Welcoming a cat into your family
Bringing a cat into your life is an exciting experience. Your cat will need to acclimate to his new home and his role as your family's companion. To assist you during this adjustment period, the Humane Society Boulder Valley offers advice through our Training and Behavior Center at 303-442-4030 x368.
Introduction to the Home
The Humane Society of Boulder Valley recommends providing a personal space for your new cat when you bring him home. This space allows your cat to adjust to his new environment at his own pace. As your new cat demonstrates comfort in his new environment, introduce him to all areas of your home. Studies have shown that it can take an adult cat up to eight months to fully integrate into a new home, especially when factors such as children or other pets are present. Be patient and provide your new cat with a lot of affection and physical contact.
Litter Box Training
Your cat will need to learn where your litter box is in the new home, so set her up for success by placing her own box in her personal space. Cats instinctively want to dig and bury their urine and excrement. As a result, training your cat will consist of placement of the box or boxes and finding a texture of litter that the cat prefers.
To make the transition as successful as possible it is best to follow these simple guidelines:
- One box per cat in the household as a minimum. It's recommended to have one box per cat plus one (2 cats means 3 litter boxes).
- Food and boxes should not be within 10 feet of each other.
- Select a location that is away from high traffic areas and easily accessible.
- Thoroughly scoop the box twice a day. Once a week, dump and clean the box with soap and water (do not use lemon scented or strong scented soap).
- Cats prefer fine-grained litters without perfumes.
- Don't use plastic liners in the box, cats as a rule don't like them.
Toys and Exercise
Adult cats sleep an average of 9–12 hours a day. Most cats will provide themselves with the exercise they require by finding things to interest themselves. There are toys that you can give a cat to interest him. Toys such as small balls, wand toys and mouse-prey substitutes are great for those cats that are very prey driven and want to hunt. Toys that dangle from a pole or toys on strings that can wriggle or be pulled along will also make the cats that want to chase happy. Cats that are more sedate may enjoy catnip-filled toys and treats sprinkled around the house allowing the cat to hunt for food.
Cats have the innate need to scent mark and exercise the tendons in their feet. Commercial scratching posts provide areas in your home where you can allow your cat to scratch. You may need to try several types of posts to discover your cat's preference. If you can interest your cat in a material that does not replicate surfaces in your home (cardboard or sisal as opposed to carpet or fabric), your cat will be less likely to destroy your furnishings and carpet. You can reduce your cat's tendency to scratch by trimming his nails every few weeks. Products are available that create unfavorable conditions for scratching, such as sticky tape and metallic materials like tin foil. If your cat is a serious scratcher, you can use one of these deterrent materials to redirect your cat to a dedicated scratching area.
You've heard that cats are finicky. This is often true when it comes to their appetite! Your new cat needs to establish healthy eating habits as soon as he gets home. Cats who do not eat for 36 to 48 hours after arriving in a new home can develop life-threatening health problems. Newly introduced cats should be kept in a stress-free environment and offered a variety of canned and dry foods. Once good eating habits are established, you can transition the cat to a more regular food source. Contact your Veterinarian if you suspect that your cat is not eating.
Lost and Found
Every cat adopted from the Humane Society of Boulder Valley goes home with a collar and microchip. Microchip implants are a good way of ensuring your pet's identification. We and other animal shelters in the state scan lost pets for microchips. A microchip, which is about the size of a grain of rice, provides an identification number that is maintained by a national registry. This number can be traced to a pet's guardian. It is important to keep your information updated with the registry.