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How to prepare for a new cat

Posted by: Tim Berrisford  Date: 25/04/2014   Category: Owners Guides

Bringing a new cat into your home isn’t a decision to take lightly. You have to consider whether you have the time and necessary funds for your new companion, as well as the space. Whether you’re adding another furry friend to your burgeoning brood or getting your first cat, there are a few things you need to prepare before picking your new friend up.

Have you got the right equipment?

Getting a cat isn’t akin to buying a horse in terms of the equipment required, but your four-legged pal is going to require more than a couple of feed bowls and a cat flap.

Hunters by nature, cats need stimulation so they don’t become bored. Make sure you have a variety of toys and play things for your new pet to enjoy. A scratching post is a must-have to ensure your sofa doesn’t end up shredded and a teaser style toy is a good way for your cat to practise his killer moves (and avoid using your toes as a stand-in). Some cats enjoy laser play a great deal, so many owners choose to invest in a pointer or laser toy to get some fast-paced exercise in.

Getting a cat bed is also a good idea – although buying one doesn’t necessarily mean your cat will end up sleeping in it all the time. Cats are fickle creatures and often prefer to sleep in cardboard boxes, on beds or on top of a fresh pile of laundry! Nevertheless, having a quiet, soft place for your cat to retreat to is important.

Lastly, it’s a fact that your cat is going to need somewhere in the house to go to the loo. Yes, it’s true that some owners have taught their cats to use their own toilet, but it’s unlikely yours is going to be at that intellectual stage right away – especially if you’re getting a youngster. As such, make sure you invest in a solid litter tray that’s big enough for your pet. There are a variety of litter options on the market, from wood to silica and clumping varieties. It’s best to try a few different kinds out on your pet to see which works best for you both.  Either way, don’t forget to place your litter box in a quiet place away from their food and water.

Are you prepared for the vets bills?

We’re not just talking about if your pet becomes poorly – it’s likely that you’ll need to organise jabs and microchipping in your first few weeks of ownership, so make sure you’ve budgeted for these costs. Kittens are typically vaccinated at nine and 12 weeks and a booster will need to be given 12 months after the first jab, so put these dates into your diary.

On top of this, your cat will need worming around every quarter and will need to receive flea treatment regularly (depending on the brand and type). Popular ways to de-flea cats include using a flea collar, spray or spot-on treatment for the back of the neck. Don’t forget to do your house at the same time – for every flea on your pet, there could be hundreds lurking in your carpets or on your sofa.

It’s also advisable to get your cat neutered or spayed, so he/she doesn’t breed. This procedure can be done at around six months of age. Be warned that some cats can reach sexual maturity earlier than others, so don’t let your cat outside if you suspect this is the case.

Do you have a cat already?

Introducing a new cat to an existing family member can be a tricky process that requires time and patience. As with humans, cats need to get to know each other before co-habiting.

Cats should be kept separately at first, so set up a special room for your new pet to settle in. You’ll need to slowly introduce them to each other over a period of a few days. Start by feeding both cats near the closed door so they can hear/smell each other, then take something of your new cat’s into the main house for your other cat(s) to sniff. Gradually, if there’s no hissing or bad behaviour, you can start to introduce them face to face for short, supervised bursts, until they’re comfortable in each other’s company. Please note that this can be a long process so don’t expect your pets to become best friends overnight.

Cats are one of the most rewarding yet independent companions to share your home with. By preparing for your new arrival, you can ease the settling-in process and ensure that your pet is just as happy with you as you are with him/her.