Preparing for Your New Feline Companion

We’re going to spin National Pet Preparedness Month as a way to talk about preparing to bring a cat or kitten into your home, especially since this is also National Adopt a Cat Month! Preparing to bring any animal into a new environment should be done with care and forethought. Introducing new cats or kittens to existing pets or children may take time and patience, depending upon the disposition of the cat and the age of the existing pets or children. Providing a stimulating environment and a space to call their own are both key components to fostering a well-behaved and trusting cat.

Bringing your cat or kitten into a safe environment and making it feel safe can be the most important aspect of being a new cat parent. Having supplies already at home and in their proper place is an important part of the preliminary work before bringing a new pet home. Try to find out what your new cat has already been eating, as changing a diet abruptly will most likely cause digestive problems and diarrhea. If you cannot match its existing diet, add probiotics and a little canned pumpkin (available in pet stores) to help aid in digestion.

Preparing an environment for a kitten can be tricky business. They are curious creatures and have an extremely low vantage point. Many cat trainers recommend that you get on the floor and take a look around. Is there anything that could attract a kitten? Most likely the answer is yes! Make sure all electrical cords are hidden or tucked away. Kittens and cats can easily chew through cords and get electrocuted. Are there holes or tight squeezes that they could enter but not exit? Kittens are notorious for crawling inside of reclining chairs, where the chances of injury are high.

Another danger to cats and kittens are toxic chemicals and plants. Consider baby locks for lower cabinets and removing all toxic plants from your home. (For a downloadable list of toxic plants and symptoms of ingestion, look here.) Do you have looped pull strings for your window covers? Snipping the end loops or pulling the ties off to the side where they can’t be reached could be life-saving as kittens have been known to get strangled by curtain cords. Safely store shopping bags with looped handles, sewing supplies, and string. Secure all trash cans. Some cats like to chew rubber bands or plastic, which when swallowed can block their intestines and require surgical removal. Even dental floss on the floor can be a danger to a cat. They will definitely keep you on your toes! Kittens are quick to get underfoot, so treading lightly in your home is highly recommended during those early developmental months. For more tips on kitten-proofing your home, read more here.

When preparing to introduce your cat to its new home, Pippa Elliot, MRCVS says in a wikiHow article that swapping scents is a primary part of the introduction. Try to bring a blanket from its previous familiar environment, and use it in your existing pet’s bed to help it get used to the new cat’s scent. Also using a t-shirt of yours in the new cat’s bed can help it become familiar with your scent, too. Using Feliway products to help produce happy pheromone scents can also help minimize antagonistic feelings between new and existing cats.

Providing a “safe space” for your new cat is important. It has been suggested to place a new bed and fresh toys in a designated room for the new cat to help