Visit the Veterinarian
If possible, you should take your cat to the veterinarian for examination, testing, and vaccination prior to bringing your cat home, especially if you have other cats. All cats should be tested for Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Aids Virus (FeLV/FIV). All cats should receive a series of vaccines that include Feline Panleukopenia, Calici Virus, Herpes Virus, and Feline Leukemia Virus. Your veterinarian can recommend how often your cat should be vaccinated after his/her initial vaccines based on your cat’s age, previous vaccination history, environment, and lifestyle. Cats can receive their first rabies vaccine at the age of four months and one year later. After that, your cat can receive a rabies vaccine every one or three years depending on local ordinances.
Bringing Your New Cat Home
When you first bring your cat home, put him in a small room such as a bathroom or laundry room. Giving him free roam of the entire house in the beginning could be overwhelming and frightening. Make sure your cat has food and water available and that the litter box is placed in an area that provides as much privacy as possible. If you have other pets, they and your new cat can begin becoming acquainted by sniffing one another through the door. Once your cat has acclimated to his new environment for a few days to a week or so, you can gradually give him access to other parts of the house. It is important to always be present when your new cats is introduced face to face to your other pets. Never leave your new cat alone with other pets until he is fully acclimated and until you are certain that they will get along.
(Note: If your new cat has never received vaccines or vaccine history is unknown, it is best to completely quarantine your cat from other cats in the household until his vaccines become most efficient which is typically a few weeks after the last set of vaccines. Even if your other cats are fully vaccinated, they could be carriers of upper respiratory diseases such as the Herpes Virus and the Calicivirus. You want your new cat to be as fully protected as possible before exposing him to potential carriers.)
Feeding Your New Cat
Feed your cat a high quality diet. Your veterinarian can recommend a diet that is best for your cat based on his age, health, and breed. Feed your cat the amount recommended by the manufacturer or your veterinarian. Many owners choose to allow their cats to free feed. Free feeding is generally acceptable for healthy cats without weight issues. However, cats with medical conditions, those that require a special diet, or those that are overweight most likely will require feedings that are divided into meals through out the day.
Choosing the Right Litter
Cats can be very neurotic when it comes to their litter boxes. It is best to have two litter boxes per cat. Do not put your cat’s litter box in an area with high traffic. Cats like their privacy. If your cat is endlessly interrupted while using the litter box, he may not use it at all and will find other areas in the house to pee and poop. It is important to scoop the litter box everyday. If the litter becomes to soiled, your cat will also be reluctant to use it and seek out other places. It may take several tries to find the type of litter that is best for your cat. Most cats don’t like litter that has a lot of dust. Fragrant litter may also be a deterrent for some cats. Cats with long hair may do better with crystal litters than clay litters. Always consult your veterinarian if your cat starts to pee or poop outside the litter box. It may simply be that you need to change the type and placement of your cat’s litter, or it may be due to more serious issues such as a urinary tract infection or other medial conditions.
Cat Trees, Scratching Post, and Toys
Cats wear down and shed their claws by scratching. You will want to provide your cat with scratching posts or cat trees for this purpose even if you trim your cat’s nails. If you don’t, your cat is likely to use your furniture, door frames, and other items in the house as scratching posts. Cats love to climb and explore higher areas. Cat trees can give your cat a safe and comfortable perch to survey his territory. Toys can be a source of entertainment, mental stimulation, and exercise for your cat. You will want to provide your cat with toys that are free of small parts that can be easily swallowed or pose a choking hazard. Toys should also be free of strings that are easily swallowed. Linear foreign body obstruction within the intestines of cats is a common disorder that can be quite serious and fatal. Sprinkle your cat tress, scratching posts and cat toys with cat nip to make them more enticing to your cat. Your cat will love it!
Cat Carrier and Transportation
Always transport your cat in a secure cat carrier. Even if your cat is leashed trained, it is imperative that you use a cat carrier when you transport your cat in your car. It can be extremely dangerous to let your cat roam free in your car when you are driving. Having your cat in a secure cat carrier will prevent your cat from bolting from the car once you reach your destination. Your cat will also feel safer in the confinement of the carrier when going to strange places.
It’s important that your cat have identification on him if he ever gets outside. This identification can come in the form of a collar with rabies or personalized tags or a micro-chip. We recommend that your cat have both. Some people do not automatically think to take lost animals to the shelter or vet clinic to be scanned for a micro-chip, if they are not wearing a collar. A person who finds your cat with a collar will know that the cat is not a stray and is more likely to try and find his owner. Unfortunately, collars and tags can come off or be taken off. This is why it is important to also get your pet a micro-chip which is permanently embedded under your cat’s skin. The chances of your cat being returned to you if he gets lost are greater when he has both tags and a micro-chip.
Household plants and foods
Common household plants such as Peace Lilies and foods such as Onions are extremely toxic to cats. It’s very important that you learn which plants and foods are toxic to your cat and make sure that your cat never has access to these items.