So you got your (new) cat and need to create a cat safe environment for him. This is important both for solely indoor cats and cats that are allowed to be outside. In this guide I want to explain to you how to create a safe environment for your cat(s) and what to remove or add to their environment to make it extra safe.
Cats love to explore and so they might want to walk anywhere and everywhere. When they just entered a new building or room, they will go along all the walls to inspect. This is very good visible at the veterinary visits. They jump off the table and research every nook and corner of the room, walk along the wall of the entire room, inspect the windows and listen to the noises in the hall.
That inspection round they also do in a new house, or outside in a new place. At the veterinary the reason is probably to get out. They smell different cats and do not feel safe. Naturally you want them to feel at home and completely safe in your own house, so the question remains how to make our environment safe for your cat.
To answer that question we are going to look at some different approaches to make it all safe for your cat. We are going to look at where you will allow your cat, how you introduce them to the rest of the family, where to place food, water and litter boxes, what dangers your house has for cats and in what way to give your cat a place they can call their home.
Where Do You Allow Your Cat?
When you bring a new cat to a new home, it is important that the cat slowly get more and more space. You start out small, by putting them in a smaller room. This is just to make sure they get used to the new smells and surrounding sounds. Possibly you got also other animals in the house they need to get used to. Smells and noises of other animals in the house need to be inspected.
Other humans also are inspected and smelled. A room comes with a lot of different smells. Think about the smells that set themselves into furniture, carpets and sofa’s for example. If you smoke inside the house, this will also be noticeable. If you use a certain cleaning agent for textile, this is another smell. Plants, flowers, perfume, air fresheners, outside smells, everything affects the smell of a room.
So start small, so that your cat doesn’t get overwhelmed at once and perhaps scared by that. A good example of a smaller space is for example a smaller bathroom in the house or a smaller hobby room.
We tend to use the bathroom or a hobby room for new cats that need to get introduced to a new home full of our already living here cats. They get this room for a couple of days alone. We put a bowl of water, a bowl of food and a litter box in there, so they can feel at home there first of all entirely alone, before dwelling into the rest of the house and other members of the family.
When your cat gets used to the environment, you can slowly add more rooms to their allowed space. Do make sure that your other pets do not go for the kill, the moment the new cat gets allowed in more rooms.
Adequate Access To Water, Food and Litter box
Your cat will need food, water and a litter box to go on the toilet. Food should be of good enough quality so that it provides in the right nutritional needs of a cat. Especially when you give your cat dry kibble, you will have to provide additional fresh water to drink, but also those on wet food still need access to water.
We installed two cat fountains to keep the water fresh and filtered.
Food (and water) should be in dishes that are safe for your cats. Plastic bowls can get scratched easily and bacteria will be trapped within. Only glass, metal and ceramic bowls are good for food serving.
With a litter box you make sure that your cats have a place to void their urine and feces. It is an absolute must, to install into your house if you plan to keep your cat(s) indoor only and it can be of use for outgoing cats when winter with snow hits or when you have to leave them inside for some reason (while on holiday or because the vet says so).
The rule of thumb by litter boxes is the amount of cats + 1 is the total amount of boxes you ‘should’ be having within your household. We have however 8 cats and are not having room for 9 litter boxes, but if you got 2-3 cats you should generally have more than 1-2 litter boxes installed in your house.
Litter boxes come in different shapes and sizes, some are automatic while others need some manual scooping and cleaning. There are a lot of accessories you can get for them too, such as better scoops, different types of litter, litter box liners and litter trapping mats to put next to them.
Cats Outside Or Indoor Only?
As most people live in the city, letting your cat go wandering outside non-supervised is a bad idea. Cats do get very easily distracted and cannot watch for traffic around them. Also, predators might take them and eating prey from nature might give them all sorts of nasty illnesses and infections.
The outdoors is not the safest place, but there are still options for those with a garden or if you feel that your cat needs fresh air. There are options available to build and attach an outdoor enclosure, such as a catio connected to your window, balcony or as an extending building of your house. There are even fencing systems that keep your cat in your back garden.
For those living in less urban more nature area’s, simply installing a cat door can help your cat find their way outside. We live in nature and are far away from motorway or busy roads and thus they can go outside freely, but we do plan to build an enclosure as well in the coming Spring.
Indoor Cat Furniture
To keep your indoor cats happy, you might want to install some cat furniture in the form of trees and cat beds. We even have installed some furniture attached to our walls with hammocks and cat beds. Our cats that love to be high and dry, love to use these places, while our bush dwelling cats stay low and within cat tunnels and cat houses.
They are not all that expensive and it makes sure that there are still places in the house where you can sit down and relax, without having cats everywhere or cat hairs everywhere.
Cat furniture also has places for them to scratch and sharpen their nails. Cat scratching furniture makes sure that your expensive furniture doesn’t get all scratched up and ruined.
To keep your indoor cat active and entertained it is essential to have cat toys available to them. There is a great variety of toys available for them. There are toys that you need to use, to play with them and there are toys such as balls and mice with and without catnip that they can play with on their own.
We play with our cats with those mice and a tail connected with a wire to a stick. While going through the room with the stick, playful cats will follow and jump and catch the mouse.
The younger playful kittens love to play with a ball or a mouse on their own. Especially balls are a big favourite, but also other remarkable non-toy objects have become a toy for them.
Depending on the fur type, your cat might also need different cat care. All cats groom themselves and with that a lot of their hair or fur ends up in their stomach. Hair in their stomach can cause blockages that are a potential danger to your cat.
To prevent them from swallowing too many hairs, regular brushing of their fur with a good brush is required. It will also make sure there is less hair in your house floating about that can cause allergic reactions to you and your guests. Cat hair also sticks very well to your furniture and clothing it truly puts a challenge on keeping everything clean and tidy.
The only exception is perhaps the Sphynx cat as they barely have any fur at all, but these cats need special salves and clothing to protect them from drying out and getting too cold.
A lot of cat breeds also require to be washed and shampoo’d. It isn’t always as easy to wash a cat as they are generally not the biggest fans of water.
Make Your Cat Feel At Home
Most importantly your cat wants to feel at home. Apart from what you can provide your cat with, within the household, you should also give it all your love and care. Cats love to be cuddled and played with and almost always want your attention when you are doing something else.
You will soon enough notice that you are doing the right thing. Cats have some excellent and typical ways in showing us that they love us.
For stressed cats there are options to force them to relax through the use of catnip or a pheromone diffuser, but at the core you need to be there as a companion for your kitty.
Got A New Cat?
If you got a new cat and you are wondering how you take best care of him/her, you are at the right place. We are here at Cat Habits all about happy healthy and thriving cats. Please feel free to ask your questions below and we will try to answer them.
My cat lives indoor and outdoor, and she just loves it. She was a bit suspicious at the beginning, but then she got used to going out to do her business. Now when she wants to go out, she stands in front of the door and she looks at me with her beautiful eyes. The same when she wants to drink or eat:) One thing she does that I don’t like is scratching the furniture. I don’t know what to do about this:) Any suggestion?
Thank you for this excellent post!
Furniture scratching is a common problem for those with cats. There is no guarantee to anything, because cats just need to sharpen their claws or ask for attention when they feel its right.
Nevertheless you can try to redirect the need for nail sharpening towards their own wall or pole, by installing scratching poles, scratching boards and more into your home.
We got 1 huge cat tree with poles that are all made of sisal ropes for scratching. We also got a wall they ruined and we made into two sides and two high of flat scratching boards they often make use of. Another wall we got another one scratching board like that.
We also got two more smaller cat trees with scratching poles and we got a catnip toy with carton board scratching material.
To attract / train your cat to these new areas you got two options:
1) Every time you see your cat scratching a piece of furniture, lift your cat up and put them against the wall/scratching board that is dedicated to them.
2) Use catnip powder or any form of catnip and sprinkle it out over the new scratching board place. This way they will get interested to be there and hang out. Eventually they will figure it is there to scratch and sharpen nails.
Hope those tips help you out!