Welcoming a New Feline Friend to Your Home!

So you’ve done your research, you know all about the possible 18-year commitment, and you’ve decided that you would like to introduce a furry feline into your home! Whether or not you’ve taken on a kitten or a full-grown Tom, here are a few helpful hints to help make the transition to your home a life a little bit simpler.

Bringing home your new kitten:

Before bringing your kitten home, I’d recommend having two litter boxes prepped and ready for use. Ideally, you will provide variety here (one hooded perhaps and one open) so that s/he can pick which s/he prefers. You’ll want to have a good quality kitten food, both canned and dry. It is important to expose your new kittens to canned food, as our feline friends tend to imprint on different textures when they are young, so that should they become sick and be prescribed a new diet then they will be more likely to take it. Be sure to provide safe toys for play.

I’d recommend setting up a small room for your kitten, one where the can be kept overnight or while not being you are not around to monitor him/her. A litter box should be placed here, water should available, his/her meals will be provided here, and a comfortable bed should be placed in this area. This will hasten litter box training, provide security and comfort to your kitten and prevent him/her getting into a dangerous situation (biting electrical chords, eating toxic cleaning supplies or inappropriate food). I would also recommend a Feliway plugin for this area of the house. It is a pheromone mimic that soothes kittens/cats, as it reminds them of calming times such as nursing off their mother.

While you will be excited to pick up your new kitten, the kitten will be overwhelmed their first day home. If they are hiding or timid, give her time in her new room to adjust. Go in and talk softly to her, offer treats, and sit calmly with her until she is comfortable with you. In no time at all, they will be running about and playing with you and your family.

I would recommend a veterinary visit in the first 72 hours to do a thorough check-up. Most kittens will require a deworming medication protocol, flea prevention and starting their kitten vaccine series. The veterinary team will be more than happy to answer, and all your questions including nutritional advice, how to introduce your kitten to other pets in the home, how to trim the nails, etc.

One of the many concerns owners have with kittens is how to work with them to prevent damage to their furniture and home. To help mitigate these issues, I would like to pass along some advice for those cat loving souls who plan on including these furry felines in their homes.

  1. Nail trims: Frequent nail trims is a very important part of maintaining a healthy cat. If left to grow overlong, they can become embedded in the paw pad causing infection to set in. Many of these cats will present for lameness and require removal of the nail from within the paw pad, antibiotics and pain medications. I would recommend that you start desensitizing your cat to nail trims immediately upon bringing your cat or kitten home. This can be done by playing with their feet frequently, gently exposing them to nail trimmers, giving them treats while trimming their nails, and working slow and steady until you can do a full nail trim quickly and efficiently. There is no harm in doing 2 or 3 nails at a time, or one foot a day, so long as all are trimmed frequently. If you are unsure how to do a nail trim, please book an appointment with your local veterinary clinic, the team will be happy to walk you through the procedure.
  2. Environmental Enrichment: Cats are much busier than we previously thought they were. I know that many of us were guilty of thinking that cats lazed about all day, with mini breaks from their naps to grab a bite of food. My little female is always on the move. To help give them an outlet, I would suggest getting them nice scratch posts and toys. You can teach a cat to use a scratching post/cat tree by placing treats in the area, with the use of catnip and with praise. You could feed them on top of the cat tree, so they recognize the area as their own space. Cats also enjoy interactive play. You can do this with laser pointers, cat-safe toys and by games such as hide and seek (hiding treats for your pet to find).
  3. Deterrents: If there are places you would like your cat to avoid you can always use deterrents. There are products on the market that make noise (beeping or hissing) based on a motion detector. You could use this to keep cats away from areas you’d rather they not be (a room with antique furniture or out of your kitchen for instance). You can also place double-sided tape or aluminum foils on areas where the cat is frequently scratching to help steer away from that area.

Bringing home your adult cat:

Much of what was discussed in bringing home your kitten applies to bringing home your adult cat. There are unlimited benefits to adopting as an adult cat, when compared to kittens, include: you know exactly how big your cat will be, you can see what kind/length of fur you’ll be dealing with, you can adopt based on personality, you’re giving an older cat a second chance at a good home! Hoping to adopt a specific breed? Shelters and rescue groups often time have purebred cats along with the regular house cat, which has been given up for adoption through no fault of their own. Many of these cats are up to the date of vaccines, parasite control and are already altered. It is important for them to visit a veterinarian within the first 72 hours of adoption to be sure they are in good health as well.

If you have any questions regarding the introduction of a new kitten into your home, do not hesitate to contact the 4 Paws Veterinary Team at 902.225.7543.

Written by Lisa Rawding, Site Coordinator