Getting a cat is not as simple as picking them up from the shelter, taking them home, et voilà; there are steps you will need to take for a stress-free transition for your new feline companion that will also prepare you and your home for their arrival.
Cat-Proof Your Home
Cat-proofing your home is vital for the comfort and safety of your new furry friend before bringing them home. Here is a checklist to abide by:
- Keep surfaces clear of breakables and sharp objects. Remember that, unlike a lot of pets, cats have a habit of jumping up onto countertops and other surfaces, no matter how high (you’ll be surprised..!). So it is important to ensure that, in doing so, they don’t damage your belongings or, worse, injure themselves. Some objects that you may not have considered to be hazardous include: hair bobbles, ribbons, dolls, board game pieces, stationery and strings.
- Block off any areas that could be dangerous. As part of familiarising themselves with their new home, your cat will try to explore every inch of their new territory – from underneath the sofa to the toilet bowl. Therefore, as well as keeping potentially harmful items hidden away, you may decide to rule certain rooms as out-of-bounds for your kitty.
- Put candles up high. Cats are inquisitive creatures by nature and are often unaware of some dangers, such as flames. Thus, you will want to keep them out of harm’s way by ensuring that candles are out of reach and that they are supervised whilst a candle is lit.
- Hide electrical cables. As all cat owners will learn, a common hobby of our feline friends is chewing. It doesn’t matter what or where, your cat will find something to dig their teeth into. This includes electrical cables, which can cause a deadly shock(!). So, keep electrical cables out of sight and perhaps even invest in cable covers as an extra precautionary measure.
- Don’t bring poisonous plants inside. Whether being gifted a bouquet of flowers or adding a new succulent to your plant collection, it is important to ensure that it isn’t poisonous or harmful to your cat. You can do so by researching the specific plant online in relation to cats or by talking to your vet.
- Keep your kitchen waste bin covered. You will often find that curious cats will try to rummage through rubbish, usually tempted by the scent of leftover food. While this may seem harmless, your cat may suffocate on plastic bags, fall ill from food poisoning or worse. So keeping your bin sealed is a must!
- Put away medicines and cleaning products. Rather scarily, one of the main sources of cat poisoning is over-the-counter medication. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, have been known to cause stomach and kidney ulcers, and even kidney damage. And, just as bleach can poison humans, cleaning products – such as laundry detergent, surface sprays and carpet cleaners – are a highly common cause of cat poisonings. So keeping them hidden away in a location that your kitty can’t get to will save you a trip to Animal A&E.
Kit(ty) out your house
As with preparing a nursery for a new-born, your new feline will need some essentials before you welcome them into their new home. These are an important part of fulfilling your cat’s general welfare needs and will help them to feel comfortable and safe in their new surroundings.
Here is a list of basic, yet essential, supplies that you will need for your cat’s arrival:
- A cat bed. As well as being a comfortable spot for sleeping, a cat bed can be a place of respite and safety in moments of stress. So, it is important that you choose a high quality cat bed that is both comfortable and durable.
- A food bowl. You wouldn’t serve your own dinner onto the floor, so why should your cat eat that way either? So, get one food bowl and one water bowl, or even a 2-in-1 cat bowl that does both!
- Food. The quantity and type of food your cat should eat will depend on their age and weight, so make sure you do your research before buying an endless supply of one type! It is also a good idea to buy some cat treats to help with training (although be careful as to how many you give your kitty, as they could become unhealthy and overweight!)
- A litter box. To keep your home clean, having a quality litter box is essential; it will allow for super easy maintenance and prevent cat litter from spreading onto the floor, as well as providing your feline with some privacy.
- Litter. In order to ease your cat into a new environment, it helps to use the same litter that the shelter or breeder used, as it will be familiar to them.
- Cat toys. As already mentioned, bonding with your cat is crucial – and should be very enjoyable for cat lovers! Part of this playtime will involve cat toys; these are a stimulating way of keeping your cat entertained, active and happy, and may also act as a stress reliever when chewed.
- A scratching post. Cats need to scratch for many reasons, most of which pertain to health and wellbeing, such as keeping their claws in good condition, marking their territory and exercising their muscles. To keep your cat healthy, while preventing your sofa or floorboards from being torn apart by their sharp claws, you will want to invest in a cat scratching post for your home. Your kitty will soon learn that it is theirs to scratch to their heart’s content, which will deter them from destroying your beloved furniture.
- A cat brush. As you’ll soon learn from the inevitable state of your sofa and clothing, cats malt. In order to reduce the amount of fur your cat sheds, you will want to regularly brush their fur. Not only will this help if you or anyone who visits your home has allergies, but it will also act as a bit of extra bonding time.
- Cat harnesses and leads. For those who prefer to walk their cats, you will need to buy a cat harness and cat lead in order to train them for walks and to keep them safe from any dangers, such as vehicles.
- A cat collar. To ensure that your cat remains safe and is returned to you if they get lost, you may want to purchase a cat collar. When you put it on your feline friend, ensure that you can fit two fingers underneath it while your cat is wearing it; this is the perfect amount of room to ensure that your cat is comfortable but cannot take the collar off.
This final point is arguably the most important. Remember that, particularly for kittens and rescue cats, transitioning from a shelter (which will be all they’ve ever known) to an entirely new environment can be a very unsettling experience. It may take weeks or even months for your cat to feel fully comfortable in their new home, so it is imperative not to put pressure on yourself or your cat when they don’t adjust in a matter of days. Simply remember to keep an eye on your cat and, if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.