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It sucks to be a cat.
On one hand, they are blessed with curiosity and the urge to explore. But are cursed with the fear of new experiences.
How can you satisfy your curiosity if you’re terrified of… everything?
This is the contradiction many owners have to deal with when they adopt a new kitty. You want her to explore and feel comfortable in her new home, but every new thing or experience terrifies her.
How do you transition your kitty from the safe room to the rest of the house and its inhabitants? How do you get your cat to explore her environment without pushing her more than you should or possibly damaging her psychology?
We will walk you through everything you need to make a cat feel at home. Let’s look at why a safe room is important for cats.
Why do Kitties Need a Safe Room?
The main reason kittens need a safe room is because they are not yet familiar with the environment.
However, that’s not the only purpose of a safe room.
A safe room is also a place where your cat can stay until she has mastered good litter box habits, is comfortable to explore other rooms, and meet the members of the family.
You’ve probably seen something similar in sports such as football, cricket, etc. There’s the concept of the ‘home’ team and ‘away’ team.
Home in a sense that you know every blade of grass in the arena by name, when the fans stands was last painted, and who the mascot is.
You feel at home!
As the responsible owner that you are, you want your kitty to feel at home, right? So how do you set up a safe room for your kitty?
The Proper Way to Set Up a Safe Room.
Getting a safe room ready for your new kitty is easy once you know what to do. However, it must be done before kitty arrives. It’s best to start your new relationship on the right foot.
What items do you need to get started?
1. What you’ll need.
A safe room doesn’t need fancy or expensive equipment to feel at home, these will do just fine.
- Litter box and scoop. Before getting a litter box check the adult size of your cat, then get a litter box that’s large enough for the adult size.
- You’ll need a litter waste bin for storing scooped litter to prevent horrible smells from stinking up the house. I recommend getting either Litter Genie or Litter Genie Plus pail – they come with a scoop and scoop holder. Another good alternative is the Litter Locker.
- A sweet-smelling scratching post will give your kitten an outlet for aggressive energy as well as help with claw development.
- A comfortable cat bed, preferably one made of memory foam and a cat tower.
- Water and food bowls, preferably one made of stainless steel or ceramic.
- Lots of cat toys. An automatic cat laser light, a robot mouse, a simple spring that cats love, and more.
- If you’re using the corner of a room, then you’ll need some dividing screen.
2. Where to set up.
You can set up the safe room in any room, however, it must have a secure door, window, and ceiling.
A spare bathroom is a perfect place for a safe room since there are little to no hiding spots. Plus, it makes interacting with your kitten much easier since she can see and hear you clearly.
Avoid bedrooms since your cat might decide to hide under the bed. And avoid the laundry room too, she might get stuck in the back of the washing machine or drink a toxic chemical.
Once you’ve determined the best place to set up the safe room, then it is time for the actual set up. If you do not have enough rooms to dedicate one to a kitty, create a private environment for the kitty using tall screens.
If there are other occupants in the house inform them about the kitty’s presence and her need for privacy. No one should add or remove items from the room except you.
3. Litter box placement.
Cat litter stinks!
So, make sure you place the litter box first and in a well-ventilated spot – far away from her food and water bowl, and her bed.
No need for fancy litter boxes. If you got something fanciful and she keeps soiling the floor, then you need to return to the basics.
I recommend either Litter locker or Litter Genie Standard.
4. Food and drinking water.
There are many different options available to choose from – glass, stainless steel, ceramic, and plastic.
Cats enjoy drinking from running water.
One more thing.
Make sure the food and water bowls or cat water fountain are far away from the litter box. Cats have sensitive noses, perceiving the stench from the litter box can cause them to lose appetite.
It’s already hard trying to get a new cat to feel comfortable. If she’s not eating, then you have to figure out how to raise your cat’s appetite.
5. A comfortable place to sleep.
Your new kitty needs a comfortable, private place to sleep.
This is because cats sleep a lot. And kittens need it for their brain and body to develop. Some cats feel safer sleeping on high perches such as shelves or windowsills. However, a comfortable memory foam bed is enough for most cats.
I recommend installing a Feliway diffuser close to her bed to calm her after a stressful day.
6. Cat stuff.
There are many things you can add to your cat’s safe room, but we’ll stick with the basics.
Add a nice and tall scratching post for your cat to play with. Some cats prefer carpeted scratching posts, others like sisal covering. To be on the safe side offer both and let her choose the one she likes.
Alternatively, you can get her a cat tower. Most of them come with a scratching post. I recommend the UPSKY Cat Roller Cat Toy for your kitty – it is sturdy, simple, and fits in any décor.
While shopping for scratching posts or a cat tower with a scratching post, you should also consider cat toys.
You won’t play with your cat all day – I doubt she would allow it. So get her a couple of toys to keep her company. Try the Yvelife Automatic Cat Laser Toy to keep her chasing after the red dot; a simple treat dispenser toy that will help her eat more while moving her muscles; an engaging robotic cat toy she can chase and pretend-hunt, some fluffy animal companion, or this simple coil spring cats can’t seem to figure out.
Now it’s time for kitty to join the rest of the family.
Time to introduce kitty to everyone.
A comfortable safe room is fine and good, but kitty won’t spend her entire life there. She has to come out at some point.
How do you prepare for her to meet the house and its inhabitants?
1. First kitty-proof the house.
This is very important because cats are curious creatures.
Before you introduce her to the family, make sure that you kitty-proof the house. Try to remove anything that can harm her.
Get rid of exposed wires, toxic plants and chemicals, small items she might choke on, and unstable furniture.
When that’s done, start introducing kitty.
2. Start with the kids.
If you have kids, do everything you can to ensure they let kitty be in her safe room.
When introducing a cat to children, teach them to minimize the sudden movement and noise around kitty. Cat, especially kittens are scared of sudden noise and motion.
Let them meet kitty over a couple of days – I recommend doing introductions in the morning when everyone is calm.
Tell your child, “Kitty doesn’t like noise and quick movements, so we have to be quiet and move slowly, deal?”
Always supervise the interaction between kids and kittens under 6 months of age.
3. Resident cat.
Now, this is where it gets interesting.
You know cats are territorial creatures. If you have a resident cat, you’ll need to be patient with her as she learns to accommodate the newcomer in ‘her home.’
After spending a couple of days in the safe room, the items there will smell like the newcomer. You can offer these items (the bed works) to the resident cat so she’ll perceive the scent and get used to it.
Make sure her (the resident cat’s) Feliway diffuser is on and works when she perceives the other cat’s belongings. This ensures she remains calm and associates that calmness with the new cat.
Do the same with the newcomer – offer the resident cat’s belonging for her to perceive.
Open the door for the new kitty to come out and explore.
If both of them are calm while interacting, allow them to play for an hour before returning the new kitty to her room.
This break gives them time to evaluate how the interaction was and to regain their confidence and sense of territory.
Future meetings are likely to be successful since both cats were calm.
Gradually increase the time spent together until they’re fully acquainted. Distract and separate them immediately you notice hissing and growling.
Try to stay calm and they’ll follow your lead.
However, do not wait for an attack before you intervene. The likelihood of them ever being friends reduces when one cat attacks the other. Keep an eye on your resident cat and stop unprovoked aggressive behaviors before it worsens.
4. Resident dog.
Introducing a new cat to a dog is similar to introducing cats to other cats. However, you need to take some precautions because dogs and cats are not of the same species and their mode of communication is different.
Making them get along is a delicate process and a mistake can destroy any possibility of them ever being friends. That’s why I wrote the surefire way to make cats and dogs best friends forever. I’m sure you can get them to tolerate or even enjoy each other’s company like these two.
5. Kitty to the world.
Do you want your kitty to explore life outside the house?
If so you need to be careful of the dangers a cat may face while outside. Some of them include moving cars, disease, parasites, catfights, wildlife, dogs, unfriendly neighbors.
Heck, you might even lose your cat.
Most kittens are happy being indoors all the time, provided they have toys and people to play with. However, if she must go outside, teach your cat how to hop through the cat flap with ease. This way she doesn’t distract you each time she wants to go out.
I recommend you get her a pet GPS tracker and update her identification tags.
If she fails to return home on time, you’ll have a better chance of finding your lost pet.
Other factors to consider.
Vaccines are important for keeping your cat healthy.
Your adoption agreement should indicate the vaccines your cat has received and when she’s due for additional vaccines.
Cats need a series of 2-3 FVRCP vaccine shots depending on their age. You don’t have to pay for the remaining shots since they’re included in the adoption fee. You just have to take her to the adoption site when it’s time.
Indoor cats do not require rabies shots. However, I recommend getting it as soon as your kitty is over 3 months of age. You can’t tell when your cat will venture outside on her own or what she’ll be exposed to when outside.
2. Go slow with the cat food.
I know you can’t wait for kitty to be large enough to share the bed with you. However, you need to go easy on the food – she will not grow overnight!
Cats are creatures of habit.
That is why it is important to continue feeding her the brand she has been eating at the shelter. If you want to switch cat food, do so slowly to avoid digestive problems, diarrhea, or poor appetite.
Gradually increase the percentage of new food every 2-3 days.
Do not panic if she eats a bit then walks away. Cats love to eat small meals throughout the day. However, you need to make sure she has access to fresh clean water, preferably from a cat water fountain.
3. Check for fleas.
While she is getting used to her new life, inspect her body for fleas or signs of flea bite whenever you have the chance.
If you find anything suspicious, be sure to treat your cat for fleas immediately to avoid an infestation.
Take a Chill Pill!
I know you want to ‘get this done with’ as soon as possible.
In reality, you are going to slow your progress if you try to move too fast. So, just breathe, relax, and let your cat get used to her new environment at her own pace.
Her mind has a lot going on, so chill!