Things To Know Before Adopting A Cat – New Cat Owner Checklist


Things To Know Before Adopting A Cat – New Cat Owner Checklist

Conventional wisdom tells us to hide a new feline family member away in a room for a few days, or even a few weeks. The theory is that the resident cats and the newcomer will get used to each other’s scents before they’re formally introduced. But most cats don’t buy into the conventional wisdom on anything — including introductions. And it’s possible that all that time in isolation will make both the new and resident cats edgy and nervous about the enemy on the other side of the door. This is the way my cats and I like to welcome newcomers to our home, and it’s never let us down.


But First…
A Few Words About Compatability

  • Adopting a cat is a lifetime commitment – both for you and the cats who already live with you. So listen to what your heart tells you and try to make a “purrfect” match.
  • If you have an adult cat, please adopt another adult! Kittens can be very annoying and even frightening to a cat who’s all grown up. And kittens really need to grow up with other kittens to be well socialized, know how to play nicely with other animals and people and have fun.
  • The gender of the new cat matters less than his or her personality. If your resident cat loves to nap the day away, h/she is not going to be happy with a live wire who only wants to play. Try to match your resident cat’s age and activity level.
  • And if you already live with a cat, adopt a cat who’s used to other cats and likes them. Shelter and rescue volunteers usually know the personalities of their cats very well and can help you make a good match.

Just two more thoughts: If you have a “strictly indoor” home, a cat who’s used to being outside will probably not enjoy life at your house. It’s a myth that indoor/outdoor and outdoor cats “get used” to never going out again and never long for the freedom they’ve lost. And if you come across littermates or lifelong friends who are up for adoption, I hope you’ll take both. Two cats can actually be less work than one since they have each other for companionship. And cats form very strong bonds with littermates and friends and grieve for each other when separated. Some cats get over it in time. Some never do!


Welcome Home, Kitty

Cats are creatures of habit and value their familiar territory above all else. So going to a new home can be difficult for a cat.

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  1. Here are some ways to help your new family member adjust to all the changes in his or her life.
  2. – If you adopt your cat from a home, ask her “ex” to send all of her belongings with her. Her familiar dish, litter box, and toys will be reassuring to her, and she’ll be more likely to eat if she has dish she’s used to. An unwashed towel, pillowcase or T-shirt that smells like home will also be reassuring to her.
  3. – Feed her the food she ate at her old home or the shelter. You can transition her to a brand of your choice when she feels comfortable at your house. But she’ll be more likely to eat the first few days she’s with you if she has the food she’s always eaten.
  4. – Be patient. Let her hide if she wants to. Sit on the floor near her hiding place and talk quietly to her. Pet her, if she’ll let you.
  5. – Let her explore on her own. Don’t pick her up and put her down in a different room. Cats leave signposts for themselves with the scent glands in their paw pads and cheeks. Without the ability to create signposts for herself, the cat could become frightened because she’ll think she won’t be able to find her way “home” to her favorite room.
  6. – If you adopt an indoor/outdoor cat, keep her in for two weeks. That’s about how long it takes a cat to feel comfortable in a new home and recognize it as its food source.


Getting To Know You

When you and your new cat arrive at home, put her (or his) carrier down on the floor for a few minutes so she and the resident cats can see each other and pick up each other’s scent. Then…

  1. -Set the new cat up in her own room with food and water, a litter box, toys and comfortable places to nap. The room should have a sunny window. Shut the door, and give the cat time to adjust to her new surroundings.
  2. – After a few hours, open the door. Let the cat venture out when she’s ready. If she wants to spend several days hiding under the bed in “her” room, let that be her choice. Chances are, your resident cats will respect her space and leave her alone. If you feel you must keep the cats separated, put a screen door at the doorway to the new cat’s room so she and the resident cats can see each other, become accustomed to each others’ scents and get acquainted.
  3. – When the cats meet, they’ll hiss and growl. But most neutered cats hate to fight and will avoid confrontation at all costs. Watch their body language. If one starts grooming, yawns or turns her head away, she’s giving the other cat an opportunity to leave the “battleground” without losing face.
  4. – Be patient. It could take days, or even weeks, for the cats to work things out and for the newcomer to learn the house rules. Meanwhile, the cats will pick up on your feelings. If you act like having a newcomer in the house is perfectly natural and not a big deal, the cats will probably agree.
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Creating Friendships That Will Last A Lifetime

Here are some ways to help your original cat and a newcomer become friends.
  1. – Make the original cat feel special. Give her the most praise and attention, even if that means ignoring the newcomer. The new cat will understand. Her feelings won’t be hurt!
  2. – Do fun things. Help the cats associate pleasant experiences with each other. Feed them together. Or play with them together with an interactive “wand” or “fishing pole” toy. Gently toss a handful of treats and let them “hunt” for food together. Or give each a mound of catnip and let them have a catnip party. Use your imagination and have fun!
  3. – Don’t Force Things. Never force the new cat to come out of her room or associate with the other cats. She’ll do these things when she’s ready. It may be weeks before she’s ready.
  4. – Set A Time Limit. Decide how long it should take for a new cat to begin feeling comfortable in your house.

If after, say, three months, she’s still not fitting in, it’s time to look for a new home. It’s better to end the relationship before the new cat forms a strong bond with you. Try to place the cat yourself, or work with a cat rescue group.


The New Cat Welcome Home Kit

If your new cat could make a shopping list of everything she’ll need or want, these are some of the things she’d include.
Feeding Dishes
Your new cat will need separate glass, ceramic or stainless bowls for wet and dry food and water. Plastic dishes can cause painful chin acne. And if the water and food dishes are attached to each other, the cat will get crumbs of food in her water and then she won’t want to drink it. The bowls should be wide enough to accommodate the cat’s whiskers. The wet food bowl should be shallow, so the cat won’t have to bury her face in the bowl to get to her food.
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A Litter Box of Her Own
Your new cat should have her very own litter box, not one that’s been used by someone else. It should not have a top! My cats and I like these Cats Rule litter box because it has no ridges or seams to trap damp litter, is roomy and has a low front so getting in and out is easy. It’s also pretty!

A Scoop for You
The Litter-Lifter is a great scoop. Strong but light, comfortable to hold and pretty, it makes your scooping chores very efficient and almost fun.


A Hot Cat Catnip Toy
Every new family member deserves something special. Hot Cats are truly special… they’re potent, pretty and entertain cats for a very long time. My cats love them.



A Toy For The Two Of  You
Playing with an interactive toy is a great way for you and your new cat to bond and to provide some exercise and stimulation for her. And the bouncy piano wire of this toy from MetPet will make your play sessions even more fun.

A Scratching Post
The post should be very tall and stable, so kitty can get a good stretch without feeling like the post is going to topple over. Entice the cat by putting some catnip on the base and rubbing it into the post.


Cardboard Scratching Pad
Make sure the pad is wide enough for kitty to nap on after she’s done scratching.



Cat Walking Jacket
If your cat’s going to be an indoor cat, think about taking her out on a harness and leash. She’ll enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, and the two of you will have fun walking together.



Flexi Mini Retractable Leash
Here are some of the best leashes to go with.

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