Bringing a New Feline Friend into Your Home: Quick Answers to FAQs

Many of our clinic participants have had their pets for a long time but some are just beginning new journeys with their animal companions.

Meagan, Kim, and Zechariah

This post is inspired by Kim Johnson and Zechariah, who attended the June 25, 2010 clinic. Kim hadn’t had a cat before and had a lot of questions, which we were more than happy to answer! Included below are common cat care FAQs. If you have questions or tips to add, please send us a comment.

Do male cats always spray?

No.  Neutered male cats, especially when neutered young, rarely spray.  If your cat sprays, determine if there is a health, litter box, or territory issue.  For example, he might have an infection; or, someone (hint, hint) might not be keeping the litter box clean; or, maybe there are too many cats per litter box.

How can I make sure my cat will use the litter box?

Preventing litter box issues is easier than solving them, so begin on the right foot:

  • Cats like clean!  Keep the litter box appealing by scooping solid waste daily and washing the litter box about every two or three weeks.
  • Cats have an amazing and finely tuned sense of smell.  Use non-scented litter: It might smell good to you, but the smell overwhelms your cat.
  • Some dignity, please!  Place the box in an area that is private but easy for your cat to access.

If I have an older cat, should I adopt a younger cat?

Not necessarily. It’s better to adopt a cat who suits your cat’s personality. An older cat is just as likely to accept another adult as a new kitten.

If I have a male cat, should I adopt a female cat?

Again, not necessarily. There is no special mix that ensures cats will get along. It all boils down to personalities and introducing a new pet to existing pets appropriately:

  • Place your new cat in a separate space (home office, guest room, laundry room – as long as it’s not loud, guest bathroom, etc.), with her/his own litter box, food, water, and bedding.
  • Give the new cat and your existing cat a few days to sniff at each other under the door.
  • Let the new cat out to smell and see your home while your existing cat is in a separate room; then let your existing cat visit the new cat’s room while it is empty.
  • Bring your new feline family member out for supervised visits with your existing cat.

It can be hard to follow these steps – you just want to cuddle the new kitty all day!  But, it’s not about you; it’s about the cats, and they need a little time to adjust.  Give a new pet at least a month to adjust.

Does declawing a cat hurt?

Me-ouch, yes!  Declawing is the amputation of the last bone of each toe (comparable to cutting off a human finger at the last knuckle). It can leave a cat with a painful healing process, long-term health issues, and numerous behavior problems.  For more information, please read “Declawing Cats: Far Worse Than a Manicure” from the American Humane Society of the United Sates: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/declawing.html

When it comes to cats and scratching – just like litter boxes – preventing problems is easier than solving them:

  • Trim your cat’s claws regularly.  People nail clippers work just fine.
  • Make sure your cat has appropriate places to scratch,  a natural, necessary behavior for cats.
  • Make the scratching post (or whatever works) accessible and convenient; put catnip on it to entice your cat; reward and praise your cat for using it.
  • If your cat begins to scratch inappropriately, calmly redirect her/him to the right place. Reward and praise.
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