Congratulations on being the proud owner of a new cat. We would like to give you some basic advice on settling your cat into his new home, but do bear in mind there are no hard and fast rules. We hope the following information will help.

The first few days
When you first bring your cat home please make sure all your windows, doors and other exit points are firmly closed. Cats can and will squeeze through the smallest gaps. When you first let your new cat out of the pet carrier he may disappear and hide i.e. under the sofa or behind the fridge. Do not try and force him to come out. He will come out when he is ready. If you do force him out he’ll only become more timid and shy, making him hide even more. You’ll often find that he will appear when it is feeding time.

It is vital you do not expect the cat to settle in straightaway. It may take days or even weeks. The cat will settle in his own time.

Immediately on arrival, show your cat where his litter tray is kept – cats are inherently very clean creatures.

Do not over handle the cat in the first few days. Please remember that some cats hate being picked up, although they loved being stoked – all cats are individuals and must be treated as such. You cannot force a cat to become a lap cat.

House training
Cats and even the smallest of kittens are naturally very clean animals. Once they know where the litter tray is they will rarely foul other parts of the house. Please bear in mind that the “odd” accident can happen sometimes and this is usually for the following reasons:
  • Your cat is unable to get to his tray e.g. shut out of the room.
  • The litter tray is dirty. Cats don’t like to use soiled trays - they must be cleaned out at least once a day and preferably after each use.
  • If the cat has diarrhea he may not get to the tray in time!
  • Very nervous or upset cats will sometimes have accidents.
  • Cats can take a dislike to different types of litter. Fussy cats may even refuse to use the tray until he approves your choice of litter.
  • If your cat consistently has accidents in the same spot, it is a good idea to thoroughly clean the area with a biological washing liquid (do not use Dettol). Allow the area to dry then place the litter tray over the area. Over a period of days gradually move the tray back to its original place. For kittens it is often a good idea to have two litter trays, one upstairs and one downstairs.
Having a cat in the home is an exciting time for children. The relationship your children form will last for many years, providing happy moments and memories that will last a lifetime. However it is important to remember that this bond must be formed on mutual respect and good parental supervision. Above all else, children must temper themselves in the first few weeks to ensure your new cat does not feel “crowded”.

Ensure your children give your new cat a chance to settle in. Encourage them to play the game "who can ignore the cat the longest" during the first few weeks. It is important that the children are not allowed to smother the new cat i.e. hugging it around its neck, kissing its face and generally getting "too close". Do not to allow the cat to lick around their mouths or faces.

The most important thing is to stop the children continually picking up your cat/kitten. Cats are very light and extremely delicate and it is very easy to accidentally break their bones through rough handling or dropping accidentally. If your cat does not enjoy being picked up it will bite or scratch. This will not only upset and hurt your child but is disturbing for the cat too.

An animal must never be treated as a toy.

Cats need time away from noisy, active children. They need their own area in a peaceful corner.

You will have received instructions on your cat’s diet when you took your cat away from the Centre. If you wish to change his diet, do this gradually over a period of 5 to 7 days as this will avoid upsetting his stomach. Young kittens should have a least four meals a day, reducing to 3 meals at age 3-4 months and reducing further to 2 meals a day at six months.

Avoid changing your cat’s diet from the one he’s been used to at the Centre for several days after getting him home. Cats sometimes get diarrhoea from stress and the change to a new home is stressful enough for your new pet, without adding in the complication of a new diet. Make the change gradually over 5 - 7 days. If your cat does get diarrhoea do not feed him for 12 hours and then feed him a light diet of boiled fish or chicken until his stomach has settled. If diarrhoea continues for more than 24 hours, please consult a veterinary surgeon for advice.

Expect your new cat to have a small appetite whilst settling in. Don’t fall into the trap of offering him special foods to tempt him if he won’t eat initially or you’ll end up with a cat who’ll only eat tasty human food!

Other cats in the household
Introducing a new cat into a home where there is already a resident cat can be unsettling for everyone. Let the new cat know there’s another cat in the house right from the start to let the newcomer know he’s entering another’s territory. You may be very lucky and they get on straight away, but it's more likely there will be a period of adjustment that includes growling, hissing and spitting - even the odd fight. Do not force a confrontation, but also don’t try to intervene unless absolutely necessary. Cats need to find out who will be “top cat” in their social pecking order, and this is only something they can sort out between themselves. This is a natural process that could take several weeks - even if the outcome is to agree to disagree and find their own space. You might find that the original cat will sulk and spend time outside, but do try to coax him in as much is possible. It might even be best to keep him inside for a couple of days. Settling kittens into a home with an existing cat is often easier. Either way, don’t despair - just when you think they might never become friends, everything calms down - it really is worth it in the end.

Cats with dogs
You may have already introduced your dog by bringing him to Southridge before finally adopting your cat. If you did not get the chance to do this it’s very important to introduce each other under controlled circumstances. Use a long leash on your dog so that you can control any sudden confrontations. Remember, puppies will almost always chase a cat. For them this is simply a game rather than a sign of aggression - it’s not much fun for the cat though. The cat may retaliate when threatened and often resort to swiping out. Take care your dog doesn’t get injured by the cat. You may also find it helpful to section off an area of your home with a baby gate, so that the cat has an area where it can be left alone. Feed your pet’s in separate places, dogs eat much faster than cats so you may find your dog scoffing down the cat’s food as well as his own. Don't leave them alone in the same room until you are satisfied they are well-settled with one another.

Going out
It’s important to keep your cat inside for at least four weeks before he is allowed to go outside. This way he will be totally settled in his new home and well used to the household routine - including feeding time. These are all important to ensure he does not run off. When you first let him out for a brief stroll, do so early in the day (so you have plenty of daylight if you need it) and when he's hungry. Call him for food and he’ll come running. A useful tip is to rattle of a tin of cat sweets at each meal time. Shake the tin again when you want him to return from his first few outside forays and he’ll associate the sound with his meals. If you already have other cats or dogs do make sure they're not outside on his first trip out as they could chase him off before he has had time to get to know his new territory. Your cat might also be a little nervous of his new surroundings so it could be a good idea to keep the back door open and stay with him for a while.

No kitten should be let outside until after it has been neutered at 5 1/2 months old.

If your cat looks about to wander off, don't try to chase him back - he can run faster than you. If he does not come back, don’t panic. Keep calling him and shake the tin of cat treats. Wait a while and repeat. Cats usually return after nightfall at around dinnertime. If you have treated him well and he's happy, the last thing he wants to do go look for somewhere new to live; cats generally know when they're onto a good thing!

Should you sadly find your cat does not return, do not leave it long before you put up signs and ask neighbours to check sheds etc. Cats are real creatures of habit and if they're not home when they normally should be, something could be wrong. Advice on finding lost pets...

Southridge carries out vaccinations wherever possible and we do not charge for this service. In some circumstances is not possible for us to vaccinate prior to adoption e.g. for kittens under 9 weeks or if your adopted cat couldn’t be vaccinated due to its health and medical treatment received at the centre. Our staff will give you full details about which vaccinations have been given and when the next ones are due.

As soon as you have adopted your cat, contact your local vet and get your cat registered. Book an appointment for when it’s vaccinations are due and make sure your vet is aware of the vaccinations that have already been given at the centre. Please discuss with him the possibility of having your cat vaccinated against feline leukaemia. The vaccine we use does not include immunisation against leukaemia.

It is vitally important that the cat vaccinations are kept up-to-date. Not vaccinating your pet puts it at risk of contracting infectious diseases.

Fleas and worms
Cats who go outdoors are always more susceptible to getting fleas. Once you have fleas in your home the eggs can live in your carpet for many months before hatching, so preventative measures are by far the best course of treatment. Treat your cat on a monthly basis and always purchase your flea and worming products from the vet. We appreciate that treatments can be bought more cheaply from pet shops, but they are not nearly as effective. We would never advise using a flea collar as the cat can sometimes have an adverse reaction to the chemicals used in them.

Health and insurance
Take out pet insurance cover as soon as you take your new cat home. Pet insurance will cover medical bills now and in the future. Vet bills can be horrendously large and we strongly recommend pet insurance.

If your cat starts to show signs of ill health at any stage we strongly recommend you take him to the vet quickly. If conditions are left untreated for long periods of time the animal is caused discomfort in the condition will worsen. It will then become a lot harder and more expensive to clear up. Acting quickly will save you time and money.

Cats can die from a badly fitted collar that has caught on a branch. Collars can get trapped around the cat’s front leg and cause horrific injuries so there’s no point in putting a collar on your cat for decorative purposes only.

However, a collar and ID tag will improve the chance of finding your cat if he becomes lost (although every cat from our centre has been micro-chipped). A bell on the collar warns wildlife of the cat’s presence. If you do choose to put a collar on your cat please ensure that it is fully elasticated and properly fitted, and that it has an easy release clip.

Scratching furniture
One of the main complaints people have about cats is that they sometimes scratch furniture or carpets and that kittens occasionally climb up curtains. This behaviour is normally caused by frustration at being kept indoors when first brought home. A scratching post is a good way to divert some of this frustration. Try using a Cat-Nip spray: cats find it irresistible. If scratching becomes a real problem, a good remedy is to lightly spray a water pistol at your cat each time he scratches. Generally speaking, scratching normally stops when your cat starts venturing outside.

And finally...
We understand that, for a variety of reasons, cats occasionally have to be returned to us. If you do decide to return your cat, please do not just turn up with it as we may not have space available.

Please contact the centre in advance to discuss the problem as we may be able to help. At busy times, your call may go through to our answerphone. Please leave a message and our staff will call as soon as they can, but please be patient: our staff will make every effort to readmit your cat as soon as possible. If you do decide to return your cat, we will give you an appointment to bring it in.

Thank-you for adopting one (or more) of our lovely cats. We wish you many happy years together.