Congratulations on welcoming a new cat into your family! Whether you’re a new or experienced pet owner, this is an exciting time, but you might have a lot of questions too so we 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 cat, ask yourself:
- Do you have enough time to care for your cat? Make sure you have plenty of 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 pet to your family? This includes basic necessities such as food, water, litter, treats, and toys, as well as veterinary care.
- Do you have an existing cat or other pets? Do you have children? How will you introduce them? Have a plan to ensure a good 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, remove potential household hazards such as:
- 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, 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, and 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 their first visit to the vet! We recommend getting them examined by a veterinarian before they interact with your existing pets. And we’d love to meet them! They should also receive preventative care such as vaccinations, an intestinal parasite treatment, a fecal test, and a FeLV (feline leukemia)/FIV (feline AIDS) test. Lastly, don’t forget to microchip your new cat (even indoor kitties) so they can be returned to you if they are 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 may be stressful, but with the right plan, you can make the transition a better experience for everyone.
- 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 it with you because the scents will likely be comforting to them. Make sure to spend plenty of time with them during this transition. This is a also good time for them to 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!”)
- During this time, let 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, 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, try brief interactions like cracking the door so they can see each other. If there is any aggression, 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 ensure that 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. And as always, give us a call at (503) 968-6000 or email us at email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns.