So, you've decided to adopt a cat? Good for you (and for the cat)! Whether or not you've had a cat before (you may even have one or two or more now) you do need to prepare for the arrival of a new cat. There are many things you need to think about when it comes to cat adoption, from cat essentials that you will need to purchase to learning how to introduce strangers. Adapting to a new home can be very stressful for a cat, so follow these tips to make your home as welcoming as possible, so you and your new feline friend can get off to a flying start together.
In This Post:
Are You Allowed to Keep a Cat?
Before you decide to adopt a cat, make sure you are allowed to keep it at your place of residence. You may be renting your home, in which case you should check with your landlord about the idea first. Adopting a cat and then having to either move house or return the cat to the rescue center is not good for anyone involved, not least the cat.
Remember that cat ownership, whilst exciting and fulfilling, is a commitment. Cats aren't cheap, and once you've got past the initial outlay for healthy food, litter, toys, a carrier, and a scratching post or tree there are veterinary costs to think about. Even if your cat isn't sick you'll still need to visit the vet periodically for check-ups, and if your cat gets sick (or simply as it ages) then you'll be visiting more regularly – vets are not cheap, so it's worth taking this into account before you decide to home a cat.
Cat Safe/Proof Home and Garden
Cats are inquisitive and determined, so you'll need to make sure things like bathroom cleaning fluids and chemicals you might use to clean the kitchen are well stashed away, with the lids firmly secured. Likewise, with medication and cosmetics, keep them stored away and inaccessible to even the most curious moggy detective. Any plants your cat encounters, inside or out should be cat safe – if you are unsure you should check with your local garden center about the feline-friendly choices available.
Safe Starter Room
When you bring a new cat home it is often a good idea to keep them in a safe starter room or area. This will give them the time and security to get used to the smells and sounds of their new home, without letting them run away. In fact, the room should be prepared in order to minimize stress and fright and keep them calm and happy. This is especially important if you have other cats or animals (or young children) in the home, as they can be extremely territorial and unhappy with change. Letting the new cat get settled, in a secure room with his or her own toys, food, litter tray, and scratching post will help relax everyone involved.
Your new cat will need to get used to the other inhabitants of your home, yourself included. Once the cat has become accustomed to their safe area, gradually increase contact with them. Don't rush or force them into anything, and make sure they always have an escape route to retreat to somewhere private if they get nervous. They should be allowed to explore on their own time, unhurried by anyone or anything else. It may be that you have an outgoing cat who likes the company of other animals, in which case introducing other cats or pets will be easier than it would be with a more solitary animal, but in any case, you should be prepared for a little animosity or fear on both sides at first. Patience is the key with all introductions, some cats will be easy to settle and relax, whilst others will take a bit more time. Don't hurry, don't panic and let the cat control the pace when it comes to socializing.
Things You'll Need
As mentioned before, getting a cat means purchasing quite a lot of things. Sometimes shelters or previous owners will provide some cat gear, but usually, you'll find yourself needing to visit a pet store to get kitted out properly. You'll need bowls for food and water, a bed or soft space for your cat to sleep, a litter tray (and sand for it), some toys (puzzle toys or rubber mice to chase work well) and a brush (or more depending on how hairy your new friend is). Of course, you'll have to make sure you have food and clean water supply too, and most likely a cat carrier – well ventilated and sturdy. If you have other cats it is a good idea to have enough of everything so that they don't have to share if they don't want to. You'd be surprised how vigorous a fight over a scratching post can get!
Ultimately, you want your home to be safe, welcoming and warm for a new cat. Animals do get stressed out, and it will probably take a while for your feline friend to settle, but once they do you can enjoy a rewarding life together!