THE FIRST NIGHT AT HOME
- A new home can be very scary for your new cat. It is very important that their first night in your home is as stress-free as possible.
- Set up one room in your home with a litter tray, a small amount of food, water and a cat bed. Take your cat into the room and place them in the litter tray so they know where it is. Close the door but stay in the room. Spend some time in the room with them to observe how they are acting. If they seem scared, leave them for a few hours alone to settle in. When cats are frightened it is normal for them to hide. This may be under the bed or in a box, let them come out in their own time. Don’t be upset, this can be very normal for some cats. If you have young children, let them know the cat isn’t used to the house yet and needs some time to settle in.
- Try to avoid loud noises in the house as these may scare the cat.
- Don’t worry if they don’t eat on the first night as they may not be feeling well after the car trip. Offer them the same type of food they were receiving at the adoption centre as a sudden change of food can give them an upset tummy, or even diarrhoea. Offer only small amounts of food for the first 12-24 hours.
- Over the next few days introduce yourself to your new cat by spending some time in their room. Play with them, stroke them, and place them gently on your lap. All these things will help them learn to trust you and feel safe. Once your cat is relaxed and wanting to explore the house, introduce them to other rooms slowly. It is important you keep them inside the house till they are de sexed, once they have been de sexed or for at least one month. After a month of having your cat you can introduce them to outside. We suggest you do this slowly to avoid stress. Supervise them at all times and start with short intervals outside. If you have a kitten, try taking them for walks on a harness to prevent them running away. Each time you go outside, you can increase the length of time you are out. If you decide you will be letting them out alone, you will need to establish a routine where food is an incentive to come back inside. At Cat Protection we advise all cat owners to curfew their cat at night. This protects your cat from being injured, getting in fights and killing wildlife.
INTRODUCING YOUR NEW CAT TO THE FAMILY
- Growing up with pets can be a great experience for children. It is very important that parents supervise their children whenever they are interacting with pets to make sure the children know how to handle the pet. This ensures both the child’s and the pet’s safety. When introducing your new cat to children you should have the child sit on a chair or on the floor so the cat has a firm place to sit. You should hold the cat and gently sit them on the child’s lap. Let the child gently stroke them while you are holding the cat to reassure them they are safe. After doing this a few times, show the child how to hold the cat properly. This is by placing one hand under the rump of the cat and the other arm under the cat’s front shoulders. This way the cat will feel secure. Ask the child to always remember that cats have very good hearing so any loud noises or voices can frighten the cat. To avoid being bitten or scratched your child also needs to understand the signs your cat may show when they are frightened. These include
- Hissing or spitting
- Ears pinned back against the head
- Fur raised
- Provide a safe place for your new cat to retreat if they become overwhelmed. This will help both your cat and your children to develop a trusting relationship.
- Provide your new cat with a litter box that is the right size.
If the litter box is too small, your cat may miss the litter; if it is too big, the cat may not be able to get in. At Pittwater Animal Hospital we use Breeders Choice. If you need to change the type of litter, introduce the new litter into the old type so your cat will get used to it. You may need to try a few different litters until you find one your cat likes
- Remove all solid waste daily from tray
- Empty and clean all litter from tray as recommended on the packaging. If your cat is fussy you may need to do this more often as a cat’s sense of smell is better than ours
- Don’t use strong detergents when cleaning the tray as this may deter your cat from using the tray
- Place the litter tray in a quiet spot as cats like their privacy when going to the toilet. Don’t move the tray around or your cat may not be able to find it
- Worms- Your new cat has been wormed. It is important that you continue worming your cat throughout their life. Intestinal worms like hookworm, roundworm and tapeworm can all be killed by using a worming tablet or spot on treatment. Kittens need to be wormed fortnightly from 2-12 weeks old and adults monthly to three monthly depending on the product. Humans can catch worms from pets and they from us; so see your pharmacist about whether you should treat your human family too.
- Fleas and Ticks- Your new cat has also been flea and tick treated using revolution plus. We recommend Bravecto spot on as it lasts for 3 months.
- Never use flea treatment products intended for dogs on your cat:
- Vaccinations- Your new cat has been F3-vaccinated. The vaccination certificate will tell you when the next one is due. Kittens require boosters before their vaccination course is complete and then adult yearly vaccinations.
FEEDING YOUR CAT
- At Pittwater Animal Hospital your cat has been fed Hill’s Science Diet. We recommend this food as it provides your cat with all the nutrients they will need. The Hill’s range of cat foods are balanced to meet your cat’s needs at every life stage, from kitten to senior. Transitioning to the right food when your cat enters a new life stage will help to meet your cat’s changing nutritional requirements. Adult cats need to be fed twice a day. Kittens will need three to four small meals a day as they have small stomachs. Your kitten will need kitten food until they are 12 months old. Follow the feeding guide on the packaging as overfeeding your cat can result in diarrhoea, vomiting or excessive weight gain. Always provide your cat with a supply of fresh water, if your cat doesn’t drink enough water, they will become dehydrated. Never give your cat or kitten milk as cats are lactose intolerant and can become very sick from drinking milk.
KEEPING YOUR CAT HAPPY INDOORS
- Cats can live happily indoors. By keeping your cat indoors you are benefitting your cat, yourself and the environment. At Pittwater Animal Hospital we encourage all cat owners to keep their cat indoors. When you decide you would like your cat to be an indoor cat you need to remember to provide enough stimulation for your cat so they don’t get bored. Although cats sleep a lot, you will need to provide at least 30 minutes a day of play time for your cat, even older cats. The following points will ensure your cat has stimulation throughout the day:
- Toys –There is a huge variety of cat toys available to keep your cat happy for hours, even some you can enjoy as well
- Hiding spots- Cats need a quiet place they can retreat to if they get stressed. Provide your cat with an igloo bed or a box they can hide in if they need time out
- Greenery Provide your cat with some cat grass or catmint in a pot; your cat can chew on the foliage to help their digestion
- Scratching posts- Cats need to scratch things in order to shed the dead nail sheath from their claws. Provide your cat with a scratch post, or a few, to protect your furniture. There is a huge variety available, even with cat activity centres attached. To promote use of the post you can spray them with catnip spray
- Windows- Install a window seat or place a piece of furniture under a window so your cat can look out. Cats love to sun themselves in the window and look at life outside. Remember if your cat is light coloured they can still get sunburnt through the glass
- Clean the litter tray- Cats are very clean animals so ensure you remove any solid waste from your cat’s litter tray daily and provide your cat with a couple of trays to avoid any nasty surprises when you get home
- Get TWO CATS!!! Keep your cat entertained by getting them a friend. This will ensure your cat is never lonely and always has a playmate.If you don’t intend keeping your cat indoors during the day, you should ALWAYS curfew your cat at night – for your cat’s safety and the environment
GOING ON HOLIDAYS
- Everyone likes to go on holidays and it can be difficult when you have a pet. This doesn’t have to be the case. You can:
- Board your cat in a cattery or with your local vet. Your cat needs to be up-to-date with all vaccinations to stay at a cattery. Pet minders can come to your house to feed your cat. This option is good for cats who are shy or easily stressed as they don’t need to leave home.