk there. Do her a favor and provide a small area to call her own for the first few days or weeks. A bathroom, laundry room or spare bedroom works well. Furnish the room with cat amenities, such as food, water, toys, scratching post 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 her room where she can use it undisturbed. After all, everyone deserves a modicum of privacy when pottying, and giving her that will help forestall litter box aversion. See more information below on Litter habits and cleaning.
- Set up a feeding station with food and water bowls. Locate it away from the litter box. See below for information on their feeding routines that they would be used to in the DSPCA cattery. For more cat feeding and nutrition tips, visit the Purina website Food & Nutrition section. You can purchase Purina pet food in the DSPCA shop.
- Cats love to get away from it all in small places, and you can provide one for your new cat as her own little safe haven. If she 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" probably requires that she be able to see the door to the room from her hidey hole, so she won't be startled.
- A cat's claws need to be worn down, and they do this by scratching on things. This is normal cat behaviour and you will never be able to stop them scratching their claws. Since you prefer that it not be your chairs and sofa, provide your cat with a socially acceptable scratching place. Some types are made of corrugated cardboard and lie on the floor; others are posts which have to be tall enough so that the cat can extend himself upward to scratch. You can encourage your cat (once she has arrived) to use the post by sprinkling it with catnip or dangling a toy at the top. She'll get the idea especially if you give her praise after she uses a scratching post, even give her a treat when she scratches the post, this will make her understand that this is place to wear down her claws.
You'll probably want a scratching post in each room, perhaps blocking access to furniture you may want to protect until she learns where to scratch. You can also install sticky tape (available at pet supply stores) to corners of upholstered furniture to dissuade scratching as cats don't like the feel of sticky tape or plastic on their paws. When you catch them using your furniture rustle newspaper, make noise near the cat or spray her with a water pistol aiming at her body. Don't give out to them if you see that your furniture has been scratched, only give out to them when you catch them scratching the wrong place otherwise the cat will be confused as to why you are giving out to them. Never slap or smack a cat! If you value your furniture more than having a cat, maybe reconsider your choice of pet.
- 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. Most cat trees have scratching posts and comfy cat beds as part of tree so you are getting tree things in one. You can buy extra toys that can be easily attached to the tree, cat love playing with dangly cat toys. You may think cat trees are expensive but a good cat will be worth it's weight in gold and will used by your cats all the time and will be used for years.
- Look at your house with a curious cat's eye view for its climbing and exploring potential. When your cat is acclimated to your home, you may be surprised to find her on top of the upper kitchen cabinets, so make sure there's nothing on display there or on other high shelves that can be damaged or knocked off. If you don’t want your cat to jump up onto counters or climb your curtains, use one of these methods: rustle newspaper, clap your hands or spray with a water pistol but be sure to only use one behaviour modification trick for one specific behaviour problem, i.e. water pistol for counter walking, clap hands for sofa scratching otherwise you will confuse your cat. You can put sticky plastic, cling film or the shiny side of tinfoil on your counter tops as cats are not a big fan of the feel of these on their paws.
- Look for holes that leave pipes, underfloors or inner walls that are accessible and cover them up. A kitten can easily slither into one of these. You won't want firemen in the house, jackhammering the concrete floor to extract your cat.
- You will need to buy a cover for your cooker in case your kitty jumps onto the cooker top just after you have been using the cooker and burns it's paws. Cats are very quiet and fast so you need to turn your back only for a second for your cat to get injured.
- If there are other human family members, go over the ground rules about your new pet. Remind them not to startle her and to keep the door to her room shut.
- Bone up on how to introduce your cat to other pets. Keep her door closed and don't let your other pet race in unexpectedly.
What you need to buy for your new cat:
- *Kitten food – wet and dried Cat Food if over 1 year old – wet and dried
- *Food and *water bowls – cats do not like plastic so serve their water and food in stainless steel or ceramic bowls
- *Cat carrier for trips to the vet
- *A bed for the cat - cats are very fussy and they will decide what bed they like but nice and soft is always a good bet
- *Rug for the cats bed
- *Toys – make sure they are proper cat toys and supervise the cat with toys on strings, remember the more toys they have the less likely they are to find amusement with your belongings
- *Scratching post – have a few of these to protect your furniture, walls and carpets
- *Collar and ID tag with your phone number on
- *Cat Harness - for indoor cats or kittens if you plan to bring them for a walk
- *Brush and *flea comb
- *Litter tray and *cat litter and *litter scoop - baby nappy bags are handy for scooping the soiled litter into.
- Books and leaflets on kitten and cat care – you can find out more about looking after your kitten and cat on our Animal Care section of our website- www.dspca.ie
- Pet insurance – incase of the unexpected expense of illness or injury
* All these items can be bought in the DSPCA Shop.
You should either buy these before you bring your cat home or bring them home with you along with your new pet. Don't wait until after the cat is home before you go out and buy them.
Now, you are ready for your cat's homecoming. Bring her home in a cat carrier. It will feel safer to her and safer for you while driving. she has seen a lot of excitement, so take her directly to her new room. (Make sure the toilet lid is down, if she's to acclimate in your bathroom.) Ideally, you would restrict her exposure to the whole family, but naturally, everyone is going to want to see her. Remind them of the ground rules you've set up.
- When you arrive home, immediately enclose your cat into a quiet room where all of their belongings are already waiting for them. These should include a litter tray, food bowls, toys, bed & a scratching post. Take the cat directly from the pet carrier and place them in the litter tray, if they jump out its ok, you don’t have to put them back in.
- Put her into her new room and leave her for 15 minutes, this will let her get acclimatize to her new surroundings.
- 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 hidey hole and 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 newly adopted cat may not eat much or at all at first. It's best to give your cat the same food she had at our rescue and rehoming centre 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 frequently and make sure that she is drinking. If your cat hasn't eaten for a few days, call your vet to ask for advice. The DSPCA feeds their cats Purina cat food, you can buy Purina food in the DSPCA shop.
Kittens (10 weeks - 11 months old)
Are being fed two pouchs of Felix kitten food day – which is split into 2 meals. Always leave out a separate bowl of kitten dry food and a bowl of fresh water as well.
Adult Cats (Over the age of 1 year)
Are being fed two Felix Adult food pouches – split into 2 meals. Again always leave a separate bowl of adult dry food and a bowl of fresh water.
Kittens/Cats rarely overeat and are grazers so by leaving out a bowl of dry food they can eat whenever they are hungry throughout the day!
NEVER GIVE A KITTEN OR CAT MILK APART FROM SPECIAL CAT MILK
This may sound odd as people think cats love milk but many cats are lactose intolerant and it can cause an upset stomach, symptoms include vomitting and diarrhoea so it is very unpleasant and dangerous for the cat as they can get dehydratted very quickly and this can be fatal especially kittens and also unpleasant for you to clean up.
Although it is acceptable to feed a cat a mix of wet and dry food, it is recommended to feed kittens/Cats a diet of dried food only. A complete dry food is an optimum diet for your cat as it provides all the nutrients of wet/dry food, its also better for the cat’s teeth and digestive system. Cats will be less prone to be overweight and it makes your life easier as your cat can graze throughout the day and you don’t have to rush home to feed them. Just remember to leave a big bowl of fresh water out…
When changing the cats diet be sure to do it gradually. Over the period of a couple of weeks, decrease the amount of wet food and increase the amount of dry food. A change in diet too quickly can cause diarrhoea. A gradual change shouldn’t cause the cat to become fussy.
Place the litter tray in a quiet area where the cat will have a bit of privacy. For the first while the cat’s litter tray has been placed in a quiet room until they have adjusted to their new surroundings. If this is not where the cat’s litter tray is being placed long term, then be sure to leave a tray in the original spot as well as introducing a new tray in the new spot. Again place the cat in the litter tray once. After a week or two of having 2 trays remove the original tray and close the door of that room temporarily.
How often you change the litter is up to you - but know this, a cat will not use a really dirty litter tray and may resort to using an area in your home instead. How often you change the cat litter depends on the size of the cat, the tray and amount of cats you have, etc. Covered litter trays are useful in containing the smell but don’t get one with a door if you have a young kitten – or remove the door until they get bigger. Place newspaper in the tray and add a few scoops of litter on top. Some people choose to change the litter after each and every time the cat uses the tray, other prefer to scoop out the hard bits and change the litter every few days. You’ll learn quickly how often your cat’s litter tray needs to be changed. Cats have a very strong sense of smell so a dirty litter box will be very unappealing for them to use.
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. Make sure other pets or family members won't startle her while she gradually expands her territory. 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 rolled up tinfoil to bat around or a paper bag or box to hide in can be fun. If your home is particularly large open the rooms up gradually. Make sure your cat always has access to there own room. Young kittens should be brought back into their own room every so often, as they may not be able to find their litter tray when roaming.
Introducing your new cat to an already established cat:
If you are introducing the cat to an already established cat, let the cats get to know each other in their own way. Do this on the second day. You should start of opening the door of your new cats room a small crack so they can see each other but can't touch each other. Keep doing this at intervals until they get used to seeing and smelling each others scents. You can expect some hissing, growling and swiping – This is the established cat’s way of letting the newcomer that they are on her/his territory.
Never leave the cats alone and supervise their first few meetings. At night or when your are not at home lock the newcomer in their room until you feel comfortable that the cats will be safe if left alone together. It can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of months before the cats can reach an agreement! Never rush introductions of two cats as cats can get stressed very easily and they love routine so having to deal with another cat is something that you need to do slowly, it is better to do it slowly than rush it and regret it later.
Be sure to have separate food bowls, litter trays and beds for the two cats. Always ensure there is plenty of food, as this will make the transition easier as the established cat realises that there is no reason to fight over food. Feed the established cat first so their routine is not changed and they don't feel neglected. Some experts recommend having a litter tray per cat + one. Always make sure they have privacy and put the litter tray where they feel safe, so don't put a litter tray beside a cat flap as they may feel they could be easily attacked by another cat and will not use the litter box using somewhere else in your house! Always make sure to give them equal attention so they don't become jealous of each other.
Make sure your cats are Microchipped and your number on their collar tag as they may get upset with this change and your established cat may go off for a sulk and having them microchipped will help to return your cat to you safely if they wander too far.
When introducing your cat to a different pet, i.e. dog, rabbit etc please contact a member of the DSPCA staff or your local vet for more advice. See the Purina website for more information on New Cat Introductions and Living with Cats and Dogs.
Your cat or kitten will have already received at least one vaccination by our vets. You must take your pet to your Vet for their next vaccination. You will have been given this date when you adopted your cat.
They will need a booster every year for the rest of their life. Vaccinations keep your cat safe from harmful diseases and if you board your cat while on holiday you will need to show an up to date Vaccination card.
If your cat is under the age of 6 months old he/she will need to be neutered/spayed at a later date. You will receive an appointment letter from us with your proposed appointment date when the cat reaches six months of age. If you don’t please call our veterinary dept to arrange an appointment on Ext 218. It is a simple operation, you will need to drop your cat to us on the arranged date & time and collect them the next morning at the agreed time. This operation is part of your adoption agreement and fee.
Your cat has already been wormed by our vets. It is important to worm your cat every 3-6 months. You will have been given this date when you adopted your cat. Take your cat to your vet for worming tablets and they will show you how to give your pet their medication.
Kittens need to be wormed more frequently, Every 2 weeks until 6 months of age. Monthly from 6-12 months
Your cat has already been de flea'ed. It is recommended to de flea your cat anywhere from 1-3 months depending on the product used. Again have this treatment carried out by your vet as they use effective de fleaing products. Using a vet bought de'fleaing treatment is much more effective and cheaper in the long run than using a non veterinary approved treatment like a flea collar.
Your cat has been microchipped. This is a small chip, the size of a grain of rice, which is harmlessly inserted in the base of their neck. The chip has a 15 digit code, which is unique to the them. Your contact details correspond with this code and is maintained by PetTrace. If your cat is picked up and taken to a Vet Clinic or an Animal Shelter they will be immediately scanned for a chip and thus re uniting them with you!
Most of the cats brought up to the DSPCA rescue and rehoming centre are strays that are never reunited with their owners. When you take your cat to see your vet for check ups, boosters etc ask your vet to scan for a micro chip to make sure the chip is still active and hasn’t moved down the cats body and to register the microchip number on your pets records.
If you have adopted an Adult cat, they must stay indoors for at least one month, longer if possible, to prevent them from straying. By keeping your new cat indoors for at least a month they will identify the house/apt as her territory that needs protecting. Many cats let out before the one month period stray – some looking for their previous home and others get lost.
Kittens must stay in until they have been neutered/spayed at six months of age and it is advisable to keep kittens in for as long as possible.
Kittens and young adult Cats have little or no road sense so the longer you keep the cat in, the better. Also most road traffic accidents happen at night, so only let your cat out during the day.
If your cat ever goes missing, inform the DSPCA, Vet clinics in your area and your neighbours. Putting signs up in local shops etc also proves to be helpful. Read more on what to do if your pet goes missing.
Be sure to put an elasticised /”break-free”, safety cat collar and I.D disc on your cat with at least 2 contact telephone numbers on it just in case they go missing. Cat collars must be elasticised or break free to allow the cat to wriggle free if they ever get caught in bushes or on branches. Cat collars should be loose enough to fit 2 of your fingers underneath it. Remember to check regularly that its not too tight – Kittens grow quickly!
Keep Washing machine and dryer doors closed and check them before using them.
Keep Toilet seat lids down as kittens can easily drown in the toilet.
Keep loose wires tied safely away- Kittens love to chew on these.
Enjoy your new cat and if you have any questions, regardless of how silly you may think they are, please do not hesitate to contact us XXXXXXXXXX
Congratulations! If you follow these tips, you'll be on your way to having a well-adjusted feline family member.