Best wishes to those of you who have made the momentous decision to welcome a new feline family member during the holiday season.
It is hard not to be ambivalent when asked whether the holidays are a good time to adopt a cat or kitten. Every cat or kitten in a rescue or a shelter deserves to go home as soon as possible, regardless of the time of year, and the significance of Christmas to most families gives a magical aura to the new arrival. Yet adaptation to a new household is a challenge for a kitten or cat at any time, and Christmas is often an especially noisy, hectic time during which the attention of family members is more than ordinarily scattered.
If you have just adopted a kitten or cat or are planning to do so between now and Christmas, please keep the following points in mind:
- Every cat or kitten needs to be isolated in a small space, away from any other family pets, for at least ten days. Make sure the room is kitten-proof and easy to clean. There should be at least a few nooks—for instance, a cuddly bed or a cat-sized space under a chair–where the kitten can feel secure, but no crevices in which he or she can get stuck.
- During the isolation period, check on the cat or kitten every few hours, no matter how busy you are with food preparations or household guests. Visits should preferably be made only by the cat or kitten’s new immediate family members, and in a relaxed mood. Strongly discourage children from bringing each of their friends in turn to view the new arrival. During visits, respond to the cat or kitten’s requests for attention, but do not hurry interaction, especially physical interaction. Even a cat or kitten that was friendly in the foster home might be more reticent during the first few days in a new environment. Sit in a chair near the cat and read a book, sing a lullaby, or putter, giving your new family member a chance to observe you without any pressure to interact.
- If you have just brought home a kitten from a shelter, as opposed to a foster home, be aware that many cats show symptoms of colds or have diarrhea during the first few weeks after leaving a shelter. Lay in a supply of an enzymatic cleaner so that you are prepared to deal with messes. A cat from a rescue such as Purebreds Plus will already have gone through quarantine and is less likely to have diarrhea or sniffles but should still be secluded in a small space for psychological reasons and to ensure that he or she quickly learns the location of the litter box.
- Consider whether your house is much noisier than usual during this season, and insulate the new cat or kitten from the bustle by keeping him or her enclosed in a place that is relatively quiet.
- Ensure that neither the new cat or kitten, nor any other cat in the home, has easy or unsupervised access to ribbon, tinsel, string, dangling electrical wire, or toxic plants such as poinsettias.
- As tempting as it might be to give cats or kittens special food treats, try to avoid doing so, especially if you are also trying to introduce your new family member to a cat food other than the one he or she was eating at the foster home or in the shelter.
We at Purebreds Plus Cat Rescue wish you joy in your new companion. Good luck with the transition, and Happy Holidays.