What You Need to Prepare Before Bringing a Cat/Kitten Home
A large litter tray is advised. Your cat should have enough space to comfortably turn around in, and deep enough for them to be able to dig and cover their business up.
Cats can be very sensitive to strong smells and it can put them off using their litter tray. So, when choosing products for your cats litter tray avoid a strongly scented litter, cleaning the tray with too strong a cleaner, or using an air freshener nearby.
Cats like a clean litter tray, and might not use it if they deem it ‘dirty’, so remove any mess often, and if you have more than one cat, you will need multiple litter boxes – one per cat. Likewise, if you live in a home with multiple levels, one litter box per level. Place the box in a quiet spot where the cat won’t be bothered by people, dogs, or loud noises. To keep the litter box clean, scoop the litter at least every morning and evening, and sterilize the tray weekly. You should totally replace or refresh the litter at least once a week.
Never punish your cat if they toilet outside of the litter tray. Your cat will not understand why they are being punished and it is likely to make the situation worse. Going to the toilet in the house is a very common problem in cats and can be caused by a number of reasons including fear and illness. Instead, try to absorb any urine and leave the tissue back inside their tray – they are likely to trace the smell and will learn to use the tray properly.
Scratching keeps their claws in good condition and strengthens their muscles. Also, cats release pheromones through their paws, which marks their territory. Because of this, they love to scratch. Scratching is a necessary daily activity for a cat, so make sure they have something for them to scratch. It needs to be tall enough for them to be able to stretch fully. Be careful to choose a post with a large or heavy base so that it doesn’t topple over easily.
If your cat isn’t using the scratch post, then try a different shape or style – some cats like to scratch horizontally and others vertically, you can always put a bit of cat nip on the scratch pad/post to attract them to it, and use positive reinforcement by rewarding them with yummy treats.
Cats love heights: being up high and being able to watch everything that’s going on makes them feel safe. You should provide a choice of raised areas within the home which they can access safely. These resting places should be large enough for them to lie out on comfortably with minimal risk of falling. If you have more than one cat then you will need a number of vertical resting places so that they can chose to rest apart. This is essential if you live in a small apartment or with young children. If you can, install shelves, which can be kept empty for your cats to use to sit/sleep on. Alternatively, buy a tall scratch post that is flat at the top for them to climb up and sit on.
It is important that you provide enough toys so that you kitty doesn’t get bored. However, having a good variety of toys available does not mean spending a lot of money; there are plenty of cheaper alternatives and even homemade options: Kitchen foil balls, Feathers, Fishing rod toys, Play tunnels, Paper balls, Cardboard boxes, and Toilet roll tubes/egg boxes containing treats. Regularly changing the toys for new and different ones will help to keep your cat excited. Many cats enjoy fast moving objects that are about the same size as their natural prey, so toys that are about the size of mice or small rodents are ideal. Many cats also respond well to catnip and spraying catnip scent or stuffing toys with dry catnip can be a successful way to encourage cats to play.
Just like any member of the family, a cat should have a medical check-up every year. Unlike human children, cats can’t let us know when they’re not feeling well. They rely on their owners to take them to a veterinarian for regular medical examinations to keep them healthy. It is important that a cat sees a vet at least once a year, for a physical check-up – teeth, ears, eyes, heart, etc – booster vaccinations and deflea/deworm treatments (although they should have deflea and worm treatment every three months).
Buy the most appropriate food for a cats age and health needs. Kitten food has higher protein content, while they are developing. Adult cats do not need as higher protein content.
Try to buy the same food and litter that the cat was using before. This might make the transition a little bit smoother for the cat. Then you can slowly mix it in with a new type of food/litter if you wish to switch. If you’d like to use different litter or food straight away, ask if you can have a little of what the cat was originally using and mix it in with the new type of food/litter.
Make sure there aren’t small areas where your cat might get stuck. Leave your kittens in a small room to start with and slowly introduce them to explore the rest of your home while supervised. Make sure your windows are secure and these no way your cat can get outside.
Feline pheromone products – If you’re adopting an older cat, nervous cat or have a cat at home already, you can try a spray, such as Feliway to have relax your cat.
These products, which fill the air with calming synthetic pheromones, come as sprays or diffusers that plug into electrical outlets. They can help resolve litter box or scratching issues, and have also been proven to calm stressed or anxious cats.
Every cat has an individual personality and they will need to be catered for in different ways. Some cats are very playful, whilst other aren’t. Some cats love the belly being scratched and other loathe it. You will quickly get to know what your cat likes and doesn’t like. Make sure you respect that, reward good behavior and don’t punish bad behavior and be patient. If you cat is shy or nervous of human contact then even just sitting and reading quietly close to them can make a big difference to their wellbeing and help build their confidence with you.
Clicker training can be great fun for the cats and you. Training should be kept simple and fun and daily sessions will help to keep your cats mentally stimulated.