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The Most Essential Strategy for First-Time Cat Owners

New cat? Before you bring kitty home, make sure you are prepared with the most essential new cat strategy to keep your feline friend healthy, happy, and well-adjusted to their new surroundings and family me

In this post we will cover the all important decompression-phase for a new pet cat.

Before we get to that, you’ll want to remember to do the following things before the cat arrives home with you:

  • purchased food, bowls, treats, kitty litter, litter box

  • purchased toys, climbing tower and a variety of scratch posts

  • purchased a cat carrier, blankets, cat cushion

  • purchased a collar, tags, and grooming supplies

  • identified (or arranged) cat safe areas in the home

  • cat-proofed areas of the home where there are wires (offices, kitchen)

  • set-up the kitty litter, bowls for food and water

  • make an appointment to visit the veterinarian

The Importance of Cat Decompression

The most important step to be planned before a new cat arrives home with you is the “decompression” period. Animal behaviorists describe decompression as the process of helping a new cat (or dog) to acclimate to their new environment and everything in it.

Decompression looks different for every cat: Some cats will adjust quickly because they are young and resilient. Older cats may take longer to warm-up to a new home. Cats that have a history of living in high stress environments (abandoned, injured, ill) will need less stimulation, a higher degree of your patience, and a lot of extra TLC to help them successfully move through decompression.

When Does Decompression Begin?

Decompression begins from the moment you pick-up your new cat to bring them home. You may want your kitty to rest in your lap during the ride home. Do you want a cat scratching at you or the car interior, or trying to escape from the car? Of course not. While driving, the cat will be more comfortable and less anxious inside a cat carrier, curled-up in soft blankets with a few cat treats or a small cat toy to occupy them.

Once home, decompression is more about what you, the count owner, don’t do, in the first 48 hours or so that the cat is in your home. For your cat’s decompression period to be successful:

  • Don’t hold the count persistently.

  • Don’t chase the cat around the house.

  • Don’t overstimulate the cat with toys, household noises, lights, etc.

  • Do let the cat come to you for attention and affection.

  • Do have scratch surfaces and climbing towers at a few different locations in the house

  • Do provide them with a window cushion, if possible. (Cats love a view)

  • Do introduce them to the location of the kitty litter, food and water bowls, toys

  • Do keep your eye on how they interact with their environment and with people. Note any concerns to discuss with the rescue, shelter, or a veterinarian

Preparation Reduces Cat Anxiety

If you prepare in advance for your cat’s arrival to your home, allow your new cat the time and space necessary to safely explore the areas, people and other pets in their new surroundings, then you’ll have less cat anxiety, less likelihood for damage to property or people/other pets, and that will make for a very happy cat and owner!

Learn More Ways to Prepare for a New Cat

If you’d like more in depth information on any of the topics we’ve mentioned in this post, please visit the sites listed below:

4 Tips for First-Time Cat Owners. provides a general introduction to the essentials of owning a cat for the first time.

First-Time Cat Owner Tips: Supplies for Your New Kitty. goes beyond supply lists to provide short videos on training kitty to play nice and access the little box.

Delaware Pet Rescue has a detailed guide to cat-proofing your home.

Top 10 Tips for New Cat Owners gives more than just generic tips; this article strategies approaches to take when the items you already have for kitty just aren’t working well.

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