Congratulations for choosing one of our beautiful cats as your new companion. Cats are very intelligent and unique individuals with separate personalities; no two are the same. In the coming weeks you will discover your cat’s characteristics as you get to know each other and form a life long bond.
When you first adopt a cat or kitten, you will need to help them gently settle into their new home. A change of environment is always stressful for a cat, and it normally takes a few weeks for them to feel relaxed in their new habitat. Following the advice in this pack will help you to help them to successfully adapt to their new surroundings.
Know Your New Cat
Although cute and cuddly, cats share 95.6% of their genes with tigers -and have particular needs in order to fulfil their natural behaviours.
Since you are making the decisions your cat’s ability to choose where he /she feeds or goes to the toilet is compromised. Not basing those decisions on purely human consideration is important -a cat friendly home provides an environment that’s safe and stimulating whilst enabling him /her to perform natural behaviours. There is a wealth of knowledge and research you can find over the internet, and we have put together a few points that will get you started.
Cat Proofing Your House
As the cat is a territorial species, their environment is everything!
Cats nap a majority of the day and need a safe, calm places to sleep in –they prefer high perches so cat trees can be a great way to give them a nature like place to climb, hunt, sleep and scratch on. Cat trees are available in pet shops and vet clinics.
They also want to mark their territory and one way to do so is to scratch. Providing scratching posts (available at vets, supermarkets and pet shops) in central places in the household will protect your furniture from a cat attack.
Their toilet should be placed somewhere accessible yet calm so they do not feel threatened whilst using it. Cat litter boxes as well as litter to fill it with are sold in supermarkets, vet clinics and pet shops. You should always keep a good few centimetres of litter in the tray and clean it at least twice a day as cats are very tidy animals and may choose to not use their toilet if they find it dirty.
A happy cat has his /her food- and water bowls far from their toilet -just like us, they like to keep these two separate.
Cats love to camouflage and soon find all nooks and crannies in your home. Before bringing him /her home, ensure you block any unsafe ones so your cat is safe.
If you will allow your new cat outside, ensure there are adequate safeguards in place -but don’t let him /her outside until fully settled. This can take weeks and we recommend your cat stays indoors at least first three weeks of his /her life with you. Even if they show curiosity for outdoors.
As cats are playful hunters, they also run around, just like children, without worrying about your precious items. So especially in the beginning it is best to put delicate items in a safe place.
Cats like to chew on grass and plants, but some of them are irritating, dangerous and even deadly to them. Even non-poisonous plants can cause vomiting and diarrhoea so keep them out of reach. If your cat likes green stuff, purchase or grow your own cat grass.
There are many other cat hazards to consider, especially if you have chosen to adopt a kitten. It is always best to be mindful of cleaning supplies, medicines, curtain cords, plugs, leads and electrical cords as well as open windows and toilet seats that your kitten can trap or harm him- /herself on.
The best way to view cat proofing is to think baby/toddler proofing and you will get the gist.
Once your home is ready for your new family member it is time to bring him /her home and the following explains how to ease his /her shock and make integration to your family easier.
Bringing Your Cat Home
Your home is a new and unpredictable domain for your cat and he/she needs time and understanding and getting used to it. The kindest way to help your cat to adjust is to start the introduction in one small space -the Safe Room, where your cat can get his /her bearings, scent mark and get used to the sounds and smells of the house. This can be a bathroom, bedroom or even a storage room –a place where his /her food, water and toilet are placed, as well as a bed, preferably with his /her existing scent on it. It is important to let your cat get used to the new surrounding without the whole family loudly participating; just leave him /her to calm and visit regularly, one at a time without making too much contact. Let the cat come to you and never force anything.
If you are bringing a kitten home, remember that he /she has just left mummy and siblings behind and probably feels lost and lonely. A hot water bottle in a cat bed, a radio and a ticking clock can help him /her feel a little calmer. As will your cuddles.
Once your cat is calm and feels safe in the room -this can take minutes, hours or sometimes days, you can start giving them access to the rest of the house, leaving escape route back to the safe room open. Every cat experiences a new home differently so don’t rush. He /she will eventually settle in and trust you all the more for being supportive.
Being such sensitive creatures, cats react to change in many ways -sometimes displaying symptoms of illness. Having left a stressful shelter environment, they take a while to adjust, calm and build up their immune system again. Don’t be too alarmed with a cough or upset tummy, ask us and we will be there to advise.
Feeding Your Cat
Cats are carnivores and need a high protein diet. Whilst dogs lived with humans, sharing their food, cats used to live on small rodents they would hunt in and around human habitation. It is best to feed your cat a meat based, grain free wet cat food and no human left overs. Cats can be fussy eaters and you may need to try few options before you find your kitty’s favorite. Vet centres sell good quality wet- and dry food for cats and are happy to help you to find the right nutrition for your cat. You can also find some of these brands in pet shops, or buy basic cat food from any supermarket. Your cat’s longevity and good health greatly depend on what you feed him /her.
Cats are sensitive to changes in their diet and introducing new foods should be done slowly. There are also some human foods that are simply poisonous to cats. Below, we have listed a few but it is always best to consult your veterinarian or google if you have any doubts your cat may have digested something not suitable for them.
Alcohol, coffee, tea, chocolate, milk and other dairy products, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, citrus fruits… and the list goes on. To be safe, limit your cats diet to certified cat food.
Medicating Your Cat
Never self medicate. Cats are sensitive and most human- or other animal medicine is poisonous to them.
Microchipping Your Cat
A microchip identification tag is a small, non-toxic computer chip about the size of a grain of rice. The chip is inserted under the skin between your cat’s shoulder blades with a needle. A procedure that takes only a few minutes. It will not cause your cat discomfort or allergic reactions. Your cat’s microchip number is unique and with it your cat can be found if lost.
Please note, though that there are many other country specific requirements for traveling cats. At Paws, we will have ensured that your new kitty is microchipped and you will have received a vaccination book that has the microchip details in it.
Your next step in ensuring full benefits of the microchip is to register your cat in https://www.petlog.org.uk/. It is a database where anyone finding a cat in the UK can search and find owner’s information and it is up to you to ensure your details are there.
Vaccinating Your Cat
Just as with humans, vaccinating your cat helps to protect him/ her against several serious and life threatening diseases. All kittens should receive their core vaccinations with the initial vaccination at 8-9 weeks of age, and a second injection 3-4 weeks later. Booster vaccinations are given every 12 months to ensure a good level of continuing protection.
At Paws, we ensure your cat is up-to-date with all their vaccines and if they go home with you before the course is completed, we request that you take them in for their boosters.
Neutering/Spaying Your Cat
Around 85% of litters are un-planned! Neutering is the kindest thing a caring owner can do to protect their cat. Cats don’t want or choose to have babies the way people do. It’s only hormones which urge them to mate; they’re not aware it will result in kittens! Spaying /neutering your cat will not make them feel like they’ve ‘missed out’, in fact they will have a happier life without urges that disrupt their balanced and happy life with you
A female kitten can get pregnant while she’s still a kitten herself, so should be spayed from four months to protect her from an unplanned pregnancy. Un-spayed female cats come into season, sometimes every few weeks. This is frustrating for her and for you. She will try to escape, and ‘call’ loudly for mates. She may end up chased far from home by males and end up lost, pregnant, and living rough. And caching viruses such as FeLV (feline leukaemia). Un-spayed females are also more at risk of developing cystic ovaries and the potentially fatal pyometra.
Neutering your male kitten will help keep him safe when he doesn’t get into constant fights over females, resulting in horrific bite injuries and viral infections -think consequent high vet bills. Also when neutered, he doesn’t feel the urge to wander off in search of a mate and get lost or killed on the roads. Not to mention eliminating the very unpleasant smell of cat urine that un-neutered males spray in your house to mark their territory.
Neutering also helps the general cat population; the less un-planned litters there are, the more chance of a loving home our existing kitties have. All our Paws cats need to be neutered or spayed and if yours isn’t yet, you completing it shows you really care!
Can I Arrange My Pet’s Relocation or Must I Use an Agent?
This is your choice, and doing the paperwork yourself will be cheaper as there will not be agency fees. However, your research must be up-to-date and you are responsible for getting your pet’s medical procedures done and for transporting them to and from the airport.
If you have missed anything in the process, your pet will not be able to fly.
At a time when your family is relocating, it might be a stressful to also handle your pet’s travel. The benefit of agents means they handle all of the above and they will know all the laws, any changes and can advise you on pet taxis and what to do at your destination too.
It is also advisable to obtain several quotes from different agents or vets (as several vets in Qatar are also relocation agents). Prices vary according to the volume of your pet, airway bill, the airline used, the cost of certification, vet checks and any other hidden costs.
Will My Pet Be OK?!
It is natural to feel nervous but hundreds if not thousands of animals are transported every week around the world. It is important that you remain calm with your pet and make sure crate training is a happy experience for them before they travel. At the airport, speak to the staff. They will know an animal is on board but you might find it reassuring to let them know personally.
Keep your agent’s telephone number handy and ask them for texts updating you
If your pet is going into an animal centre at the destination point (for example London Heathrow’s Animal Centre) have their contact too as well as any pet taxis, vets and all the people involved, for peace of mind.
Your pet may be a little grumpy at the other end and out of sorts for a few days but soon it will be like they lived in your new home forever!
And most importantly, be proud of yourself! You have made a commitment to your pet and your family will stay together throughout the experience of relocating.