By Julia Williams
If I followed my heart, I would have a whole house full of cats. But as a responsible pet owner, I must follow my head which says three is my current limit. Now, many people would say three cats IS a house full, but never mind. If you are lucky enough to be adopting a new kitten or cat (or “angel with fur,” as I like to call them), there are some things you’ll need to do before you bring them home. Planning ahead for the fluffy new arrival will ensure that this transition goes smoothly, for you and your household as well as your new kitty.
The first thing on your agenda is shopping for all the essential supplies. You don’t want to bring the new kitty home and then run all over town looking for the things you’ll need to make them comfortable in their new surroundings. Essential supplies include a sturdy cat carrier, litter box, kitty litter, scooper, cat food and water dishes, grooming brush, cat bed or cat blanket, high quality cat food, scratching post and some toys. You might also way to pick up a book or two on cat care and behavior.
If you’re adopting a kitten, be aware that they are very fond of climbing and jumping, and they play enthusiastically with no consideration for your valuables. Therefore, kitten proofing your home is advised if you wish to keep your precious Ming vase in one piece. You’ll enjoy your rambunctious kitten’s antics a lot more if you move your breakables to a safe place for the time being.
You might also want to move any houseplants that are situated at floor level. Kittens (and even adult cats) are very attracted to plants, and they might chew on the leaves, sit on top of the plant or dig in the dirt. Moving your plants to less accessible areas, like the top of a bookshelf or outdoors in nice weather, will ensure that they don’t become a plaything for your kitty. Many common houseplants are actually poisonous for cats and should be removed from your home entirely. The Cat Fanciers’ Association has a detailed list of all the plants to avoid.
When it’s time for your kitty to come to their new home, it’s imperative that you transport them in a pet carrier. A loose cat riding in the car is a surefire recipe for disaster, as is carrying them from car to house in your arms. If possible, bring a towel for your new kitten or cat to sleep on for a few days before “moving day,” so it will have something familiar in the new surroundings. This will comfort the kitty and help it feel more secure with this big change.
Arrange to situate the new kitten or cat in a quiet place in your home, like a spare bedroom. It should be someplace where the kitty can be away from the hustle and bustle of your home, particularly if you have children or other pets. It’s also a good idea to limit introductions to family members (both two and four legged) for the first few days, which allows kitty to settle in, and minimizes the stress of being in a new environment. Put all of the new kitty’s essential supplies in this room for the time being.
Don’t force the kitty to come out of the carrier, just open the door and let them come out when they’re ready to explore. Leave the open carrier in the room so the kitty can go back into it if they get frightened by something and want a safe place to hide. But don’t be surprised, though, if they take up residence under your bed or in the back of your closet for those first few days. Eventually your new kitten or cat will become braver and venture out to explore their room.
It’s a good idea to arrange to bring your new kitten or cat home on the weekend or at a time when someone can be there with it for a few days. It’s frightening for an animal to be taken to some strange new place and then left all alone. Being there for this transition will help the new kitty bond with you and feel safe in their new forever home. And, it will go a long way toward creating a well-adjusted, happy cat.
I hope these tips on bringing home a new kitten or cat will help you to take good care of them. I only wish I could be there to give your new kitty a “welcome home” kiss.
Read more articles by Julia Williams
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
By Julia Williams