When I recently adopted a 3 and a half year old cat from the local Humane Society I thought it would be easy, especially since my family has had cats for the past 8 years so I figured I knew a thing or two. Little did I know that some of the simple mistakes I made could lead to quite frustrating (and somewhat costly) situations, for both myself and the cat. I thought I'd share 5 tips I've learnt in the past month that will make the integration of a new cat to your home a lot easier.
Cats are minimalists too.
Cats like to keep things simple. They do not need fancy cat litter. I repeat, they DO NOT (notice the use of bold, italicize and underline here) need fancy cat litter. I learnt this the hard way when I decided to buy the 'lightweight' scented cat litter for my new friend. He used the litter box for the first week we had him, and then the second week decided he no longer wanted to use it and turned our spare room into his litter box. I shit you not. Pun intended. We tried everything from removing the lid of the litter box, moving the litter box to a different location, and even bought an entirely new litter box (different size and shape) thinking one of those things would fix the issue but it didn't. Finally it dawned on us that the cat litter may be what was causing the issues so we bought a unscented heavy duty clumping cat litter and voila, no more accidents. It's not only saving our pockets as it is about half the price, but it is saving our carpet and my sanity too.
Too much of a good thing, is a bad thing.
Once we had resolved the litter box issue, we ran into another. We noticed our cat had developed a swollen bottom lip. After a little googling and self diagnosis, we determined it could be a food allergy or a seasonal allergy. We took our cat to the vet, and it was confirmed that the swelling was caused by some kind of allergy - most likely a food allergy. Our cats medical records hadn't indicated that he had this problem in his past so it was likely something that we had introduced to him that wasn't agreeing with him. We had been feeding him quite the variety of foods - 10 different flavours of wet cat food, regular dry cat food, and 4 different kinds of treats. For a cat that has come out of the Humane Society and is accustomed to basic food, all this fancy stuff was having a bad effect on him. Keep it simple and feed your cat basic food with a few varieties but not too much selection. Keep in mind that feeding cats a mixture of wet and dry cat food is ultimately the best for them.
A odour destroying and stain removing cleaner will become your BFF.
I have found 2 hair balls conveniently barfed right on the edge of my carpet in the past 3 weeks. I would like to point out that had the cat moved 2 inches to the left he would have reached tiled floor, but alas the carpet it was. I had bought a odour destroying and stain removing cleaner just weeks before in preparation for his arrival and boy oh boy am I ever so happy I had that stuff on hand. You pair the hairballs with the litter box troubles we were having and Bob's your Uncle, I've already used half a bottle of this stuff. If your cat is having trouble with hair balls you can buy hair ball treats that help, and I would also suggest getting a good brush (I prefer the rubber pronged brushes over the metal as it is gentler and massages your cats skin). The cleaner is the bees knees and gives me piece of mind that even if we do have hairballs or accidents, my carpets aren't destroyed.
Burrito wrapping your cat in a towel is a perfectly good way of getting them into their cat carrier.
When we had to take our cat to the vet (to have his swollen lip seen to) getting him into the carrier was hard. The struggle was real. Tears, shallow breathing, and a white surrender flag were all part of the party. After unsuccessfully getting him into his carrier the first time we tried, and not wanting to stress
him me out too much we decided to wait till the next day before we tried again. The next day while I was at work my Mum and Husband had a much better approach: when he was roaming the house they gently grabbed him with a towel and wrapped him up burrito-style, and put him in the carrier. This makes it safer for him as his arms and legs aren't flailing and can't get caught anywhere, and it saved their arms from the sharp little claws he came equipped with.
Don't take it personally.
It is easy to take it personally when our cat hisses at us, runs away, or shuns us. Humans are emotional creatures, while cats are more instinctual, so it is important you don't take it personally. Your cat is either telling you that they don't like what it is you are doing (perhaps petting them too much or trying to put them in a carrier) or they are trying to tell you they are scared. Deep breaths will do wonders for you, and make sure you try to access the situation logically. Cats react to situations, so it is your job to figure out what it is your cat is reacting negatively to. Just because your cat hisses at you, doesn't mean he doesn't love you. Once you figure out what was bothering him you can fix the problem or resolve the situation and you'll get purrs and cuddles in no time.
These are 5 of the things I have learnt in the past month we've had our new cat home with us. He is such a wonderful little creature, and with all good things, patience and time is needed. Now that we've solved the litter box issue and had his lip seen to things are settling down and he is purring up a storm which is always a good sign.
If you have any tips for cat parents, I'd love to hear them!