The cage was small, but the people were nice and Tiger felt safe. He was fed, petted and groomed regularly. Still, he was not at home. Tiger had been at ‘home’ and still had vague memories of the woman who had looked after him and the other cats that lived with her.
Then they had brought him to this place, and he had been here so long that he had almost forgotten ‘home’ and the woman.
Yet there was uneasiness here, and Tiger sensed it. Something was about to happen. Something bad.
Then two humans entered. They put him in a cage with them. He jumped onto the woman’s lap. They put him in a dark place that hit him and pushed him. He heard strange and terrifying noises. He howled, and a male voice responded with noises he couldn’t understand.
Then there was light. AND TERROR!
A small hand reached out and tried to grab it. There were people I did not know; they all approached him. There was another cat that arched up and spat.
So, horror of horrors …
There was a dog!
Tigre fled. He fled down a long corridor and bolted through the first open door he found. He hid in the darkest place he could find … between soft and hard things that he did not recognize. He heard voices. He heard the dog barking and shuddered. He heard the high-pitched voice of the child and the voice of a woman … which were easier to bear.
He crouched down and remained as invisible and silent as he could get.
Adoption in a hurry
Staff at animal shelters greet people seeking new pets with joy and suspicion. People walk between the cages, observing each cat, and the staff hope to select a cat that has been there for a long time.
But they know what people are looking for; They are looking for kittens, not adult cats.
If there are no kittens, clients sometimes reluctantly choose an adult cat as a “consolation prize,” pay adoption fees, and take it away …
Only to return the cat two or three days later.
“I’m sorry, but this cat just didn’t work out. We couldn’t fit him into the family.”
“This cat is too wild. We need something more tame, something that fits.”
“What happened?” The staff member asks.
“The cat ran away and hid. It took us three days to find it, and when we finally did, we had to chase it around the house before we caught it. We need something more tame, something that fits better.”
So go the sad returnee stories … but wait, it may be worse for cats adopted in other ways.
“The landlord won’t let me stay with her, could you take her in?”
People who adopt stray dogs, or a friend’s cat, often do not realize the full scope of things to do for their new cat:
o Prepare your home to receive your cat
o Take care of your cat’s medical needs.
o Make sure your other cats are protected from disease
o Take care of the physical needs of your cat.
o Properly introduce your cat to his roommates, children, and other pets.
And perhaps the most important:
o Prepare for a good relationship with your new cat.
People who have never had cats before don’t really realize what a cat is: a highly intelligent and independent animal that needs love and affection every day, but is not a dog.
Cats bond with people, just like dogs, but they don’t always bond with the person who has adopted them. They will choose who they like, much to the dismay of the person who “picked them up” in hopes of having acquired a new friend.
This is a very good reason why the first 24 hours are so important. It is during this period that your cat will decide who he wants to bond with.
Unless you know what you are doing, it may not be with you.
A cat needs to spend time with her. One of the big mistakes busy people make is not realizing that they have busy schedules that don’t allow them to spend enough time with their newly adopted cat.
Ultimately, this could cause your cat to run away. If you do not have time to spend with your cat, it will not choose your house as “its den”. He will go out in search of another, and soon you could be reporting a “lost cat.”
Or, to your dismay, you will discover that the cat you thought would be a loving companion has joined another member of your household … someone who did have time to spare.
Many people don’t count the cost of having a pet. In their enthusiasm to adopt a cat, they forget that they don’t have the budget to keep it. Belatedly, they discover that they do not have the cash available to purchase the basic needs of their new feline or provide the medical care that it will surely need.
Many people avoid pet health insurance, not realizing that the same things that happen to people happen to cats, and it can cost large sums of money to cure. This can result in the loss of your beloved pet because the price to save it is “too high.”
Some people who adopt stray cats or cats from friends don’t realize the full scope of medical care their new cat needs:
o A complete physical exam
o A complete vaccination regimen
o Spaying or neutering
In particular, that cute kitten you brought home from a friend’s litter will need a long series of vaccinations (along with boosters) that will span a period of a couple of years. You can’t do it all in one day.
Failure to do so will almost certainly spell tragedy in the future. I know. I didn’t vaccinate one of my kittens. I made a cat outdoors and it died of feline leukemia. The story definitely had a very sad ending …
Your cat’s physical needs
When your cat first comes out of the crate, will he be stocked with the essentials?
Or will you find out you need these things later … and bring them in one at a time, after your cat has defecated in the corner, started scratching the furniture, or started some other unauthorized behavior that you are not prepared? (And beware, a cat is a very obsessed animal … once it starts doing something, it is very difficult to change it).
Making sure you have what you need to welcome your new cat is vital … and you should have the basics on hand before you bring him home.
So when your cat first comes out of her carrier, will all members of your household attack her at once? And when it does, will she flee in terror, trying to find the safest and darkest corner she can find?
Or will you introduce her gradually … to try to reduce the trauma as much as possible so that she can adjust and feel at home in her new situation?
Your technique for doing this can be a deciding factor in whether or not your cat adjusts to your home right away, the next day or the next month, or whether it leaves the house entirely.
The days to follow
Do you know how to care for your new cat in the next few days, assuming you’ve handled your first few introductions well? Do you know about allergies, special foods, baths, grooming, hairballs, urine elimination, training and teaching without scaring or alienating him, and a multitude of other situations that cat owners struggle with on a daily basis? Do you know the dangers of letting it become a cat outdoors?
To be prepared
As you’ve often heard, “grooming is the key to success,” and nowhere is that applied more appropriately than in cat ownership. If you’re prepared, your adoption will likely go smoothly.
I say probably because every cat is different. Even with the best grooming by a knowledgeable owner, a cat may want to hide for a while. And if you find out that’s the case …
You need to know what to do.
That is why I wrote my book, “The first 24 hours of your new cat”, http://www.yourcatsecrets.com, to give you everything you need to know and have, not only to prepare for your new cat and introduce her to your house, but understand it and take care of it in the following days.
I have to say it again: preparation … and knowledge … is the key. When you decide to adopt, I hope you don’t do it in a hurry.
Hope you do it with knowledge and understanding.