Feline Friends: Top Tips on Caring for Your New Cat
Bringing a new kitten or cat home for the first time is exciting for everyone, but there are several things worth considering, to help them settle in properly. The first few days and weeks are important for bonding with your new feline, and with the right groundwork you’ll be sure to become great friends.
There are lots of practical elements to owning a cat which are important to remember, including vaccinations, neutering, and knowing what to feed them. Here at Asda Money, we’ve put together some of our top tips to help make those first few weeks as easy as possible.
Before the Big Arrival
Preparation is key when you’re getting ready to bring your new cat home. They may be frightened and apprehensive, especially if they’re young. Before you collect them, there are a few things you should get ready:
- Make sure they have their own space in the house which is secure and quiet, such as the utility room. This room will become their own special territory where they’ll feel safe.
- This room should include an area for food and water, as well as their litter tray. The litter tray should be placed as far from their food as possible, and in a private, accessible location.
- Cats like to watch the world go by, so ideally the room will have access to a high spot, such as a unit or windowsill.
- Make sure they have their own bed, along with other comfy places to sleep if possible.
- Cats have a natural urge to scratch to help keep their claws To avoid your furniture getting ruined, it’s best to have a scratching post in their room so they get used to using it from a young age.
- Like many animals, cats and kittens love playing, so make sure you get them plenty of toys, and allow them some space to have fun in!
The Journey Home
Cats can find travelling stressful, especially if they haven’t left their familiar territory before. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make it easier for them:
- Use a secure, strong carrier that is designed especially for cats, as this enclosed space should help them feel safer.
- Feline’s rely heavily on their sense of smell, so if possible, take a blanket from your house and leave it with the cat for a while before you bring them home. Put this in their carrier with them so they’ll feel more familiar with it.
- Another option is to use a synthetic form of feline facial pheromones, which you can usually buy from your vet, and spray this into the carrier and around their new home.
- When you get home for the first time, leave the cat in the carrier and place it in their new room. Open the carrier door and leave them in the room alone for a while so they can explore their new environment at their own pace.
- They’ll likely find a hiding place and stay there for a while, which is completely normal. After a few hours, you can go in and start talking in a soothing voice, but don’t attempt to greet or fuss them. Instead, let them come to you, which may take a few visits to the room until they feel comfortable to do so.
- Gradually let them explore the rest of the house when they feel ready, but keep the door of their room open so that they can escape back there if they need to.
- Don’t let your cat or kitten go outside until they’ve gotten used to their new home and surroundings. When they’re in the house, ensure all doors and windows are shut so they can’t get out.
- It’s recommended to wait around three to four weeks before you let them go outside. When you do, it’s best to do it just before dinner time so you can tempt them back in with food. Let them out for just a few minutes the first few times so they’ll get to know their territory and learn where their home is.
- Whether you’re getting a kitten or fully-grown cat, it’s important to get them the same brand of food that they’re already used to eating. This way, it’ll be familiar to them and they shouldn’t get an upset stomach.
- If you do want to change their diet, do it gradually over a few days by mixing the old food with the new.
- Kittens need to be fed little and often, as they only have small stomachs. It’s recommended to put them on a ‘premium complete growth diet’, which has special nutrients for younger cats. These are usually dry, but there are some tinned varieties too.
- Remember that tinned food can go off quickly, so it should be fed at specific times during the day. Dry food can be left out for your kitten so they can eat it at their own pace.
- At 8-12 weeks, kittens need feeding four times per day. This can then gradually decrease, so at 3-6 months they’ll only need feeding three times per day. Then, when they’re over 6 months old you can reduce it down to just twice each day.
Neutering and Vaccinations
If you’re getting a kitten, it’s important to ensure they get the right vaccinations and they are kept up to date. You’ll also need to decide if you’re going to get them neutered. If you’re unsure about anything, ask your vets for advice, but these are some general points to consider:
- Kittens require a course of two vaccinations to protect them from potentially fatal infections. They start the first course when they’re 8-9 weeks old, which will consist of two injections taken three to four weeks apart. An annual booster jab will also be required to make sure they remain protected.
- These vaccinations will protect them from feline infectious enteritis (which can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea), feline influenza (a serious form of cat flu), distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and feline leukaemia. If any of these are not vaccinated against or you reject the advice of your vet they could be excluded from a pet insurance policy.
- Vaccinations are also a great chance for your new pet to have a general health check, where your vet can give you advice about keeping them healthy and happy.
- If you don’t want to breed from your feline friend, then it’s recommended to get them neutered. The recommended age for neutering is 4 months old, but this can still take place at a later age if you’re getting an older cat.
Before you welcome your new four-legged friend home, it’s important to consider all the different pet insurance options which are available. This way, you’ll be covered if they injure themselves or become unwell. Here at Asda Money we have a range of pet insurance cover types available. Find out more about Asda Money Pet Insurance underwritten by Fairmead Insurance here. Pre-existing medical conditions are not covered.