Adopting a Cat for the First Time: Tips for New Cat Owners
Thinking about getting a cat or a kitten? Although there are plenty of places where you can buy kittens easily enough, we think it’s wonderful to give a rescue cat or kitten the chance for a new start and lifelong companionship by adopting instead.
Not only do our four-legged friends give us unconditional love, but they’ve also been shown to be psychologically, emotionally and physically beneficial to their companions. Plus, an adopted cat will be so grateful for their new life.
By adopting a cat or kitten from a rescue, you'll also help save the lives of two animals; the one you adopt, and a homeless animal who can now be housed in their place.
What to do before adopting a cat
Welcoming a new cat into your home can be both exciting and daunting, as you’ll likely need to make a few changes to make sure you’re both comfortable and happy. It’s also important to give them space and time to adjust.
Cats are naturally agile and curious animals, so keep that in mind and protect any valuable items on high shelves.
There are also a surprisingly large number of indoor plants that are toxic to cats, although most felines are wary of eating them.
Depending on the rescue you adopt from, you may need to purchase insurance right away as a rehoming requirement. Some provide the first month for free when you adopt, but it's always a good idea to shop around.
Once you’ve decided to bring a cat home, you need to get ready for their arrival. Before your furry companion arrives, here are a few essentials you’ll need:
- Two bowls, one for food and one for water.
- A soft, cosy bed in a quiet place.
- A litter tray, cat litter and a scoop.
- Age appropriate cat food, supplements (our Original Crunchies for Cats are an all-natural and tasty daily supplement to restore and maintain gut vitality) and treats.
- A brush.
- A scratching post.
- Cat toys.
- A cat carrier.
Cats also love boxes, so a simple cardboard one will help make them feel safe.
How to choose a cat to adopt
If you’re wondering what things you should consider when adopting a cat, a good place to start is by asking the shelter or rescue about their age, their nature and what breed they are.
If you have other animals or children, this is something that will need to be discussed, as you’ll need to know how well they’ll get on with the rest of your household.
Think about your lifestyle and what type of environment you’ve got to offer as well and look for a suitable partner.
How big is your home? Will your cat have access to a garden or patio? You’ll also need to think about the right pet for where you live and whether you can adequately meet their needs.
A rescue organisation is also a great place to contact if you're looking for an outdoor cat. There will be plenty of semi-feral cats who will be looking for a safe home in a stable or barn and who will repay you with excellent pest-control. It is a likely requirement that semi-feral cats will be rehomed in pairs or as a three, so keep this in mind during your planning process.
What is the best age to adopt a cat?
There’s no specific age that’s best for adoption, as all cats are unique and offer the same love and friendship no matter their age.
Kittens are naturally very appealing when you’re considering adoption, but don’t overlook the older cats looking for homes. They make amazing pets and will be much more appreciative of a loving new family.
Kittens also need additional care and patience, while older cats are usually easier and more adaptable.
First night with an adopted cat
Your first night with a newly adopted cat should be a gentle transition for them. Here are a few easy ways to make them feel cosy and safe while they adjust:
- Give them a peaceful, private room until they become familiar with the scents and sounds of their new home.
- Make sure they have everything they need in their new space; food, water, a litter tray, a scratching post, a comfortable bed, toys, etc.
- New cats can often be a little bit nervous on their first night, so keep interactions with other animals and children to a minimum, so they aren’t overwhelmed.
- To help them get used to you, give them something with your scent on it to sleep with, like an old t-shirt.
- Make sure their space is ‘escape-proof’.
- If your cat seems stressed, a stress-reducing hormone diffuser for cats might be something to consider. It’s said to be soothing for cats, as it emulates the natural pheromones released by a mother cat to calm her kittens
- Let your cat choose when and how they want to interact with you and allow them to make the first move.
How to make a cat feel comfortable in a new home
When your new cat has settled in, they’re now ready to begin exploring the house and roam more freely. Make sure that their space is ‘cat-proofed’ and safe. Remove toxic plants; plastic bags and even string can also be hazardous.
Even if your new pet seems confident, keep some doors closed so they don’t get confused. If you have a basement or attic space, keep the access door closed. There are some areas in most basements or attics that are difficult to access for humans, should you need to retrieve them.
How long does it take for a cat to bond with a new owner?
This depends on the cat you adopt, whether they’re nervous and shy, or whether there are other animals already co-habiting. Sometimes they feel at home right away, sometimes it can take two or three days and sometimes it can take a couple of weeks to form a tight bond.
Signs your new cat is adjusting
Helping your cat feel comfortable in a new home is important, but with some patience, they should adjust and be back to their normal self in no time.
They’ll be excited to wander their new domain and be happy to interact with their new family.
Give them extra affection and stick to a routine, and your cat will be a happy companion.
Places to adopt a cat in the UK
There are lots of options if you’re looking to adopt a feline friend in the UK, and they’ll usually come microchipped, vaccinated and neutered (where possible).
Here are just a few if you’re ready to take the next step:
Association of Dog & Cat Homes
Shelters and rescues all have healthy, well-behaved cats just waiting for a new home, so if you’re looking to adopt a cat or kitten, all of the above charities should be able to help you find your ideal pet.