So, you’ve bitten the bullet. By whatever means you acquire your new pet, there are a list of things that first time cat owners need to know. My first feline experience, was bringing home two kittens that were brothers. After that, I picked one up from Mrs Murrays Cat and Dog Home, and my last feline friend was from the Cat’s Protection League.
For all four, although they all had different needs, day 1 really started out the same way, with the same needs. I sometimes think we get a little bit carried away when we choose our friends though. When I got my first two cats, I’d only intended to get one, and then I went to the house of a friend, who was at her wits end with how many were born and growing up, taking over her house. Those were the days kittens were given away for free, but we had to stop off on the way home to pick up some supplies.
Keep your new friends happy and feeling safe with a few little things to start them off well and ensure they feel as safe as they can possibly be. Many young cats or kittens will be away from their mum or mum and dad and siblings for the first time, and might be terrified and struggle, especially on the first few nights.
I’m saying this, yet we had to pick some up from the local shop on the way home. Cats can eat a mix or wet and dry food, but it’s a good idea to ask the people who have been looking after your new cat / kitten and ask them what they were feeding the little ones. When I took mine home, armed with tins of cat food, my little kittys wouldn’t eat it.
They’d been used to scrambled egg, mince and chicken in white sauce. Yes, go figure. The first few days with us, were spent weaning them from rich expensive food to more sustainable affordable options that would better balance their nutritional needs. There are, however, different food needs for different ages of cats, so be sure to make sure there is a protein in the food and the packaging doesn’t just say ‘meat derivative/by product of meat,’ or with added sugars etc.
I can’t emphasize this one enough, especially if you are new to cats. Starting this as a habit for claws is a great learning experience, especially if you’re using a small room for the first few nights to give your new kitty some peace and quiet. Cat mums and dads can look a bit silly pretending to scratch a scratching post, but it really does work after a little effort. A day or two and they should get the picture of what it’s for. Your furniture will thank you. Just saying “eh eh,’ used to be enough for my cats to look a bit sheepish, stop clawing the furniture or carpet, and head out the door for some exercise or fresh air. I wasn’t aware of them learning those syllables for no, but hey ho, once you realise they understand that instead of no, you’re stuck with it…..
This was a little harder than the scratching post. It’s another day 1 item, preferably set up before you get home. If you’re lucky, like my first two cats, they’ll be semi or fully litter trained by their mums as they grew up, but my cat and dog home and cat protection league kitties needed to learn how to use the litter tray from us. On the first couple of days, I poured a little water onto the litter, which sat on old newspapers. It made the litter a little bit more interesting. Every time I caught one having a wee on the floor, I just lifted them and popped then onto the litter box and showed them how to scrape the litter. Both times it was less than a week to be fully house dry. Perhaps we were lucky, but I did also buy an enclosure for the top of the litter tray, so that there was a little more privacy than an open tray.
I used to just use a paper lining and pop some litter on it and change it every day or twice a day, just all into a bag, before the tray got soaked. Lots of people I know fill the tray full of clumping litter and just scoop out what they see as wet or dirty daily. It’s a preference, but personally, I preferred the twice a day method to reduce smell and leakage potential for my own cats.
Yes, this really is something to think about. Your new kitty is being taken away from everything they have known in life, to go to somewhere strange, with new people, and it’s all a bit overwhelming. Some cat toys to keep their interest might just a good start to the new relationship about to blossom. The fish on the end of the plastic rope is good, but a good old piece of string or a shoelace will do in a pinch.
Start off the right way by having your kitten checked over by a vet for health, to organise vaccinations and to get a microchip placed. If your cat gets outdoors and lost, or gets into a car or hitches a ride in a delivery drivers van, they can end up a fair distance away. Having a microchip in place, increases the chances of getting your cat back should the worst happen, and yes, indoor cats do sometimes manage to get past their mums and dads feet, especially if there are a few children on the go who might forget the cat has to stay inside.