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Getting Ready for Your Cat

Plan Ahead for a Successful Adjustment Period

Perhaps you're down to crossing off the last few days on your calendar before the scheduled pick-up date of your furry new friend. On the other hand, maybe you've yet to find the perfect kitty companion, but you want to be prepared in case things progress quickly. In either case, spend what time you have available to prepare for a smooth transition for both you and your cat.

The Trip Home

There's a few necessities that you'll need to have on hand just to ensure a safe trip home. Before you even load your cat into the vehicle, it might be a wise idea to have a collar and identification tag ready to put on him or her. Cat collars are available in a "break-away" style that prevents them from becoming hopelessly entangled on something. A bell attached to the collar is also handy for locating a kitty in hiding.

They might get anxious with these new items around their neck, but just in case the cat manages to get loose somewhere between their old home and their new one or soon after they arrive, you already have a potential way of tracking them down. If the ID tag has the word "Reward" engraved on it, your chances of retrieving your new buddy will be greatly increased.

While you might be tempted to let your new pal roam freely in the vehicle, it's best for everyone involved to keep kitty confined during this critical transition stage. If the cat has a "comfort item" that it's attached to from its prior home, such as a favorite toy or a shirt that contains the scent of its animal or human friends, you could request to take the item with you and place it in the carrier with the cat. If you're concerned that a carrier will just make him or her more stressed, consider that allowing them to run around and look out the windows or perhaps get stuck under a seat could cause more harm than good. They can also escape easier if they're unconfined.

Kitty's First Day and Night

If you have other pets awaiting your return home, it's a good idea to keep them confined until your new cat has a chance to quietly and safely explore his or her new surroundings. It certainly can't hurt to plan ahead and, upon your arrival, present your existing pets with a new toy or chew bone to help them pass the time of their confinement and stay relaxed.

Allow the introductions among pets to proceed slowly and safely. You might even want to confine kitty to the carrier again to prevent any unexpected fights or chases from occurring. Let the animals set the pace and don't hurry their meeting. Your patience will be rewarded by creating an environment where your pets get along extremely well together.

Have the cat's eating and bathroom facilities already set up to allow it to become quickly oriented to its environment and to know just what's expected of it and where. Your cat food supply should consist of the food its use to eating and perhaps new food that you slowly plan to switch it over to for its regular diet. The litter box should also be of a design that the cat is familiar with as well as contain litter material that the cat is use to using.

Having a scratching post immediately available will reduce the chances that the cat will establish a scratching area of their own choosing - perhaps on the arm of your new sofa. To entice the cat to use the scratching post, you can dangle a piece of string against it or sprinkle some catnip on it.

Any other special needs that your cat has should have already been addressed to make its new surroundings as comfortable as possible. An example of this would be for a cat that has vision problems. As the new owner, you could wear a bell attached to your shoe to help keep the cat aware of your location. As strange as it sounds, different cooking flavorings can also be applied to the doorframes of the various rooms to aid in spatially orienting your "kitty of low vision."

Before your cat even comes into your house for the first time, you should have a listing of important telephone numbers that can be easily located. By now, you should have chosen a veterinarian for regular as well as emergency services and have the name and telephone number of at least one other alternative doctor should your main choice be unavailable. The list should also contain information pertaining to animal poisoning contacts, groomers, cat-sitters, and the like. Too much information is not a bad thing in this case.

Time Alone

The time has finally arrived when kitty must be left on his or her own. If you've properly pet-proofed your home (refer to our article entitled "Tips for Pet-Proofing your Home"), acquainted your pets, and allowed for sufficient bonding time, the time spent alone should be uneventful.

Try to have the first few times alone be of a short duration. Otherwise, try to have someone already scheduled to check in on your new feline pal and attend to its needs. However, if you have any concerns about the first time that your cat will be left alone, you can invest in a cat cage that's sufficiently larger than a carrier is or confine it to a room where it seems to be quite comfortable. More than likely you'll be more stressed out than the cat will be about taking this big step.

Take a deep breath and enjoy the transition process. It can be a pleasurable time of getting to know one another. It can also be the start of making many fond memories. You'll soon wonder how you managed to get through life without this bundle of joy in your life.

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