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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Prep Your Home For Your New Cat

Prep Your Home for Your New Cat

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Introducing your new cat to other family members requires some planning, especially if the family includes children or other pets. And if they don't already know, all household members should be shown how to safely handle a cat.

Introducing family members
A slow, quiet approach is best for acclimating your cat to her new home. Remember, the newcomer is in a strange place and may be nervous at first. Smaller children need to learn that their new cat is not a stuffed animal, but a living creature with feelings. As a new pet parent, you should be present when all introductions take place. Also, infants are best kept out of the picture until your friend has settled into her new environment.

If you have other pets in the household, your newcomer should encounter them from the safety of your lap. If a pet seems nervous upon introduction, it's best to keep them in separate quarters for a while, then switch each to the location the other was in. This way, they'll become accustomed to each other's scent within your home.

Some hissing or tail fluffing is normal at the beginning of new pet relationships. These actions are just signals that the cat is afraid.

Some new house rules
Until your new family member becomes familiar with your home, it is wise to make sure everyone understands the importance of:

* Keeping windows and doors shut so your new cat won't get lost outside your home
* Not leaving people food out in the open where it might tempt your new cat
* Double-checking the interiors of appliances like washers, dryers, and refrigerators before closing the door or turning them on to make sure a curious cat isn't inside
* Keeping toilet lids down to prevent potential drowning

Cat-proofing your home
All cats are curious, and kittens are twice as curious as their elders. Assume your new cat will get into anything and everything if you let her. Here are a few tips for new pet parents.

Poisonous to pets
There are many household items that can be poisonous to your cat if ingested. Among the most common problem houseplants are Poinsettias, Azaleas, Caladiums, Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia), English Ivy, Holly, Hyacinths, Hydrangeas, Jerusalem Cherries, Lantana, Mistletoe, and Philodendron. Cleaning solutions and detergents are also extremely dangerous.

Household hazards
Check your tables, shelves, and counters thoroughly for breakable items your cat might disrupt or shatter. Anything extremely fragile should be moved to an inaccessible spot.

Before they learn to leap, young kittens often climb. This can be hard on your window drapes, for instance. Since kittens generally grow out of the climbing stage as they grow heavier, a good temporary solution is to loop up floor- length curtains, drapes, or any other household items that may be appealing.

The cords and strings on drapes can be irresistible toys for many cats, yet they can be dangerous or deadly to cats who get their heads caught in the loops. It's a good idea to cut the ends of the loops of dangling cords so your cat will not be able to get herself into trouble when you're not watching. Floor-level electrical cords should also be tucked away or hidden as much as possible. To keep your cat safe and sound, you'll want to keep the dryer door closed, and close the oven door promptly when you're cooking. Watch for your cat when closing recliners and sofa beds, and when rocking in a chair. Lastly, always keep a watchful eye for small items (rubber bands, strings, etc.) that may fall onto the floor and become irresistible to your cat. Small items like these can be swallowed and can cause serious harm to your cat's digestive system.

Outdoor dangers
The outdoors is full of dangers for roaming cats. Dogs, other cats, and wild animals can all pose serious dangers. However, fresh air is healthy and desirable for all pets. Fenced backyards and leashes provide great opportunities for your cat to enjoy the outdoors while supervised. Train her early with a leash, and you may be surprised at how much she loves taking you for a walk!

If your cat has access to the outdoors, you need to give some thought to the dangers posed by your car and garage. Cats are attracted to automotive antifreeze, which is poisonous to them (and humans) and can kill, even in small quantities. Take steps to ensure that all containers are tightly capped and kept in a closed cabinet. If possible, use a non-toxic antifreeze.

Furthermore, cats have been known to nap atop warm car motors in cold weather. If your cat has access to your garage, always check under your hood or honk your horn before starting your car.

Getting off on the right paw
The day you bring home your new kitten or cat will be an exciting one, and this new addition to your family will be counting on a number of things to keep her happy, healthy, and properly cared for.

The best way you can show how much you love your new cat is to choose a good veterinarian in advance. Ideally, your veterinarian's facility will be located close to your home. Many of our PetSmart stores have our trusted partner, Banfield, the Pet Hospital™, located on site to provide your cat with excellent care. Keep your veterinarian's name and phone number in a convenient place. If your veterinarian does not offer emergency services, ask him for the name and phone number of the nearest animal emergency facility, and keep this information handy, too. Hopefully, you will never need to use it, but as a responsible pet parent, you should be prepared.

The importance of an ID tag
An ID tag is a lost cat's ticket home. The tag should include your address and day and evening phone numbers. It should be attached to a safety collar, so your cat can escape if the collar becomes caught on something.

Feeling right at home
Before you bring your new cat home, make sure you have established a comfortable living environment that will take as much stress as possible out of the transition. This should include a comfortable bed in a quiet place, a litter box in a private area, separate bowls for food and fresh water, toys, and scratching posts to keep your new family member stimulated and occupied.


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