The last year of lockdowns saw a huge boom in the pet industry. Humans getting to spend far more time at home meant for many, it was the perfect opportunity to welcome an animal into their nest after waiting so long for the right time. Yay for more cats!
As exciting as it is letting those tiny little fluff balls into your home to become your new best friend forever, it can also be a slightly terrifying and uncertain time for many new cat parents. Taking on a new life to care for is a huge responsibility and a decision not to be made lightly. Once you’re there, ready to fully commit to the cat, preparation is key to make sure transitioning into life with your new housemate is as smooth and slinky as they are.
To help out new cat humans, we’ve put together a guide for first time cat owners looking for a little advice to get them started. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and you won’t be alone, but get together our Republic Starter Kit and the rumble of purrs will be sure to follow, and any panic will be swiftly forgotten.
1. TfK – Transport for Kittens
The all important carrier of choice. The day has arrived to finally go and pick up your new furbaby so selecting something sturdy and safe with plenty of ventilation is a must. If it’s possible, dropping off an old blanket or t-shirt with your scent on at the shelter/breeder’s home a couple of days or a week before ‘gotcha day’ is a great way to get your kitten used to your smell whilst they snuggle. Going to a new place without their mum and siblings is a pretty scary day for any kitten, but they will associate your smell with comfort and safety, so use the blanket to keep them cosy in their carrier and ease any anxiety on the way to their new digs. We recommend either a traditional carry crate made of plastic or mesh like these ones – https://www.wayfair.co.uk/pets/pdp/pawhut-pet-carrier-u003024368.html?cjevent=94532b693b1311ec82db028b0a18050f&refID=CJUK4766554&PID=8099906
OR our personal favourite in the Republic, a cat backpack – https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1017699843/space-capsule-cat-pet-backpack-carrier?ref=search_recently_viewed-1&pro=1&frs=1
These’ll keep your kitty close to you and reassured whilst being able to see the world from a height, making them feel safe. They’re also hands free for the human, winner!
2. Kitten proofing
If you’ve never had a kitten before, be prepared. They get EVERYWHERE. So it’s super important that before they crash land into your home you get to kitten proofing. It’s tricky when most things could probably be considered a hazard with an unpredictable ball of fuzz, but do your best to remove anything that may cause your cat some trouble – dangly blind cords could cause a tangle, electric cables could appear to be a shockingly fun chew toy and even the loo can appear to be an appealing place for a dip – try to think of anything and everything your new pal could get into which might cause some problems. You’ve not only become a new parent, you’re also now a top tier health and safety officer too, congratulations. Having plenty of cat toys, scratching posts and cardboard boxes around should be enough to keep them distracted from anything out of bounds, so stock up and get to playing.
3. House plants – friend or foe?
As well as an influx of new fur children to the homes of many millenials over the last year, house plants have also been way up there as an excellent alternative to care for without so much of the responsibility. However if you have filled your home with foliage prior to the arrival of your new favourite four-legged pal, it may be worth checking whether or not your greenery is cat friendly. Although many plants are pet safe, there’s a lengthy list that won’t be so pleasant if your kitten does decide to chew a chunk out of your Monstera, for example. Flowers are another hazard when it comes to curious cats, in particular Lilies which have been known to be fatal, so do plenty of research before introducing your little adventure to their indoor jungle. A simple google should give you all the answers you need to be prepared, and you can always chat to your local plant sellers and gardeners for their expert advice.
4. Slow and steady
We spoke about the scented blanket, well use this and more to get your kitten comfortable in their new environment. Many kittens are bold and brave little jaguars with no fear and may just settle straight in, but others will need more time. Be sure to provide plenty of cosy hiding places, snuggly beds and toys to play with. It’s best to start introducing your cat to one room at a time so they don’t get overwhelmed. Keep the house quiet and calm, and take it at their pace, slowly allowing them to explore more of your home, rather than everything in one go. It’s also super important not to crowd your kitty. Of course you will be immediately obsessed, how is it possible to not snuggle them 24/7?! But they need their space in order to settle in and feel comfortable. If you have a big household, introduce people slowly and one at a time, so your little ball of love gets a chance to get to know everyone. Playing with toys helps them get familiar whilst simultaneously having fun, but understanding cat body language and knowing when they need some space is super important in helping them adapt.
5. Litter tray-ning
It’s super important to get your kitten litter training straight away. Some bundles of joy may arrive with their training already in the bag, cats are very intelligent and fast learners. However, if you’re not so lucky it’s important to start getting them used to using a litter box as soon as you can. Cats are the tidiest, cleanest housemates you’ll ever have. They have a strong instinct to tidy up after themselves, flinging those little rocks around like there’s no tomorrow, so toilet training shouldn’t prove too tricky. Choose a suitable tray for your kitten, and place it in a quiet and private corner of your home to give them plenty of space. Cats value their privacy when doing their business with no distractions, and prefer their place to poop away from food and water. Make sure they know where to go, and a great tip is placing them in the tray after play, food, water or naps as these are often times they’ll need to go. Try not to distract your little one, and when they get it right, lots of praise and treats will go a long way to reinforce their learning. Your kitten will have it down in no time, as long as you do your bit to keep their tray fresh and clean – up to their high standards. Changing the tray really comes down to your individual cat, at RoC we recommend changing our very own Republic rocks once or twice a week. Our bags are enough to fill a standard tray twice over, and you may even be lucky with your kitten and only need to switch up the poop pebbles once every 2 weeks whilst they’re still teeny. Add our litter into your monthly orders for ultimate ease, arrival to your door and an easy reminder to refresh their loo.
6. Dinner time
Not to blow our own Republic horn, but we might know a couple of guys that cook up a pretty mean dish when it comes to your new cat’s cuisine. Unfortunately though, we’re not quite ready for the little guys and can only cater to cats from 1 year and up. That being said, do some research into what you’re feeding your kitten to make sure they get all the nutrients they need to grow and thrive through their first year of life, before they’re old enough to become a fully fledged Republic citizen. If you are welcoming an older cat into your home, why not fill out our online sign up quiz and find out whether our recipes could be a tasty fit for your purr-machine. [link] A good tip for the youngsters is to find out what they were being fed before making their way to you, and if they’re happy and healthy, stick to what they know. Switching foods can be tough on sensitive turns for both kittens and adult cats, so keep it simple with one less change to adapt to in their new home.
If your kitten is still under 1 year old, why not join our kitten waiting list and as soon as they’re ready for the Republic we’ll let you know!
These 6 pointers should help you set up and prepare for your new best friend. Don’t forget a comfy bed, plenty of catnip, all the cuddles and maybe some gloves to defend yourselves against those tiny needle claws and you’ll be good to go! Have confidence in your cat-parenting abilities and know you’re about to provide the best forever home full of love and snuggles for the tiny little tiger heading your way.
If you find yourself stressing, rest assured in knowing the Republic will always have your back and are here to help with any questions, queries or advice you might need on starting your new furry family and all things cat, should you need it. Our Citizens Only facebook community members have all the answers and support for cat owners old and new, so head over to our page to meet the cats and their humans and don’t be afraid to ask away. Good luck!