Q: My friend recently started hospice care and asked me to adopt her three cats. How can I help them adjust to their new home?
A: Start by putting your new kitties in a single room, such as a bathroom, with their beds, food and litter boxes. When they grow accustomed to your home and its sounds, open the door and let them explore.
Feed the same food they were eating before you adopted them. If you want to change foods, wait until they are comfortable in your home, and then transition to the new food gradually, over a period of a week or so.
Provide four litter boxes, with one or more on each floor of your home. The rule of thumb is at least one box more than the number of cats.
Offer environmental enrichment, such as a kitty condo, toys and stable places to scratch and stretch. If the cats are accustomed to going outside, install cat fencing so they can do so safely.
Consider adding one or more Feliway plug-in diffusers to your home. The diffuser emits a pheromone that helps cats feel relaxed and secure. Use it for the first month or two the cats are with you.
Ask your friend to call her veterinarian to transfer the cats’ ownership to you. If you change veterinarians, have the current vet send the cats’ records to the new vet, or take a copy with you on the first visit.
I'm sure your friend is at peace knowing you will care for her cats for the remainder of their lives. You have given your friend – and her cats – a precious gift.
Editor’s Note: Bringing home a new cat can be an exciting experience for the entire family. To best prepare for kitty’s arrival, keep this list of cat care items and needs in mind.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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