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Bringing Kitty Home

An answer guide to your most purrplexing kitty questions

We adopted a cat today. How do we help him adjust to our family?

Provide your new cat with a quiet, safe place to spend the next few days, preferably a bedroom that doesn’t get a lot of traffic. Set up a litter box, and food/water dishes near the cat carrier. Leave the cat in the carrier for about a 1/2 hour. After things have calmed down, open the carrier door, but do not force the cat to come out. He may run and hide or not come out at all. Give him time. Forcing attention on a cat that doesn’t want attention will not only stress him out, but it could get you scratched or bitten. Give your new cat plenty of time to explore this room without any distractions (children or other pets). Keep in mind some cats are ready for instant family attention, and some aren’t. Cats can take anywhere from a few days, to a few weeks to adjust completely. Over the next few days, introduce members of the family slowly and only for short periods of time. If your cat seems agitated, leave him alone to calm down. Allow your cat to explore safe areas of the house with supervision until you and the cat are comfortable with the new living arrangements.

We adopted a new cat this weekend. Is it too soon to introduce her to the family dog?

Yes, it is too soon! The cat should be acclimated to the family and environment before you add a dog to the equation. Once the kitty has had a week or so to adjust to her new surroundings and everyone seems happy, put the kitty in her carrier and set it in the middle of the room. Bring the dog in on a leash. Do not allow the dog to approach the cat at first. After a few minutes, slowly let the dog approach the carrier. Your cat may hiss and spit; the dog may get excited and bark. After a few minutes, put the dog outside or in another room, and let the cat out of the carrier. Don’t worry if when you let kitty out, she just runs and hides. She will come out eventually. Give her time to sniff the room. Switching the animals from room to room will help the transition. You can also rub your dog with a towel and put it under the cat’s food bowls or in her bed. Transferring their scents will help them get used to one another. Slow introductions prevent fearful and aggressive problems from developing. If either animal exhibits signs of aggression, separate them, and start the introduction process once again with slow, small steps. Your dog and cat may never be friends. The cat will learn to tolerate the dog, and the dog will learn to stay away from the cat. This will take some time but dogs and cats can cohesively live in the same house with little or no problems.

We have had our cat for about a week and she has stopped using the litter box. Is there a problem?

There are several reasons that would cause a cat to stop using the litter box: stress, illness, or confusion. Consider the locations of the litter box, the type of litter, the amount of litter boxes, and the cleanliness of the box. To some cats, location is very important. The litter box should be kept in a spot that affords your cat some privacy yet is conveniently located for cleaning purposes. When it comes to litter, if kitty was on Tidy Cats Scented and you switched to unscented clay, kitty might be confused. Try mixing litters, adding a little more of your brand and less of kitty’s brand each time. Urine and feces should be scooped out daily, and litter should be dumped weekly depending on the number of cats. As a rule you should have one box per cat. If kitty is still urinating out of the box, try secluding her to a small area such as a bathroom. Give her a clean litter box, her food and water bowls, and a comfy bed. She should stay in the bathroom for one week after she starts using the box again. Her potty problems might also be a space issue. She may be too scared to go all the way across the living room to the laundry room to use her box. Try adding a box near where she hides out during the day.

If elimination issues continue you will want to make sure your new cat isn’t ill. A UTI or urinary tract infection can cause kitty to stop using the box and start using your floor. Think of it as “Hey, I don’t feel good and I need your help!” Symptoms of a UTI include frequent trips to the box resulting in little or no urine, blood in the urine, or howling while attempting to urinate


Why is our cat clawing the furniture, and how can we stop this destructive behavior?

Your cat’s desire to scratch is hard wired instinct, not a behavioral problem. Claws are in-disposable feline tools; cats use them to hunt, play, groom, exercise, mark territory, and defend themselves. Scratching feels good and is impossible to prevent! Redirect your cat’s natural need to scratch by offering satisfying alternatives. Cardboard scratchers are cheap and refillable, plus cats love them. Adding a little cat nip won’t hurt either. When you notice kitty scratching on the couch, say “No!” and put her where she can scratch. You may also spray the kitty with a water bottle while saying “No”. Praise kitty for using HER scratching place and not your couch. Yelling or spanking your cat may only cause her to do naughty things on purpose! Double sided tape is a great way to protect the corners of your couch. Cats hate the feeling so they learn to leave it alone. Provide your cat with many different types of toys. Colorful pipe cleaners twisted up make great toys and provide hours of amusement…. plus, they are cheap! Paper bags from the store are also a cheap thrill for kitty. Keeping your cat busy with toys will lessen her need to claw your furniture and save you a lot of grief.