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Old February 16th, 2010, 11:21 PM
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Transitioning a Cat/kitten to its Furever Home.

I know there has been a ton of articles written on this subject. However, not everyone will do an extensive search to find that information. If they happen to venture to Pets, which is gaining more and more popularity; I’m hoping this will help get a new cat off to a successful start. Please feel free to add any more info.

Congratulations on welcoming a new addition to your family. Be confident with the proper introduction you will have years and years of shared love and contentment.

Before you bring your cat home you need to make sure you have the basics. They include a litter box, glass or ceramic food dish and water dish, good quality food (canned preferably), a scratching post and toys. If you feel the need you may add a cat bed but chances are they will find a nice warm windowsill or a towel or blanket to sleep on just as attractive.

Try to chose a litter box that is not covered and place it in an area that is low traffic and not noisy. A covered litter box tends to trap the smells inside. Great for us. Not so great for your new kitty. Do not place the box beside the washer/dryer or any other machinery that makes a loud noise. Imagine if you will a cat in the middle of urinating. Suddenly the washing machine starts its spin cycle – loudly. It startles the cat to the point where it is terrified to go back to that spot again to use the box. The cat will then start looking for other places in the house, usually some carpeted area of your house or your clothing, where it feels comfortable. That leads to a lot of needless frustration on our parts and is something that is easily fixed. Make sure the box is cleaned at least once a day.

In recent years it has been suspected that plastic is one of the causes for cats developing feline “acne”. That is why most vets will now recommend glass or ceramic dishes which are cleaned on a daily basis. As for the canned cat food recommendation - please take the time to read http://www.catinfo.org/ - or at the very least skim through it. The information contained in that article is eye opening and at times shocking. Thank you sugarcatmom for sharing the site with us.

A scratching post is an important item to have for your new cat. Kitty does not claw at your furniture to wreck it. Cats claw at furniture because stretching and using their claws to dig in to something is a vital part of maintaining their health. Scratching works to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, to mark their territory by leaving a scent behind (they have scent glands on their paws), to stretch their bodies and flex their feet and claws and to work off energy. If you have a scratching post and use corrective measures to train your cat to use it in most cases the cat will leave your furniture alone. A firmly spoken “no” and immediately moving the cat to the scratching post will teach him quickly that is what you would like him to do.

To ensure your cat is going to feel at home in his new surroundings set up a small room of his own for the first few days. It can be a spare bedroom, a seldom used bathroom, even a large closet. Make sure the litter box is not set close to the food dishes. It is a cat’s instinct to hide when presented with unfamiliar surroundings so make sure to give the cat something to hide under or in. It can be a box with a comfy blanket in it turned on its side and faced away from the door. It can be a bed. Anything easy for the cat to hide under or behind works to make kitty feel more comfortable.

Now it’s time to bring home the cat! When you first bring your cat home take him, still in his safe nest (the carrier) to his room. Set the carrier on the floor so kitty can watch you as you move around doing small things; straightening a curtain, picking up items of the floor, etc. After a while open the carrier door. Do not force the cat from the carrier as that will only add to his stress level. Let him come out on his own. This process may happen quickly, it may take several hours. You may find the cat will not come out of the carrier as long as you are still in the room. That is normal. The cat is feeling out its new surroundings and you. You may also find the carrier, even after kitty has settled in and become part of the family, is still used as a safe haven when he feels stressed.

Spend time visiting with your new cat in his safe place as often as you can. Going into the kitty’s room several times a day gets him used to your coming and going. Don’t force your attention on your cat. He will let you know when he is ready. Depending on what has happened in his past life and his temperament this process can take a day, a week, even more. Sit on the floor, not looking directly at the cat, and talk quietly so your new companion can get used to the inflections in your voice. You can do this even if kitty is hiding under the bed. Chances are kitty is watching you and is aware of what you are doing. Please do not stare into the cat’s eyes. Kitty sees this as a challenge and may react accordingly.

Let him get comfortable in his small space before letting him explore the rest of the home. Once he is open the door and let him come out of the room on his own. Make sure the door to “his” room is always left open so he can retreat if he feels threatened. A lot of times the exploring is done in the quiet of night. It may not seem like he is exploring but he will be. Being able to get to his safe room quickly is very important during this exploration. Be patient with your new cat. He is experiencing a lot of new things, new people and new spaces. It may take some time for him to get used to his new surroundings. Once he does he will happily settle into being your friend.

If you already have a cat or dog in the home there are ways to help introduce the new one to them to avoid a lot of issues. Due to the length of this post I will not add the info here but I will post some sites to read. There are a lot of them out there.

My favourite is: http://www.squidoo.com/multi-cat-management
There is also : http://www.myhealthycat.com/multi-cat.html
For help in introducing cats and dogs: http://www.myhealthycat.com/cat-and-dog.html
and: http://petcare.suite101.com/article....ew_cat_to_dogs
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