So that adorable little furball has purred his way into a permanent, cat-sized space in your heart. You want to bring him home immediately! But before you do that, take a good look around your place.
Consider your cat - regardless of age - as a new baby. You’ll need to kitty-proof your home to ensure your new furry friend’s safety. Read on for all the advice you need to get yourself ready for welcoming kitty!
The first thing you’ll need to do is a general survey of your home. Though you will likely be designating “cat spaces” in your home, cats have a tendency to go everywhere and anywhere, regardless of your grand plans, so the following checklist is designed to cover the basics in every room of your home.
- Do you have wood floors? Carpets? Tiles? You don’t have to make any renovations, but ensure that there isn’t anything dangerous to kitty. Carpeting, for instance, might have loose threads that kitty can unravel and potentially swallow, thereby causing life-threatening health problems. So snip any such threads and/or tape them down.
- Do the same to any wiring. If it looks like it can be pounced on and chewed into submission, tape it down, cover it up, find a way to ensure curious kitties can’t access it.
- If your tile is particularly slick and shiny and you have a very young kitten joining your household, a temporary rug will help tiny paws get a better grip.
- What is on your floor? For instance, do you have anything like bug traps? If so, those traps may contain dangerous chemicals and are just small enough to be fun for a cat to try to bat around, so definitely get rid of them. What about kids’ toys or rubber bands? Those things can be endlessly tempting—and potential trouble—for an inquisitive feline just settling in.
- Many houseplants are toxic to cats, so check out this article and remove any that could hurt kitty.
- Are there any holes kitty might climb into, such as a vent that isn’t fully sealed? Small crawlspaces are kitty nirvana but may cause you a real panic if your cat gets stuck, so seal such holes securely.
- If your kitty’s litterbox is going to be in the bathroom, put away all chemicals and ensure that things like the medicine cabinet are firmly sealed. Also, especially if you’re getting a kitten, make sure the toilet seat lid is down.
As an example, when I first brought my cat home, I didn’t notice that I had some ribbon spools stowed in a basket in the living room—with no lid. You better believe my cat found those ribbons the very first day and made a complete mess!
The key is to look at the lowest level of your home from a kitty eye, because this will be your new feline’s literal stomping grounds. So clear these areas of clutter and make sure there’s ample space for kitty to explore safely.
- Counters, fireplace mantels, shelves, general furniture—kitty will climb all over everything, so ensure that such surfaces are safe. Take tablecloths, for instance. Kitties love to take running jumps and can go flying if fabric skids, so anchor any such decor or remove it.
- Until you get to know kitty better, put away breakables. It’s only fair to give your new friend a chance to go exploring, and if there’s a chance she may jump onto a table full of priceless collectibles and send them shattering, that won’t bode well for your long-term pet/pet parent relationship.
- Look at your windows. Do they have long curtains your cat might be inclined to climb? If so, tie them back and be aware that kitty is still likely to go exploring, so you’ll need to be on guard.
- What about blinds? Kitty may not be interested in Venetian slats, but that dangling thread you use to open them could prove incredibly tempting, so tuck it out of sight.
- Your cat will very likely be hanging out a lot on any available window sills, watching the outside world, so it’s of utmost importance that any open windows have secured screens.
- Don’t store tempting food goodies on counters until you establish rules and/or learn whether your kitty has a propensity for seeking out treats in between mealtimes.
I’ll never forget walking in one day and finding my cat happily squeezed onto my kitchen spice rack. Cats can mold their bodies into surreal shapes and spaces, so bear that in mind when bringing home your furry friend. Err on the side of caution.
So now you’ve kitty-proofed the house. What do you need to buy to make sure kitty is healthy and happy?
What to Buy
- Food and water bowls. Consider setting yourself up for success by getting an automated, programmable model so you’re not being woken up by hungry kitties at 4 AM demanding that you get up to feed them.
- Food, obviously. Your cat will have different needs depending on breed, age, health, etc. This article has you covered for wet and dry food for all ages and breeds.
- A litterbox. Whether you want a traditional scoop-and-toss model or a self-cleaning litterbox, make sure your cat will actually use it, and put it somewhere where she will be able to do her business undisturbed.
- Litter. Beyond just the litterbox, you’ll need the litter “sand.” Your choice will depend on factors such as the litterbox you chose (some self-cleaning models require specific litter, for instance), whether you prefer clumping or non, fragranced or non-fragranced, etc. This article gives you a whole slew of options to choose from.
Once you have the basics, you’ll also want to pick up:
- Scratching pads. Declawing is absolutely inhumane. Cats need to scratch for a whole number of reasons, including matters of mental and physical health. But if you don’t provide them with an appropriate surface, they’ll make their own.
- Toys! A bored kitty is one who will get into all kinds of trouble, which is no fun for anyone. Here are some awesome toys to keep kitty’s hunting instincts satisfied, his kitty intellect honed, and his four furry paws out of trouble.
- Bedding. Cats can sleep 20+ hours a day, so giving them the comfiest possible options to snuggle into is all important for their health and happiness.
- Towers. Cats love to survey their kingdom from on high. Remember those high-level surfaces we mentioned earlier? If you don’t provide a designated surface from which a cat can reign, a feline will create his or her own throne, guaranteed. So save yourself the nail-biting angst of watching Fluffy climb to the tippy top of a shelf so rickety, it could collapse if someone sneezes the wrong way, and instead invest in a nice tower. There are endless options for cat towers today, at all price ranges, so there will definitely be one that’s just the right price and size for your home.
- Grooming tools. All cats need to be groomed, though some (such as longhaired kitties) require it more often. Start your kitty off on the right foot by making sure you have some tools on hand, for brushing, nail clipping, and more.
Bringing Kitty Home
When you bring home kitty, start her off in her own special room, outfitted with her bed, litterbox, food and water bowls, and toys.
Spend plenty of time getting to know her, while allowing her to begin to settle in.
Over the course of several weeks, gradually introduce her to the rest of your home, making sure areas that are off-limits are sealed either by a door or a kitty gate. You may choose to leave that room as kitty’s permanent private space—and all cats need such places to retreat to—or you may slowly move her food bowls and other belongings out into the more general common area. Whatever you do, do it slowly, giving her time to adapt to any changes.
If you have kids or other pets, including other cats, that gradual introduction will be all the more important and will make the difference between a happy new addition to your household and a confused, lost feline.
Now you have everything you need for your new furry friend, but the key to his health and happiness is ultimately the time the two of you spend together, getting to know one another. To the end, that pet/pet parent connection is what will last forever, not the color of the new bed or the shine of the fancy new water fountain. Give your feline lots of attention and he or she will reciprocate with a lifetime of wonderful memories!
By Emily Parker, Catological.com