Getting a New Cat – Is it Time to Add a New Pet to Your Family?

I’ve been thinking about getting a new cat for many years. At one time we had five dogs but now we’re down to two. Both are girls and they are older. Shadow, my greyhound mix is 13; Sweet Pea aka Peepers, my lab mix, is 11. So I thought it might be a good time to get a cat.

There are thousands of cats in the United States in animal shelters and rescues that are looking for good homes. People don’t spay and neuter their cats and then let them run loose. Then there are thousands of kittens on the streets, in the shelters, or unfortunately listed on Craig’s List (a huge no no) as “free to good home”.  I would never think about getting a new cat from a breeder!

GOING TO A RESCUE OR A SHELTER TO ADOPT IS THE BEST THING TO DO

Animals Best Friends is a rescue organization in Independence, MO, that I’ve volunteered with for 12 years. They have numerous cats that need good homes. I inquired about one older cat that I had spent time with but he was in foster and they wanted to give the foster parents the first chance to adopt him. So I found out there was another cat named Electra that needed a home. She is younger than I wanted (14 months), but Animals Best Friends does two-week trials so I thought I would at least give it a try.

Electra’s foster mom brought her over to introduce her to me and my two dogs. Electra hissed at each of my dogs and they cowed. At least we knew that my dogs weren’t going to try to eat her. Electra’s foster mom liked the cat tree that I had set up by the front window. There is a bird bath and several feeders out in front of my house. My cousin Steve would call that “Cat TV”. Electra’s foster mom decided she could stay so I found myself getting a new cat. Since the dogs hadn’t been around a cat before and Electra hadn’t been around dogs it might be a challenge. We would see how things progressed.

Getting a new cat

Mouse literally has her own bedroom. Image credit: G Gamble

MAKING A NEW CAT FEEL AT HOME WITH ITS OWN SPACE

Before I knew for sure that I was getting a new cat, I ordered a cat tree and litter box. I know that when you bring a new pet into your home you need to be sure to give the animal its own space. So I put Electra in a spare bedroom with her litter box, carrier, food, water, and toys. I blocked the door with a baby gate to keep the dogs out of her territory and she really likes her room.

LEARNING TO LIVE IN HARMONY

She did pretty well the first two days. Then on the third day, Electra began having “stare down” contests with my lab, Peepers. When she saw Peepers, she would lay her ears back and her eyes got really big. Peepers would stare back and not move. If I let it go too long Electra would crouch down like she was getting ready to pounce on Peepers then I would separate them. This worried me and I was wondering what to do next.

Getting a new cat

Mouse and Peepers are having a less intense staring contest. Image credit: G Gamble

People say animals, like kids, can sometimes work out their own issues. As the days passed Electra (I renamed her Mouse) ignored the dogs and they basically ignored her. When Peepers’ curiosity gets the best of her she walks over to Mouse and wants to sniff her. Mouse will meow and slowly move away. Mouse will approach Peepers when Peepers is sleeping and sniff at her but she doesn’t get too close. I hope eventually they will be buddies. Time will tell.

LEARNING TO FEED A NEW CAT

Having had only dogs for the past 30 years, I wasn’t sure how much to feed a cat. The instructions on the bags and cans always tell you to feed your pet more than you need to. I asked my friend Sharon about the amount. She has two cats and she said that she leaves a bowl of food out for them, maybe one cup or 1.5 cups. So I decided on 3/4 of a cup and that seems to be working out fine. I have some canned food that I give her now and then when she lets me know she is hungry.

Getting a new cat

Mouse sitting on top of her cat tree. Image credit: G Gamble

MEDICAL CONCERNS WITH GETTING A NEW CAT

Animals Best Friends is good about keeping up on vaccinations and having their animals spayed or neutered but I had another concern. I asked Mouse’s foster mom about Mouse taking heartworm pills. She told me that Mouse wasn’t on them because she was inside. This concerned me because I live near the Missouri River and the mosquitoes are plentiful and huge. They also come in the house whenever they get the chance. Mouse is definitely an indoor cat but I want to protect her from mosquito bites. Once the adoption is finalized I’m taking Mouse to the vet to inquire about heartworm medication.

Things have progressed much better than I thought they would. Mouse now knows her name and understands “No”. Unfortunately, when I tell Mouse “No”, my lab Peepers comes up to me with a toy in her mouth wagging her tail. I have to tell Peepers that it’s okay, I’m not scolding her. My Peepers is so sweet and adorable.

Getting a new cat

Mouse likes to walk on me when I’m lying on the couch. Image credit: G Gamble

So the two-week trial is up on Saturday and so far things are going well. My three four-legged kids are getting used to each other. I discovered that Mouse will walk on me when I’m lying on the couch and the silly girl likes to lick my face. Mouse likes to lay on the back of the couch and on one of my end tables. She really likes her cat tree which I’m glad as I bought it especially for her. Any doubts that I had when she first came are now gone. So I guess it was a good time for getting a new cat.

25 Comments

  1. So happy you added a new kitty to the fam! Your cat is GORGEOUS! I love all of your advice and it is all so true! Cats are awesome and do need their own space but learn on their own most of the time to fit in and deal. You really covered some great topics here! And YES ADOPT!!!

  2. I have a friend who is totally ready for another cat! In fact, I hear so many of my peers playing with the idea of adding a pet… so I should entice them with this article for sure!

  3. I don’t have cats, only a dog. I thought about getting another dog to keep her company while I’m gone but I kept my brother’s dog for a week and my girl was NOT happy about it. HA!! I think it’s safe to say that we aren’t ready for another animal in the house yet!!

  4. Our first cat passed away of old age this spring – we were devastated. A few months later we adopted some cats that had been rescued from a barn (they had been dumped there). It is definitely a learning experience when you get new cats, especially more than one. Your cat sounds like a sweetie, love how she likes to walk on your face 🙂

    • I’m sorry about your cat, Marysa. I’ve lost two dogs in the last two years and I understand how you feel. Good for you adopting those cats. I imagine they must have been a bit wild when you got them. Good luck!

  5. Aw, I really like this guide. Helping a pet adjust to their new home is so important to building trust. I’m happy to hear that your little love is doing well.

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