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bringing home a new cat or kitten
HOW TO GET YOUR NEW CAT OR KITTEN INTEGRATED INTO YOUR HOME
1) Once you know you have been approved for adoption, and before you bring your new cat or kitten/s home make sure your home is ready for your new arrivals! Cats are very curious and like to get into small spaces, they can squeeze through small gaps and get into unexpected spots! Make sure your windows have screens or are kept closed to prevent escapes, if you have house plants check to see if they are safe for cats, and if not move them out of reach, or remove them from your home. Make sure any cords or cables are grouped and wrapped up (or hidden), kittens often think an electric cord is a fun toy.
2) Prep a room for your cat to start out in, a spare bedroom, office, or bathroom is great. Your cat or kitten should start out in one room for the first few days - up to a week, then you can start to let them explore the rest of the home. Some cats are more confident and will be ready to be out in the house sooner, you can play it by ear. Many cats are nervous in new situations and new houses so you want to make sure to take it slow, by starting them in one room you can slowly let them get used to the new space, that way they don't just run and hide behind the fridge right away! Make sure to get them set up with a litter box, food and water station, a scratching post, toys, and some cozy sleep areas.
3) Show your new cat or kitten their litter box multiple times over the first few days so they really learn where it is. Dr. Elsey's Kitten Attract Litter is also a great way to help your new kitten learn where the litter box is, remember this is a new and unfamiliar space so you want to show your cat the correct place to go. If you have multiple cats we recommend having at least 2 litter boxes, make sure to keep the litter box clean as cats are sensitive to odor, and a dirty litter box may cause a cat to not want to use it and have accidents.
4) After a few days you can start to let your new kitty explore the rest of the home, remember to take it slow and if you have kids let them know not to rush the new cat which may scare it. Give lots of positive reinforcement, treats, pets, praise for good behaviors, and to help your cat bond with you. Play time is also a great way to bond with your new cat or kitten, wand toys are a great way to bring shy kitties out of their shell!
For shy cats and kittens make sure to spend a lot of time sitting with them, offering treats and toys, and building up your bond. Do not try to rush your new kitten (or cat) into liking you, as you could scare them and make it harder for them to trust you. Bonding can take time so be patient.
5) If you have other pets in the home you will need to move more slowly, keep your new cat in their separate room for at least one week, and gradually introduce them to your other cat/s or your dogs. Make sure your dogs have been cat tested! If your dog has a strong prey drive then a cat is probably not a good fit for your family. Dogs can move quickly so make sure to use a lot of caution when introducing your new cat to your dog/s. Your cat may take a few days, weeks, or even months to adjust to your other pets, so be patient. Give a lot of treats, pets, and praise when your cat is near your other pets as positive reinforcement. Hissing is normal! However you do not want your cats to get in a fight, so take it slow. Feed your cats on opposite sides of the bedroom door, swap scents by trading cat beds so they can get used to each others scents (this can be done for dogs too).
Pheromone diffusers like Feliway (available on Amazon) can help some cats relax and be more comfortable when you are introducing them to another cat or kitten (or dog).
6) Make sure to provide a scratching post or other cat furniture so your cat has an approved place to scratch. Scratching is a normal and necessary behavior for cats. You want to have good scratching options for your cat that are not your sofa, many cats enjoy cardboard floor scratchers, cat trees, and cat posts. Trimming your cat's nails can also reduce damage to furniture, or using nail caps. Your vet can also help trim your cats nails during check ups.
7) If you have adopted kittens remember kittens are high energy! They need a lot of play time, we recommend getting kittens in pairs so they have a buddy to play with. Wand toys, laser pointers, and electronic cat toys are great for kittens to keep them entertained and wear them out. If your kittens are very active at night make sure to get an hour of play time in before bed to help get them tired and ready to relax. Cat trees are also great for kittens as it gives them a great space to climb, play, scratch, and explore.
8) After you bring your new kitten home remember to register their microchip and get them set up with your veterinarian so they can maintain their vaccine schedule until they are 18 weeks old (or as your veterinarian recommends). We are happy to provide recommendations for veterinarians in Oakland if needed.
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