Bringing a new cat home

Bringing a new cat home

Posted by PetDirect on 8th Aug 2021

A cat can be a wonderful addition to your family, but it’s important you know what you are getting yourself into!

Whether adopting a kitten or cat from a shelter or rescue organisation, a breeder or a friend, make sure you are aware of the health, welfare and behavioural needs of cats. Many people think of cats as ‘low-maintenance’ versions of dogs; while the average healthy cat may sleep or rest up to 20 hours a day, they’re not ‘little dogs’ and have many specific requirements to keep them happy and healthy. Cats require trips to the vet just as frequently as dogs, so make sure you ask your vet about pet insurance as it can be one way of making the costs more manageable.

Thinking about whether to keep your cat indoors or indoors/outdoors can be a hotly contended topic. Keeping your cat inside can help minimise their risk of injury, territorial altercations and protect the local wildlife from a cat’s instinctive needs. However, alternative adventures and hunting opportunities need to be provided indoors so that your cat can freely engage in its nine fundamental behaviours: grooming, hunting, resting, playing, eating, hiding, exploring, observing, and marking.

These can easily be provided in the form of tall cat scratching towers with plenty of resting platforms near windows, food puzzles and frequent shorts bursts of play to mimic the act of stalking and pouncing on insects and small mammals.

Outdoor enclosures with lots of cat-safe plant foliage to hide and explore in, as well as many elevated platforms, are becoming more and more popular and serve the nine fundamentals well. Adventurous and outgoing cats can be trained to walk on a leash and enjoy exploring the outside world. Timid or shy cats may be perfectly happy remaining on a leash in your backyard if they wish to explore the outdoors.

When you first bring your new feline companion home, it can be a big change – for you and for them. To make the experience better for everyone, it’s a good idea to have done plenty of research and to have the key essentials ready, including:

    • A food bowl - we recommend stainless steel bowls as they are durable, easy to clean and don’t hold food smells/taint like plastic
    • Water bowls - these must be kept separate from their food bowl, ideally 0.5m away or further, and a few throughout the house. A shallow and wide glass bowl is preferred as cats like to see ‘through’ their water and keep their whiskers dry while drinking
    • Cat litter and trays - its pays to have 2 trays available and a scoop to help with clean up.
    • Quick-release collar with your contact details, especially if your cat is indoors/outdoors.
    • Bedding and cat carrier – suitable carriers are secure, have limited but diverse visibility in/out, can easily be taken apart, and are preferably plastic for easy cleaning. Place soft bedding inside and reward them for exploring it on their own.
    • Toys that mimic stalking and hunting are often popular with cats. Only allow access to toys when supervised; choose reputable cat-safe toys.
    • Grooming tools - grooming your cat regularly familiarises them with being handled by people and will make the task of grooming easier down the track. But take it slow and keep it paw-sitive. Reward your cat for permitting you to groom them if they are not a fan of it, but don’t force it.
    • Feeding a super premium pet food that is nutritionally complete and balanced, and backed by science, like Royal Canin, is the perfect way to ensure your kitten is getting the best start in life. Premium pet food also helps with the all-important control of stool odour and volume.
    • Book your kitten or cat in for a health check with your veterinarian within the first 48-72 hours after bringing them home.

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