ADOPTER CAT CARE INFORMATION
Cat care information for new adopters
Much of this will be mentioned during the homecheck but is easily forgotten with the excitement of welcoming a new cat or kitten into your home. Below is some basic information to get you started on the right foot whether you are a first time cat owner or an experienced one. If you have any questions, queries or are unsure of anything please just ask!
Your new cat will need to start off in a safe and quiet room with a door that closes and its food, water, litter tray, bed (or box) and ideally somewhere they can hide and somewhere they can get up a bit higher (such as a bed or a chair). Cats in general don’t like change (although they do usually adapt quite quickly!) and will likely be nervous to start with. It is not cruel to start off in a small room as they like to work outwards from a small safe place and explore their new home in their own time. A spare bedroom or study for example, is ideal to start with but busy family rooms and kitchens are not. They only need to stay in this room until they are ready to come out and you should visit them often and spend time together so you can start to get to know each other. Depending on the cat (they are all different) this could be anything from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks but on average it is a day or two.
A cat placed in too large an area too soon will often take refuge under/on top of/behind furniture and it will be difficult for them to feel safe and secure enough to settle in properly. Your cat will soon let you know when he is ready to explore further as he’ll want to get through the door as soon as you open it! Let the cat do everything in its own time – some will want to explore their whole new home straight away and others will take it gradually, slowly sniffing everything and going back and fore to their room until they feel comfortable. Cats rely very much on scent to feel safe and secure and will likely rub themselves against you and things in the home (such as furniture) to mix their scent with yours and that of the home. They have scent glands in various places but most are concentrated around the face and don’t worry, we can’t smell the scent they leave!
Please note: If you have cats or other pets already, do not attempt to introduce them until the new cat feels safe and secure in his new home. Introductions should be done gradually starting with scent swapping prior to meeting. If you need advice on introducing new cats please ask.
Things you will need initially
Cat carrier - a plastic or wire carrier with a secure closing mechanism. Make sure it is big enough for the cat!
Litter tray and cat litter - make sure the tray is big enough for the cat – they come in all shapes and sizes these days. To start with, use the same litter the cat has been used to at the foster home (it’s that “cat’s dislike change” thing again). Once settled you can gradually change to a different type if you and the cat want to.
Food and drink - the fosterer will tell you what the cat is currently eating and also its likes and dislikes. Again you should stick with the food the cat is used to until settled. If you then want to change to something different, do it gradually over a few days by mixing the old and new together. Cats usually do well on a mixture of wet and dry food (i.e. sachets or tins plus cat biscuits) and it is usual to feed twice a day. Despite popular belief, cats do not need milk and indeed many are lactose intolerant so will end up with an upset tummy if they drink milk. Fresh water should be available at all times and placed away from the food. (In the wild, cats would choose not to drink in the same place that they have eaten, to avoid cross-contamination. Research has shown that keeping the water bowl away from the food may encourage your cat to drink more often although many seem to prefer a dirty puddle outside!)
Somewhere to sleep - a cardboard box will be fine to start with, lined with a fleece blanket or towel. Some cats like cat beds but others just prefer to lounge about the house, so until you know what your cat prefers, it’s probably best not to buy an expensive cat bed. If your cat is on the shy side, an igloo bed to hide in may be preferable. Again the fosterer should be able to advise you on this and the cat may come with its own bed already.
Scratching post or pad - again the fosterer might know the cat’s scratching habits (vertical, horizontal or not at all). Cats scratch for a variety of reasons: it relieves anxiety, it’s a form of exercise, it hones their nails, it strengthens and stretches their muscles and it marks their territory (they have scent glands in their paws). In terms of cat psychology, scratching is a vital part of a cat’s everyday life. Also, providing a scratching post can go some way to deter them from using your furniture instead.
Toys - some cats love toys and others just aren’t interested. Wait until you have got to know your cat before spending lots of money on expensive toys that they then may well ignore. Sometimes simple things are the best – most cats just love a cardboard box or two! Screwed up balls of paper, string and ping pong balls are often seen as great toys by a cat. Many cats also love toys containing catnip and will often go a bit crazy rolling around and rubbing themselves on it. (Catnip is actually a herb of the mint family and not all cats will react to it at all. It seems to have no effect on kittens under about 3 months old either).
Things to be aware of
Cats can squeeze themselves into the smallest of spaces and wriggle through the tiniest of gaps so it is vital that any windows and doors the cat can access are kept closed especially during the first few weeks in their new home and until they can safely start to venture outdoors. If a cat escapes from a new home, it is very hard to get them back as they don’t know where “home” is yet so are unlikely to find their way back. They will most likely be very scared as well and will hide and be extremely difficult to find. A cat can jump higher than you think so even a “top window” that you think may be OK to leave open can be a very inviting opportunity for a cat. They can also appear from nowhere and speed through an open door in the blink of an eye so it is extremely important to remain vigilant especially in the first few weeks.
We don’t recommend putting collars on cats as they can be very dangerous (a paw and the bottom jaw can get caught in them for example and they can also get caught on branches etc). If you really must put a collar on your cat, please make sure it is a quick release one and that it is fitted correctly.
We also suggest keeping cats in at night if you can (although this is not always possible as again all cats are different and some will just not tolerate being kept in) as a cat is more likely to be run over in the dark and sadly more likely to be stolen at night. Keeping your cat in at night also gives some protection to the nocturnal wildlife out there and also stops you worrying about where on earth your cat is in the middle of the night! As your cat will not be allowed outside for the first few weeks anyway it is a good opportunity to get them used to the routine of coming in at night time (and cats love routine as much as they dislike change!) when they do start to explore the outside.
Be aware of plants and cut flowers that are poisonous to cats and keep them out of your cat’s reach or better still remove them from the home altogether. Lilies in particular can be deadly and ALL parts of the plant and flowers are poisonous not just the pollen that they so easily shed (even the water that cut ones are standing in). Plants that grow from bulbs (such as daffodils and other spring flowers) are also poisonous to cats. Although most adult cats are sensible enough not to go eating something that is poisonous, it is good to be aware of the dangers as they may want to “play” with any that are in the house. If you are not sure, please do check. If you are adopting kittens, you should keep ALL plants and flowers well out of their reach.
Avoid feeding your cat before a car journey (even just a short trip to the vet) as it will likely make them sick on the journey which will be upsetting for both them and you!
Letting your cat out for the first time
As long as your cat is neutered, microchipped and vaccinated, after 2-3 weeks of settling into their new home, your cat should be ready to start venturing outdoors (if they want to). They will have scent marked the home and got to know you and should be into a routine with mealtimes, play, sleep etc so now know that this is “home” and feel safe and secure. You should let them out on a day when you are at home all day and do it in the morning before their breakfast (idea being they will be hungry so want to come back fairly soon). Let the cat take its own time - ideally open the door and go out into the garden and the cat will follow you out. However, they are all different, some may run out and be gone for hours exploring their new territory while others may take it very slowly sniffing each leaf and blade of grass as they gradually work their way further out. Try not to worry too much if your cat “disappears” to start with, they will come back when they are hungry. Never try to force the cat to go out if it doesn’t want to.
Vet and medical care
Once your new cat arrives, you should register them with a vet local to you. Many vets offer a monthly plan where you pay a set amount each month to cover routine care such as flea and worm treatment and annual booster vaccinations – speak to the individual vet practice about this to find out if and what they offer.
It would also be wise to take a note of your vet’s out of hour’s service phone number in case of an emergency. It’s not the sort of thing you want to be trying to find in a critical situation.
All cats over 4 months old will have been neutered and microchipped before leaving New Moon. Some will also have been fully vaccinated or have started their vaccinations. All cats and kittens will have had worm and flea treatment and been checked over by a vet.
It is your responsibility to ensure kittens are neutered and chipped at 4 months old and that ALL adopted cats and kittens are vaccinated.
Always follow your vet’s advice with regard to flea and worm treatment and do not use “over the counter” products. They may be cheaper but in many cases they don’t actually work and in a worryingly increasing amount of cases they cause nasty reactions which can prove fatal. They are just not worth the risk.
You also might want to take out pet insurance as vets bills for non-routine treatment can be extremely costly these days. There are many insurance companies out there now offering pet insurance and like any other insurance it is worth shopping around, comparing prices and asking other people for recommendations.
Beware that some cheaper policies will only cover a specific condition for 12 months so if you needed to claim again for the same condition the following year it wouldn’t be covered (much like human health insurance). The main types of polices available Lifetime, Maximum Cover and Time-Limited (although different Insurers may use different names. The graphic below shows when pay-outs would be made for these 3 types:
Once you think you have found the insurer and policy that is right for you and your cat, check with your vets that they are happy to deal with them directly. This can save a lot of stress or hassle when it comes to paying for treatment.
Once you have adopted the cat, we will transfer the microchip into your name. You will receive an email or a text from the chip company with a code to log in and update your details.
The basic adoption donation amount per cat or kitten is currently £80. This can be paid directly to the fosterer when you collect your cat or via bank transfer or Paypal (details are on the adoption agreement form). A lot of the cats we care for and rehome cost us a lot more than this but we are entirely self-funded and run by volunteers so we rely completely on donations to continue helping cats in need.
Thank you for adopting from us – we wish you many happy years together!