Preparing For Kitty
Have you been approved for adoption? Congratulations! We wish you and your new feline companion many happy years together. Here are some essential things to make your introduction and life together successful.
Setting up a safe room
For the first 7–10 days, your cat will need their own space — usually a spare bedroom or bathroom with a latching door, where you can keep the cat safe and comfortable while they adjust to the new surroundings and family members.
Cat-proofing the room (and your house)
Cats are natural explorers and their curiosity often leads to finding new hiding places, chewing or licking objects or surfaces, and using any loose item as a toy.
The secret to cat-proofing your home is to look at each room through their eyes. Get down on the floor and see the world from their view — if anything looks like it might make a great toy or is potentially harmful, remove it.
Secure cords (phone charger, electrical plugs, window coverings) as they could be chewed or a pose a strangulation risk.
Minimize the places a cat can hide. Consider blocking access to the undersides and backs of furniture with a towel or cardboard.
Ensure windows are secured and use a pet-safe screen that is good repair.
Many plants are poisonous to cats and some, like lilies, can be fatal within a few hours of ingesting even a small amount. Remove plants and dispose of poisonous plants like lilies and philodendrons. If you are ever unsure, search the ASPCA Guide to Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants. When in doubt, throw it out.
AVA recommends you continue to feed the cat the food they are used to eating until they settle into the new environment – a new home is a big change without changing their diet as well. You should have at least one week’s worth of their current wet and dry food.
If you have a preferred brand of food you plan to feed the cat, it is best to slowly transition to the new food, starting with 100% current food and gradually adding more new food to the mix over the course of 7 days.
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need most of their calories from animal protein. It’s best to select a food that has named animal protein, like chicken or turkey, as the top ingredients, and ones with fewer byproducts, fillers and carbohydrates like corn.
Unless directed otherwise by a vet, your cat will need both wet (canned) and dry food. Wet food should be given each day to help cats stay properly hydrated and avoid health problems like urinary tract infections and kidney disease. Serve wet food at room temperature when possible as cats may be finicky about cold food.
Cat food found in grocery stores offers limited nutrition and is available in limited selection. For higher quality food, shop at a reputable pet store or your veterinarian’s clinic. Depending on age and health, your cat may require a special diet that is only available through your vet. Monitor your cat’s eating habits daily to ensure that all is well; follow the daily recommended amounts on the pet food packaging to avoid overfeeding.
Avoid packaged/processed treats on a daily basis; too many treats can impact appetite.
Always provide fresh water daily.
Cats need at least three dishes:
- One for water (large)
- One for kibble
- One for wet food
Dishes should be metal or ceramic. Plastic is difficult to clean, can harbour bacteria, and cause or aggravate kitty acne. A second (or third) set comes in handy if you use a dishwasher or are not be able to wash between uses.
A litter box + 1
You will need a litter box for the safe room, but you should always have one litter box for each cat in your home and an extra one for the house, ideally in different locations. Litter should be scooped daily.
Clumping, unscented litter is the AVA standard. If you decide to use another type, keep a litter box of clumping available until the cat gets used to the new type, gradually transitioning over the course of 7 days, and/or adding an extra box of the new type. Avoid scented litter as most cats do not like it.
Don’t forget a scooper!
Scratching is a healthy, natural and necessary behaviour for cats. It stretches their backs and chests, helps remove loose nail sheaths, and also leaves their scent behind so they feel ownership of the territory, which is key to their confidence. Plus it feels good!
Get to know your cat: does he/she like to scratch vertically, horizontally, or on an incline? All three? Does your cat prefer rope, carpet, cardboard? All three?
Tall, sturdy posts are a safe bet, as are posts with sisal rope.
If your furniture is getting unwanted scratching, try having multiple posts, rub cat nip on the post to attract the cats, and putting a post in front of the furniture can correct the behaviours.
Deter your cat from scratching unwanted objects by covering them with double-sided sticky tape.
A cat tree, especially one near a window, can provide hours of entertainment: consider it Cat TV!
Cat trees and condos offer an additional, appropriate place to scratch, but importantly, it gives them vertical height to feel confident, a cozy place to sleep, and just to survey their domain. It’s also gives them a sense of ownership of a space in the home.
Cats also love cozy places to curl up and nap – this could be as simple as a shoe box with a soft blanket or towel or a luxurious cat bed.
Toys and accessories
Make play time fun! Cats love to interact with their families. It helps expend their energy in a positive way (keeping them out of trouble), and also builds the bond between you and your cat. Try some wand toys that have feathers or mice on the end. Also provide some self-play toys like catnip mice and other suitable toys.
Check toys regularly to make sure there are no loose bits the at could swallow. Repair or discard any damaged toys.
Ensure you have a good cat comb/brush (or a few until you know which type your cat prefers), nail clippers for bi-weekly trims, and a sturdy cat carrier for trips to the vet.
Cat grass can be a nice treat and provide some added fibre to their diet.
Many cats enjoy loose cat nip and cat nip toys. While not all cats react to catnip, for those that do, it can act as a both a stimulant and sedative. Monitor your cat the first few times you give them cat nip as it can occasionally cause aggression in multi-cat homes.
Read up on appropriate play, common medical issues, healthy scratching and other educational items on our Cat 101 page.