So you’re bringing home a cat for the first time. Congratulations! A cat is a perfect addition to the family and will bring much joy and love to your household. However, if you’re entirely new to pet ownership, there are some things you need to know before you get started. Introducing a pet to your home can bring with it some challenges, so it’s best to be prepared. This article should help set you on the right track so that you can get your home ready to receive your new cat. Hopefully it will help both you and your cat adapt to your new circumstances.
Get the gear
Cats are pretty independent, but they do require a few accessories to feel happy. You will need a food bowl and a water bowl, of course, plus some cat food. Cats can be fussy, so you may want to get a few sample packs of different foods (both wet and dry) to see which one your cat prefers. It’s best to offer both dry and wet food, but consult with your vet for more guidelines specific to your cat.
Another thing you will need is a litter tray for your cat. This is true even if you intend for your cat to go outdoors. When introducing a cat to a new household, it’s best to give it some time to learn that this is now its home. You do this by keeping the cat indoors for the first two weeks. During this time the cat will need a litter tray to do its business. Here, again, you may find that your cat is fussy. You may need to experiment with different kinds of cat litter, as well as an open or covered litter tray before your cat is happy. It’s important to get this right, because a cat that’s unhappy with its litter tray situation may avoid using altogether, choosing instead to go elsewhere in the house. It’s best to start with an open tray and your own best choice of litter. If the cat seems unhappy, try a different type. Change the litter regularly and remove solids daily. How regularly you need to change the litter will depend on the type and brand.
A scratching post for your cat is essential, unless you want your cat to scratch your furniture. Keep in mind that some cats will go for the furniture anyway, but most will prefer their own scratching post. Many cats prefer the cheap cardboard scratchers, which is a bonus. You can also invest in bigger cat trees that provide climbing options and other entertainment for the cat.
Cat toys will also help the cat feel more entertained, as well as provide a great way for you to bond. Different cats prefer different toys, but there are plenty of cheap options around so you can experiment and find what works best for your new friend.
If you’re used to your house being squeaky clean, you may be dismayed to discover the mess a pet can bring. Yes, cats are very clean animals, but they do shed hairs (especially on the run up to summer when they change over from their winter fur to their summer fur) and can also drag litter around the house. You’ll need to invest in a good vacuum cleaner to counteract this effect. It should have the ability to deal specifically with animal fur. Many vacuums have special attachments and brushes for dealing with pet hair and can make your life a lot easier.
As for “tracking”, the act of dragging litter across the floor, many cat owners have found success with placing a rubber math or a bath math by the entrance to the litter tray. This acts like a welcome mat and helps clean the cat’s paws before it heads off back into the house. A similar trick can be used under the cat’s food and water bowls to deal with any spillage. If you’re really bothered by cat hair on furniture and would like to keep your cat off it as much as possible, invest in a cat bed and place it somewhere the cat would find pleasant, such as by a window or a radiator. You could also place it near where you tend to sit, so that you and your cat can still be close. Cats prefer having their own dedicated bed, although they may wish to show affection by being near you.
Welcoming the cat
Cats don’t like it when their circumstances change, so you’ll need to allow some time for your new friend to adjust to its surroundings. Introduce it to one room first and place all its stuff there so that it doesn’t need to go very far to find it. It may wish to hide for a while, so let it. Don’t force it to come out, although you can entice it with treats. It will slowly adapt and begin to explore its new home. Treat it gently to begin with, letting it retreat back into its hiding place when it feels things are too much. It will feel right at home in no time.