Zoe was calm and comfortable the first time she met Missy, who would soon become her new pet parent. Missy listened carefully as Zoe’s foster mom shared insights about the cat’s likes and dislikes.
Once they got home, Missy and Zoe had to learn about one another, just like in any other relationship. Missy learned that Zoe loves cold, hard surfaces. Zoe will do anything to escape to the garage, where she ferociously rolls on the floor. She also loves to hop up on the pool table, chase the balls into the pockets, then wonder where they went.
To you it’s familiar, but your home is completely new to your cat. If she’s a brave explorer, she may sniff out everything and everyone immediately. If she’s on the shy side, she might need a little time in a private place to absorb her new surroundings.
Follow her lead and let her get used to her new home slowly. Your job is to let her know she’s safe.
Getting your cat used to your home and family
Your first step should be scheduling a checkup for your cat with a veterinarian as soon as possible. That will get him or her off to a healthy start.
It’s important to make sure you put your cat in a cat carrier whenever you plan to take him or her out of your home. Cats can get scared when they wind up in an unfamiliar situation. If they’re startled, you probably won’t be able to hold on if they suddenly try to escape your arms. You might also wind up with some serious scratches.
After that, PetSmart® experts recommend the following tips to help ease your cat’s transition into your new home.
- Make introductions slowly and cautiously. If you already have a pet, introduce them gradually and keep a watchful eye. Tell small children that your cuddly new family member has feelings too; if they treat her gently and with love, she’ll return the favor. It may be best to keep your new addition in a cat crate when you’re not available to supervise.
- Keep your house — and your cat — safe. You live in a house, but your cat considers it her new wild kingdom. If you’d rather she didn’t bring her instinct to scratch to your couch, make sure to have a scratching post. Kittens climb and adult cats jump, so put breakables in a safe place and tie up long drapes. Hide electrical cords and any looped window shade cords so your cat can't get caught. And make sure your plants are beyond her reach, because some may be poisonous to cats. Keep cleaning supplies and household chemicals in a secure place.
- Provide a consistent diet. Talk to your adoption representative to find out what your cat has been eating. It’s important to keep a pet’s diet consistent and to transition to any new foods slowly and carefully. Ultimately, you’ll want a premium nutrition food, one that contains high-quality proteins from real meats and easily digestible grains, like rice. How often you feed your kitten or cat depends on the type of food and her special needs. For canned food, establish a regular feeding schedule between 1 and 3 times a day. Dry food can sit out all day, but if your cat is a little heavy, limit her dry food, too. If you give your cat treats, make sure they’re made for cats. Most of your own foods, including milk, will disagree with her tummy.
- Choose the right bedding. Nothing says home to a cat like her own special bed. Since your cat sleeps a lot — an average of 16 to 18 hours a day — get a few comfy beds and place them in several rooms. You’ll find plenty of choices, including thermal beds to help her feel safe and protected and beds infused with catnip that can help you lure her away from less desirable sleeping places.
- Manage litter boxes. Your adoption representative can tell you what type of litter your cat has been using. As with food, it’s important to keep things consistent at first and to transition slowly and carefully. Make sure you arrive home with a litter box, scoop and mat. For households with 2 or more cats, provide 1 litter box per cat. And for those times when your cat mistakes the rug for the restroom, you’ll need 2 things: stain/odor remover and patience.
Keep a few trusted resources handy
Looking for more resources to help ensure those first few days, weeks and months are the best they can be? PetSmart pet experts suggest “Kittens for Dummies” and “Cats for Dummies” as solid resource books. They also recommend the following websites (clicking on the links below will take you away from PetSmart Charities® website):
PetSmart Charities found homes for more than 270,000 cats last year