Creating a Safe and Cozy Home for your New Cat
Having adopted a cat, particularly one that may have been abused, you obviously want it to feel safe and happy in your home. By understanding a cat’s nature and instincts, and your adopted cat’s pre-adoption history, you can create a feline paradise.
Here’s how to keep Kitty content in the new setting of your home.
1. Designate a private space
Allocate a quiet place for Kitty, such as a small room or alcove, away from household traffic. Within this haven, place Kitty’s food and water bowls, bed, litter box, toys, and scratching station. To really find favor with Kitty, set up a cat tree! If this is not an option, ensure a high surface to which Kitty can jump, such as a table or chair. A lofty perch meets the feline need to observe the world from a safe distance.
If you have young children or a dog at home, make sure Kitty’s food and litter box are beyond their reach. Cats need peace and privacy when eating and using the lavatory. If a dog and cat routinely snatch each other’s food, both can become very sick. Plus, kids who eat cat food risk choking and infection.
2. Let Kitty settle
After situating Kitty in the new quarters, don’t be surprised if the cat hides for a while. This behavior is common in adopted shelter cats, especially those previously abused. So, if your feline takes refuge out of view, don’t be troubled. Speak soothingly, and offer some yummy treats.
Then, exit your cat’s space, letting it come out when ready. Periodically, return and check in, talking softly and bearing treats. With time, Kitty will associate you with loving care. Note that it can take seven to 14 days for a cat to feel at ease in new surroundings.
When Kitty ventures beyond its hideout, make sure its sanctuary remains accessible. If your cat feels threatened, it needs an escape route. For this reason, also ensure high spots within each room, to which Kitty can jump if frightened. Ideal retreats are bookshelves, cabinets, tables, chairs, stairs, and cat trees.
3. Provide safe toys
Cats love predatory games involving chasing and pouncing. However, playthings needn’t be fancy. Consider these easy-to-make options:
- Dangling Ball – Scrunch a piece of paper, and perforate it with a small hole. Loop string through the hole, and knot the ends. Swing it before Kitty, and it will have a blast batting it around.
- Flashlight Beam – In a dark room, sweep the light across your floor. Kitty will get a charge from chasing and stalking the beam. Just avoid shining the light in Kitty’s eyes.
- Bathrobe Snake – Before discarding an old bathrobe, cut a long strip from the fabric, or detach the belt if it has one. Then, run the “snake” along the floor before Kitty. The soft material is perfect for chewing.
- Tube Treats – Place some treats inside a toilet paper tube and roll it across the floor. The rattling will draw Kitty’s attention, rewarded with some food!
Exercise is vital for cats, keeping them alert and fit. Although Kitty may play solo, it’ll be more fun if you join in. Plus, Kitty will likely play longer with a partner.
When done sporting together, put most of the toys away, so they retain their charm. Here are more cat toys you can easily make.
4. Provide scratching posts
If you don’t offer objects for sharpening claws, Kitty will use your furniture for a pedicure. Scratching is instinctual, meeting several feline needs:
- Territory Staking – Cat paws are equipped with scent glands, depositing their smell on objects. By marking their domains in this way, cats establish boundaries.
- Nail Grooming – Scratching keeps nails healthy by removing their outer sheaths.
- Stretching – Cats remain limber by arching their backs and flexing their legs.
Place a few scratching stations around your home, in places Kitty frequents. Tall, vertical posts enable some advanced cat yoga. If you don’t have space, substitute with nubby rugs, reserved for Kitty’s use and sprinkled with catnip.
5. Ensure warmth and security
On average, cats need 15 hours of sleep daily. Feline genes are responsible, prompting cats to prowl at night and snooze during daytime.
Along with a bed in Kitty’s quarters, allot a few areas around the house for cat naps. Despite having warm core temperatures, domestic cats prefer being toasty. As descendants of wild desert felines, they’re accustomed to hot climates.
Set out folded towels in cozy spots, such as corners of rooms and “sun puddles.” Even a cardboard box can serve as a cat bed! A 2014 study at an animal shelter in the Netherlands found that cardboard boxes are favored by cats since they offer warmth and security. Researchers found that newly arrived cats supplied with boxes were much less stressed than those not given them. Additionally, the kitties with boxes adapted faster to the new setting and were more open to human interaction.
6. Take safety precautions
- Appliances – Keep their doors closed, such as those to an oven, washer, and dryer, magnets for cats craving warmth.
- Bathroom – Drinking toilet water with cleaner residue is lethal. Falling into a toilet or filled bathtub can drown a cat. Safest is keeping your bathroom door closed.
- Choking – If Kitty swallows small or stringy objects, they can impair its breathing and digestion. Prevent access to dangerous items, such as twist ties, rubber bands, dental floss, hair ties, and toys with detachable parts. Also, supervise play involving yarn, string, thread, twine, ribbon, and feathers.
- Household Cleaners – Swallowing caustic chemicals will burn Kitty’s digestive system. Some cleaners are deadly. Make sure toxic products are secured behind cabinet doors, with their caps tightly closed. When using cleaners, follow label warnings regarding pets.
- Cords – Chewing on wires can spark mouth burns and electric shocks, potentially injuring Kitty’s lungs and heart. Cover electric cords with protectors, or safely tuck them behind furniture. Cords to drapes and blinds can strangle Kitty, so coil them up beyond reach.
- Heat – Be careful that, in Kitty’s quest for warmth, it doesn’t get burned by snuggling against a heater or radiator. Likewise, keep your feline away from the fireplace, stove, and lit candles.
- Houseplants – Eating the leaves, oils, and sap of certain plants can cause illness and even death. Position all plants beyond Kitty’s reach, along with potpourri, pesticides, and mothballs.
- Medicines – Stow all drugs and supplements in high cabinets, and scoop up any pills that escape onto floors.
- Human Foods – These can overload a cat’s digestive system with sugar and fat, causing diabetes and pancreatitis. Certain foods are poisonous, such as chocolate, tomatoes, coffee, tea, onion, garlic, grapes, raisins, the sweetener xylitol, and raw meats, poultry, and fish. Leftover bones can trigger choking, and milk causes vomiting and diarrhea. To be safe, limit Kitty’s cuisine to commercial cat food.
- Suffocation – Stash plastic and dry cleaning bags out of reach. Keep lids on garbage cans.
- Windows and Doors – Cats can fall out of windows, so keep yours closed or securely screened. External doors to your home should always be tightly shut.
NOTE – On your front window, affix a “Pet Alert” decal. In the event of a house fire, the notice will help first responders save Kitty.
Since we tend to remember pictures better than words, here’s a brief video on the top home hazards for cats.
In summary, in order to create the ideal home environment for your feline, ensure:
- a quiet nook
- high perches
- safe toys
- scratching stations
- warmth and security
Also, protect Kitty from household hazards, such as your appliances, toilet, bathtub, toxic cleaners, electric and drapery cords, heat sources, houseplants, medicines, poisonous food, plastic bags, trash cans, fire, open windows, becoming lost, and small or stringy objects that your cat could swallow.
With insightful and loving care, Kitty will have a long, safe, and stress-free life with you!
Guest Author, Emily Parker
Emily is a cat parent to two black cats, Gus and Louis. When she’s not out exploring her neighborhood for outdoor cats and the coolest new cafes, she helps cat parents love their kitties better on her website, Catological.com.