One of the most important tasks to attend to before bringing home a new cat is to organize a "safe room" for your new feline to stay in for the first few days. It should include all the necessities a cat needs for comfort and security. Although a designated room is essential if there are other cats in the house, a safe room does not always need to be separate. If this is the only pet in the home, the safe room may be an area set aside in a large room in the home. It's not difficult to set up a safe room and only requires some minimal supplies, but the process will help your cat feel at home.
Before You Begin
Think about the best room (or area) in your home that can work for a safe room. You want it to be closed off from the rest of the house and also as cat-proofed as possible. For example, if the perfect room has long blinds, you may want to remove them or tie them up while the room is being used by the new kitten.
What You Need
Spend some time to gather these supplies for your safe room:
- Litter box and scoop
- Paper bag lined with a plastic bag for the scoopings
- Scratching post
- Cat bed or tower
- Stainless steel or glass food and water bowls
- Plenty of cat toys
- A dividing screen or two if you have to "make do" with a corner of a room
Set up Your Safe Room
Once you have established the best place, it's time to set up the safe room. If a separate room is not used for the safe room, place one or two tall screens to create a private section in an unused corner of a room. Be sure that everyone in your house is aware that this area is for the new kitten and all items have been thoughtfully placed there (and no other items should be added).
Litter Box Placement
Place the litter box in one corner of the room, well away from the food and water bowls. It doesn't need to be fancy. The important factor is that it be sized correctly for your cat. If you want to conceal it, many nice litter box covers are available that resemble furniture, although some cats may not want to use a covered litter box, so if your new cat is going to the bathroom around the room, you may need to remove it. You'll also need a scoop, and a container to dispose of the scoopings. A product like Litter Locker Plus comes with its own scoop and a roll of replacement bags.
Adding a Scratching Post
Place the scratching post next to the litter box. Be sure it is a nice tall one. Sisal covering is preferred over carpet by most cats, however offering you cat a variety of substances to choose from can help you discover your cats personal preference. This will help decrease the likelihood of your cat scratching inappropriately. If you have enough space and the funds, you might consider a cat tower as an alternative. Most of these have scratching substrate such as sisal around many of the supports. With a nice platform at the top, many cats prefer a tower to a bed, because of their innate attraction to high places.
A Place to Sleep
Absent a tower, a comfortable, private place to sleep is a necessity for cats since they sleep a large portion of the day. Cat's often prefer to sleep on high perches such as windowsills, shelves, and on top of furniture. Of course, if the safe room is in a bedroom, your new cat may soon ignore the nice little bed you bought in favor of the human's bed. If the safe room is a screened off area, the cat bed could be in a corner opposite the litter box.
Food and Water
Food and water bowls should be placed well away from the litter box. They may be made of glass, stainless steel, or ceramic. If the latter, make sure they have been glazed with a lead-free glaze. It's best to completely avoid plastic bowls for cats' food and water, as plastic is a potential cause of irritation and rash in the chin area (commonly called "kitty acne").
A few toys complete your new cat's safe room. You'll want at least one interactive cat toy to use as a bonding tool and one or two play-alone toys, for the times you are not in the room. Toys that can dispense treats are a great idea to keep your cat physically and mentally stimulated. It's wise to buy a few extra toys and swap them out from time to time.
Preventing Problems During the Safe Room Setup
The goal of the safe room is to keep your new cat contained in a safe space. If your new cat gets out and is roaming around your house, it is not terrible but not ideal. Houses have a lot of hazards and as soon as you realize the cat is loose, try to return it to the safe room. All play should take place in the safe room at first and then slowly move to the rest of the house in timed increments. A bigger problem may occur if you are introducing your kitten to an older cat in your home. Prevent the older cat from visiting the safe room and work toward establishing a friendship slowly and with a positive attitude.
- Be sure to cat-proof the whole area before bringing your cat home.
- You'll need something under the litter box to keep stray litter from landing on good carpeting or floor. Litter mats are made for that purpose, but even a layer of newspaper will suffice in a pinch.
- Rolled up newspaper wads also make good toys for interactive games of "fetch."
- An old soft pillow can substitute nicely for a cat bed.
- If you have space, a comfortable chair for yourself would make your visits more relaxing for both of you.