If you are thinking of adopting a cat, there are measures you should take to ensure your home is safe for the cat and that it takes minimal time to fit into your household. Cats can easily get stressed when changed from their usual surroundings or when everything is new including faces. When stressed they eat less and tend to play or interact less. To avoid this, here are steps that can help you prepare your home for the cat.
Get to know its history
Before bringing the cat home, where are you getting it from? Are you adopting it from a foster home, a friend’s house or just buying it from a vendor? How was its living condition? Was it caged, roaming around freely, an indoor or outdoor cat or used to staying in a room? Were the home and environment noisy or quiet? How were its eating habits and schedule? What was it being fed? Was it being fed once or twice in a day or was it left with dry food to eat as it wished?
Although it is not good to leave the food around all day, continue with the current feeding habits then change as desired once the cat gets used to your home. It’s important to make the new home almost as the old one and introduce change gradually. Note that change in the environment is stressful enough and when you combine this with a lifestyle change, the cat can end up stressed.
Have the necessary supplies
You will need the food, bowls for the food and water, cat toys, bed, brush, litter box and scratching posts. These are just some of the important supplies you can start with and add as appropriate. If this is your first time bringing a cat home talk to the previous owners or a cat expert.
Checking a local cat suppliers store can give you an idea of what you need to get. In addition to this, stick to the food the cat was used to and transition gradually if you want to make any changes. Sudden changes may be met with resistance where the cat may eat small amounts or completely refuse to eat anything.
Sudden changes in the environment may stress the cat and to avoid this, confine it to one room or a cage then introduce it to the other parts of the house gradually. The important things to have in the room are the water and food bowl and a litter box. Spend as much time as possible with the cat in the room so that it can get comfortable around you. In addition to this, ensure that the cat has enough hiding places in the cage and around the room.
It may want to have ground and high hiding places. Ensure you provide both and do not disturb it when it goes into its hiding places. These are the cat’s me moments and it will appreciate if you respect them.
As much as you want the cat to get used to the new environment, make sure it is safe. You would not want the cat to accidentally put on the water faucet or strangle itself when playing. Also, small items such as rubber bands and paper clips can pose a danger to the cat.
Remove toxic plants
Cats may nibble on toxic plants such as lilies, aloe vera and ivy, irises and baby’s breath. You do not have to completely get rid of the plants but hang them on higher grounds or have them in rooms the cat may not frequent. If you are not sure of which plants may be dangerous to your cat, consult a cat vet or remove all the plants from the room. Also, ensure dry leaves do not fall anywhere near the cat.
Familiarize the cat with the other family members
Do not introduce all the family members at once but once the cat gets used to you, allow the other family members to spend time with it in your presence. It will feel secure and be less aggressive. Also, remember cats love playing. Get it enough toys and make sure to play with it.
Watch out for any signs of stress
If your cat is not playing or does not eat properly, it might be a sign of stress. Aggression, hiding and spending most of the time sleeping may also indicate stress. Note that a cat from a shelter can have higher stress levels because of the frequent home changes. If the behavior does not improve after a few days, contact a veterinary.
How can you help a stressed cat?
For new cat owners, the desire to make the cat as comfortable as possible can be overwhelming especially when the cat is resisting the change. To make things better, spend more time with the cat, encourage it to play and stick to the former schedule as much as possible including meal times, food, and litter types.
Remove other pets
For the first few weeks as the cat gets used to your home, do not introduce other pets. Dogs may be aggressive to the cats especially new ones and you would not want your cat to run away from your home because it fears the dog. As the days go by, spend time with all your pets together and as they get used to each other and accept one another, you will need to monitor their time together less.
Indoors or outdoors?
You will have to decide whether you want the cat to stay indoors or outdoors. You can have it indoors and give it the freedom to check out the outdoors as it wishes as long as the environment is safe. Conceal holes, cracks or monitor its time outdoors. Alternatively, install perches next to the windows for the cat to enjoy the sights, scenarios and fresh air.
The more you are prepared to have the cat at your home, the faster it will adapt to its new home. If you have never taken care of a cat before, make sure you have a reliable veterinary and familiarize yourself with cats. A cats’ handbook with details on diet and lifestyle can come in handy.