For those who are still researching or just starting to look into adopting a new kitten, we highly recommend our article "How to Purchase A Pedigreed Kitten or Cat" on this website!
So, you have finally decided to add a new kitten or cat to your family. How exciting! And yet, of course you are going to be concerned about how the other members of your family will react, especially any dogs, other cats, and small babies (or babies on the way). There actually are quite a few things you can do to help ease the transition of your new furry feline family member into your home and life.
Whether your new feline is coming from a reputable cattery, rescued from the pound or found as a stray, or from any other source, the first order of business is to QUARANTINE your new kitty from your other animals, and especially from your other cats. This is recommended by breeders and vets for many reasons - mostly for the protection of your other animals in case your new kitty has some sort of illness or parasite, to keep it from spreading, and also to allow your new kitty time to get adjusted to her new home before putting her in a face to face situation with her new furry housemates!!
Most breeders allow you 72 hours to get your kitty completely checked out for your vet in order to honor their health guarantee. This is important to do even if you haven't purchased the kitten from a breeder. Unless you have written, recent records provided to you with your kitty, bring in a fresh fecal sample to your vet, and in addition to having your kitty checked for fleas, ear mites, any other sign of illness or distress (checking heart and lungs, mobility, etc.), be sure to request that your kitty be given the "combination FeLV/FIV blood test", which is usually less than $45.00 and most vets will be able to have the test run right in their own facility, with results within 10-30 minutes. When collecting a fecal sample from your kitty, try to scoop with as little litter as possible, and put in a sealed plastic baggie, marked with date and your name and phone number. Put the baggie in the refrigerator until leaving for the vet. Fecal samples are best if collected within 12 hours of your vet appointment. Many vets will allow you to drop off a fresh fecal sample, and for approximately $15.00, will test it for you without charging you an additional office visit fee. The fecal test will show whether or not your kitty as any parasites or worms, including coccidia, giardia, toxoplasmosis, etc. If the fecal sample is negative, usually no medications for worming need to be given. If the fecal sample is positive, your vet will prescribe the appropriate medication for the problem. It is very important that you treat your new kitty completely until their fecal sample tests negative before putting your new kitty in with your other cats. This is also true with any other medical condition, including URI's (upper respiratory infections, commonly known as "kitty colds"), ear mites, fleas, etc., to avoid the possibility of spreading the condition to your other felines.
What do we mean by "quarantine"?? Well, we mean keeping your new kitty in a separate area from your other animals. In addition to being able to make sure your new feline is healthy and not going to spread any diseases or parasites to your other cats, this quarantine period also allows your newest family member time to more gradually adjust to her new home and environment. Your bedroom is a great place to start your new kitty off in your home. Be sure she has a litter box (it's best if you can use the same style box and litter that she has been used to, at least at first), and fresh food and water. It is important to keep her on the same food that she is used to eating, and that any changes in her diet should be done extremely gradually, or she will be likely to have problems with diarrhea.
This is a very good time to be sure that your new kitty gets to know YOU extremely well, and begin to feel confident that this is her new home, and that you love her, and that she will be staying. If you can, be sure to provide her with a scratching post -- even a small one -- in your room for her to scratch on. Be sure to reinforce at all times the importance of teaching your new kitten or cat that human hands are for giving and receiving love, NOT for biting and playing. Use plastic drinking straws and soft kitty toys for your kitten's teething needs, and when playing with your new feline, always have a toy or straw in your hand. Remember that people (especially men) who are used to having DOGS (not cats), may tend to play a little aggressively with the new kitten or cat. This behavior needs to be stopped immediately, as you do not want your feline to turn into an aggressive adult. In addition, encouraging rough play is not what you want to be doing prior to introducing your feline to the other furry members of your family and thereby encouraging hostile or fighting types of responses.
During this quarantine time, there are some things you can be doing to facilitate the eventual face to face introduction of the new kitty to her other furry family members. Keep a little sleeping blanket handy for the new kitty, and also have one for your other household pets. After a few days, switch the blankets, so that each becomes accustomed to the smells of the other animal(s). You can also use the "under the door" method of gradually getting acquainted, by letting the animals sniff each other underneath your bedroom door; and, you can very gradually try propping your door open just enough so that the newcomer and the established furry family members can actually see each other, yet still have the safety of their own areas and no threat of direct confrontation.
Another trick is to very gradually (after your new kitty has become comfortable enough to eat and drink consistently well in her new home) start moving her food and water dishes closer to the door on the inside of your bedroom, while simultaneously moving the food and water dishes of your other pets closer to the door on the outside of your bedroom. The idea is to facilitate your pets being able to eat and drink calmly within a close but safe proximity to each other. Remember, it is very important to take your time, and behave calmly when introducing a new kitten to your home and family. Your number one goal should be to avoid intensively fearful and/or aggressive confrontations or meetings, as these responses may become habits, especially if they are repeated on several occasions. At Foothill Felines, we use and HIGHLY recommend the Feliway Comfort-Zone plug-ins (see below). These plug-ins gently release calming feline pheromones ... the same ones that your kitty releases when she rubs her face against things to help define and soothe her world. These plug-ins are especially helpful during introduction times like this.
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RESCUE REMEDY FOR PETS
~ Click on link above to order this homeopathic product. Bach Rescue Remedy (alcohol free) for Pets is for dogs, cats, horses, and birds - it's been recommended by veterinarians for animals worldwide as an emergency remedy to help calm pets in all kind of stressful situations. Just add several drops daily to your pet's drinking water. Used and recommended by Foothill Felines. ~
NUVET PLUS FELINE SUPPLEMENT
~ Click on image above for more information and to order this uniquely powerful nutritional supplement for felines at our Foothill Felines breeder discount (which is up to 50% less than what veterinarians charge). Used and recommended by Foothill Felines, for vibrant results with all ages, weights and breeds of cats. Developed by scientists, veterinarians and formulators to enhance the health and lives of cats, this unique Nu- Vet supplement contains many important minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and vitamins INCLUDING taurine, calcium, blue green algae, brewer's yeast, and much more. Extremely valuable for your cat or kitten during periods of stress or illness. ~
FELIWAY PLUG-INS & SPRAY
~ Click on links above for more information and to order these exceptionally calming products for felines. Used and recommended by Foothill Felines!! Wonderful for cats of all ages, weights, and breeds of cats. Contains natural cat pheromones for stress relief and eliminating need for cats and kittens to mark or exhibit other unwanted behaviors. ~
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