Introducing A New Cat

Before you bring your new cat home, take the time to look for possible safety hazards. Cats are born adventurers and are quite creative about getting themselves into trouble.

You might not be able to anticipate every predicament your new pet will get into, but you can minimize some dangers:

  • Keep electric cords hiddencats love to chew on them.
  • Chains and ropes attached to blinds should be tied up. A cat can easily strangle himself in them.
  • Avoid spilling antifreeze in your garage or on your driveway. Even a small amount can kill a cat.
  • Household plants rank high on a cat”s list of tasty snacks, but some plants are toxic to cats.
  • Make sure fish tanks have lids. Feline explorers can fall in and drown.
  • Keep the toilet lid down. If a cat falls (or jumps) into an open toilet, he may drown as the slick, sloped sides of the bowl make it almost impossible for him to get out.
  • Check refrigerators, dishwashers and laundry dryers before closing them. Cats find enclosed areas irresistible. Drawers and dark closets also attract curious kitties.

The Initial Introductions

When you bring your new cat home confine him to a quiet room with food, water and, of course, his litter box. Keep loud noises to a minimum as he becomes accustomed to his surroundings. Once he”s comfortable with that room, let him slowly start to explore the rest of the house, keeping an eye on him to make sure he doesn”t get into trouble. Provide some toys for him to use, and make sure you spend lots of time playing with him.

If you have other pets or small children, let the cat get used to them slowly. Small children just love cats, but their enthusiasm can frighten a cat or even cause injuries if they”re not used to handling live animals. If you own a dog, introduce the animals to one another slowly, and under constant supervision.

The same slow introduction can also work with other feline family members. If you”re lucky, the resident cat(s) will accept the new cat. Otherwise, watch them closely for signs of fighting. Give your more established cat lots of care and attention; she may feel that her position in the family is threatened by the new arrival.

The Importance of Playtime

When it comes to bonding with a new cat, playtime is very important. You”re setting down some good habits while your kitten is playing with that mouse you”re bouncing at the end of a string. Like humans, cats need exercise to stay healthy and in shape. If your new pet enjoys playtime as a kitten, he”ll be more likely to play as an adult.

One word of caution: Many toys contain string. String is great for owner-kitten play, but don”t let your kitten play with string unattended. He might eat it. A young kitten of my acquaintance once had a very undignified trip to the veterinarian”s to have about three feet of twine removed gently but firmly from an embarrassing location just below his tail. (He doesn”t like to be reminded of this. To this day he hates the vet.) He was lucky; some cats get string caught around their tongue as they swallow it. As the digestive system tries to push the string through and the cat tries to cough it back up, the string can cause a “sawing” type of injury in the digestive tract. If your kitty does swallow some string, whether it”s coming out the front or the rear, don”t pull on it. It”s best to consult your veterinarian.

Cat Spraying

Cat spraying is common with introduction to a new environment. By spraying and marking, a cat is claiming the area. This is not a behavior you want to encourage. Cat spray smells bad! Spraying may even occur in established areas if a cat is under stress. New furniture can also cause kitty stress. That new sofa just doesn”t smell right until it smells of cat. Use of pheromone sprays can help reduce the stress of introductions.