There are many concerns when bringing a new cat into your family. Are you picking the right one? Are they healthy? Will they get along with any other animals or children at home?
What kinds of changes will you have to make to ensure the happiness of your new kitty and everyone already in your home? Hopefully these suggestions can answer some of your questions and make the transition of bringing home a new feline friend much easier.
When you are bringing home a new kitty to your family there are a few things to do before letting them into your home. Lets start with checking their overall health and temperament when picking one out. Watch kitty and see how she interacts with the other cats around her; is she friendly and playing with the others or is she alone in the corner being antisocial?
Both of these personality characteristics are fine, the difference is in which you would prefer. However keep in mind that the kitty alone in the corner may just be tired and not necessarily antisocial.
When you find the cat that appeals to you, try to touch her slowly and allow her to smell you. If you can pick up her and pet her this will give you a chance to check on her overall outward health signs and also see how she is with being handled.
To check her overall health, pet her all over from the tips of her ears to end of her tail and feel for any bumps, scabs, flea indications, or injuries that may show a sign of infection or illness.
If you are knowingly adopting a mistreated animal, they may have health problems such as cuts or areas of sensitivity and you should be aware of all those problems before adopting. Check each paw and even the cat’s back-end for any problems or signs of underdevelopment that could signify illness.
If the body check goes as planned, then look at the head. Her eyes should be bright, open and clear without tears or mucus clouding them or running down their cheeks. The nose should be pink, black or normal color for their skin tone and be slightly moist but not running.
There should be no scabs, dryness or cracking on the nose. Try to touch her nose and test her limits to see what her temperament may be, especially if you have young children at home.
Look at kitty’s lips and separate them so you can see her teeth and gums. The teeth should be white and glistening for a kitten or healthy adult. The gums should be appear pink and moist; unhealthy teeth and gums are easy to notice.
Lastly look in her ears and be sure they are scab and insect free. If you find anything wrong with kitty’s external health it does not mean that you should not adopt, only that you should be aware of any health conditions so you can be fully prepared to care for any issues.
After you find the perfect kitty to bring home you should think about how to best introduce them to their new environment and any other members of the family. To make the process as stress-free as possible, decide before entering your home where the best place is to set kitty down.
Whether you carry her in or bring her in a crate, it is best not to just let her wander in the door by herself. A bedroom or small confined room that is not a designated favorite by any other animal member of the family is best.
If you have children, they will want to surround the kitty and give them lots of love right away but it is important for kitty to get in touch with her surroundings before any interactions. Once you enter your home, take your new cat directly to the room of your choice, place them or their crate on the floor so they can walk around, then step back from them, close the door and sit on the floor.
Kitty will be scared and may not want to initially explore, just be patient and give her space, she will acclimate quickly. Be sure to have the litter box near so kitty can see where it is.
If you have another animal at home you will undoubtedly have their attention already by the new scent of your kitty. For the best chance at helping all animals get along, you need to respect your other animals and not favor the new cat over them. If your older animal has a favorite sleeping area, toy, or food bowl, make sure the newer cat does not take over those items.
Also be aware of spending equal if not more attention and time with the older pet in your home so jealousy will not be created. The animals will naturally find a ‘dominance order’ to exist together, but do not have your love and attention be something they fight over. So as your new cat is exploring the scents in the closed room, spend some time with your older pet giving them lots of love and attention.
If you have children, now would be a great time to explain to them how fragile a kitten is, or how scary it is coming into a new home. Teaching them not to pull or yank on kitty and the proper way to hold her is a great way to start the introduction.
Since you know your pets’ limits, you can decide when each is ready for the meeting stage. Your pets will probably smell each through the door and perhaps stick a paw under. When they each seem to no longer be scared or angry at the other side of the door you open it a crack and see how they react. If hissing, swatting, or barking ensues, then perhaps it is not yet time.
Some ideas to introduce them slowly are to brush your pets and let the other smell the hair ball, or let the other play with a toy from the other animal to get to know their scent. When it comes down to it, they will have to meet eventually so lets do it when you have control of the situation and are emotionally ready.
The first meeting will most likely have an occasional hiss or swat, but as long as they are more curious and playful then out to exact a pound of fur, everything should be okay. Stay out of their area unless one of them is going to be harmed and let them do their own introductions as nature intended.
When you have more than one animal, there will be a dominance issue to settle, animal kingdom style. This is usually done at the first meeting, so you may see one animal act submissive to the other and then try to play. This is natural and they have now becomes friends with established boundaries; this is a good thing!
For the first few days or weeks, there may still be confusion and perhaps a scuffle or two, but they will soon sort out all their disagreements and coexist peacefully. To help, you may want to have separate litter boxes, designated toys and beds and maybe even different eating bowls at different locations. It is not required to separate them to this extent but it may be a helpful suggestion if they are still struggling to be near each other.
For a few ideas on how to bond your animals, you can always invite them on the couch or a blanket on the floor with you and cuddle them on separate places near your body. For example, dog next to the right leg and cat near the right. Give them lots of love and affection and they will soon see they can be near each other and be praised while relaxing.
For cats, you can always drag a string or toy and see if they play side by side, or place some catnip on the floor and let them experience it together. It may take patience and a few attempts, but you will see it is all worth it when you see them entwined napping together.
Oh, and one last note. Please do not hold any of the kitties during the introduction. I hear a lot of stories of greetings-gone-wrong this way. If a cat feels like it is trapped and can’t get away or do what it wants, it will lash out – most likely at the new kitty. Let it happen how it happens, and all will be well.
Congratulations on the new addition to your family!