How To Prepare For A New Cat Or Kitten
It’s so exciting bringing a new cat or kitten home for the very first time. You’re about to welcome an adorable little stranger into your house and forge a deep and amazing bond with them – how magical is that?!
Once they arrive, you’re going to want to give your new cat your undivided care and attention. So is there anything you can do in advance to ensure a stress-free arrival? When it comes to introducing a new cat to your home, the boy scout’s motto – ‘be prepared’ definitely applies!
1. Assemble the basics
There are some basic things you’ll need to buy or acquire before your new cat or kitten arrives…
- A cat carrier: You’ll need a robust cat carrier to collect your cat, and to take them to and from the vets.
- Food and water bowls: Look for shallow bowls that your cat will be able to eat and drink from without getting their whiskers wet.
- Wet / dry food: Ask the shelter or their breeder what brand and type of food your cat is currently eating and stick to the same, so that they have some continuity while they settle in to your home.
- A litter tray, scoop and litter: Again, ask the shelter or their breeder what type of litter tray and what brand of litter your cat is currently used to, and stick to the same while they are settling in. You can always change things later once they’ve adjusted to their new environment.
- Scratching post(s): For your furniture’s sake, and your cat’s, invest in a few scratching posts and dot them around your home.
- Cat toys: Your cat will need lots of love, attention and playtime, especially while you’re getting to know each other. Get prepared with feather / fishing rod toys, catnip mice and anything else that takes your fancy.
- Grooming apparatus: You’ll need a cat grooming brush and cat claw trimmer (these are special ones for cats, a human nail clipper won’t do).
- A cat bed: You can always fashion one from a cardboard box with a blanket inside, but your cat will be grateful for having a bed they can call their own in their first weeks and months in your home (once they realise they’re king or queen of the house, they’ll probably decide that most available surfaces in the home can double as their bed!)
- Something to clean up accidents: Especially relevant for a kitten, but handy for any cat that is going to be getting used to a new environment, as it’s likely that there will be the odd toileting mishap. Get prepared with some stain and odour remover – we used this one when Lyra and Lola first came home.
- Feliway diffuser / spray: These pheromone sprays are scientifically proven to reduce cat stress and make a cat feel more confident in exploring a new environment. You can pop a plugin diffuser in your cat’s new room, and/or use the spray on their cat carrier to chill them out on the ride home.
FOR CATS WITH ACCESS TO THE OUTDOORS
- A cat flap: If your cat will have access to the outdoors, you’ll probably want to install a cat flap. Choosing one that has some sort of selective entry (e.g. based on your cat’s microchip or a charm that you put on their collar) will prevent your home becoming a 24/7 diner for every hungry cat in the neighbourhood!
2. Make your house cat-safe
If this is your first cat, it’s a good idea to do a thorough sweep of your house for anything that could be potentially hazardous to your cat.
Particular things to look out for:
- Loose dangling cords that your cat could get tangled up in: e.g. blind cords, tie back tassels or Christmas lights. Remove these or tie them up and out of the way, as they are a strangling hazard for cats.
- Gaps in floorboards, skirting boards or panels that your cat could sneak behind: Cover or board these up before your cat arrives.
- Household chemicals such as bleach: Make sure these are in a closed cupboard that is inaccessible to your cat, ideally in an area that they aren’t able to get into such as a garage.
- Small rubber bands, plastic toys: These small items could present a choking hazard if eaten by your cat or kitten. Make sure they are cleared out of the house before your new kitty arrives.
- Poisonous plants: Several household plants are toxic and potentially deadly to cats. Take a look at the full list here and make sure that you remove these from your home entirely.
3. Create a sanctuary room
Create a safe room for your cat so that when they first arrive home they can spend a few days in there building their confidence before they start exploring more widely. Cats like to scent mark their environment and derive their feelings of safety and security from the familiarity of their surroundings, so a sanctuary room lets them do this on a scale that won’t overwhelm them, before they branch out to other rooms in the house.
When choosing the sanctuary room select a room with a door that you can close, and that is one of the more quiet rooms in the house. Set it up with your cat’s litter box on one side of the room and the food / water bowls on the other, along with some cardboard boxes for them to hide in and some solo play toys to keep them amused (e.g. catnip mice).
If you already have cats or other pets, this step is especially important. In the case of cats, you might want to take a look at our post about how to introduce a new cat to your existing cat to ensure a smooth introduction!
4. Get a collar and ID tag for your cat
It’s never too soon to get a collar and ID tag for your cat. In fact, when they’re first settling in to your home, they’re at particularly high risk of escaping and getting lost. A collar with an ID tag ensures that your cat stands the best chance of finding their way back home.
Those of you who read the blog regularly will know this already, but don’t forget – a microchip alone is not sufficient to help your cat get home:
“Microchips are a good back-up option for pet identification, but should never be the main one. Reading a microchip takes a special scanner, one that an animal control officer or shelter will have, but your neighbor down the street will not. And if [your pet] wanders off, it’s likely to be a private citizen who encounters him first. That’s why, in the event of accidental separation, identification tags are your pet’s first ticket home.”
The Humane Society
When choosing a collar, it’s important to look for one with a breakaway type buckle that will keep your cat safe if they get snaggled or caught. In addition, if you’re buying for a kitten, it’s very important to make sure that the breakaway buckle is designed for a kitten’s weight (like the buckles in our Supakit kitten collar range). You can read more about choosing a collar for a kitten here.
5. Find a vet
Having a great vet will make your life so much easier, and be a great source of handy tips and advice while your cat is settling in.
It’s worth finding your vet before you bring your cat home, and booking your new cat or kitten in for their first check up as soon as they come to live with you – to work out a vaccination schedule, check that they are healthy, and to talk about things like the best diet for them.
6. Learn to speak cat!
If this is your first cat, you can make your life SO much easier by brushing up on cat body language and vocalisations, so that you can work out what your kitty is trying to say to you.
Check out our series of three blog posts which will equip you with all of the tools you need to ‘speak cat’, so that you can decipher when your cat is contented, when they’re scared, and when they just need some time out!
I’d love to hear if you’ve got new cats joining your family soon, or how your new arrivals are settling in. Is there anything else that you have found helpful in the past that you think should be added to this list?
Join the conversation in the comments below or over on Instagram or Facebook (both @supakitstore).