Each June, Adopt a Cat Month is celebrated by feline lovers nationwide. June typically marks the height of kitten season, when kittens born in the spring are ready to find their new families. Animal shelters may be overrun with litters of kittens, in addition to their homeless adult cats, and adopting a cat—or two—can help relieve the burden placed on shelter resources. Before rushing out and adopting the first litter of kittens you spot, however, check out our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center’s list of things you need to consider.
#1: Determine if your current pet will accept a new cat in the household
If your current cat or dog is happiest being an only pet, it’s best to avoid adopting a new cat. Trying to add another pet to your household can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for both pets, and could even result in a trip to our emergency clinic. Before looking for a new cat, consider your current pet’s personality and likely reaction.
#2: Cat-proof your home
Cats are notoriously curious creatures, and, when they find themselves in a new environment, they can wreak havoc exploring their surroundings. Prevent your new cat from getting into mischief by cat-proofing your home. In addition to providing cat-friendly scratching and climbing alternatives to your furniture, put away potentially interesting items. For example, avoid leaving food on your kitchen counters or table. Although your tiny Yorkie never could reach those tantalizing tidbits, your new cat can. If you’re bringing home a young kitten who will be teething and looking for ways to burn off energy, put away small items that can be chewed on or swallowed, such as hair ties, paper clips, and rubber bands. Hide electrical cords as best you can, and place other cords, strings, and ribbons well out of reach. Cats use their paws to scoop objects out of even the smallest hiding places, so secure potentially harmful items behind closed doors.
#3: Stock up on feline essentials
While a new cat may seem like they won’t require as many supplies as a dog, purchasing feline essentials can create quite a list. Here is what you need to have on hand before bringing home your new pet:
- Food and water dishes that ideally are shallow with wide rims
- A diet geared toward your new cat’s age group
- A variety of toys to help you learn what your new cat likes best
- Cozy beds to hide in
- Scratching post
- Horizontal scratching pad
- Climbing tower with lookout perch
- Fine, unscented litter
- At least two litter boxes
- Collar with ID tags
To help calm your new cat’s nerves about moving to a different home, consider adding a soothing pheromone diffuser to your list. Feliway has a natural pheromone diffuser that is calming, and has been proven to help reduce a cat’s anxiety. The company also has a product that encourages cats to scratch only in a certain area, like on scratching posts, rather than furniture.
#4: Ensure your family agrees about adopting a new cat
Before running out to adopt a kitten, ensure every member of your family is on the same page. Discuss what type of personality you’re looking for in a new cat, consider the benefits of each age group, and even talk about other characteristics, such as whether your new cat will be long- or short-haired.
#5: Introduce your new cat slowly to the household
Give your new cat several days to adjust to their surroundings before trying to introduce them to your current cat or dog. Ideally, set up a spare bedroom or bathroom as your cat’s home base. Let your new cat decompress in this room for a few days until they show signs of wanting to get out and explore. Once your cat seems comfortable, swap bedding between your pets so they can become accustomed to each other’s scent. Next, allow your pets to see each other, but still have a physical barrier in place, like a baby gate or glass door. Once both pets seem calm and relaxed around each other, you can let your new cat explore their entire home.
#6: Schedule a wellness visit with your family veterinarian for your new cat
To ensure your new cat is healthy with no hidden medical conditions, schedule a wellness visit with your family veterinarian within the first week of bringing your pet home. Your primary care veterinarian can let you know if your cat needs any baseline diagnostic testing, vaccinations, or parasite prevention, and will help you guide your feline friend on the path to wellness.
Although we hope adopting a new cat into your household goes smoothly, our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center team is always here to provide urgent care. Give us a call for help.