Helping Your New Cat Adjust
1. Introducing cat into environment.
2. Stress and anxiety
3. Food and nutrition
6. Cat allergies
7. Inappropriate urinating
8. Entertainment and playtime
9. Veterinary care
1. Introducing cat into environment
Often the hardest part of introducing your new cat into your home is giving it the correct amount of time. We want our new pet to be a happy regular part of the home and family. It isnt easy watching them hide somewhere or having to zone them and go through the steps that are proven to be the most helpful. Here are our suggestions to help introduce you new cat.
If you have no other pets - Bring your cat inside and quickly take him/her to a small space such as a bedroom, set the carrier down and once you have placed litter pan and food/water, open the door and let cat come out at their own pace. Watch for body language and if cat hides, dont bother him/her. They WILL come out, in their own time. Spend time in the room reading or petting cat if out. If cat isnt exhibiting fearful posture/stance and behaviors, open the door to room after an hour or a few hours. Let them explore at their own pace. Some cats will adjust instantly; some can take days or weeks. BE PATIENT, they will adjust, even if it feels like they never will.
Have other pets? - Please follow these steps to ensure the most amicable peaceful transition for all. These steps apply to cats and dogs. Introduce into small isolated space (zone) as above first. Keep pets separated for 24-48 hours like this.
Next, take items with their scents on them and place in each others space. Let them sniff items. Dont worry if they hiss or growl at this. Thats normal. The next day, place the pets (without them seeing or sniffing each other directly) into each others zones. Let them sniff and stay in there for a while. Do this again later in the day. The following day, devise a way to do visual introduction such as letting them see each other through cracked door. Do not let them touch yet. Sniffing is normal and ok and there might be hissing or growling. Dont worry if that happens, its also normal. Repeat this visual introduction several times that day and into the next day.
On that day, try to introduce them physically, in the NEW pets zone. Watch their body language and if they do some more hissing they are just communicating territory and dominance which is normal too. If you see attack postures such as fur on back raised and ears bent back, separate them right away. Here is the time to use your gut instinct and go back to earlier steps and start again from there.
TIME AND PATIENCE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS for adjusting and at some point during the process they will find their own way. If they actually fight, go back to first step and take it slower. In 99% of the cases, the worst eventual outcome is that they just co-exist with occasional hissing as they come near each other. Cats can continue to adjust over weeks and sometimes months. We have seen it take a very long time, yet the outcome has been a happy household with new friendships between the pets.
Try to have plenty of toys, catnip, window shelves or towers for the cats to feel good in right from the beginning! See section 8 below.
Going to fast is the numero uno reason for maladjustment into new environment and rushing things actually can make the who transitions process take LONGER.
2. Stress and Anxiety
Cats are often thrust out of their home and into new environments, and new people as well as other pets. Anxiety is a normal reaction. You can reduce much of it though!
Try Feliway pheromone spray. Use as directed. It REALLY works!
There are other products called Pheromone Collars such as SENTRYHC - GOOD BEHAVIOR CALMING COLLAR to reduce stress and anxiety. These emit a pheromone which mothers cats emit to calm kittens. That mother kitten effect is lifelong. Each collar lasts a month and is around 12.00
3. Feeding and Nutrition
We want to be extremely blunt and clear here - CATS ARE CARNIVORES AND SHOULD BE ON WET FOOD DIETS! This might surprise you but cats are physically geared toward meat (raw) due to their teeth (all sharp unlike ours) and digestive enzymes in their mouth, as well as their intestinal tracts. Food manufactures dont necessarily have your cats best interest at hand. The best example - dry food. But lets face it, most of us use it, at least as part of their daily diet. This is out of convenience.
The problem is threefold. One, the dry food is hard to chew due to lack of incisors in cats mouth. Two, the dry food has vegetable protein, not animal protein. Animal protein ensures the complete array of amino acids needed by cats. Plant proteins require additional supplements added and do we know for absolute certainty they are added properly? No. Many cats went blind and died during the 1980s because of this problem. Cats require double protein intake then humans and dogs. Also, beware of canned foods using meat statements. This isnt synomous with protein! Three, wet food has water within it, not next to it. Cats urinary tracts (bladder and kidneys) NEED lots of water. Cats on dry diets do drink more water. However, these cats get about half the water intake that cats on wet diets get. Cats need twice as much moisture as dogs or humans.
Here are the recommended percentages of fat/protein/carbohydrates/moisture - carbs - no more then 5% to 10%, fat - 40% or lower, protein - at least 45% to 50%. However, you need to consider true protein content. It can be very confusing because the cans will say protien 12% or such. You need to do some math to establish whether true protein is within the 45%-50%,
*Here is how to calculate true protein. If protein is listed at 10 % - look at moisture. If listed at 84 % that means the dry matter percentage is 16 %. So you divide .10 by .16 and get .625. Then Multiply by 100 and get 62.5 % protein.
Here is the math formula - protein .10 divided by .16 = .625 x 100 = 62.5%
(Or, protein divided by dry matter times 100)
Moisture - (water content of all three categories combined, not percentage of content in can) should be around
78% of can. Ash content is also a big problem for cats. This should be NO MORE then 3%.
If nothing else is taken from this diet information, please use at least SOME wet food in their diet. This means if you are using dry, give them wet food at least twice a day.
The type of litter box, litter and location are important to many cats. We do not use clumping for our cats for foster.
Try to use the same litter cat was on previously. Does it have a fragrance? The cat may not like it.
Some cats prefer the texture of the clumping litter to that of the clay which can be harder on their feet. Yesterdays News is a great product made from recycled paper and is totally dust free.
The litter pan might be too small. It should be big enough for the cat to turn around and sit comfortably.
Is the litter box located in a high traffic area or near washer or dryer which can start suddenly and scare the cat?
5. Claws Cats nails, in front especially, should be trimmed and/or filed down depending on temperament of cat, at least once a month. For clawing behavior, trimming is best solution. Beyond that, cats can usually be trained to use a scratching post or scratching box or similar item. You can also try cutting a lemon and gently rubbing it on target spots for scratching. This repels cats and is very effective.
Try the three main types of scratching materials - carpet, cardboard and rope. Most cats will respond to one or more.
They need to be consistently redirected to those items. Sprays are available to help deter furniture scratching. Consistency is the key.
6. Cat Allergies
How to Reduce and Manage - Cats allergens are spread through their saliva (from grooming) and dander (old skin cells) and to a lesser extent, hairs. The allergen is known as Fel D and is a type of protein that is in glands under the skin and in saliva itself. Approximately 10% of the general population experience cat allergies. There are actually two primary sources of dander from cats.
Adopt a female or neutered male cat. These have significantly less allergens then non-neutered. Neutered males have the least.
Use a topical liquid such as Allerpet just put on damp cloth and rub it on cat once a week.
Wash bedding and linens once a week at temperature above 140 degrees.
Use anti-allergen powder on carpets
Limit access of cat to bed and furniture in common areas
Wash hands frequently especially if direct contact is made with cat.
Use air purifier with HEPA filter.
Treat symptoms that do occur with allergy medication.
7. Inappropriate Urinating Generally there are two main issues here.
One intentional peeing on items, such as furniture or rugs. This is usually behavioral in nature but physical problems such as Urinary Tract Infection should be ruled out. See below for solution.
Two spray marking usually lateral streams against legs of furniture etc. This is territory behavior and is normal, especially with male cats. It is much more common when cat is introduced into environment with another cat or cats. See below for solution.
It has been the experience of several of us, that the use of FELIWAY SPRAY OR FARNAM COMFORT ZONE WITH FELIWAY SPRAY yields extraordinary results. This synthetic feline pheromone (mimics their marking pheromones) and is effective to stop/prevent spraying and urinating outside litter box. It has 95% success rate (we have 100%). In addition, making changes in environment, patterns and dynamics can also eliminate urinating.
8. Entertainment and Playtime -
Probably the most important suggestion is to experiment with different toys and playthings. Most kitties like to play hunt type of games. Many like to chase strings and seem to prefer the thinner ones. Laser lights are a popular challenge game for cats. There are many catnip toys. Beware of ones with a lot of fillers. We use Dr Daniels brand as that is pure, unfiltered catnip. Ours will pass up all other catnip toys if a Dr Danies toy is available.
Another thing we have found beneficial for the cats it to rotate, or change things up, frequently. What this means is for example your cat likes to climb a ladder and play, only bring the ladder out a few times a year. Cats get bored with the same toys and when you remove them for a while, reintroducing them can make them seem fresh or new to the cat. This works without failure and cuts down on over toying so to speak.
Use window shelves or cat towers in front of windows. There are numerous cat shelf products including one with suction cups aided by a few strings, ones that clip on or screw into window ledges. Most love to look out the window, especially if they are indoor only cat. Other things they like to look at include fish tanks, cat videos on occasion and sometimes us or other pets too.
Give them playtime every day even if you set an egg timer for just 10 minutes. You would be amazed how much play you can get in in just that time period.
9. Veterinary Care
Sometimes it can be difficult to stay completely on a rigid schedule for medical care for our cats. Therefore, the first thing we recommend it so design your own tracking or scheduling sheet and keep it in their file. Check each New Year for dates due and put them on your calendar. You should not rely on reminder postcards from your vet.
The following vaccination given is only suggestions and we encourage you to do your own research. Here are the conclusions we have arrived at based on our own research. Rabies RV vaccines are given after cat is 3lbs in weight and a year after the first vaccine they begin the three year boosters. We follow this guideline.
The FVRCP vaccination is for 3 dangerous illnesses. The first is Rhinotracheitis - the R in the vaccine name. The second is Calico - the C in the name. The third is for Panleukopenia (aka Distemper) - the P in the name. There is much debate over the frequency. They get several at 3-4 week intervals in the beginning if small kittens. Older kittens can get just two. Adults get one, a one-year vaccination followed up by booster, oftern 3 year. We are tying to do FVRCP booster every 2 to 5 years, depending. There is strong research indications of certain cancers resulting from over vaccinating. Do your own research on this.
How frequent you take your cat to the vet is an individual decision. Typically, a healthy adult cat is seen once a year. At times we have wished we were doing it twice a year, feeling we could have circumvented growth of tumors to the stage of fatal or near fatal.
There are also come excellent oral and topical products to vaccinate against the following: fleas, roundworm, hookworm and heartworm (this one is not a worm), ticks and ear mites. These are combination products and there are numerous ones. They are administered monthly (the topical ones). What you use depends on your household and the cat.
Thank you for saving a life and giving a cat or cats a forever home. If you follow above guidelines, your cat will have the best chances prosperity from the first moments. Remember, survive is not the same as thrive.
Consider a catpanion for yours as cats do better if one of their own species is present, even if not best buddies.
We hope you have many years of wonderful moments and that you are your new cat are as happy as possible.