Each day, millions of homeless cats of all ages are waiting for their forever families to find them. Sadly, thousands will be euthanized each day. June is the American Humane Association’s Adopt-a-Cat month and the ASPCA’s Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat month, so if you’ve been thinking about adding a feline friend to your family it’s a good time to review some key points before bringing a new kitty home.
While it’s exciting for us, remember, it’s a stressful time for your new cat or kitten. Cats are territorial animals, so they’re most likely going to be confused and scared until they settle in. It’s a process, but we know it’s well worth the effort. Here are a few tips for new kitties:
Provide a Safe, Confined Space: New kitties need safe space like a laundry room, spare bedroom or bathroom to live in while they’re adjusting to their new surroundings. A cozy bed, cardboard box or cat carrier can provide a sense of safety for your new friend, but remember, your kitty needs to be able to stand up and turn around easily. Give them access to plenty of food, fresh water and a clean litter box with an inch or two of litter in the room , but be sure to keep the litter box away from their food. Nobody wants to have dinner next to their toilet, no matter how clean it’s kept.
Patience is Key: It might take a week or two for your new cat or kitten to feel safe enough to come out and explore, but they’ll let you know when they’re ready. if you have other pets in the home, keep them separated from the newcomer and introduce them slowly. Don’t push things. They will be very aware of each other’s presence – a baby gate can help keep boundaries intact. Always keep dogs leashed when they’re meeting the newest family member. Correct them immediately with a command like “Sit!” or “Stay!” if they show any signs of jealousy or threatening behavior. Be extra careful with small children – they can get overexcited and squeeze or pet too roughly, causing the cat to struggle, scratch or bite out of fear.
Dealing with the Claw Factor: Sharp claws can do lots of damage. Anyone who’s ever had a cat run up their body, climb the drapes, or decide to systematically shred the furniture can tell you. With a little encouragement (and maybe a dash of catnip), you can direct their attention to a scratching post or cat tree. Try using some soft nail caps to help discourage them if they’re persistent – if they can’t get a grip on the fabric, they’ll lose interest. If they’re still favoring furniture for sharpening their claws, try a using protective cover or tinfoil (they hate it).
As a general rule, we do not recommend declawing cats. It should only be considered as a last resort as it’s a serious and painful operation, or in very rare cases where it is medically necessary because someone is the house is at high risk for an infection if scratched by the cat. Even worse, declawing can create more serious problems like reluctance to use the litter box because it’s painful for them. Regular trims can help keep claws from digging into people and possessions. We suggest a professional groomer.
Book a Wellness Visit: Your vet will carefully examine your new pet, give them any vaccinations, and advise you on good preventive care routine (including periodic dental cleanings) to keep them healthy and happy longer. Find an Arizona Pet Vet location near you.