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What to Do When You Adopt a Cat for the First Time: A Complete Guide from the Catonsville Cat Clinic

adopt a cat for the first time

Giving your new cat a place to hide will help her to feel more comfortable and safe as she adjusts to her new home.

So, you’ve decided to add a furry new friend to your family. Congratulations! The decision to adopt a cat is a big one. While your new cat may be fun to pet and play with, she will also require things from you that she can’t get herself. Taking care of a cat is a big responsibility that is not to be taken lightly. So, to help you make sure that you’re completely ready to bring a new cat into your home, the Catonsville Cat Clinic has compiled a helpful guide of what to do before you bring your new cat home, as well as after the first few days and weeks.

What to Do Before Your New Cat Arrives

If you were expecting a baby, the first thing you’d do is baby-proof your home. The same goes for a new cat! When you adopt a cat for the first time, you want to prepare your home by making cat-friendly spaces and by putting potential hazards out of reach. There are a few ways you can go about this.

Make Your Cat its Own “Bedroom”

Cats are territorial creatures, and being brought into a strange, new home can be a very stressful experience for them. Especially if you have other pets or children, your new cat can become anxious and defensive when confronted by these energetic strangers. The best solution: give your cat her own “bedroom”.

Now, we’re not saying that you have to convert your guest room into a special room for your new cat. Any area of the house that is closed off, quiet, and not often used will work. This can be a laundry room or a bathroom. Make sure that everyone in the house knows to keep the door closed. Now, your cat has a small space to explore, rather than a huge house with potential foes lurking around every corner! Letting your cat get adjusted in a small space can help her to get used to the smells and sounds of your home. Spend a little time inside your cat’s room so that you can both get familiar with each other. Some cats, especially those who are adopted, may have come from traumatizing situations and may take a little time to open up. But odds are, your new cat will eventually be overjoyed to see you!

Get a Litter Box

Make sure that your cat’s room is equipped with a litter box with one to two inches of kitty litter inside. Place the litter box in a secluded area; even cats like a little privacy!

Set up Food and Water

Your cat will also need food and fresh water in their room. It’s a good idea to use the same food your cat was eating at the shelter or foster home since cat stomachs can be sensitive to changes in diet. Be sure to place the eating station away from the kitty litter box, as the smell of the kitty litter box may discourage the cat from eating.

Make a Hideaway

A scared cat will take comfort in hiding in small places. Before you adopt a cat for the first time, make sure that the cat’s room has a safe hiding spot. This can be the carrier you bring your new cat home in, a box with an entrance hole, or a pre-made cat den. Cat “feng shui” requires that the den is positioned so that the opening is within sight of the door. This ensures that your new cat won’t be startled when someone enters the room.

Include a Scratching Post

Cats love to keep their nails filed down by scratching them. If your cat is not declawed, be sure to include a scratching post in their room, or else you may find that she’s started using your belongings as their personal nail filers!

Cat-Proof Your Home

Now that you have your cat’s “bedroom” set up, it’s time to do a walk-through of your home to make sure there are no potential hazards. Consider looking at your home from a cat’s-eye view. Do you see any cat-sized holes? Dangling blind cords? Breakable items in precarious positions? Make sure these are taken care of before you adopt a cat for the first time.

The First Day

You’re finally ready to bring your new cat home! This is an exciting time, and every member of the household will probably want to meet her. However, it’s best to take your new cat directly to her “bedroom”. She’s been through a lot, and she’ll need a little time to calm down and adjust.

After your new cat has had a little time to get used to her new room, you can sit in the room with her. A gregarious and confident cat may saunter up to you and immediately become your best friend. A nervous and shy cat will need a little more time. Don’t worry if your new cat continues to hide from you. With a little time and patience, your new cat will become used to you and start cautiously approaching you. Just remember to stay calm and quiet around her to keep her comfortable.

When it comes to food, a nervous cat may not each much or at all at first. If your new cat hasn’t eaten any food in a few days, call Catonsville Cat Clinic. We’ll be able to give you advice and let you know if you need to bring your cat in for a medical check-up.

The First Few Weeks


A screening at an early age helped Howie to get preventative care for his heart disease.

When you adopt a cat for the first time, it’s important that you take your new cat to the vet within the first week. You may be tempted to spend more time letting your cat get comfortable with you, but if there is a medical problem, your vet will need to know so that action can be taken.

Even if it seems that your cat is perfectly healthy, there is a chance that your cat is hiding a hidden condition. Cats are very good at hiding outward signs of a disease or illness. So, if you wait until you notice something, it may already be too late. This is why it’s essential that you also continue to bring your cat to the vet for annual physical exams.

What to Bring to the Cat Clinic

There are several things you can bring with you to the cat clinic to make the trip less stressful, both for you and your cat. These include:

  • Medical history: When you adopt a cat for the first time, make sure that you attain any medical records that the previous owner has on file. A shelter or rescue will provide you with these records at the time of adoption if they are available. This will make diagnosing and treating your new cat much easier.
  • Crate: There are cats that are terrified of their cat crates. This is because the crate only comes out when it’s time to go to the vet. To undo the link between the cat crate and stressful situations, you can leave the crate out where your cat can use it as a safe haven (as described above). You can even put treats in the crate to create good associations with it. Choosing a carrier that’s large enough for your cat to comfortably stand and walk in a circle also helps your cat to enjoy being in the crate.
  • Cat toys: A familiar blanket or cat toy can help your cat to relax while on the vet table. An exciting toy can be a good distraction from the anxiety your cat may feel while at the vet.

If you follow all these tips when you adopt a cat for the first time, you’ll be sure to have a well-adjusted and healthy feline family member! And don’t forget, if you ever have any questions about your cat’s health or behavior, you can call the Catonsville Cat Clinic, and we’ll do everything we can to help!

Get More Advice and Help after You Adopt a Cat for the First Time from the Catonsville Cat Clinic!

For 20 years, the Catonsville Cat Clinic has been providing quality veterinary care to the cats of Catonsville and beyond! Dr. Pam Nesbitt–purchased the practice in July 2011–runs the Catonsville Cat Clinic with compassion in mind. A team of professionals with an advanced level of veterinary medicine is at your service to make sure your cat is healthy and happy. So stop on by–we’d love to get to know you and your cat!

For more updates and advice, be sure to follow our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+! You can get in touch with the Catonsville Cat Clinic by giving us a call at 410-869-0800 or visiting our contact page.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 24th, 2017 at 3:20 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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