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Preparing for a cat or kitten? Help get your home set up for your pet with our expert advice

Welcoming a new cat or kitten into your home is an exciting experience and can be the beginning of a wonderful companionship. Adopting a cat also comes with a lot of change for both of you. Our guide on planning for your new cat will help you make the transition as smooth as possible.

How to plan and prepare for your new cat

Once you’ve decided to give a cat a home, it’s time to get your home ready and prepare for a cat. You’ll need to make sure you leave enough time to make adequate preparations, as well as to go shopping for everything they need.

The most important thing your cat needs is a quiet, comfortable and secluded space of their or her own. It could be a spare bedroom or a cosy space in the corner of your living room. This will make sure your cat becomes familiar with one space before exploring the rest of your home.

Here's a step-by-step guide on setting up a space for your new cat

  1. Make sure the space is private. Keep dogs, kids and guests out
  2. Make it safe. Remove potential hazards like cleaning products or anything that could be knocked over
  3. Provide a hiding space. A cardboard box on top of a tall piece of furniture is ideal
  4. Add your cat’s essential items. You’ll find a full list of these below
  5. Provide some fun. Puzzle toys, fishing rod toys and even cardboard boxes are excellent boredom busters
  6. Find out more about welcoming your new cat home in our guide
Welcoming a cat home: guide

Things you'll need for your new cat

  • One food bowl
  • One water bowl; remember to place your food and water bowl away from each other
  • Food and water
  • A soft, warm and comfortable bed put somewhere quiet and safe
  • A litter tray, kept away from your cat’s food and water area
  • Access to a high spot where they can view their surroundings. A simple cardboard box should do the trick!
  • A sturdy scratching post
  • A brush
  • Cat toys
  • A cat carrier; choose something well ventilated and sturdy

Remember: When providing beds, litter trays, scratching posts and food and water bowls, it is a good idea to provide one extra. When more than one cat is sharing the home, provide one of these items per cat plus one extra. For example, two cats should have access to at least three litter trays.

What does my cat need?

It’s important to make sure your new cat has all the essentials they need before bringing them home. To help you provide for your pet, we’ve put together a checklist. Download it, take it shopping with you and stick it on your fridge – it’s got everything you need for your new addition.

Download the checklist

Keeping your new cat safe and healthy

Before you bring your cat home, you’ll need to think about getting them prepared for the outside world. All cats adopted from Cats Protection will have received a mandatory level of veterinary care, including:

  • a health check carried out by a veterinary surgeon
  • treatment against fleas and worms
  • at least one vaccination against cat flu and feline enteritis
  • neutering, if old enough
  • a microchip for all cats over 12 weeks of age
  • a period of pet insurance (each cat rehomed by Cats Protection will receive four weeks’ free Petplan insurance)

If you’ve adopted your cat from elsewhere, these are all things you’ll need to think about. Vaccinations, microchipping and neutering are particularly important.  

Neutering

Neutering is an important operation to prevent female cats from getting pregnant and male cats from making females pregnant. You will need to ensure your cat is neutered to avoid unwanted kittens. There are also plenty of health benefits, including the reduced chance of developing some cancers and other illnesses.

Cats Protection recommends that kittens are neutered at four months old or younger, although they can be neutered at any age.

Find out more about neutering

Vaccinations

If your cat or kitten hasn’t been vaccinated, you’ll need to take them to a vet to receive them.

When should my cat be vaccinated?

The first vaccinations should be given to kittens around eight to nine weeks of age. Timing is important – too early and the vaccine may not work properly, too late and they may be susceptible to infection. Two vaccines are usually needed, at three to four weeks apart. Cats will need a booster vaccine to keep immunity levels high.

Find out more about vaccinations

Microchipping

Microchipping is the easiest and safest way to identify a lost cat, keeping your cat safe if they go wandering. Keep your details up to date and you’ll increase the likelihood of a happy reunion.

You can book in to get your cat microchipped by your vet or by a trained and insured member of an animal welfare organisation. Cats Protection often offer microchipping as part of a service. The procedure is simple and doesn’t cause harm to your cat.

Find out more about microchipping

Signing up with a vet

Registering with a vet is very important and with many practices to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one to pick. Follow our advice on how to pick the right vet practice for you and your pet.

Make sure they are registered

It is illegal for anyone that isn’t registered to practice as a vet. You can find a full list of qualified vets on the RCVS website.

Word of mouth

If you are in touch with local cat owners, ask around to see what vet their pet is registered to. Recommendations are a useful way of find a vet that is right for you.

Choose a local vet

Choosing a vet that is close in distance to you is important. As well as being convenient, it is good to know that your vet is close by in an emergency.

Specialist vets

While most vets can carry out various medical and surgical procedures, there may be times where your cat needs specialist care. For example, your cat may have a complex fracture that needs treating. Your local surgery should be able to point you in the right direction.

Cat insurance

Organising pet insurance for your new cat is as important as settling them in. Designed to help protect you against unexpected costs related to your cat, you may need it to cover veterinary bills in the future. It is important to check your policy thoroughly to ensure it meets your needs.

Along with vet care, some policies also cover the following:

  • loss and theft of your pet. Although a member of the family can never be replaced, some policies will offer cover to replace your cat if they are not found
  • treatment for behavioural issues, carried out by a professional organisation or vet
  • death by illness or injury
  • cattery fees if you need to go into hospital for more than four days in a row

Choosing pet insurance

Not all pet insurance offers the same thing and it is important to look into the type of policy. When looking for insurance, consider the following:

  • what is the excess for veterinary fees?
  • will the insurer pay the vet directly?
  • does the policy lifetime cover illnesses, or is this excluded after 12 months?
  • does the policy cover congenital, hereditary, dental and behavioural conditions?
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