Congratulations on welcoming a new feline to your family! Whether you’re a new or experienced pet owner, adopting a cat is always an exciting time, but you probably have a lot of questions too. For this reason, we decided to put together some of our best tips on introducing a new cat into your home.
1. “Is adopting a cat the right choice for me?”
When considering whether to adopt a new cat, it’s important to keep the answers to some important questions in mind, such as:
- Do you have enough time to care for your cat? Make sure you have time to spend with your cat each day as well as the ability to bring them to the vet when necessary.
- Are you able to cover the costs of adding a new cat to your family? Remember, this includes their basic needs such as food, water, treats, litter, toys, etc. as well as healthcare costs.
- Do you have an existing cat or other pets? Do you have children? How will you introduce them to your new cat? Make sure you have a proper plan in place to ensure a positive experience for everyone.
2. “What supplies will I need?”
- High quality cat food, bowls for food and water
- Litter box, litter, and scoop
- Toys, catnip, scratching posts/play structures
- Collar and ID tag
- Brush/comb (For one of the most highly rated de-shedding tools, try the Furminator.)
- Toothbrush and toothpaste made for cats
- Carpet stain and odor remover (We recommend Nature’s Miracle.)
- Revolution for flea control (Did you know that Revolution also prevents heartworm disease and kills hookworms, roundworms, and ear mites? You can buy this from us here at the clinic or at our online pharmacy, Vets First Choice.)
3. “How do I cat proof my home?”
Before you welcome a new cat into your home, make sure to remove all potential household hazards.
- Kitchen and Laundry Area – Keep trash cans covered, don’t leave food out on the counters (especially toxic foods such as chocolate, raw bread dough, and garlic and onions), store all cleaners where your cat can’t access them, and always keep the laundry dryer closed (an open dryer full of warm clothes is an inviting place for a cat to curl up and take a nap).
- Garage – Make sure cleaners, motor oil and gasoline, glues and paint, antifreeze, pesticides, fertilizers, etc. are all stored where your cat can’t get into them; and be certain that your kitty is in a safe place when you open and close the garage door.
- Bathroom – Keep the trash can covered, restrict access to dangerous substances that might be tempting to a cat like dental floss and hair bands (not only is this a choking hazard, but it can cause a blockage in the intestinal tract).
- Living Areas – Keep recliners in the upright position when you aren’t using them (and make sure your cat is out of the way when you move them because cats can easily get caught inside of them), don’t leave out small objects that could pose a choking hazard such as paper clips, keep electric cords and cables tucked away (try spraying them with a taste deterrent such as Bitter Apple), and keep toxic plants out of the house.
4. “When should I take my new cat to the vet?”
After you adopt a new pet, it’s time for a visit to the vet. Here at CCP, we recommend bringing in your new cat for an exam before he or she interacts with any existing pets to make sure they receive a clean bill of health. Not to mention, we would love to meet them! As well as an exam, they should receive preventative care such as vaccinations, an intestinal parasite treatment, a fecal test, and a feline leukemia/feline AIDS test. Lastly, don’t forget to microchip your new cat (yes, even indoor kitties) so that they can be returned to you if they ever got lost.
5. “I already have cats. How should I introduce a new cat to them?”
Trying to introduce a new cat into your home with existing cats can seem like a daunting task, but with the right plan in place, you can help make the transition a more positive experience.
- For the first few days, isolate your new cat in a room with all of their food, water, litter box, bed, and toys. If you have anything from the adoption center, bring that with you too because the smells will likely be comforting to them. This is a good time to help your new cat get comfortable with their carrier by leaving it out with the door open as a place to hide and/or sleep. (For more tips, visit our article “I Can’t Get My Cat Into Their Carrier!”) Also, make sure to spend lots of time with them during this transition.
- During this time, let both your new cat and the other cats in the home get used to each other’s scent without risking a confrontation by allowing them to sniff each other under the door. Then, try rubbing your new cat with a cloth and placing that cloth in the other room with your existing cats. Now, do the same with your existing cats so your new cat can get used to their scent too.
- Once everyone starts to relax, move each cat’s food dish closer to the door that separates them so they can eat together. If there are any signs of stress, just move the dish back and go slower. Another tactic is to allow them to play with each other under the door with a toy. Throughout the process, don’t forget to reward good behaviors with treats and praise.
- When all of your cats seem comfortable, you can try brief interactions like cracking the door an inch so that they can see each other. If there is any aggression, just close the door and start over.
- The last step is to try placing your cats in the same room with direct supervision. At first, only try this for short periods of time to help ensure that all of their experiences are positive. Just remember to be patient, and don’t be afraid to go back a few steps and slow down the process. As always, feel free to give us a call at (503) 968-6000 if you have any questions or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.