Introducing a new cat/kitten

015Introducing your new cat/kitten to your home and to existing pets

Slowly is the answer! On arrival keep your new cat or kitten to one room with windows and doors shut until he/she has explored the room and settled down A litter tray should always be available and to welcome him/her a bowl of food and water should be provided even thought he may not seem to be interested in the food at first.

Let the new cat explore the house over a few days before meeting any your other pets – that way his or her scent will be around the house and make the first introduction much smoother as they will be aware of the newcomer and be prepared for the meeting. It is best to let your new cat be seen first with the protection of a cage It lets your cat or dog meet the new addition without them being seen as a threat. Give plenty of attention to your existing pets once they have met the newcomer – make a fuss and give them treats, which they will then associate with the first meeting with the new cat. Do not scold your pets if they show any threatening reactions to the newcomer – as this will only make matters worse. What they need is reassurance that the newcomer is not a threat to them. If you are lucky they will get on together quite quickly but please remember that it can sometimes take weeks for them to become acustomised to the newcomer.

Although friends and family will no doubt be keen to see your new arrival do not allow the kitten to be picked up too much until they have gained your confidence and do not feel threatened. When a kitten is sleeping he/she should be left to sleep – if they are frequently woken it is very likely they will grow up to be angry cats!

Essential equipment

It is extremely important that you invest in a proper cat carrier for your cats journey home and future visits to vets etc. They are quite inexpensive and can be bought from pet shops or stores such as Argos or Index. A cardboard box, for example, is quite simply not secure enough for transporting your cat – and you should never transport your cat just holding him in your arms as even the calmest of cats can get a fright and bolt. Better to be safe than sorry.

You also will need to provide a litter tray, cat litter, poop scoop and food and water bowls. There are many types of cat litter on the market – at the shelter we use grey grit and it sometimes best to stick to that, as the cat will be used to it.
Young cats will enjoy toys such as catnip mice and ping pong balls. Toys with string/elastic must only be played with under supervision as it is all too easy for your cat to become entangled and maybe even strangled with them.

A cat bed is nice but not essential – a cardboard box lined with blankets will do just fine. A scratching post is a good idea to save your cat from using the furniture to sharpen his claws. A dab of catnip on the scratching post will ensure that it is used by your cat.

Feeding your cat or kitten

Milk – cats and kittens find it very difficult to digest and it is simply best to avoid giving it at all, particularly with kittens.

KITTENS – Ideally kittens should be fed about 4 or 5 times a day until they are around 4-5 months old when the size of meals can be increased and given twice a day. Kittens and cats like to eat little and often. You are advised to keep feeding your kitten with the same food that has been fed to them by the fosterer – at least for the first few weeks. If you wish to change your kittens diet it must be done extremely slowly, gradually increasing the new food and reducing the old food – if you do it too quickly the kitten may suffer diarroeah and dehydration, which could be very dangerous to your kittens health. Dried food can be introduced a tiny bit at a time between meals until they get used to it when it can be given at feeding time. If you wish to give your kitten a diet of only dried food you must introduce it slowly as with any other type of food.

CATS – Your cat will need at least 2 meals per day. Canned food – Felix, Arthurs or Whiskas is used at the shelter as well as Hills Science Diet. Your cat will enjoy a varied diet of tinned cat food, fresh meat such as chicken and turkey. In very small amounts you may also give him or her fish or tuna with dried food to crunch which will help to keep teeth in good condition. He needs a constant supply of fresh water – even if he appears not to drink it it is important that it is always available.

Timid Cats/Kittens

If your cat is timid it is a good idea to place him/her in a very small and quiet room in which you can spend as much time with him as possible, speaking quietly in order to let him get to know you without the distraction of visitors etc. To gain his confidence this may take many weeks but your patience will pay off as the cat will learn to trust you and will reward you by being an excellent pet.

When to let your cat outside

You should not let any kitten outside until he/she is neutered (aged 4-5 months). A new adult cat should be kept indoors for at least 3-4 weeks and it should be a nice calm day for their first outing. If you let your cat out too early he may stray and all our hard work will have been in vain. When you do decide to let you cat out make sure you do not feed him beforehand as he is more likely to return to the house sooner if he is hungry – and he will then associate coming home with being fed. You should also accompany him for the first few ventures out of the house – a cat harness can be used to make both you and your cat feel more secure (if your cat will accept it). It is always best to keep your cat indoors at night because of danger of road traffic and theft – most road accidents involving cats happen during the hours of darkness. There is also a common misconception that foxes do not attack cats but in our experience if they have young they will attack for food. Small cats and kittens are also at danger of being lifted by birds of prey (including herring gulls). Your cat should also be vaccinated before being let out as this will cover him for illnesses such as cat flu.

Veterinary treatment

Before leaving the rescue centre you will be informed of the medical history of your cat and level of treatment your cat or kitten has received. Kittens have usually had a health check but it will be necessary to have the kitten vaccinated by your vet – ideally at 9 weeks and 12 weeks. Your kitten will not be safe to go out until a full week after the 2nd vaccination. Your vet will advise you. Every cat should be neutered, vaccinated (against cat flu, enteritis and feline leukaemia) and wormed. At Whinnybank we neuter, vaccinate, worm and microchip all cats before they are homed. Your cat should then be routinely wormed every 3 months (unless he/she is purely a house cat). The tablet Drontal kills all types of worms, costs £2-£3 each and should be bought from your vet only – products available in pet stores are often not reliable.