Ten Things to Keep Your Cat Comfortable After Adoption
Adopting a cat into your home is exciting. As you get to know each other, you'll discover so many wonderful ways they can bring you joy—and vice-versa. Here's how to make things comfortable at home when welcoming your new cat to the family:
1. Stock Up on Basics
Set up your essential supplies beforehand: litter box and litter (keep the box far away from the food bowl), bedding, food and water dishes, healthy cat food and a sturdy cat carrier. Purchase a collar and identification tag as well.
2. Get (Some) Toys
Cats love to play, but don't feel the need to invest in a dozen just-for-cat toys. They’ll be just as happy with an empty cardboard box, paper bag (remove any handles so the head doesn't get stuck) or similar empty containers that imitate a den of their own. Contrary to the cliché, don't allow cats to play with balls of yarn or string—both are too easy to ingest. According to the Humane Society of the United States, you should also avoid ribbon, dental floss, pins, needles, rubber bands, paper clips, and plastic bags. A torch is also an item that can bring fun for you both as you move the light around the room and your cat tries to catch it.
3. Create a Safe Environment
Your new family member can and will get into anything and everything. For that reason, remove plants that can be poisonous (e.g. Lily and Amaryllis), lock up cleaning supplies and medicines, keep the toilet lid closed, and tie up window blind cords. Try to reroute electrical cords if they take awkward routes or get cord covers for the most exposed lines. Secure loose window screens, and put away any other breakables that your cat is sure to be curious about.
4. Prepare Your Youngest
Your family may be on board, but children should know what it means to care for a cat responsibly, including how to respect their physical needs. Taking care of a cat properly is a great bonding experience, and gentle interactions will help your feline friend become comfortable more quickly.
5. Visit the Vet
Soon after adopting a cat, take them to the veterinarian for a wellness exam and any immunisations needed. Regular checkups keep cats healthy regardless of their age, background or lifestyle (whether they live indoors or outdoors). Bring any medical papers you received during the adoption process. It's also a good idea to keep your vet's office and after-hours phone numbers in a handy spot in case of emergency.
6. Give Your Cat Space
Once they are home your cat will look for a place to hide, but let them stay in the carrier during this initial process. Your cat will need a room or at least a corner that is their own where they feel just as safe. Break out the cardboard box from task #2, which Petcha suggests offers the same security. Just as important is not coaxing them out of their safe spaces. Your cat will come out when ready to explore the new surroundings.
7. Introduce to Resident Pets
Introducing your new cat to other pets can be stressful, which is why it should be done in time. Gradually introduce existing animals to newcomers and expect a hiss, swat or even some back-arching—it's normal. Best case scenario? They'll accept each other and go about their business. If they become too aggressive and attack you should not attempt to break up the fight by picking one of them up. Animal Planet finds it best to clap or speak up to distract them.
Brushing and combing your feline family member on a regular basis keeps the coat shiny, their skin healthy and reduces unwanted shedding. You can easily work grooming into your daily routine—it's a great way for both of you to relax and unwind after a long day. Claw clipping and good dental hygiene are musts too. Speak with your vet about the best approach to this kind of maintenance.
9. Spend Quality Time Together
Cats have the reputation of being solitary creatures, but they can get lonely. Try to be home as often as possible during those first few weeks to help your cat adjust. If you work long hours out of the house, consider adopting two cats to provide mutual companionship.
10. Don't Rush It
After bringing home a new cat, keep in mind it will take time for them to feel comfortable. It's best not to rush this process. Let the cat come to you when ready, which they will. Cats are great at letting you know what they do and don't like, and will tell you when they are ready for a pett or to play or to snuggle in for a nap.
Bringing a new cat home is just the beginning of a love-filled and enriched life with each other. Take your time and you'll enjoy getting to know your new best friend.
Christine O'Brien is a writer and long-time cat mom. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @brovelliobrien.