Adopting a new pet is exciting, and we want to help make this exciting time as seamless as possible.  Preparing a quiet, comfortable, and relaxing area in your home for your new cat will set you both up for a smooth transition from shelter to home. Cats are particularly sensitive to change, and being prepared in advance can greatly minimize their stress and anxiety over their change in environment. Before adopting a new cat, learn the steps you should take first, and what to expect during your first month together.

Essential supplies for your new cat

Rather than rushing around to purchase supplies for your new feline friend once they are home, pick up the following items in advance:

  • Food and water dishes — When choosing food and water dishes, avoid a  connected bowl set, because these tiny bowls are notorious for causing whisker fatigue in cats. Whisker fatigue can discourage your cat from eating and drinking appropriately. Instead, choose wide, flat dishes that allow ample room for your cat’s whiskers to spread without touching the sides. When placing the dishes, ensure they are far away from your cat’s litter box. 
  • Litter and litter boxes — You should provide your cat with at least two litter boxes filled with litter one to two inches deep. When purchasing litter, keep in mind that most cats prefer the fine, unscented type. These measures will help prevent inappropriate elimination in your new feline friend. 
  • Bedding — A cozy bed that doubles as a hiding spot will help your cat feel safe and secure in their new home. Provide several hiding spots lined with comfortable bedding so that your cat has a variety of safe haven choices. 
  • Scratching post — Scratching is a natural feline behavior, and your cat may display destructive tendencies and possibly develop medical issues if they cannot engage in scratching. Provide your new cat with plenty of opportunities for appropriate scratching by placing scratching posts next to furniture. Make the posts more enticing by spritzing them with catnip or dangling a toy at the top. 
  • Climbing tower — From a climbing tower, your cat can survey their new domain from a secure location, while feeling safe and comfortable. 

Of course, you’ll want to purchase toys and treats for your new feline friend, but the above items are essential for a happy cat. 

Home preparations for your new cat

Cats are territorial, and a new home probably will make them uneasy. With all the unexplored space—that may smell of other animals—your new cat may scurry into the darkest, smallest corner they can find when they first arrive. Do your cat a favor, and ensure they have a small area to call their own for the first few days or weeks. A spare bedroom is ideal, but a bathroom or laundry room can do in a pinch. Furnish the room with feline amenities, such as food, water, litter box, bed, and scratching post. Make this your cat’s safe space, and keep other pets out until it’s time to slowly introduce them.

The first day with your new cat

When your home is set up for your new cat, you can bring them home. Your cat has gone through an upheaval, so take them directly to their new room to decompress. Let them out of the carrier to explore their safe space, but don’t force interaction. Sit on the floor, and let your cat come to you. If your cat is frightened and will not come out of the carrier, leave the carrier door open, and you leave the room. Peek back in on your cat in a couple of hours to see how they’re adjusting. They may be shy at first and not come out until it’s nighttime and the household is quiet, but don’t be alarmed. 

The first few weeks with your new cat

Your cat may take a week or two to adjust to their new surroundings and caretakers, so be patient, move slowly, and always be armed with treats. Although you may be tempted to leave them to relax in their safe space to avoid any more stress, your cat should be seen by a Johnson County Animal Hospital veterinarian during their first week in your home. We’ll evaluate your cat’s health, begin or booster any necessary vaccinations, prescribe parasite prevention, and address health or behavior concerns. 

As your cat adjusts, they’ll show signs that they are ready to explore outside their safe haven. Ensure other pets or family members won’t startle your new cat while they gradually expand their territory. When they begin exploring, slowly introduce your other pets through a barricade, such as a baby gate or crate. Once your new cat is calm around your other pets, take away the gate and let them explore when all the family is present.

Congratulations on your new feline friend! We can’t wait to welcome your new cat to our Johnson County Animal Hospital family. Give us a call to schedule a wellness visit, to ensure your new pet is healthy and protected against diseases and parasites.