Before bringing your new baby home, set aside one room to make a home base for your newcomer. This is the first area you should cat-proof. This can be done even if your new cat is already home. It should be a small room with a floor that is easy to clean and a door that closes completely. Make the room comfortable for a cat by furnishing a litter box, food and water, bedding (towels or blankets if you don’t have a pet bed), safe toys (small mice and balls), and a scratching post. Please place the litter box as far away from the cat’s food as possible – you certainly wouldn’t want to eat next to the toilet!
Below is a list of hazardous items you should “cat-proof” around the home. Keep in mind that once your cat is comfortable in her home-base room and with being around you, she will be ready to explore the rest of your home. So, take advantage of the time that your cat is acclimating in his/her home base to prepare the rest of your house.
1. Remove toxic plants.
2. Kitten-proof your home and secure breakables.
3. Set up a single room as a home base for your new cat – cats are very territorial and large, brand-new territory is very overwhelming. A smaller space will help your new friend feel more comfortable more quickly. Be sure the home base has the following:
a. A door that closes
b. Litter box
c. Food & water
d. Comfy blankets to rest on
4. Remind the family that a new kitty needs a quiet homecoming. Of course, you’re excited! But to have a successful introduction to his new life, your cat will appreciate if you let him come to you; not the other way around. Remember:
a. Do not force affection
b. Have plenty of treats and toys on hand
c. Hold out your hand, palm down, and extend a finger. The kitty will take this as an invitation to sniff you and evaluate if you’re a friend or foe. If the cat backs away, he needs more time. If he keeps his position, progress slowly by petting his cheeks and the top of his head. Slowly work towards the rest of the body, if he allows it.
5. At this point, if you have other cats, dogs, or kids to introduce your kitty to, read the respective links for tips on making those transitions just as smooth as this one! (Linked here or in the right sidebar).
6. After a few days in the kitty’s home base, allow her to explore the rest of the house, with the other pets closed up in a room. Be sure to supervise so she doesn’t hide. See our tips for integration.
7. Once the cat is comfortable, place the food, water, and litter box in their permanent spots. Be sure to show your cat where these items are!
Then the real fun begins – enjoy your new furry companion and watch as she learns all about her new, loving home.
Your Valuables – Breakables and items with sentimental value should be placed out of reach or behind a closed door. If you have particularly beloved furniture or precious fabrics, try to keep them out of your new cat’s reach if possible. If not, double-sided tape applied to the items you want to be protected should do the trick!
Off-Limits Rooms – Never let your cat into the garage – there are far too many hazardous materials housed there. You may also consider keeping your baby’s room restricted. It’s certainly not necessary, but many parents feel better keeping their new baby’s door closed.
A Final Pass – Once you have done your best to kitten-proof according to the suggestions above, take a moment to look at your home from the kitten’s perspective. Get on your hands and knees and look around. You may notice things like an M&M (toxic!) or a sewing needle that you didn’t see while standing. And even if you think everything has been secured, monitor your kitten as he explores so that you can tend to issues as they arise.
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