Before bringing your new kitty home, you should be prepared with some supplies. It’s best to have all supplies ready before the first time your new pet enters the house because he should be able to immediately begin exploring and get used to things.
Here are some essentials:
|Carrier||Food & Water Bowls||Litter Box||Cat Litter||Cat Bed||Scratching Post|
Cat Carrier or Crate
The first thing you will need is a cat carrier or crate. This purchase will likely be one of your firsts, as you will need one to take your new friend home in. It should be safe and sturdy with plenty of ventilation and easy access for you.
One of the more ideal cat carriers is the Petmate Two Door Top Load. Sturdy, all hard surfaces for easy clean and sanitation, and easy top access for stress free removal.
Food and Water Bowls
Your cat should have food and water bowls waiting for him upon his arrival. A clean and inviting water dish is essential. We recommend either glass, stainless steel, or ceramic water bowls (no plastic).
About Plastic Bowls
Although plastic bowls are generally sturdy, they have a couple of downsides. First, many cats have an allergy to plastic and develop a skin condition on their chins resembling acne. Second, plastic tends to nick and scratch, and those tiny fissures become a breeding ground for germs. It’s best to avoid plastic if at all possible.
If you’ve adopted a kitten, you should consider purchasing smaller, shallower bowls designed specifically for kittens. Bowls should be cleaned daily and placed far from the litter box, as cats don’t like to eat and relieve themselves in the same location.
We recommend Hill’s, Purina, or Royal Canin pet food.
There are many different styles of litter boxes available today. A self-cleaning litter box has a mechanism that will rake the dirty litter after your cat has used the box. While some owners appreciate the cleaning help this offers, these boxes are quite expensive and the mechanism can sometimes frighten the cat. A hooded litter box has a tall cover that is meant to give the kitten some privacy while hiding the mess often found in litter boxes. This can also be a great help in keeping litter from being tossed over the edge of the box and onto the floor. However, some cats are afraid of the hood and will not use a litter box that is enclosed. The third litter box option is a plain plastic box with kitty litter inside. Many cat owners prefer this simpler option but it does require some upkeep.
There should be more litter boxes than there are cats in the household. In addition to having an adequate number of boxes, place them in locations throughout the house and not in one room. If one cat feels nervous about passing through another cat’s area in order to eliminate, he may decide it’s just too stressful and could end up either eliminating on the carpet or retaining his urine until the last possible second. Either of those options aren’t good ideas. Reduce stress by making sure boxes are located in areas where each cat feels most comfortable.
Cat Beds & Hideaways
Many cats will happily fall asleep anywhere, but a cat bed will be a favorite napping spot. The bed should be warm and soft, and it should be located in a place that makes your kitty feel comfortable and safe. There might be one chair in your home that has become the favorite among the cats and there may be some bickering over who gets to sleep in it. Provide other cozy napping options to reduce disputes. Place A-frame beds, or donut beds on shelves or tucked away in corners for the cats who prefer to remain hidden while napping. Install padded window perches for the cats who like to nap in a sunny window. Observe your cats’ sleeping habits and location preferences so you can provide comfortable options for each one.
Some cats may like to remain somewhat hidden when entering a shared territory area. In that case, place cat tunnels around so a kitty can move through a room and feel invisible.
Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser
Moving into a new home with a new family is a very stressful event for most cats. When cats are moving into a new environment, they need lots of help adjusting to their new home. The Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser provides a sense of calm for the cat by releasing an odorless vapor that mimics a cat’s calming pheromones. These pheromones help communicate to your cat that the area is safe. By providing your cat with this sense of calm, it can help prevent stress-related issues such as urine marking on the walls or even destructive scratching which can be signs that your cat is stressed.
Cat Scratching Post
Cats need to scratch, so purchasing a cat scratching post can help with that urge. Make sure the post has a sturdy base to keep it from tipping over. It should be at least as tall as the cat so he can stand on his hind legs and get a good stretch while he’s scratching. The Stretch n’ Scratch Cardboard Toy™ can transform into 3 shapes, making it adjustable to your cat’s specific needs. If you have more than one cat, you should have at least one scratching post per kitty.
Provide multiple scratching posts in the home. Marking is one of the functions of scratching and some cats may not want to share a scratching post. You may also notice that each cat has a particular preference when it comes to where, when or how they scratch. One cat may prefer horizontal scratching, one might do vertical scratching, another may like to scratch just after waking from a nap, etc. Place scratching posts in locations where the cats like to scratch and provide the type of post that will accommodate scratching preferences.
Cats love to play, so you’ll need to provide your cat with a variety of safe toys. Pouncing is a favorite activity of cats, so balls and catnip-filled mice are good options. To avoid the danger of your cat choking on a piece of a toy, do not give him toys that have small parts that can be torn off, such as bells, feathers, or pom-poms. Ensure you examine each toy to make sure it’s safe for your cat.
Bringing your cat home
Reducing the likelihood of problems – Keep Your Cats Separated At First
Even if the cat you are adopting is good with other cats, there is always the possibility of problems when introducing strangers to each other. There are several steps that you can take to reduce the likelihood of problems. Before bringing your new cat home, create a separate “territory” for her. This area should be equipped with food, water, a scratching post, a litter box, access to natural sunlight, and comfortable resting places.
This will provide your new cat with a safe place to get used to their surroundings and enable you to control how and when your two cats meet each other. After 2-3 days, some cat experts recommend switching the cats’ locations so they can get used to each others’ smells.
Your other cats should have their own separate territory. Make certain that both areas (the space for the new cat and the space for the other cats) contain multiple hiding places so the cats can easily retreat if necessary. Large cardboard boxes with holes cut in two sides make great hiding places. The second hole allows the cat to escape if cornered by another cat. The boxes will come into play once you start allowing the cats to interact directly, but it can be helpful to introduce the boxes first, so that the cats become accustomed to using them. Keep in mind that cats like to hide in high places, so remove fragile items from shelves or block access to the shelves.
Here’s another way to introduce cats to each other’s scent: Cats have glands in their cheeks that produce pheromones. When your cat rubs her cheek against a wall, chair, or your leg, she produces pheromones, which are chemical substances that can help to relieve anxiety and provide information about the cat who is producing those pheromones. Exposing each cat to towels that were gently rubbed on the new cat’s cheeks may be a good way to introduce them. Some cats respond very well to a synthetic pheromone (a spray or diffuser), a product that can be bought online or in pet supply stores.
Many behaviorists advise rubbing the cats with the same towel to mix their scents. Use a clean sock to rub on the new cat’s face to capture her facial pheromones. Then, she instructs, leave the sock near the existing cat and let him investigate on his own.
Next, you can start allowing the cats closer access to each other by placing them on either side of a closed door so that they can smell each other directly. The next step is to allow them to see each other through a baby gate or a door that is propped open two inches. If the cats are interested in each other and seem comfortable, allow them to meet. Open the door to the rooms between the cats and observe them closely.
After a few more days, the next step is to play with each of the cats near the door, building up positive associations with the scent of the other cat. This play, again, helps each cat associate the other cat with a good time.
Place both cats’ dishes close to the door, on their respective sides. If one of the cats refuses to eat, you can feed her elsewhere, but still place dishes of tuna or some other tasty snack on either side of the door. By having both cats experience something positive (a meal or yummy snack) while they are nearby, they can learn to form positive associations with each other.
Letting the cats spend time together
If everything seems to be going well, and everyone is acting, eating and using the litter box normally, you’re doing great! The next step is to open the separating door, but keep a gate of some sort across it so they can see, smell and have contact with each other. The gate should prevent complete access. (A baby gate is perfect, but usually not high enough for cats, so you may need to stack two on top of each other.)
The next stage is to permit the cats to spend time together without a barrier between them. Supervise these initial face-to-face interactions carefully.
It’s good to bring the cats together when they are likely to be relatively calm, such as after a meal or strenuous play. Keep a squirt bottle handy in case the cats begin to fight. As the cats become more familiar with each other, allow them longer and longer periods of time together.
Feline-Friendly Vertical Territory
You can greatly increase your cats’ territory just by increasing the vertical space in your home. Cat trees, cat shelves or window perches are easy and effective ways to help cats feel as if they have more physical territory than they actually do.
Multicat Households: Keeping the Peace
Multi-perched cat trees allow more than one cat to remain in close proximity to one another while still maintaining some degree of a pecking order. A cat tree may initially seem like an expensive investment but it will be a valuable and well-used piece of real estate inside your home. It may be the most stress-free way for a couple of cats to look out of the same window. It can also be a way that a higher-ranking displays status without having to resort to aggression. When shopping for a cat tree, choose one with large perches so cats feel comfortable without having legs hanging off the end. I recommend U-shaped perches so a cat can feel his back up against something which can increase his sense of security.
Engage your cats in interactive playtime but don’t ask them to all compete for one toy or else there’s a strong probability that the game will turn from fun to intimidation. Instead, schedule individual interactive playtime with each cat each day. If you have a couple of cats who are very bonded and do play cooperatively without intimidation, then you can have them share the interactive toy as long as you’re careful to make sure each cat gets their turn.
Monitor the Relationships Between the Cats
It’s up to you to watch the body language of your cats and monitor whether there is tension brewing. Use appropriate behavior techniques to diffuse tension and prevent the situation from escalating into something hostile. Keep your cats engaged in activities that distract them from picking on each other. Use environmental enrichment to keep cats happy and satisfied. Set up puzzle feeders, rotate toys and place them in interesting locations, engage in twice-daily interactive play sessions and work on any issues before they become big problems.