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New Cat Parenting: 8 Tips for Success

New Cat Parenting: 8 Tips for Success

So you brought home a new kitty. Congratulations! You have now graced your home with one of the most interesting little creatures on earth. Cats are elusive, yet playful.  They seek attention and then scorn it.  They will go from licking your hand to biting it without so much as a thought. They will become fixated on that fly on the wall and the pens on your desk. If you have a cat, know that you live with them... not the other way around.

So, now it's time to figure out how to give your new royal kitty the life she deserves. What supplies will you need for her? How can you make your home cat friendly and still protect things like your favorite plants? And, what resources do you need to learn about the regular needs of a cat, who will be notoriously stoic when in pain.

Worry not! We're here to help you get set up correctly right away.  Royalty doesn't take kindly to poor care, you know...

Set Up A Space Just for Them 

tan tabby cat sitting in a cat tree

Cats, especially if they were feral or you got them from a shelter, can be jumpy and anxious. New noises, new smells, and new behaviors can make them even more jittery. When you first bring them home, it's a good idea to put them in a smaller room or space that is set up exclusively for them. Stock that space with food and water bowls with the food they were eating previously.  Also include a litter box and some good litter. Include a blanket or toy that smells like where they just came from - the shelter, outdoors, or mama cat. 

This space should be quiet and away from the regular smells and noises of the house. No kids.  No other pets.  Away from people. You might consider a basket or cloth cube or small shelf area they can climb into and "loaf".  Then they can watch the new world around them from a safe space. 

Give Them Time To Adjust

tan tabby cat nuzzling human hand

Some cats will hide in a tiny spot until their fear reflex calms down.  Some will roam around right away, even coming to you to give you the sniff test.  Let them decide when they are ready to explore their new home.  Many cat experts suggest 3 days as a good amount of time to let them settle in, but it really depends on the cat and your home. 

Try sitting in their room without playing with them or touching them.  Just hang out and let them observe you, smell you, learn your movements. When they finally grace you with their royal presence and either bump you with their head or climb into your lap, you will know they have decided this is their home.

Play At Their Pace

white and gray tabby playing with mouse toy

Unlike doggos, cats are not keen to please their human family.  In fact, they generally don't care one way or the other.  So... when you want to engage with them in play, take it at their pace, and let them show you what they like.  Some cats like more rough and tumble play, but remember, they have very sharp claws and will not hesitate to use them. If you are going to roughhouse with your kitty, wear long sleeves!

If your cat lays down on the floor and shows you her belly, understand that this is NOT an invitation to rub said belly. Ask nicely first.

A sure fire way to get them to play with you is with one of those silly dangly toys with a fish on the end.  Walk around your house with one dragging on the floor and you will soon have a prowling cat on your heels.  

Kitty Proof Your Home 

kittens laying in drawer of white dresser

Preparing for a curious new family member is always a challenge and should be considered a work in progress.  Your kitty will let you know what you forget by promptly going over and investigating that area. Zoetis Petcare has one of the most thorough cat proofing your home lists we have found.  Some things to consider include:

Problem: Some plants are poisonous for cats.

Solution: Put those plants where they cannot get to them and get them their very own kitty plants instead. You can also buy kitty grass seeds from your local hardware store, pot them up and put them in a window where your kitty hangs out. 

Problem: Small items on table tops, counters, nightstands and desks are fascinating toys.

Solution: Put small items away so they cannot get at them. Put items on these surfaces they CAN play with, such as catnip toys and crinkle balls.  Better yet, get them their very own kitty play cube and put it right next to your desk. 

Problem: Cats hide in small, dark spaces and can get stuck there

Solution: Get into the habit of checking closet and cabinet doors before you close them just to make sure you are not locking your poor kitty inside.

Socialize Them Slowly

boy sitting on bed playing with orange tabby cat

There’s a lot for your new cat to learn at home, and another important aspect of this is the animals and people who either live in your home or come visit. Many cats will find the smallest place to stuff their bodies into anytime a new person comes over. Other cats will proudly saunter up and make themselves the main attraction when visitors call. Once your cat lets you know what his natural tendency is around people and pets, let him be for a while.  

Over time, as he acclimates to the sights, smells, and goings on in his new caste, he will calm down. We highly recommend a calming enzyme or pheromone to help with this process. These products come in the form of sprays, plug-in diffusers and treats and they really do help.

Stock Up On Supplies

cat litter box sitting in the corner of a house

Your Must Have List should include:

  • Collar
  • Litter Box
  • Litter 
  • Food & Water Bowls
  • Food
  • Cat Brush
  • Flea treatments
  • Scratching post

Your Nice To Have List could include:

  • Catnip (your cat may think this is a Must Have...)
  • Cat Bed
  • Calming Enzymes
  • Enzymatic cleaner for accidents
  • Treats
  • Toys

Scollar has a large assortment of supplies for cats of all ages.  We even curated a New Pet Collection just for your kitty. 

Your new pet will likely come home with a food that the shelter or breeder has been feeding them. Decide if you want to keep them on the same food, and then buy a bigger bag of that same food so you don't run out as quickly. If you want to transition them to a different food, buy a smaller bag of the food they eat now and find the best cat food for them and transition them slowly to their new food. 

Find a Vet ASAP

male vet looking into ear of a cat

 

Don’t delay your first visit to the veterinarian; try to get in the door within a few days of bringing home your new cat. In fact, find a vet early and make the appointment before you bring them home.  You’ll want to immediately get a sense of health issues and any special care that may be required. Read the small print in your adoption contract—many purchase or adoption contracts state that an exam is immediately required. 

There are services that help you find a vet near you including Mypet.com and Localvets.com.  If you are looking for telemedicine, you can use services like Fuzzy and TeleVet

Offer Entertaining Play Areas

calico cat scratching on a cat post

A big decision cat owners face is whether to let your furry feline roam around outside or make them exclusively an indoor cat. There is ample writing on both sides of this argument.  It is true that indoor/outdoor cats do face a lot of risk factors that purely indoor cats do not; predators, cars, poison. They can also be quite prolific hunters of rodents (good) and birds (bad).  Fetch by WebMD and American Humane both have excellent blogs that will help guide your decision making process.   

The allure of the outdoors for a cat is the enormous playground and stimuli it give them.  Sights, smells, friendly neighbors who feed them that third meal. If you decide your cats will be indoor cats, be sure to offer them toys, scratchers, and time with you so they don't turn into couch potatoes watching soap opera reruns all day. One easy solution is to get them something to scratch and climb on - from the simplest cat scratcher to more elaborate jungle gyms.  Feeling inspired? Pinterest hosts a truly epic assortment of DIY cat playground ideas. We are confident your kitties will want to help you build their new playground. It's a win-win! 

BONUS TIP: Be Like Your Cat... Curious

Want more information about living with cats? Here are the resources we used for this blog post.