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Tips When Bringing Home a New Cat

This is an exciting time for you and your family. You’re about to bring home a new family member. Regardless of where the cat is coming from here are some tips to help make the transition easier for everyone. It’s important to not rush the process in order to give your cat time to adjust to her new surroundings and new family members.

Visit Your Vet

Even if your new cat is already up-to-date on vaccinations, visit the veterinarian for a medical check-up. To give this newest family member the best start, have her checked by the veterinarian. This is also the time to talk to the veterinarian about any questions you may have about your new family member. During this visit you can also have her microchipped. Your cat may also be dewormed for internal parasites and you may be advised to start a flea control program.

Cat-Proof Your Home

If you haven’t lived with a cat before you’ll be surprised at the places a kitty can hide and the trouble she can get into. Look at cat-proofing as you would baby-proofing but consider your cat as a super toddler who can jump almost seven times her height, squeeze into spaces that seem completely impossible, use her teeth to chew through cords, among many other talents that a new cat parent probably never thought possible.

Give Your New Cat a Place of Her Own

Even though you plan on providing a loving home for your new cat, she’s not ready to see all of it yet. A cat is a territorial creature of habit and it’ll be overwhelming for her to simply be placed in the middle of the living room the first day you bring her home. Instead, set up a sanctuary room so she can take time to get her bearings.

Allow Time for Your Cat to get her Bearings

Depending upon where she came from and her anxiety level, it’s normal for her to not want to eat, use her litter box or drink any water right away. Provide a small amount of food and give her privacy. She may feel more comfortable to eat when no one is around initially. If she doesn’t show any interest in eating the first day, just keep providing small meals and fresh water. Don’t put out too much food so you can monitor whether any is getting eaten or not. By the second day she should be hungry enough to start nibbling. If not, talk to your veterinarian. You don’t want the cat to go more than a day without eating but your veterinarian will provide specific instructions on how you should handle the situation based on your cat’s specific history and circumstances.

Slowly Introduce Other Family Members to the New Cat

Everyone in the family will be anxious to get to know the new cat but she may not be ready to have several unfamiliar people crowded in her sanctuary room. Do individual introductions slowly. If she’s hiding and seems not yet ready, back off and let her continue to gain confidence in her new surroundings. There will be plenty of time later to make formal introductions.

Let Your New Cat Explore

When your new cat feels comfortable and is no longer hiding, you can start to let her explore beyond her sanctuary room. If you live in a large home, don’t overwhelm her by letting her wander around in every room. Let her explore slowly, a little at a time so she always knows the route back to her sanctuary.

Start Trust-Building and Training

It’s never too early to start training. Your new cat is always learning and what she learns depends on the messages you send. Be consistent and humane in your training process. Provide what she needs, use positive, force-free training that sends a consistent message and always let her know when she’s done it right. The decision to bring a cat into your life may have been a sudden and impulsive move but providing for her health and happiness should never be.

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