Your Guide to Cat Adoption
You have decided to adopt one of the millions of cats waiting for a home. The big concern now is how to get ready for your new arrival. Here are some tips to make the transition more enjoyable.
1. Get Your Home Ready. Cat proofing your home is important and can be life-saving. This includes making sure that there are no toxins such as rat poison, slug bait or antifreeze accessible to your new cat. Make sure trash is secure. Pick up clothing and small toys or other objects that may be accidentally ingested by the new cat. Hide exposed electrical wires to prevent injury commonly caused by chewing on the cords. Ensure other dangers are stowed way such as medications, poisonous plants and ashtrays.
2. Get Your Supplies. Make a list of things you need for your new cat. Bedding, food and water dishes, food (check what he has been eating to start with), treats, safe toys, scratching post, toothbrush and paste, collar, grooming supplies, litter, litter boxes and any pet-specific cleaners.
3. Plan for the "What If". Prepare your medicine cabinet for an emergency. Make a first aid kit. You never know when an emergency may happen. Items should include emergency veterinary phone numbers, tweezers, gloves, gauze, tape, thermometer, hydrogen peroxide, sterile eye wash, antiseptic and antibiotic ointment. Mediations that are beneficial to have on hand include diphenyhydramine (Benadryl®), hydrogen peroxide and aspirin. Only use medication as recommended by a veterinarian. For instance, aspirin can be very toxic to cats if inappropriately dosed. Keep this emergency kit with your other emergency items.
4. Plan the Right Time. Make sure you have time to spend with your cat when he first arrives at your home. Friday is often a good day to bring your cat home – the two of you have the entire weekend to get to know each other.
5. Have a Family Discussion. Discuss how the cat will be cared for and develop general "House Rules." Care includes feeding, grooming, and cleaning the litter box. When will this be done? Who will do it? What are the "house" rules for your cat? It is best to decide as a group upfront. Consider discussing the following questions: What and when is the cat fed? Where does he sleep? Does he get treats – if so what? If your new cat is a cat – will he or she stay inside only? Inside cats live a lot longer than ones that go outside.
6. Get His History. When you pick your new cat, obtain as much history as you can. This will come in use later if problems arise and to know what he needs. Ask questions that include:
- How long the cat has been at the shelter?
- Where did he come from?
- Birthdate if known or approximate age.
- Is anything known about the parents?
- Has the cat had any vaccinations?
- When is the next set of vaccines due?
- Has the cat had any medical problems?
- Is the cat on any medications?
- Has the cat been tested for worms?
- Has he received a deworming medication?
- Will another dose be needed?
- Has the cat been tested for feline leukemia/feline aids virus? ALL cats should be tested for the feline leukemia/feline aids virus before entering your home.
- Has he been microchipped? If so, get the paperwork so you can register.
- Has your cat had fleas or been treated for fleas?
- What is the guarantee? Many agencies provide a 1 to 2 week guarantee against illness or problems.
- Is there a mandatory vet check up within a certain time frame?
- What has he been eating? You may want to ask for a sample or buy a bag of that food. Many cats get diarrhea from an abrupt change. There is enough changing in this cats environment that it is worth avoiding a food change as well. Gradually mix in you diet of choice and "wean" the cat over to the new food after being adjusted to your home in a couple days.
7. Home. Spend quality time with him. Notice appetite, urinations and bowel movement for abnormalities. Call your veterinarian if you have concerns.
8. Cat Introductions. Slowly and carefully introduce him or her to your other cats. Cats are often best keep separate with the new cat being placed in one room. Let them smell each other under the door. Gradually, let them see each other from the door crack and eventually let them meet. Do this supervised.
9. See Your Veterinarian. Follow-up within the next week for a check up and anything else your cat needs. Depending on the area of the country in which you live – heartworm prevention may be recommended. Follow-up with any needed vaccines and deworming. Strongly consider microchipping if your cat is not already chipped.
10. Begin Training. Even though cats are not trained like dogs, cats still need some training. If you don't want your cat on the counter, start training him early and be consistent. With patience and persistance, your new kitty will eventually understand.