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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

Caring for Your New Cat

Bringing home a new cat or kitten is a terribly exciting time. Having a new pet in the house is fun, and getting better acquainted with your new friend is more than half the enjoyment. But you may find that your new friend needs some help and patience in making the adjustment to his new home.

When you first bring your new cat home, give him some time to explore at his own pace. He may feel the need to hide in a safe location for a bit and keep an eye on things before he comes out and starts to socialize much with you, so be sure to give him a safe place. My cats always seemed to prefer hiding under the bed, but it is a good idea to provide a variety of different locations where your new cat can seek some privacy. If he does decide to hide on arrival to your home, be patient and give him time to adjust and begin to feel more comfortable. In time, he will come out and start to investigate his surroundings.

Feliway is a pheromone that can be quite effective in helping a cat adjust to a new environment. The product can be readily purchased through most pet retailers and is easy to use. The Feliway diffuser simply plugs into an electrical outlet, where it will release the pheromone that your cat can detect but you cannot. It needs no further attention other than changing the plug-in once monthly. I use Feliway in my own home and it definitely helps keep the peace between my six cats.

A good diet is an important requirement for any cat. Choose your cat’s diet wisely, since a good diet can help maintain his health. For cats, I prefer a diet that is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates. I also prefer a diet that is at least partly comprised of wet food. One of the most important things to keep in mind when feeding your cat is to avoid overfeeding. Weight issues are a common problem in our house cats and can lead to numerous health issues that can ultimately shorten your cat’s life.

Grooming is another process that will need to become a regular part of your routine with your new cat. Regular brushing and combing can help keep your cat’s hair shiny and free of mats and his skin healthy. I particularly like a deshedding tool called the Furminator, and my cats love being brushed with it.

In addition to brushing the hair, you’ll need to clip your cat’s toenails regularly and clean his ears as necessary. Oral care is also essential and brushing your cat’s teeth is the best way to keep your cat’s mouth healthy. However, if you can’t brush your cat’s teeth, other products such as Greenies can help keep your cat’s teeth and mouth healthy.

Dr. Lorie Huston

Image: Peter Radacsi / via Shutterstock

Comments  8

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  • bringing home a cat
    12/19/2011 05:22am

    So i have just brought home a cat that is 5 years old and all she does is wine i have never owned a cat but she is keeping me awake any helpful ideas

  • 12/19/2011 06:47am

    Is the kitty whining or is it just "talking"? Some kitties can be pretty verbal. Siamese kitties especially usually "talk" a lot.

    Has the kitty been to the vet for a checkup? If not, that's one of the very first things that should occur with a new pet. Talk to the vet to ask if it's normal behavior for this kitty.

  • 12/19/2011 12:21pm

    I agree that a visit to your veterinarian to make sure your new cat has a clean bill of health should be one of your first orders of business.

    It may be that your cat is crying because she is going through a stressful period trying to adjust to her new home. It may also be, as TheOldBroad mentioned, that she is just "talking". However, crying could also a symptom of pain or disease. Your veterinarian will be able to help you determine if that is the case.

    In the meantime, if you haven't tried Feliway, it might be a good way to help ease the anxiety associated with your cat's introductory period. Make sure also that her litter boxes and food/water station are easily accessible for her.

    If there is a lot of activity going on in your household, as many of are experiencing right now because of the holiday season, isolating your cat (with her litter box and food/water dishes) in a separate room might be a good idea. As TheOldBroad says, it might be a good idea to let her get used to your home one room at a time anyway.

    Good luck with your new cat!

  • New Kitty
    12/19/2011 06:43am

    It would be my suggestion that a new kitty be kept in one room for a few days while it gets used to its new surroundings. Just think how big a whole house must seem to a little kitty!

    If there are other critters in the household, that's another discussion for proper introductions.

  • 12/19/2011 05:11pm

    One thing I mention to people thinking about getting a kitten is to never judge a kitten by the first week or even month or so.

    My vocal, perpetually starving, manic cat hid under the sofa for the first two weeks. It was somewhere in the first month that she started bouncing off the walls. Her rather timid litter mate just moved right in and started claiming nap spots.

    You only know what kind of cat personality you're going to get if you adopt an older cat that has been fostered and can be described by the person fostering. Otherwise it's all a surprise :)

  • 12/20/2011 02:22am

    Well said, annet. You're absolutely right!

  • NEW KITTY AGGRESSIVE
    12/20/2011 10:35am

    I adopted a 6 yr. old kitty last Friday, Dec. 16. This is my 4th day with her. She is a beautiful light, brown torbie with large golden eyes. She was in the shelter 2 months. She was brought to the shelter as her family of 4 years developed "allergies." She lived with a small dog and cat. I don't know about children. At the shelter she eventually needed to be put in a room by herself as she could not handle the noise and other animals. Her paper work said she was "confused." A shelter worker became her friend and kitty would get on her lap. This is all. When I 1st saw her, I at on the floor and she came on my lap almost right away. She is very "shy." Hides all day. Under the bed or under covered chairs. She will come out in the morning for food and gets on the my bed and legs @ 5 AM. As the shelter said, she DOES like to be on laps. And she gets on my lap facing away from me. She lets me pet her around the head, very gently. She purrs. And as the shelter said, she does not like to be picked up and to move slowly around her. I am doing all these things and giving her as much time as she needs. However, I have found if there is anything she does not like, she hisses, scratches, bites. Like if I put my hand on her back or try to turn her around. Just slow, gently things. Basically I leave her alone to do at her own pace. However, I now feel she might have been abused. Any fast moves and she cringes. But she rushes to see me when I come home. She is very interested in my packages. And purrs. I am going to call the shelter today to get more of her history. Specifically, if she was adopted before me and returned. I pray she is not an aggressive kitty. I have had 3 cats and all was ok. Any comments would be appreciated.

  • 12/21/2011 09:25am

    Most cats just don't like being picked up. They'll tolerate it if you've proven in the past that you won't abuse your picking up privileges, but most hate it. I always try for "sitting" rather than "baby" - butt supported, paws on shoulder so they feel more in control.

    Is she declawed? I've had to be much, much more careful about figuring out how declawed cats like to be petted because they feel much more vulnerable than their clawed counterparts. Tummy scratching is often very fraught.

    And if she was abused there may not be anything you can do about the cringe reaction. In my family there have been two adoptees who had bad starts - one when I was growing up and one of my sister's cats - and even after years that cringe stays. It's quite sad :(

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