Part 3 – What to do when bringing home a new cat or kitten

Bringing a new kitten or cat home is very exciting; however, it is also fairly traumatic for the cat especially if he/she is a kitten. Make sure that you prepare for your cat’s arrival before he/she comes home and make sure your home is quiet when kitty arrives. As a general rule of thumb your should follow the following procedure when bringing a new feline into your home. Also note that it is a good idea to have any new pet seen by your vet before bringing that animal into your home. This will reduce the possibility of that cat inadvertently passing on a disease or illness to the other animals in your home.

1. Cat proof your home

  • Cats are very VERY curious so check all escape routes if you plan to keep your cat indoors.
  • Move all toxic materials so that they are out of reach for your cat. And remember cats are amazing jumpers so just putting items on counters is not good enough.
  • Remove all poisonous items from your home.
  • Cover (using baby guard plugs) outlets and hide cords as cats like to gnaw on such items.
  • If you already have a cat or another pet think about how the arrangement of bringing a new cat home will work, and if it even will work. Please read the article on introducing two cats for more information.

2. Buy all necessary items before hand
These include: food and water dishes, food, litterbox, litter, scooper, scratching post, cat tower, cat bed, toys, collar, identification tag, leash, travel crate and a brush.

3. Bring your cat home in a kitty carrier or cardboard box
Coming home will be traumatic for your cat so minimize any undo stress in the car and on the journey home by keeping your cat safe and contained in a cat carrier. You can purchase a carrier before you adopt your cat. Most shelters and pet stores will also have cardboard carriers that you can also use to transport you new kitty. Using a carrier will make it less likely that your new cat will escape and your cat will feel safer with less new and foreign space around.

4. Bring your cat home to a calm environment
Once you bring kitty home make sure your home is quiet and calm. Your kitty will need time to get used to his/her new surroundings. First bring the box or crate into one room (you may even want to keep the door to that room closed at first to minimize your cat getting frightened of too much space) and open the crate but don’t take your cat out. Let him/her come out on his/her own when ready. Once your cat comes out of the crate let him/her explore. Don’t run around after your cat showing him/her where things are or picking him/her up too much. You probably want to place the litterbox and food/water in sight so he/she can find them on his/her own. Give your cat some time to get used to things at his/her own pace. If you have children or other pets you may want to keep them away for right now. You can introduce them to your new cat slowly and only after our cat is comfortable with the surroundings themselves. Click here to read about how to introduce two cats to each other. Remember, cats hate stress so be very conscious of over-stressing your cat with too much stimulus. As your cat gets comfortable with the first room you can start allowing him/her into the rest of the house, slowly, until he/she is completely comfortable. Bottom line – don’t push it.

5. What to do if your cat cries or meows
Your cat may, especially if he/she is a kitten and misses mom, cry or seem frightened the first few nights. If this happens make sure to comfort your cat and give your cat lots of attention. Remember that your cat is in a completely new place with new people so try your best to make him feel welcome and to help him adjust. If you can, let kitty sleep with you too. If human comfort doesn’t seem to do the trick you may also want to consider getting another cat as a companion.

6. Start to show your cat around
Once your cat is comfortable with the house you can start to show your cat around and let him/her know where things are such as litterboxes, food, water, a scratching post etc.

7. Keep a routine for your cat
Cats LOVE routines so help them out. If you feed your cat only at certain times make sure to keep those times consistent. Keep grooming and play times consistent as well. Your cat will feel more and more comfortable not only as he/she gets used to the new home, but also finds a suitable routine to grow into.

8. Begin establishing rules and proper behavior
Only after your cat is completely used to you and your home should you start to train and discipline your cat. At this time you can start teaching your cat name recognition, your voice, proper social skills, how to go for walks, and rules on jumping and scratching.

This may seem like a lot of work but it really isn’t. If you want to minimize some of the tasks above consider choosing an older cat.

Previous in this series:
Part 1 –Should I get a cat and why choose a cat over another pet
Part 2 –How to choose a particular cat when at the pet store or shelter

Next in this series:
Part 4 –How to choose a vet