Adopting an Adult Cat

Adopting a rescue cat can be extremely rewarding. You and your family gain a loving companion, while at the same time giving a cat a second chance of finding a happy permanent home.

When you take your cat home, we will have done our best to make sure that it is the right cat for your circumstances, but it is down to you to ensure the experience is as stress free for your new cat as possible.

Equipment

Before you collect your chosen cat, you must make sure that you have the following items :-

1. A strong secure carrying box.

2. A litter tray ( Find out what type the cat has been used to before buying )

3. Cat-litter (Again, ask what type the cat is used to using)

4. Food bowls. One for wet food, one for dry food and one for water. A heavier type is best for water so that it doesn't get tipped over.

5. Cat Food, both wet and dry. You will be told what your cat prefers to eat, if you want to try changing this, do it very gradually so as not to cause a stomach upset.

6. A scratching post. Your cat will be used to using one, and this will help to prevent damage to furniture.

7. A bed. This is optional, a cat will usually find its own favourite place to sleep. A cardboard box is good enough, with something soft inside.

8. Toys. These are essential if you will be leaving your cat on its own for any length of time. Also for inter-action with your cat.

Arriving Home

Your new cat will need a secure room, with a comfy safe hideaway ( cardboard box with hole cut in the side ), a litter tray and food and water bowls. Food and water should be nearby, but some distance from the litter tray, and don't forget the toys to play with.

Be very patient, it could take weeks before he is confident enough to leave his room, or be in the same room as you. Cats are naturally curious, so give him time to adjust, and he will eventually be exploring his new home.

DON'T FORGET to make sure all doors and windows are closed. Block any areas he could hide and get stuck in, such as chimneys, behind washing machines and under various furniture.

Getting To Know Each Other

Leave your cat to explore his room before trying to force attention on him. Rescue cats may not have had much human contact, so could be slow to welcome affection.

A confident and friendly cat will be more trusting than a timid cat, who may be cautious, fearful, or even aggressive. Even if the cat seemed relaxed and friendly at the rescue centre, he may be nervous and timid in strange surroundings. Approach him on his level, and do not move suddenly or stare at him as he will see this as threatening. Offer him a friendly hand, possibly with a small treat, and call his name. If he offers his head for you to touch, purrs, and invites you to stroke his back, or even invites you to lift him up and stroke him, you could try putting him on your lap. However, let him jump down if he is uncomfortable and stroke him only if he shows you his whole body or rubs against your legs. Keep repeating his name, sit down and let him get on your lap. If your cat refuses to come out of his hiding place, just be patient, continue to visit him, calling his name and encouraging him, possibly with a small treat.

Feeding

Your fosterer will tell you the feeding routine your cat is used to and which foods he likes to eat. Feeding the diet he is used to will help to avoid tummy upsets. If he is stressed he might not eat for a few hours or even a couple of days, but don't worry, he'll let you know when he's hungry. If you are very worried contact your fosterer. Make sure water is available at all times, and avoid giving cows milk as this can cause diarrhoea. You can treat him to the special cat milk though.

Children

Let your cat get used to you before introducing other members of the family. NEVER leave children under five alone with him. Make sure children understand that he is not a toy and show them how to stroke him and hold him.

Other Pets

Your new cats room should be out of bounds to other pets. Give them separate food, water, beds and litter trays. Rub each cat with a towel and place it in the other cats area to let each become familiar with the other ones smell before they meet.

When you think your new cat is settled and relaxed put him in a cat carrier and let the resident cat into the room. Don't speak or touch them but watch their reactions for about 20 minutes, then take the resident cat out of the room and making sure the door is closed, release the new one from the carrier.

Repeat this everyday for a week before allowing the new cat to be free in the room when letting the resident cat in. Do this just before feeding time so you can feed them both in the same room but apart from each other. The food will give them something else to focus their attention on. If all goes well you can probably leave them to make friends, but if either cat is really aggressive, go back to the box routine for a bit longer.

Remember not to rush things, successful introductions can take up to three months.

If you have a resident dog, use the same routine but always keep the dog on the lead.

ALWAYS make a lot of fuss of both animals when they are behaving well together.

The Rest of the House

Once your cat is really relaxed in his own room, you can open the door for him to explore the rest of the house, making sure all windows, doors and cat-flaps are shut tight. Again it may take him hours or days to venture out, don't worry, let him take his time. Not until he is relaxed in the whole house, and happy with the family and other pets, should you think about letting him go outside.

The Great Outdoors

Keep your cat indoors for AT LEAST 3 weeks, preferably longer. During this time, call him often, to get him used to coming to his name. Give him a small treat when he comes to make it worth his while.

When you first open the back door, NEVER the front door, let him find his own way out. DO NOT force him or carry him out, and ALWAYS leave the door open for a fast retreat. It's always best on his first outing, to let him out before you feed him, then if he disappears he will come back when he's hungry. Keep calling him and give him a treat every time he comes, it is possible to train your cat to come in when you want it.

Once your cat is used to going in and out with the door always open, you can shut it and wait for him to ask to come back in. Of course you can also install a cat-flap, to give him more freedom and you less aggravation. Always buy a lockable one though, as there will be times when you don't want him to go out.

It's always best to keep your cat in at night as cats are most often killed on the road then. Common times are when darkness coincides with rush hours. Your cat will soon settle to the routine of being in at night, so just ignore his pleas to go out in the dark. If you have any problems at all, contact your fosterer.

ENJOY YOUR CAT