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Preparing your home

You've done the most important part: you've scoured local shelters and found your new pet! Now, before you bring your cat or kitten home, finish up the leg work and make sure your home and you are completely prepared for your new arrival. Once you bring your cat home, you'll be secure in the knowledge that you are ready for your new pet, and you can spend your time playing and getting to know each other in a comfortable environment.

  1. Think like a cat
    This one is a good place to start, particularly if you have never owned a cat before. Get down on the floor and survey the room from a cat's perspective after you've closed the blinds, of course! What might pique a cat's interest? What stands out as a potential danger to the cat? Be sure to use a flashlight and look under the sofa and in smaller areas that a human can't easily reach, but might be tempting for a cat to explore. Keep a list of the potential hazards that you discover.

  2. Remove temptation
    Now that you have identified some of the hazards and off-limit items that may be facing your cat, do something about it. Start by moving any small breakables, irreplaceable or valuable items out of reach. Out of reach, however, is a relative term for cats, as adults cats can jump and climb nearly anywhere in a room. When possible, store valuables away in a closed container. Also keep in mind furniture if any pieces are extremely important to you, you may want to move them to a room that is off-limits to the cat.

  3. Seek out hidden dangers
    Go around any areas the cat will be in once again, this time with an eye for hidden dangers. One item that pet owners may not consider is poisonous plants. Cats are often attracted to the movement of plants, and investigate by biting as well as pawing. Either move poisonous plants to a different part of the house or hang them out of reach. Another item that attracts cats with its movement is cords: hanging blind cords, phone cords, or electrical cords. Cords that can't be moved out of reach or fastened securely can be sprayed with Bitter Apple, a harmless but unpleasant tasting substance. Finally, remove any small hazardous items such as paper clips, thumb tacks, or pest poisons from the area.

  4. Litter box
    The litter box should be placed somewhere easy for the cat to access, away from busy areas, and out of the reach of any inquisitive dogs or small children. It is best to put the litter box on a hard surface, as sometimes cats may mistake soft carpet around it for the actual litter box. Once you get your new cat home, she will let you know what type of litter and box she prefers.

  5. Make some areas off limits
    In the first few tips, it was recommended to move hazardous or valuable materials to another part of the house. Before you can do this, however, you need to decide what parts of the house can and should be considered off-limits. If a room is a high-traffic area or does not have doors, you should not plan on making it off-limits to your cat. Typically an unused bedroom is a good place to put off-limits items or, alternately, be certain to secure them in closed storage areas throughout the house. The garage is one area that should always be considered off-limits, as there are too many chemicals and hazardous materials in there.

  6. Shop till you drop
    In addition to the many obvious essentials, such as a litter box and food, several other items will make you and your new cat more comfortable. As mentioned in regards to cords, Bitter Apple Spray is a handy purchase for when moving danger items is not an option. To save your furniture and keep your cat happy, a scratching post is also a good investment. If you like to build things, you could make it yourself. Or purchase one from a store there is a great range of styles and prices available. Although some cat owners prefer to have their cats sleep with them, it's also a good idea to purchase a cat bed. Your cat can use this throughout the day, for short cat naps, or at night. Ask store employees about what size would be appropriate, depending on your cat's age and breed.

  7. Stock the pantry
    Your best option for finding a food your new cat likes would be if you can speak with the cats former owners. If not, be sure to pay attention to the needs of your cat based on age or physical condition. Kittens need more nutrients than adult cats do, and overweight cats may be put on a special diet. Don't forget that the food needs to go somewhere! Food and water bowls should be ceramic or metallic - plastic is not recommended as some cats may develop a chin rash. If you will be gone for long periods of time, also consider automatic food and water servers.

  8. Cat Toys
    Cats are born to hunt or in the case of pet cats play. Playing offers you an opportunity to bond with your new cat and help kittens develop. There's a wide variety of toys available in any pet store, from the very small to elaborate houses and climbing posts. Purchase toys based on your budget, your living situation, and what your new cat's preferences might be. If it is an older cat, you may want to stick with smaller toys. With a kitten, the sky's the limit!

  9. Cat carrier
    Cat carriers are a necessity even if you plan on keeping your new cat indoors. For starters, you will need a way to get the cat home from the shelter or pet store. Additionally, there will be many trips to the vet and possibly to friend's houses or a boarding facility when you are on trips. A cardboard carrier is a good short-term solution, but you will eventually want to purchase a sturdy plastic one that will afford your cat comfort and security during travel.

  10. Cat Grooming
    If accustomed to it, cats enjoy grooming just as much as playing. It is also important to your cat's health, since grooming helps prevent hair balls and overgrown nails can become problematic. Be sure to get a fine-toothed comb and rubber-backed pin brush for brushing, and a nail clipper specifically designed for cats.

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