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Introducing Your New Cat &

Kitten Proofing Your Home 

Written by: Emily Greene, Citizenkat Sphynx

Special thanks Nancy Anderson Cordell for use of her beautiful photos

No part of this article may be reproduced without author’s permission

 

Just for a moment,  imagine you are plopped into a strange home with strange people and possibly other strange animals. It’s new. It’s foreign. It’s scary. This is how your new kitten feels and it will be one of the most stressful times in its life.  

Before you bring your new kitten home, it is paramount to mentally prepare yourself for an adjustment period. Sometimes, it is a fairytale and it takes just a moment for a new cat to adjust. On the other extreme, some take 6 months to adjust. The usual adjustment period is 2-6 weeks. No one, not even experts can predict with 100% certainty how a cat will react in a new environment. On occasion, the behaviors will be upsetting or frustrating, however it is usually temporary. Please be fair and give your kitty a chance to adapt. Patience; an understanding of feline behavior; an understanding no animal is perfect; a willingness to train and put in some hard work are all essential in having a successful transition.

Helping your cat adjust in the best way possible will make him comfortable and the least stressed. It is important to work with your breeder and vet.  There is not a sure-fire way that suits every situation.

 

Suggestions for Easing the Transition

·        If you can, take a couple days off work to ensure you have a lot of time to spend with your new kitty and make him/her comfortable.

 

·        It is extremely important your new cat have the same food as before it moved into your home. A swift change in diet is one way to really upset their digestive system and cause problems such as vomiting and diarrhea.  The food you have selected to feed your cat must be slowly introduced over a time period of at least 2 weeks. The only exception is switching from any food to feeding raw. If they eat the raw right away, it is a good thing. The new cat must eat a little food otherwise it can develop a dangerous disease called fatty liver disease.

 

 

·        Set up a small room for your new cat. Your bedroom is the best place. Smaller areas make it easier for them to feel secure while getting acquainted with their new family and home.

 

·        Place a litter box where it is easily accessible along with a cat bed, scratching post and anything else the cat needs to feel comfortable.

    

·        If you have another cat or dog, DO NOT let them interact right away. It is important the cat know you and the surroundings first.  They need to have some familiarity with the new environment first before introducing new animals. The quarantine time for your new kitty should be at least one week.

  

·        The first introduction to other pets should be done very carefully. One way is to put the new kitten in the center of the room in its crate and let the other animal(s) sniff and see the reactions. Another way is to have two people hold each animal about 5 feet from one another.

   

·        Wash all animals in the same smelling product. Cats use their scent to determine if they like other animals and being scented similar helps.

   

·        If you have more than one cat, please have three litter boxes. For each additional cat, you need one more litter box.

   

·        Put an item with each animal’s scent in the other animal’s area so they can learn the smell.

 

·        Show your kitten the litter box several times a day until you are sure they know where it is and are comfortable using it.

   

·        Make sure your kitty has easy access to litter boxes. Do not keep litter box in area that is cold or out of the way.

 

·        Make sure you are prepared with scratching posts to you can train your kitty to scratch in appropriate areas.

   

·        It is normal for cats to hiss or growl at each other the first few days or even weeks and should lessen over time and hopefully they will become friends. Some tricks are getting them to play with a toy together. Or having them eat together, but with separate bowls.

 

 

·        Do NOT let any of the animals stay around the others if too stressed. Limit the time until the tolerance gets better and better. This can imprint forever!  You want good imprints!

   

·        Do not hit, spank, kick your kitten, it will not change the behavior. It is cruel and will only make your kitten fearful of you and other humans.

  

·        If it is at all possible, get two kittens as a pair. They do very well having each other and it is joy to watch.

 

      

  

 

 


Stress when moving into a new home is inevitable. Below is a list of some of the   usual signs of stress and tips to help correct the issue.

·        Lack of eating

·        Getting a cold

·        Hiding

·        Hissing / Aggression

·        Crying / Excessive Talking

·        And… the most feared… not using the litter box




  

Lack of EatingThis is fairly common when cats are stressed. Most will at least nibble a little bit. If they do not at all, contact the breeder to see what might be best to get them to eat. You should stick to the same feeding schedule. Special treats that seem to work to get stressed cats to eat are stinky Fancy Feast, all meat baby food, raw beef cubes or raw ground beef.

 

Getting a cold- Your kitten should come to you healthy with a vet health certificate. You should also take your kitten to your vet within 2-3 days for a health exam.

Be wary of flights and long travel for kittens. Comparing this to human travel, we can and do get sick after travel. It is not much different for a cat.

Cats in a new home are stressed and any animal under stress can get cold or tired. Some have an unrealistic expectation that their cat will not ever be sick. Remember, when you travel or deal with stress, you can get sick more easily as well. Hopefully this does not happen, but if your kitten does get a cold, it is not uncommon.

Watch your kitten to ensure: she is eating, drinking water, clear eyes, the third eyelid is not visible, nose not running, and even, clear breathing. The kitten’s stool should be firm and well formed. If any of these things are off, contact your breeder immediately and make a vet appointment. This must be done quickly as kittens can deteriorate without treatment within 24 hours.

Hiding This is a fear response. The kitten or cat needs to be moved to a small area, like your bedroom until the kitten feels comfortable and then the area can grow.

Hissing/Aggression Hissing is usually only directed to other animals. This is normal for cats to do when they meet new animals. It should subside with time.

Crying/Excessive Talking This is an attention seeking behavior and it is the sign of emotional distress. Usually it will decrease over time. Some kitties are naturally talkative; ask your breeder what is normal for your cat prior to the move.

Litter box Some cats fear the new home making them more worried about using the litter box. If you have dogs, it is IMPERATIVE the litter boxes are safely away from the dogs so the cat feels comfortable using it.  It is important to use the same litter the cat is used to. You can transition onto a new litter slowly by mixing it in more and more. Also, some cats do not like covered litter boxes or enclosed ones.

If you have a cat that is not using the litter box properly, the cat must be moved to a very small area for a period no less than 14 days to retrain. To some it sounds cruel, but pet owners have tried this very successfully. It works well.

It is not uncommon for cats to pee on dirty cloths. It smells dirty to them, so please, put your laundry in a closed hamper.

 

             

Kitten-Proofing Your Home
  

Look at your home like you are a cat... look for low nooks and crannies, look at high objects and furniture your cat can get on top of, look for objects she can knock over. Make sure you change anything that can hurt or harm your cat.

·        Make sure all electric cords are put away or not dangling look like a toy.

·        Invest in covered waste baskets or put them under sinks or in cabinets- most cats will tip trash cans over to at least investigate.

·        Close toilet lids to prevent small kittens from potentially drowning

·        Always check washers and dryers and dishwashers before starting. (Especially the dryers, Sphynx LOVE warm places to sleep)

·        Put breakable items out of kitten's reach. Remember that they can jump and climb!

·        Make sure your house plants are not poisonous to cats.  If they are, you should get rid of them.

·        Stay away from products containing phenols as they are toxic to felines. These are found in many essential oils such as pine, tea tree, cedar, oregano, thyme, and many household cleaners. Please research all products you use to ensure safety. 

·        Keep liquids away from electrical equipment unattended - your new cat is bound to knock it over.

·        Make sure all cleaning products are put out of harm's way.

·        Take a look at your curtains and blinds, make sure they secured very well. Check the cords and tie them so your kitten cannot get entangled it in. Some kittens think they are Tarzan and will jump and swing on them. Most kittens will grow out of this.

·        Do not leave toys with tinsel or any ribbons around. These items can be dangerous if ingested. It can result in violent vomiting, or even worse, a blockage which can cause death.

·        Cats love to chew on cell phone charger cords and headphone cords. Make sure you put them away. 

     

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