Did you know that it takes about 2 weeks for a cat to adjust to a new home. It’s true. And what you do in those 2 weeks can be crucial in how well adjusted and comfortable your new kitty becomes. That’s why, to help you prepare for the new arrival, we’ve gathered up our favorite tips for new cat owners. They’ll help make the transition easy for both you and the new little bundle of furry joy!
From feeding to litter box training, we’ve got you covered!
Tips for New Cat Owners
Whether you’re planning on adding to your furry family in the new year, or are in the process of adopting a cat who needs a loving home, these tips for new cat owners are great reminders for both brand new kitty parents and those who’ve had cats in the past.
1. Have a Feeding Routine
Lots of cat parents leave food bowls full for grazing. And yes, this works for some cats, but for others it’s an invitation to gain weight. Like dogs, not all cats stop eating when they’re full. If there’s food around, they’ll munch.
Instead of leaving a full bowl for your new kitty to graze at her pleasure, consider set mealtimes to help establish a routine depending on your cat’s age:
- Age 8-12 weeks – 4 times per day
- 12 weeks to 6 months – 3 times per day
- 6 months and older – 2 times per day
2. Safe Space
As mentioned, cats typically need some time to warm up to new people and get comfortable in a new environment, so creating a safe space for them to escape to is a good idea. This could be a spare bedroom, a corner of a quiet room, or even the laundry room. Consider putting the litter box in this space, or even feeding in this room so they’re comfortable.
This is especially important if there are young children in your home, or another pet (we’ll cover this in more detail in a bit).
3. Prepare their Bathroom
For new cat owners, one mistake is assuming filling a littler box and leaving it anywhere there’s space will work. Although cats are generally low-maintenance roommates, they can be picky about their bathrooms. For placement, pick a spot that’s private – both for your sake and theirs. Make sure to keep it clean, or you might find yourself cleaning up other areas they’ve chosen that are clean. And, if you already have a cat, give your new kitty a litter box of their own.
4. Don’t Forget Exercise
Many new cat owners make the mistake of thinking cats don’t need exercise. They’re often regarded as “easy” pets compared to dogs who need exercise every day. But the truth is, kitties need exercise just as dogs do. Sure, they may not need a 5 mile hike, but the mental stimulation and physical activity helps to keep boredom at bay and keeps them physically fit.
Ok, so how do you exercise a cat? It’s all about play! A ball of string, a cardboard box, a small stuffed mouse. Tossing those toys around and letting your cat play and jump and run feeds their prey drive and helps your cat relieve stress and find entertainment in their day. And remember, cat nip is your friend!
5. Ready, Set, Scratch
Sorry to break it to you, but there’s no such thing as a cat who doesn’t scratch. All cats do this, sometimes to release tension and stress, sometimes to leave their scent. Whatever the reason, unless you provide one, they’ll find a spot. A scratching post in areas a cat might be attracted to (like the sides of the couch) can help keep your furniture protected and your cat content.
6. Dog House?
If you have a dog in the house, this one’s important. Some dogs will welcome a cat right away, and before you know it the two are fast friends. Others take more time. It’s important to be cautious when introducing the two, just to be on the safe side.
A few tips:
- Pay attention to body language – If the cat’s ears are pinned back or her tail is swishing back and forth, this is a sign she’s not overly enthusiastic. If your dog has a strong prey drive, watch for a stiffening of her body, staring, or barking or whining.
- Slow and steady – Don’t just put the cat down and “let them get used to each other.” This can be overwhelming for both. Take your time and give them space apart.
- Train with both of them to help distract a fixated pup. Use treats if that works.
- Don’t force it. Give it time. If your cat seems uncomfortable, allow her to escape to her safe space.
*The same goes if there’s another cat in the house. Cats can be territorial, so take your time introducing the two, and again, make sure there’s a place for the new cat to escape.
Bringing home a new cat is super exiting. Whether you’ve got a tiny kitten or have rescued an older cat, a few simple tips can make life with the new addition a whole lot easier.
Welcome home kitty!
The Veterinarious team is made up of pet owners, pet lovers, and pet experts from around the globe! We’ve banded together to create a community of like-minded pet people to give you the latest research and health advice for your beloved beast!