Creating a safe environment for a cat or kittens coming into your home is really important. There are six basic things that we look for when we do a home visit. Please make sure that you are prepared for your new arrival!
If permanent screens aren’t already on all windows, you’ll need to buy the adjustable screens sold at hardware stores. The adjustable screens MUST be able to remain in your window when the window is shut. Sometimes, a window gate must be removed by your super to allow screen to sit securely in the window when it shuts. Please make sure that even the small bathroom window has a screen. Without screens, it’s not a question of “if” the cat or kitten might fall, it’s more a question of “when.” Many cats and kittens die or are treated for very serious injuries in the city every year from window falls. Please read our full window screen policy here.
2. Remove all toxic plants and flowers
Unfortunately, most houseplants can poison your cat or kitten. Most cut flowers, especially lilies, are also poisonous and deadly. Specific information is available online through the ASPCA and other sites. Every plant and fresh flower must be checked.
3. Block unsafe hiding places
Especially for kittens, make sure that they can’t get trapped behind refrigerators, stoves, radiators, etc. Small kittens have been known to get caught under radiators and, confused about getting out, badly burned or injured from the heat. The best way to block access to hiding places is to cut wide strips of cardboard from a box or buy foam core, cut to the needed size, and tape in place with duct tape. Once cats and kittens are comfortable with their new environment, they’re less likely to hide.
4. Protect your valuables
Put away valuable and breakable things, especially at first. Cats are curious and will investigate everything. Kittens chase each other and will run across table tops, jump onto shelves, and accidentally knock things over. Better safe than sorry. Also, don’t leave your food out and unattended. Any food left out on counters or the table is fair game for cats!
5. Electrical Cords
Keep an eye on your cords. Some cats and kittens never touch them but others might decide to chew, which can be dangerous to them and to your things. If they do chew, cheap casing can be purchased to protect the cords. Also, try keeping them out of sight. Bitter Apple Spray is another means of discouraging cats from chewing.
6. Small Objects
String, rubber bands, dental floss, paper clips, coins, staples, etc. can all be swallowed by kittens and cats. String, floss and ribbon, especially, can get caught in their intestines. Many cats have required surgery to remove swallowed objects. If a string is partially swallowed, don’t pull out to remove! Go immediately to an emergency clinic. Pills and medications can be especially dangerous or deadly. Remove any small objects cats or kittens can access.
While cats and kittens are most often, hearty animals, they are susceptible to injury and illness just as humans are. Before we adopt an animal to you, we screen for FeLV (feline leukemia) and FIV (feline AIDS), de-worm with strongid, and give initial vaccinations. However, as a rescue organization, it is impossible for us to test for and be aware of every health issue that can develop in your cat or that your cat or kitten may have been exposed to in his or her life before being rescued. Many of the animals we adopt out have been rescued from the street and have survived very difficult circumstances before coming to us. All have been treated for any medical issues that we were aware of when they were rescued and while they were with us.
After you adopt, plan on taking your kitten or cat(s) to your own veterinarian as soon as you can. It is important to establish a relationship with a vet practice early on, even though your cat or kitten is healthy now. We can recommend a vet practice, you can research practices online, or you can ask a friend for a recommendation.
A veterinarian can answer many medical questions for you and will recognize issues of concern that may need attention. Bring your pet’s health records with you. Discuss possible signs of illness to watch for in the future.
Some of the early signs of illness to watch for include lack of appetite, poor weight gain, vomiting, swollen or painful abdomen, tiredness, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, wheezing or coughing, pale gum, swollen or red eyes or eye discharge, nasal discharge, and an inability to pass urine or stool. Never ignore signs of illness. Don’t try to diagnose issues yourself. There is a lot of anecdotal information online that can lead you down an incorrect path with tragic results. Please consult a professional immediately when you have any health concerns.
Continuing to take you cat or kitten to the vet for an annual visit is a really important thing to do. Preventive care, as with humans, can save you from high cost and heartbreak in the future if your cat develops a condition or illness that would have been recognized by a veterinarian and could have been treated early on.
While we are here to answer questions that come up after you adopt, we are not veterinarians and establishing a rapport and relationship with your vet and vet practice is a very crucial step to take after you adopt.
Congratulations on your new family member(s)! Thank you for helping us to save a life and for bringing happiness into the life of an animal or animals that otherwise would not have had a chance.