Owning cats (or being owned by a cat!) is a wonderful experience! As owners you are responsible for their Health and Well-being from basics such as providing them with a good diet, proper flea and worm treatment, medical care to ensuring that they have a safe and stimulating environment.
We always advise cats are kept in at night as it is then that they are more prone to road accidents and fighting and if they come in injured at night then a trip to the emergency vet will prove expensive.
Tips to help your new cat adjust to his / her home in the first few days after adoption (adapted from the DSPCA website www.dspca.ie):
Before your new cat comes home…….
Cats are territorial, and coming into a new home leaves them feeling really uneasy. Do her a favour and provide a small area to call her own for the first few days or weeks. A bathroom, laundry room or spare bedroom works well. Furnish the room with cat amenities, such as food, water, toys, scratching post and a litter box. You’ll want to spend time with your new cat, so make sure there’s a comfortable place for you to sit as well.
- Fill a litter box with one or two inches of litter and place it in her room where she can use it undisturbed. If possible, take some of her existing litter from us, so that she is familiar with the smell.
- Set up a feeding station with food and water bowls. Locate it away from the litter box.
- Cats love to get away from it all in small places, and you can provide one for your new cat as her own little safe haven. If she came home in a cat carrier, that might be a good choice. You can also make one by cutting a doorway for her in the end of a box. If you prefer, you can buy a covered cat bed at a pet store.
- A cat’s claws need to be worn down, and they do this by scratching on things. This is normal cat behaviour and you will never be able to stop them scratching their claws. Since you prefer that it not be your chairs and sofa, provide your cat with a socially acceptable scratching place. Some types are made of corrugated cardboard and lie on the floor; others are posts which have to be tall enough so that the cat can extend himself upward to scratch. You can encourage your cat (once she has arrived) to use the post by sprinkling it with catnip or dangling a toy at the top. She’ll get the idea especially if you give her praise after she uses a scratching post, even give her a treat when she scratches the post, this will make her understand that this is place to wear down her claws. You’ll probably want a scratching post in each room, perhaps blocking access to furniture you may want to protect until she learns where to scratch. You can also install sticky tape (available at pet supply stores) to corners of upholstered furniture to dissuade scratching as cats don’t like the feel of sticky tape or plastic on their paws. Never slap or smack a cat as they won’t understand the reason for it.
- If possible, buy a cat tree for your new family member. Cats like to survey their territory, so a high perch is often a favoured resting place. Most cat trees have scratching posts and comfy cat beds as part of tree so you are getting tree things in one. You can buy extra toys that can be easily attached to the tree, cat love playing with dangly cat toys.
- Be aware of plants such as lilies which are toxic to cats. Also, reed diffusers can cause caustic burns to cats.
- Look at your house with a curious cat’s eye view for its climbing and exploring potential. When your cat is used to your home, you may be surprised to find her on top of the upper kitchen cabinets, so make sure there’s nothing on display there or on other high shelves that can be damaged or knocked off. You can put sticky plastic, cling film or the shiny side of tinfoil on your counter tops as cats are not a big fan of the feel of these on their paws.
- Look for holes that leave pipes, underfloors or inner walls that are accessible and cover them up. A kitten can easily slither into one of these.
- You will need to buy a cover for your cooker in case your kitty jumps onto the cooker top just after you have been using the cooker and burns it’s paws. Cats are very quiet and fast so you need to turn your back only for a second for your cat to get injured.
- If there are other human family members, go over the ground rules about your new pet. Remind them not to startle her and to keep the door to her room shut.
- Think about how to introduce your cat to other pets. Keep her door closed and don’t let your other pet race in unexpectedly.
What you need to buy for your new cat:
- Food and water bowls – some cats do not like plastic and prefer stainless steel or ceramic bowls
- Cat carrier for trips to the vet
- A bed for the cat – cats are very fussy and they will decide what bed they like but nice and soft is always a good bet
- Rug for the cats bed
- Toys – make sure they are proper cat toys and supervise the cat with toys on strings, remember the more toys they have the less likely they are to find amusement with your belongings
- Scratching post – have a few of these to protect your furniture, walls and carpet, horizontal, vertical or both! Cats sometimes like to stretch whilst scratching so tall scratch posts are often better than small ones 🙂
- Brush and flea comb
- Litter tray and cat litter and litter scoop – baby nappy bags are handy for scooping the soiled litter into. We recommend the ‘Worlds Best Cat Litter’, but if you decide to change litter, do it gradually…
- Books and leaflets on kitten and cat care
- Pet insurance – in case of the unexpected expense of illness or injury. All of our cats, unless stated otherwise, are healthy as far as we know, but please understand that these are rescue cats which come to us with an unknown history in many cases. If a cat has an identified pre-existing health condition prior to adoption we may be able to help with vets bills within the first 6 weeks as long as this is discussed with us before treatment commences. We strongly recommend that you take out pet medical insurance once the cat is in your care. Please choose your policy carefully to ensure that it meets your needs as policies can vary a great deal (eg general medical bills, accident/injury insurance, dental work, boarding fees if you are in hospital and so on…).
- First Day:
- Now, you are ready for your cat’s homecoming. Bring her home in a cat carrier, never let a cat loose in the car. Take her directly to her new room (make sure the toilet lid is down, if she’s to acclimate in your bathroom). Ideally, you would restrict her exposure to the whole family, but when they meet her, remind them of the ground rules you’ve set up.When you arrive home, immediately enclose your cat into a quiet room where all of their belongings are already waiting for them. These should include a litter tray, food, water, toys, bed & a scratching post. Take the cat directly from the pet carrier and place them in the litter tray, if they jump out it’s ok, you don’t have to put them back in. Leave her in her new room for 15 minutes, to help her to acclimatise to her new surroundings. Then sit on the floor and let her come to you. Don’t force her. Just let her get acquainted on her own time. If she doesn’t approach, leave her alone and try again later. Some cats are particularly frightened, and she may retreat to her hidey hole and not come out when you’re around at all. She may only come out at night when the house is quiet. Give her time.It’s best to give your cat the same food she had at our rescue centre or in her foster home, at least at first. If your cat hasn’t eaten for a few days, call your vet to ask for advice. We feed our cats a high-quality dry food called Orijen, which is an optimum diet as it provides all the nutrients of wet/dry food, and it’s good for the cat’s teeth and digestive system. Cats will be less prone to be overweight and it makes your life easier as your cat can graze throughout the day and you don’t have to rush home to feed them. Just remember to leave a big bowl of fresh water out as cats can dehydrate easily.NEVER GIVE A KITTEN OR CAT MILK APART FROM SPECIAL CAT MILK… many cats are lactose intolerant and it can cause an upset stomach, symptoms include vomiting and diarrhoea which are very unpleasant and dangerous for the cat.
It may take your cat a week or two to adjust. Be patient. A rescue cat may not know how to play so you may need to be patient while she learns what to do with cat toys; don’t assume that all cats know how to play as they may never have been played with before! Many cats like feather wands from pet shops, but homemade toys can also be fun – a wad of rolled up tinfoil to bat around or a paper bag or box to hide in for example! If your home is particularly large open the rooms up gradually. Make sure your cat always has access to their own room. Young kittens should be brought back into their own room every so often, as they may not be able to find their litter tray when roaming. Also try hiding some ‘treats’ around the house for your cat to find! Keep washing machine and dryer doors closed and check them before using them. Keep toilet seat lids down as kittens can easily drown in the toilet. Keep loose wires tied safely away- Kittens love to chew on these.
- Vaccinations – Your cat will need a booster every year for the rest of their life. Vaccinations keep your cat safe from harmful diseases and if you board your cat while on holiday you will need to show an up to date Vaccination card.Spaying/Neutering – your cat has already spayed / neutered by us. However please help us to spread the word about early neutering from 12 weeks as kittens can get pregnant easily (especially if you have a male and female kitten!)Worming – Your cat has already been wormed by us. It is important to worm your cat every 3-6 months. Take your cat to your vet for worming tablets and they will show you how to give your pet their medication. Kittens need to be wormed more frequently, Every 2 weeks until 6 months of age, then monthly from 6-12 months.De-flea – Your cat has been de-flea’d already, but it is recommended to de flea your cat every 2-3 months depending on the product used. Again have this treatment carried out by your vet as they use effective de fleaing products. Using a vet bought de’fleaing treatment is much more effective and cheaper in the long run than using a non veterinary approved treatment like a flea collar.Microchipping – Your cat has been microchipped to Coventry Cat Group. This is a small chip, the size of a grain of rice, which is harmlessly inserted in the base of their neck. The chip has a 15 digit code, which is unique to the them. If your cat is picked up and taken to a Vet Clinic or an Animal Shelter they will be immediately scanned for a chip. Each microchip has a unique number which is stored on a national database, and once scanned, the owner’s contact details can be retrieved. Cats cannot feel microchips once they are inserted. It is vital that contact details are kept up-to-date if you move house or change telephone number, as many of the cats in our care cannot be reunited with their owners due to incorrect microchip details. Most of the cats that come to Coventry Cat Group and other rescue and rehoming centre are strays that are never reunited with their owners. When you take your cat to see your vet for check ups, boosters etc ask your vet to scan for a micro chip to make sure the chip is still active and hasn’t moved down the cats body and to register the microchip number on your pets records.
Most of the time the chip details remain registered with Coventry Cat Group. It does mean that you should tell us if you move or change phone number. However if you want details changed to you we are also happy to do that. You have to let us know this is what you want to do and we have to fill in paperwork and send it off – it’s a bit like a car log book! As a homing rescue, it costs us nothing to change the details the first time. If you then move subsequently you have to inform the company themselves and pay an admin fee.
If you have adopted an Adult cat, they must stay indoors for at least one month, longer if possible, to prevent them from straying. By keeping your new cat indoors for at least a month they will identify the house/apt as her territory that needs protecting. Many cats let out before the one month period stray – some looking for their previous home and others get lost.
Kittens must stay in until they have been neutered/spayed and it is advisable to keep kittens in for as long as possible. We are very much in favour of early neutering at 10-12 weeks as kittens can get pregnant very easily. Kittens and young adult cats have little or no road sense so the longer you keep the cat in, the better. Also most road traffic accidents happen at night, so only let your cat out during the day.
Introducing your new cat to an already established cat:
If you are introducing the cat to an already established cat, let the cats get to know each other in their own way and don’t rush it. It may take weeks for them to become comfortable with each other. You should start off opening the door of your new cats room a small crack so they can see each other but can’t touch each other. Keep doing this at intervals until they get used to seeing and smelling each others scents. You can expect some hissing, growling and swiping – this is the established cat’s way of letting the newcomer that they are on her/his territory. Never leave the cats alone and supervise their first few meetings. At night or when your are not at home lock the newcomer in their room until you feel comfortable that the cats will be safe if left alone together. It can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of months before the cats can reach an agreement! Never rush introductions of two cats as cats can get stressed very easily and they love routine so having to deal with another cat is something that you need to do slowly, it is better to do it slowly than rush it and regret it later.
Be sure to have separate food bowls, litter trays and beds for the two cats. Always ensure there is plenty of food, as this will make the transition easier as the established cat realises that there is no reason to fight over food. Feed the established cat first so their routine is not changed and they don’t feel neglected. Some experts recommend having one litter tray per cat + one extra. Always make sure to give them equal attention so they don’t become jealous of each other.
Enjoy your new cat and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you for supporting us, and please recommend us if you know of anyone who is looking for a new cat or kitten 🙂
Coventry Cat Group