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Bringing Kitty to her forever house is so exciting. But you can’t just open the door and expect her to make herself at home. She’ll likely be a little shy, or want to explore everything. And she’ll want to know where her basics are right away: the litterbox, the food, and the bed to hide under. We’ve got some great tips to help you make it the best day ever.

Take it slow.

While you’ll be excited to introduce your new furry friend to your friends and neighbors, it’s best to give kitty some quiet time to adjust to new surroundings. A new cat may take a few weeks to get comfortable with a new home and new schedule.

Keep it simple.

For the first week or two, keep your cat’s diet similar to what he or she received at the shelter. If you want to change to a different brand or flavor, do it slowly over a period of weeks, mixing the old food with the new.

Stage the loo.

Set up the litter box in a quiet, low-traffic area that the cat can always access. Be sure to fill the litter box with 3–4 inches of Fresh Step® litter. Cats need a clean environment and are very fussy about cleanliness, so be sure to clean out solids once a day and clean the rest of the litter according to the package instructions. Leave a nice copy of Cat Fancy™ next to the box for those longer sessions.

Make sure kitty loves her litterbox.

Kitty’s box should be just right for her. That means the right size (one and a half the size of her body), whether she likes covered or uncovered, and have the right number of litterboxes in the right places. Think inside the box with our Choosing the Best Litterbox for Your Cat article.

Kitty-proof the house.

Before letting your feline friend loose in the house, be sure to put away any potentially harmful things like cleaning products, medication and any poisonous household items or plants. We’ve got more details in our Kitty-Proofing Your House article.

Take kitty to the vet.

Bring your new cat to a caring vet for a wellness exam within one week of adoption. Cats typically should be seen by vets annually in order to keep up with vaccines and other preventive care.

Lots of vets recommend you keep your kitty indoors to keep her safe from cars, other predators, and things like rat poison. But there’s also plenty of danger lurking inside the house for a fuzzy someone that likes to explore, chew and scratch — we’re talking about your cat, not you. Here are some quick tips to make sure your home is safe for your BFF (best feline friend).

Plants

Cats are famous for chewing on any and every plant in the home, mostly out of curiosity. But you know the saying about curiosity…It turns out that many indoor plants are poisonous for kittehs, including poinsettia, lilies, philodendron, azaleas and many more. Do a quick search on plants that are poison for cats, and either put them in hanging planters out of Kitty’s reach, or retire your indoor green thumb. We know it’s hard. But it’s the plants or the cat.

Food

Kitty (especially kittens) won’t be too discerning when it comes to grabbing food that’s been left on the counter. Put away anything that could upset her tummy — or which you’re saving for your dinner.

Electrical cords

For a cat who loves to chew, electrical cords are like Twizzlers. Twizzlers filled with dangerous electricity. Either tape your cords to the side of your appliances, or bundle them up in harder-to-chew cord protector

High shelves

Cats are naturally gifted climbers. This means that they’d love to climb up on that shelf and knock over your grandmother’s tea set just to see what happens. Unfortunately, if the shelf isn’t secured, it could topple over, Kitty and all. Secure the shelf to the wall, put away the Waterford crystal, and get the cat tree that your feline craves.

Cleaning supplies

Make sure all cleaning supplies are in a closed cabinet out of Kitty’s reach. And remember, when you’re done cleaning the tub or the sink, give it a thorough rinse. Kitties love to get in the tub and drink the water.

Trash

These tiny troublemakers love to knock over the trash to see if there’s something tasty in there. While there might be, there might also be something poisonous. This one’s an easy solve: just get a garbage can with a secured lid.

Windows and doors

Especially when you’re bringing Kitty home for the first time, make sure all windows and doors are secured. Otherwise, your new kitty will escape — and won’t know how to get back to her new home. 

Craft supplies

Cats love to play with — and sometimes ingest — yarn, thread and ribbons. If you want to avoid a hefty vet bill, make sure all these items are secured when the crafting session’s done.

We know all this sounds like a lot. But it’s absolutely worth it to make sure your cute furry friend has a safe and fun time in your house for years to come. 

Distract Kitty with a good toy.

A great way to keep cats from destroying your stuff is to give them something better. Entertain Kitty with an iPad game built especially for her. You’ll find that game and much more in the Paw Points® Rewards catalog.

Shaking hands? Rolling over? Jumping through hoops? If you think training is just for dogs, think again. Cats can not only be trained through the same positive method used for dogs, but it can stop them from engaging in unwanted behavior (no, the new couch wouldn’t look better shredded), and keep Kitty from getting bored and depressed.

Clicker training is all about positive reinforcement. Cats don’t really respond well to being yelled at, or spritzed with water. In fact, negative reinforcement can erode the loving bond you have with Kitty. Why would you want her to be afraid of you? But if an action is immediately followed by a delicious treat (mmm…treats), Kitty will be happy to repeat that great action — and love you for it.

What’s an example of some “great actions”? Teaching kitty to sit and stay still while getting a shot or clipping her nails, getting her to not knock over keepsakes, or unbelievably, VOLUNTARILY going into the kitty carrier for a vet visit.  Some people even train their cats to go on hikes with them. Clicker training ensures they stay close to their cat parent while out in the wild (and a leash helps, too). All of these actions can be cute — and useful. They also give you another way to engage with your cat and bond with her. And it really ups the communication factor between you and your kitty, which is a wonderful feeling for both of you.

Clicker training is fairly easy, and can be taught to a cat of any age (because they’re cute AND smart). Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Stock up on your primary reinforcer: This is the reward. Usually, the tastiest treat for your little cat. If your cat isn’t motivated by food (hey, every cat is different), maybe kitty will respond to some much-loved petting or brushing.
  2. Get a hold of a secondary reinforcement: This is going to be the clicker, which you can find at a pet store. You can also use a clicking pen or a click of your tongue, but you want it to be a unique sound, so Kitty doesn’t get confused. This is eventually going to be the signal for your cat to engage in “the trick,” whatever that may be. If your Kitty is deaf, a little flashlight works great.
  3. Pair the click with a treat: Now it’s time to connect a click with a treat. It may take a few tries before Kitty makes the connection. For some cats who aren’t food-oriented (and we’re not sure that cat really exists, except in myth), their rewards can be a good play session with their favorite toy, or a snuggle session for cats who live for affection.
  4. Pair the clicker and treat with an action: Now, when kitty happens to undertake a specific action (let’s say jumping off the couch), click the clicker and give her a treat immediately. You can pair this with a verbal command, too. Soon she’ll equate getting off the couch with a treat. But don’t be discouraged. This may take several tries.
  5. Keep training sessions short: no more than 5 or 10 minutes.
  6. Repeat, repeat, repeat

The key here is patience. Remember, this is like learning a new language for Kitty. But soon she’ll be off the kitchen counter — and busy on her world tour of Kitty’s Kool Tricks. Amazingly, some cats eventually take it a step further and will respond to voice commands without the need for the clicker.

But don’t make Kitty do too many tricks. Remember, cats aren’t dogs. Because cats domesticated themselves, they aren’t really command-oriented. In fact, we love them for their individuality. Before asking Kitty to fetch your slippers, remember to leave her a shred of dignity.

The key to clicker training is rewards. And that’s what the Fresh Step® Paw Points® Rewards program is all about. So if you really want to reward your fabulously talented kitty, join the Paw Points® program, and redeem points for a fun, catnip-soaked treat. Now if only you could train her to clean her own litter…

Almost everything about adopting a new kitty is awesome. They’re loving. They’re playful. They’re beautiful. And they can be incredibly calming companions.

But just like the rest of us, a cat has to go potty several times a day. That odor can be, shall we say, aggressive. But here at Fresh Step, we’re the odor control experts, so we’ve got a lot of ways to keep your home smelling fresh and lovely, every day.

First, what makes cat pee so strong-smelling?

Cat pee isn’t so very different from other animal pee. But younger cats have very efficient kidneys, which absorb water very well to keep them hydrated. And they generally don’t drink much water. As a result, your kitty’s pee is very concentrated. And when it begins to break down, bacteria create a strong ammonia smell. And worse, cat pee isn’t noticeable until it’s a problem. You’ll notice that older cats have even stronger smelling pee, as their geriatric kidneys don’t work as well as they used to.

Let’s get fresh.

But keeping your home smelling sweet and not “catty” isn’t that hard, and is absolutely worth it. Take these steps, and when guests come over, they’ll be surprised (and delighted) that you have a cat or two.

  1. Choose the right litter for your cat(s): Got one cat? Got more than one? Is your cat a kitten or a wise elder? From singletons to multiple and older cats, there’s a Fresh Step® litter that’s right for your cat. Find your cat’s litter here.
  2. Clean litter regularly: Scoop out solids once a day, and clean the rest of the litter according to the instructions on the package. Treat kitty to a nice new litterbox once a year, since plastic will eventually absorb odors and be stinky.
  3. Make sure you have enough boxes to go around: If you have multiple cats, you should have a litter box for each cat, plus one extra. So if you have two cats, get three litter boxes.
  4. Take care of accidents ASAP: Sometimes Kitty will go in the wrong area (say, the rug or a couch). Treat that area as soon as you can with enzyme cleaners so she won’t return after she marked her spot.
  5. Get Kitty fixed: Male cats have an even stronger pee scent, and often will spray to mark territory (nothing says “This is mine!” like peeing on it). Getting cats fixed, male or female, will often help avoid these problems — and a host of others, but we’ll save that for another time.
  6. Vacuum it away: Vacuum rugs and kitty litter area about twice a week. It will help keep odors down and reduce pet hair everywhere.
  7. Keep Kitty’s bedding clean: Make sure any blankets and bedding that Kitty sleeps on are kept fresh for her. Your home will smell better, and your cat will love snoozing on a soft, clean bed (and those “catty” odors should disappear).
  8. Wash Kitty’s food and water bowl: Cleaning your cat’s food and water bowl regularly will discourage stinky bacteria from forming, and keep your cat healthier.

Clean and fresh is the name of the game when it comes to keeping odors from forming. Want to keep that litter coming? With the Fresh Step® Paw Points® program, you’ll earn points for buying the litter your kitty loves. Points add up fast, and you can redeem them for free litter and coupons. That way, you’ll get to enjoy more purr time — and less stink time.