woman with newly adopted cat

I Just Adopted a Cat – What Do I Do Next?

So you’ve decided to adopt your first feline friend. Whether you’ve picked them up from a rescue shelter, found them online or from someone local, or simply find that you seem to have taken in that adorable stray that was hanging around the house, adopting a kitten or cat can be a wonderful thing, both for you as well as your pet companion.

While there are a lot of perks that come from adopting a cat, there can also be some growing pains to deal with. The first 30 days are particularly important for establishing a proper bond while also helping create effective routines as well as giving them the greatest chance for success.

If you’re a new pet owner or simply want some ideas on where to start, keep reading below to learn some very useful tips for giving your new kitty the best possible living experience under your roof.

1. Give Them A Chance To Settle

The first thing you want to do once you’ve adopted a new cat is to give them a chance to adjust to their new setting. Keep in mind that this is their first time in a new environment and can potentially be daunting to begin with. It’s best that you allow the cat the chance to get a strong understanding of their situation and a feel for your home before overstimulating them with too many people or too many things to try. 

2. Have Their Space Already Set Up

The next most important thing (and what you should have already done) is making sure your cat’s space is already put together before they’ve even arrived. This takes the stress off of you while giving them a series of different things to get accustomed to. Their space should include all of the essentials, ranging from their litter box, their food & water bowls, and a cat bed for them to sleep in. You may even want to set up a specific area where your cat can have fun and relax. You want them to learn to trust their area as a safe haven.

3. Keep Them Away From Any Other Pets (Initially)

If you have any other pets you may be tempted to introduce them as soon as the adoption papers are signed. Unfortunately, this can be a potential problem if you aren’t careful. At least in the very beginning, it’s better to keep your pets in a separate area of the house while your new pet gets a lay of the land. Generally, this will be a process of putting the new pet in a smaller confined space and slowly increasing it as time goes by and they’ve settled into a new routine.

In general keep them away from other pets for at least a week, but this can go up to two weeks if you’ve got other cats in particular. This is because cats are very territorial and can lead to fights as well as potential health problems for either pet. It’s better to take your time and let them slowly become aware of one another’s presence. Finally, introducing them to another cat should be done sensitively—allow them to smell and see each other through a safe barrier (such as a screen of some sort) before allowing them to meet.

4. Put Together A Routine

You should do your best to put together and set up a structured routine for your cat. These are a great way to get them to easily transition into the home while also helping them learn proper feeding times or when you two will have fun playing with one another. If you’re lucky, your cat will also learn when you sleep and what time you wake up. But don’t count on it…

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5. Establish A Grooming Schedule

In addition to putting together a solid routine for them in general, it’s just as important to set up a grooming and dental schedule for your cat. Since pet grooming can be potentially stressful, it’s important to make sure you wait until the cat has become fairly settled in before getting into it. Still, a week or two of settling should be more than enough.

Once they’ve gotten used to their environment, you want to slowly introduce cat brushing and dental care into their schedules. This is something many cat owners overlook entirely, and you might think that brushing your cat’s fur is really only necessary for a cat with long hair that is liable to matting.

In fact, all cats benefit from regular brushing, and it also strengthens the bond and trust between you.

Dental care is even less observed by most owners, but taking the time to get your cat used to some kind of brushing or teeth cleaning in the initial stages will pay dividends later. Vets are all too aware of the poor dental hygiene of most cats and the long-term consequences of cat dental problems, so if you make the effort to make this something your cat is used to, you’ll reap the benefits.

6. Set Up Cat Training Sessions

Another important consideration after adopting a cat is finding some time for training sessions (and we’re not talking complicated tricks here, just the basics!). Not only is cat training a great way to teach your cat some important things (like their own name), but is also just a great method of bonding with them and forging a strong relationship.

Specifically, when it comes to getting cats to respond to their own name (something that many cat owners fail to instill), there’s a fairly effective method one can employ. Simply call their name using an upbeat and positive voice before throwing out a cat treat or a toy to them. Do this process several times a day for a week, and by the end, they should be quick to know when you’re calling out to them. It’s important to make sure you give them a cat treat or a chance to play with their favorite toy every time you call their name. 

The other training you should focus on early on is litter box training and reinforcing behavior to stop your cat from scratching the furniture.

7. Make Sure You Have Cat Toys

Just as your cat’s space should have a bed, treats, and other essentials, it should also include a couple of cat toys. These cat toys should be fairly varied from one another, with each having its own respective styles. This way they’ll have a greater option of what toys they may like and not like.

Cat toys can range from small wands or stuffed toys to multi-platform scratching posts. Consider picking up a few things so that your cat has enough to try out, be it a scratching post, tower, or even some feathers on a string or some false mouse toys.

8. Start Slow When Introducing Different Foods

You want to make sure after you’ve adopted a cat, that you’ve decided on the best cat food you want them to eat. This also means knowing what they are currently used to eating so you know what base foods you’ll be moving them away from.

Generally, while it can vary depending on the situation, changing a cat’s diet should be done fairly slowly, ideally taking around a week before having them fully commit. Not only is this great when it comes to their overall pickiness when eating certain foods, but is also good for handling any gastrointestinal issues that may pop up.

Cat owners should investigate with their local veterinarian on the best cat food for them. It should ideally be high quality with a focus on meat as the primary ingredient (rather than corn, soy, or grains). The ideal food diet (excluding the more recently recommended but expensive raw or fresh diets) should be a mix of wet and dry food to help keep them in optimum health.

9. Try To Establish & Foster A Positive Relationship With The Vets

Last on our list is probably one of the hardest with the greatest upsides. We all know that, while most pets aren’t huge fans of going to veterinarians, it’s essential for them and their overall health. As such, you really need to try and find a vet that you personally trust and make a point to foster a strong relationship with them.

The veterinarian that you decide to go to should make a point of making you feel as comfortable as possible, asking any questions you may have on how they operate and what they’ll do for your cat’s overall health and care. This should include questions like proper exercise times or the best feeding routines and food types. They should also be able to tell you about different diseases and illnesses your cat may be at risk of contracting.

Making friends and having a strong relationship with your cat’s vet will ensure that they treat your cat as patiently and as kindly as possible, making some of the different pokes and prods just that little easier for your cat.

Enjoy Life With Your Cat

While adopting a new cat can be a lot of fun it can also be a lot of work, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. By following these above steps, you can ensure your rescued kitty not only enjoys its new home but thrives in it. And you get to enjoy it together.

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