New Cat – Preparing a Safe or Confinement Room
It’s important to prepare a “safe room” for your new cat before you bring her home or inside your house. A safe room could be an actual, separate room dedicated for her use or you could simply set up a seldom-used bathroom. An empty closet would be acceptable or even the corner of a low-traffic room with a privacy screen in place. Some people use their utility room. If a washer and dryer are located in the utility room, beware that some cats flip out from the noises the machines make. If you have a small family that doesn’t use the machines every day, like myself, then the utility room might work just fine. I held off washing anything for a week to help her adjust gradually to new sounds and vibrations.
The main thing to remember is that your new cat has a place to retreat, to hide, to feel safe and to get away. She may not feel relaxed and comfortable with all the new surroundings and unfamiliar activities happening around her. She may want to sleep in a secure area at first or if she hears a vacuum cleaner running she’ll likely want to escape from it and hide, sometimes for hours.
As she becomes more familiar with the surroundings and settles into her new life, your cat will start exploring. Her body language and vocal sounds will give you clues as to her emotions and what she is comfortable with or if she’s scared about something. She’ll need to be introduced to any other pets in the household in a neutral, controlled atmosphere. Children also need to be instructed on how to play with the cat for the safety of both the child and the cat. Again, having a safe room for your cat to escape during stressful or fearful situations is important.
If you are concerned about litter box training and possible accidents in the house, I recommend placing her in the “safe room” and close the door (hopefully the set up allows that) anytime you cannot keep a close eye on her or if you need to leave. It’s not a good idea to let a new cat or kitten have the full run of your house. Keep her confined to specific areas until you feel that you can trust her…which may be within days or several weeks later. Potty accidents are only half of the problem as cats can be destructive when they haven’t learned what is proper behavior. Examples: climbing curtains, scratching furniture, jumping on counters would be bad behavior.
Items for the Safe Room (also see New Cat Shopping List):
>Litter box – Keep it clean and scoop out waste daily or even several times a day.
>Something to sleep on or in – Ideas: cat bed, box lined with blankets, or her cat carrier lined with towels.
>Food and Water Bowls – Choose bowls that won’t tip over and have a nice width so kitty doesn’t have to cram her whiskers into the bowl to get something out. Stay away from plastic material for cats, as some get a chin rash from it. Don’t place bowls directly next to the litter box.
>Scratching Post – Doesn’t need to be a huge one for her safe room.
>Toys – be aware if the toys are able to slip under something and then the cat can’t reach them.
Be sure to survey the area (see Cat-Proofing) for any hazards to the cat. Look for things she may chew on or swallow, places where she could become trapped or areas you don’t want her in, like behind the washer and dryer. Block off those areas – use large sheets of cardboard if you need to.
If your new cat is hesitant about entering her safe room or if you need to put her in there so you can leave the house and she doesn’t want to come to you, then use cat treats to bribe her. Call her name using a peppy voice and shake the bag of treats to get her attention. Dump about 5 – 8 pieces on the floor and watch her come running. Praise and pet her.
Jessie says: My safe room has a window view and I can watch the birds and squirrels. I have three levels I can jump on with the third level at the window.
Gina says: Since we do put Jessie in her safe room when we leave, I definitely wanted to provide her with a window to gaze out of if she chose to do so. Most times, she simply sleeps on the floor in her bed.