There is plenty to think about as you prepare to bring your new feline friend home for the first time, and though it may seem daunting at first, we have lots of helpful advice to make this transition as smooth as possible for both you and your new pet.
Preparing for the first few days
When a cat arrives home for the first time it can be a very stressful period. They have usually come from a place they have known well and are suddenly thrown into a world that smells funny, looks enormous and it can be very daunting. For your cat’s first few days in a new home, it’s best to keep things simple to start with.
Cat comforts in the home
In general, it’s important to allow your cat the following home comforts in order to make them feel much more content and safe in their own homes:
- Access to a garden - This comes in various forms but it is important that your cat has control over this. Cat flaps are ideal for this situation and can massively help with their behaviour in order to stop them from feeling cooped up when they really want to be out in their own territory. Territory should extend beyond the walls of your home and can even stretch out to include several gardens within the neighbourhood. Let the cat decide if it wants to go outside and how much in order to create a positive environment for everyone (FIV+ Cats will remain indoor only but there is lots you can do to keep them occupied indoors, or provide them with a fully enclosed garden).
- Spaces within their home environment they can retreat to where they can be left alone - These spaces can be hiding spots under tables, in cosy cat beds and also in high up places.
- Opportunity to exercise be that via playing or exploration.
- Somewhere comfortable to rest and relax. Cats will sleep for up to 15 hours a day so don’t deny them the chance to rest their weary heads somewhere they can feel safe.
Their first few days in your home
It’s important to get your cat set up in one room to start with. When it comes to kittens, this is particularly important as they’ll easily get lost if left to explore the whole house/flat from day one.
Be sure to provide them with all the resources they need (food, water, litter tray, scratch post, toys, bedding etc) in the safe room you have established.
Make sure all the windows and doors are shut and any fireplaces and gaps they can hide in or get lost in are blocked up.
Keep any other animals away from the new arrival so they have time to settle in first. Any introductions need to be made slowly and safely.
Make sure children don’t rush in and get too hands on straight away as you don’t want your new feline friend associating children with having had a bad experience when they first arrive home.
Keep adult cats in one space for a few hours at least so they can acclimatise, and then you can introduce them to the rest of the house in stages, returning them back to their safe room as and when needed. Adult cats tend to sniff about the room and figure out where things go, and will come to you when they feel ready.
For kittens, you will want to establish them in one space for longer (at least a few days). They need lots of supervision so be aware of what they are up to at all times when they first come home. You can then supervise them around the house as they become more settled.
Too often, what we ask of our animals when they first arrive home is not realistic. We want things to happen instantly, and this is not always possible. A good mantra to have is to just go at the ‘cat's pace’. This should relieve the stress involved and mean everyone can be happy.
Feeding your cat
For the first few days, feed your new cat the food they ate whilst at the rescue centre. You will likely be provided with a small portion of food to take home with you, (we supply a small amount of food for our animals going to new homes). If you want to change your cats diet, you should do so gradually by mixing a little of the new food in with the old food and weaning your cat gradually onto the new diet over the course of a week.
At Mayhew we don’t believe that cat collars are an essential item for a cat to wear. The dangers of using the wrong type of collar and the cat getting caught in a tree or it slipping over the head and causing injuries to their legs or armpits far outweigh any perceived benefits.
However, if you do want your cat to wear a collar, we ask that you use a safety collar that has a quick release buckle system so your cat can free itself from any danger. Never use elasticated collars, and remove the bell as it will just annoy your cat and if left on may even make your cat a better hunter by making them even more stealthy.
Your cat will have been microchipped whilst in our care. Keep this number somewhere easily accessible in case you need quick access to it at any point.
There is no NHS for your kitty and they will need a helping hand from time to time, so it is important to have an understanding of these questions so that you don’t deprive your cat of access to effective medical care.
- Where is my local vets? You must be registered with a local vet and currently be under their care for any possible medical issues and to obtain basic treatments like flea and worming products.
- Where is my emergency vet located? Your current vet will either be the emergency vet or be affiliated with another nearby practice who can offer support if you need it at unsociable hours.
- How much might my veterinary costs be, roughly? You will have a good grasp of what things cost and whether or not you can realistically give a cat all it needs for its lifetime. It’s always good to inquire with your vet how much things might cost like blood tests and scans for example.
- Where is my cats vaccination card and microchip number? It is always useful to have this info to hand when you need it for vet visits. The cats microchip details can usually be found on your cats vaccination card.
- Pet insurance details? Like with vaccination card and microchip details, make sure you can easily access this information as and when you need it. The cost will go up with age so be prepared for this when budgeting. Every cat is vaccinated yearly and will start off life having had two/three boosters depending on the age of the cat. Vaccinations generally guard against Flu, Leukemia and Enteritis and are advised to help stop your cat becoming sick unnecessarily. The vets will normally give your cat a full health check at the same time so a yearly MOT like this is a great idea. Flea and worming treatments will need to be administered regularly so always get products from your registered vet and never use flea collars. They can also advise you as to how long individual treatments last and as such how often they should be administered.
Pet insurance is something that can help pay for those big one-off vet bills. There are lots of different insurance options to look in to, so do your research and look at how much you get for your money in comparison to other providers.
Cats are generally more at risk when younger or older but, as we are all aware, you never know what life will throw at you so it’s best to be prepared. Make sure you consider things like increases in premiums each time you claim and whether treatments like dental care are covered - every insurance company will have different policies and may exclude certain types of care.
Always compare prices at renewal dates and see how much support for vet fees you will receive across the policy to make sure you get as much help as possible. It’s all about keeping your cat happy and healthy and not depriving them the basic welfare need to medical treatment. They are Family and as such should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.