First impressions matter, and if you like someone then you want to make a good one! When you find the right cat it's exciting to think about the years of feline fun ahead of you. But don't take it personally if your cat doesn't want to play right away — your cat has no idea who you are yet! They need to get to know you, and you, also, need to learn what they enjoy. What should you do during your first week with a new cat to get off on the right paw, so you can have a positive future together?
Everything you need for the first week with a new cat
Whether you've had 15 cats, or this your very first, here are a few basic cat care necessities:
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- Cat food, and water bowls. Your new cat may have been eating a certain food. If they are continue feeding them that food.
- A comfy cat bed and blankets. Beds that also serve as hiding places are very appealing to cats in new surroundings.
- Cat litter box, litter, and scooper.
- A variety of cat toys.
- Environmental enrichment, like cat trees and cardboard boxes for hiding, or scratching posts.
Ideally, you'll be well-stocked with feline accoutrements before taking home a new cat. Taking a new cat to a pet store, in or out of a carrier, is stressful, and potentially unsafe.
Welcoming your new cat family member on the first day
Your cat is likely recovering from the stress of leaving a previous home or shelter. The ride to their new home was probably scary, or at least uncomfortable. Once at home, you should give your cat their own room, a safe space while they get to know their new family. This room is where you put their bedding and hiding places. Food, water, their litter box, and toys should be very accessible.
Once you have all these supplies set up, and with the door to this room closed, let your new cat come out of their cat carrier on their own. Stay in the room with them, observing what they do, until they settle. Then, leave the room. Close the door behind you, and keep it closed. You can visit with your new cat throughout the day, but for the most part you should leave them alone.
What to do during the week with your cat
Providing structured meal times establishes a very basic, and delicious, routine for your cat. After 48 hours, you can slowly transition them to a new diet, if that's something you want to do. Any sooner could cause your cat some digestive upset. Part of bonding with a your kitten or adult cat happens by playing with them. Spend time your first week learning what entertains, and delights your cat. You cat may prefer a feather wand or a catnip-filled mouse. Providing a fun medley of toys helps cats relax, and helps you learn what they enjoy.
Everyone in your household should give your cat plenty of time to themselves. If your cat crawls in your lap or butts their head against your hand, then gently return their affection! If your cat responds to a flitting feather wand, continue playtime! But if they aren't acting interested in you, you won't win them over by forcing them to interact.
What else you should you do for a new cat
Make their world even more secure by registering their microchip. Schedule a comprehensive exam and vaccinations with a veterinarian. Protect their future health by looking into health insurance. Don't forget about your other pets! Keep their life as normal as possible. Fill your existing pet's week with positive interactions, but avoid introducing the new housemates during their first week, to give them time to adjust to the new sights and smells.
Reflect on bringing a new cat home
At the end of your first week together, think about what you learned about your cat.
Did they show a preference for any particular toys or food, or how they like to be petted? Have you seen any concerning behaviors? For some cats and their owners, their first week together is a total honeymoon. Some cats end up snoozing with you in front a sunny window by day two. But your cat could still be hiding under a bed, and therefore needs more time to settle in. This first week is a milestone, but reaching it isn't always easy. If things aren't going as you had hoped, be patient with your new cat — and yourself.
You already adore your cat, from the tip of their tail to the points of their ears. But neither you or your cat really know each other yet. Your new cat is more likely to warm to you if you are reliable, respect their space, and are rewarding to be around. You should also begin attending to your cat's long-term health and security so they can be with you for many happy years to come.