Sunday, 7 January 2018

The Family Is Growing (Or Dos and Don'ts When You Get A Cat)

I have been living with the boyfriend for a while now and we had always agreed that once we moved we'd do this since it was something we'd always been looking forward to: we'd go to an animal shelter and get a cat. So we did that. We visited a couple of places to choose (or get chosed by) a cat and there were a lot of internet searches and cat pictures involved in this process. And we eventually fell in love with a little orange one from Amor ao Gato (Cat Love, in English), a small association which helps street cats in Odivelas finding a home, a city and a municipality in Lisbon Metropolitan Area. We were told he was three months old, had been found in a box in the trash and was still a bit scared. We decided to bring him home with us after looking at his pretty little pink snout. We then entered a discussion, going back and forth throwing names, always somehow movie related. This lasted a few days until we reached a final name for him: Simba.

And thus, an alternative title for this post: Dos and Don'ts When You Get A Cat. It's possible this is only the first part of a series of posts. Noobies as we were, we forgot pretty much everything we'd previously read. So here's a few tricks of things we wished we could have done differently or things we've learned so far, hoping to help some beginner cat owners out there:

1) Before you let your new cat out make sure you have covered all the holes your house has. This includes the space between the stove, the machines, the fridge and SPECIALLY that hole you don't even know you have behind the bidet. Yep, he decided to hide inside that.
2) Let the new cat out of the transporter where his space will be (where the food and sand box are) so he knows where everything is.
3) And close the door of said space so he doesn't bolt to an unknown hole you haven't covered yet.
4) If you ignored all the previous steps and the cat ends up in an unknown hole don't try to make him come out of it because he'll get even more scared. He'll eventually grow hungry and tired of being hidden, he'll know where his food is. When the cat finally comes out, quickly do step 3 and then 1.
5) Keep the door closed and spend time with the new cat so he gets used to you and his new space.
6) Be patient on this part of the process. Don't give up. It's a new situation, most likely stressful to the cat so be patient with him. Let him set his own flow.
7) After the cat is more used to you, you can let him explore the house a little bit more, opening one room at the time. Leave the problematic rooms with potential hiding spots for last (such as the kitchen and the bathrooms).
8) Make sure you ALWAYS have your windows closed. And if you have to open it, make sure the cat is not inside the room and then close the door.
9) Don't buy any noisy toys because after a while you'll get tired of getting up in the middle of the night to put it out of reach. Aluminium foil balls work just fine, honestly.
10) Don't switch the cat's food all of a sudden. If they're used to a certain brand of food, start mixing the new food you want to give him with the old one and go from there so he doesn't get gastro-intestinal problems.

As I previously said, Simba was very scared when he first arrived home but we've seen him get more confident every day to the point he sleeps at my feet, joined us on the sofa and decides to join us at the table when we're having dinner (we weren't too thrilled about this last one). We laugh when he decides he's a dog trapped in a cat's body and starts to meow at us whenver we arrive home so we give him food or when he decides to chase his own tail. We took him to the vet last week, who confirmed his age (he's around 4 months now) and behaved so well, I couldn't believe my eyes. I was expecting him to bolt to a dark corner once I let him out of the transporter but he stayed very still and cooperated very well.

We're still trying to make him respond when we call him. We've been calling him whenever we feed or pet him but still with no success. Do cat experts have any tips for this? Or any tips at all, to be honest, as we're open to every kind of useful tip.

All in all, it's been a great expercience so far and we're very happy we gave him a home. Don't buy a pet, adopt one!

You can follow my Simba's adventures on Instagram, I'll be sure to keep it updated.

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