Adopting a cat - plan and prepare1st June 2017
At Bollington Veterinary Centre we’ve helped rehome many cats over the years. Not every pairing works, but with a little time and effort it is possible to get it right with both cat and family being settled and happy. Most people find the whole experience very rewarding.
Questions you need to ask
Before rushing out to start the adoption process, there are some important things you need to consider.
- Do you have the time? - if you are always out at work or have a busy social life, you’ll need to find someone to help with feeding and cleaning litter trays. Also consider if you have time to spend bonding with your new cat – cats need company too!
- Do you live in safe place? - if you live on a busy road you may need to keep your cat indoors all the time. House cats have different needs to cats that can roam outside.
- Do you have the space? – cats love to explore and hunt, but if you don’t have a garden or access to open spaces, your cat may feel restricted and stressed if not cared for correctly.
- Can you provide a stable routine? – most cats are more settled if they have a calm, relaxed routine. If your home life is disruptive, it may have an impact on your cat’s behaviour.
- Is your home stress free? – if you have a dog or children you will need a need a cat with a calm personality. Nervous cats are likely to struggle settling into certain environments.
- Are you house proud? – with young kittens don’t be surprised if they use your curtains to run up and down. Adult cats like scratching posts and may feel that your furniture and carpets are acceptable places to scratch. If this would upset you then maybe a mature, less playful cat would suit you better?
- Do you have any other cats? – our feline friends are far more solitary creatures than dogs. It is not guaranteed that they will get on together so you must think carefully if you already have a cat. Most will tolerate or get on well with small groups, but some simply prefer to be on their own. With three or more cats, particularly in a smaller house, the risk of friction, tension and stress within the group increases.
- Choose carefully – it’s really important to assess the character of the cat you are thinking of adopting. Some cats are chilled and relaxed, whilst others can be nervous or aggressive. A feral cat that has had little human contact is unlikely to become an indoor friend. A timid cat is unlikely to cope with a busy household.
The welcome home – our 10 top tips
1. The journey home - remember a solid escape proof carrier. Stay calm, speak quietly and drive carefully.
2. Inside rules – it’s sensible for your adopted cat to stay indoors whilst getting used to you and the new home. There is no hard and fast rule, but 2-4 weeks is common.
3. Keep confined - start with a single room away from the hustle and bustle of the home. You can offer a hiding place such as a cardboard box with bedding inside. This will allow a nervous pet to find refuge.
4. Food and water – provide a bowl of familiar food and plenty of fresh water. Place the food and water bowls away from the litter tray.
5. Litter tray - place the litter tray in a corner with some privacy. You might have to offer a few different types of cat litter at first, such as gravel or wood pellets.
6. Go slowly - gradually allow more freedom and movement around the house as you start to feel more confident about your new friend.
7. Meeting other pets - take your time with introductions. Smells first, then sight, then supervised introductions. With cats you can definitely ‘Introduce in haste and repent at leisure’.
8. Outside once bonded - once you are sure that your new pet is gaining some confidence, open the door and allow them to explore a little if they want. If you call them back for food they should come quickly. Some cats will walk outside in a cat harness and this can often be a good way to introduce them to new sights, smells and sounds in a controlled way.
9. Vaccinate – keep your new friends safe and healthy by making sure they are fully vaccinated before going outside. At Bollington Veterinary Centre we can give you all the advice on what you need to do. Call us for help.
10. Microchip – the risk of your new cat going missing can be quite high in the first few days and weeks. We strongly recommend you have your cat microchipped at the earliest opportunity to make sure they can be traced and returned in the event of them getting lost.
|Call us to microchip your cat|
Pheromones and smell
There is a great pheromone product available which we often use to help cats settle in called Feliway. It can be used in their transport box and around the house to help them remain calm and open to change. It is also useful in homes with more than one cat and can help with initial introductions. Please discuss this with us, as how it is used is important.
|Ask us about Feliway|
On the same theme, animals have their own smell, almost like a fingerprint. If you are introducing pets together, mixing up their smells before they meet is very helpful. For example, swapping bedding or transferring their smells on a duster from one to another long before they even see each other will make the process easier. Please make sure that vaccinations and flea and worm treatments are up to date before introducing cats or swapping bedding to avoid and cross contamination.
Are there risks with getting a new cat?
Yes, but most can be managed. It is sensible to make sure your new arrival is healthy, has been wormed and has had flea control. Why not bring your new arrival to us for a full health check?
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