BRINGING YOUR KITTEN OR CAT HOME
There is one question we get asked more than any other on our YouTube videos, literally on a daily basis…
“Do you have any tips for bringing a kitten/cat home?”
So we thought the time was right to put together this blog post with the hints and tips we’ve learned along the way. If you think we’ve missed something that you found useful, please write it down in the comments below so that you can share this with other readers!
Prepare a safe room
It can be overwhelming for your new ‘fur baby’ to be removed from their familiar surroundings and placed into a new home full of unknown furniture, smells and a new family. Security for your kitty comes from its’ home comforts, smells and familiar surroundings. There’s not much that can be done about that but the best advice we were given was to bring them home and only let them out into one room at least for the first day or two.
To make this as comfortable and safe for them as possible, try to use a quiet room in your home, away from too much hustle and bustle and noise. They will need all their necessities in there with them, so make sure to provide them with a bed or cardboard box lined with bedding, a litter tray, food and water, a scratching post and of course some toys for distraction!
it’s important to make sure the food & water bowls are at the opposite end of the room to the litter tray. Also remember to remove any items you wouldn’t want your cat to get their paws on, from poisonous plants to anything sharp or dangerous. Don’t forget to make sure the windows/doors are securely fastened because those curious cats will do their best to explore!
Bring their surroundings home with them
When you’ve decided which kitten or cat you’re rescuing/adopting ask if you can leave a blanket or soft toy with them until you pick them up to take them home. That way when you do bring them home, they’ll have that ‘security blanket’ smell to help them relax in their new surroundings.
Perhaps place the blanket or toy in their new bed to ensure they sleep soundly rather than remain stressed all night. The blanket or soft toy will also smell of their previous family members, it is a big move for your kitten or cat when they are separated from their family and this will ease their transition.
Keep their food/litter consistent
Well at least for the first month. Ask the rescue centre or breeder what food and litter they are currently using…keeping your kitty on the same litter and food will encourage them to eat in their new surroundings and ensuring the litter is the same will help with toilet training and allow them to avoid ‘accidents’.
Once they’re more comfortable you can start to ween them onto your food of choice and change to a preferred litter. Remember that kittens shouldn’t be using clumping litter, this is because they can sometimes play with and ingest the litter which can cause serious health issues.
If their poop changes and gets a little runny as you're weening them onto your preferred choice, maintain their current food balance for a while as they get used to it (eg 50% old food, 50% new food). Always check with the vet as it may be just a coincidence of a change of diet and may be something more serious.
Get Pet Insurance in place beforehand
You may find that your rescue centre/breeder ensures that your new cat comes home with 4 weeks of free pet insurance but some do not, it’s important to know either way.
Kittens can often have tummy upsets from the stress of moving so to avoid the huge vet bills, your bank account will thank you for covering your pet with insurance. Insurers often won’t cover the first two weeks after opening the policy, so make sure you’ve got it in time and try to look for a lifetime policy. That way if your kitty has an ongoing condition, you know that it’s covered for life rather than just one year.
We use PetPlan for our two, they often work with vet practices directly, so you don’t have to part with money and they’ve been great with Jet’s ongoing allergy issues. Just make sure to take your pet to its 6 monthly and annual checks, even if your pet is perfectly healthy. The insurers may not accept your claim if your kitten/cat medical issue could have been prevented by noticing it earlier.
Is your kitten covered for vaccinations/flea & worm treatment?
It is important to find out if your new fur baby is up to date on their vaccinations as these will ensure that they’re not vulnerable to life threatening health issues such as Cat Flu or Leukaemia. If they’re not up to date then your vet can book you in to get these done.
It’s also useful to find out if they've been flea/worm treated and what date this was last carried out. Most treatments can be done from home with a ‘spot on’ liquid treatment and are carried out once a month. If you have the date of the last treatment then you can carry on from there. Your local vet can provide you with these treatments usually in 6 monthly packages if you join their pet program.
Even if you are planning to have an indoor cat it is important to keep up on both annual injections and monthly Worm/Flea treatments. Your cat may still catch these and the risk is not worth it and it may well invalidate your insurance.
Picking your Kitten/Cat Up
Make sure you have an appropriate pet carrier, we use a nice soft bath matt for the base of the carrier, then its easily removable if you need to wash it and cosy for your new fur-baby. If you are picking up a kitten it is also nice to put in some new teddy’s or cuddly toys, it maybe their first time away from their siblings and this may comfort them.
We also used a large towel to cover most of the holes to help calm your new cat down, some kittens/cats really don’t like travelling so they may meow a little (like our Turbo). We try to drive like our passenger is Royalty... nice and smooth, with an appropriate car temperature and low music/none at all.
When you’re finally home with your kitten, take the carrier into your ‘safe room’ and open the door. Let them come out in their own time, try not to force them out in the excitement of it all...it may take a while for them to be brave enough to venture out of the carrier (even the whole night!)
Once out, give them time to explore and fulfil the instinctive curiosity that cats have. Make sure they can discover their litter tray and foot/water bowls to get them surrounded by familiar smells. Place that blanket you left with the rescue centre/breeder in the bed and they should recognise the comforting smell. Keep your carrier there as they may explore and then want to go back in for comfort and familiarity.
When your kitty seems comfortable enough you can let them explore the rest of the house, they may want to hide under the furniture…this is perfectly normal! Expect your kitty to be timid in the first few days/weeks as they adjust. They will come out of their shell eventually. Always remind them where the litter tray is after eating or playing if they need help.
Organise a local Vet
At this point if you haven’t already it is important to sign up and take your pet into your local chosen vet. Make sure they have an emergency call out 24/7 nearby, there's nothing worse than an emergency and then have to drive for 45 mins. Lots of Vets advertise emergency call out but don’t actually see you at your local vet and subcontract out.
If they already have a microchip have it changed to all your details. If they don’t have one and they are a kitten, ask for it to be done during anaesthesia for neutering then they don’t have to have a nasty needle (normally done at 6 months).
It’s important to keep your new cat indoors for a few weeks until they adjust and learn that this is home for them. That way when you do let them out, they will know which home to return to after playing outside. Also remember that kittens shouldn’t be let outside until they’re fully vaccinated and large enough to defend themselves from neighbourhood cats, perhaps as your vet for their opinion, we would recommend not younger than 6 months, and if they are female get them neutered beforehand. We would always recommend a microchip cat flap, then no other cat can come into your new fur-baby's safe home.
We hope you find these hints and tips useful and they help with the arrival of your new family member. Remember to always tag us in your socials when you're bringing your cat home for the first time, we love to see these pictures! x
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