So, you’ve decided to adopt your first kitten or cat. Congratulations! Cats are amazing little furballs that provide an immense amount of unconditional love and have even been known to lower our blood pressure and decrease our stress and anxiety. A cat’s purr is very soothing and conveys happiness and content and of course their fur is oh so soft. What’s not to love about that?
First things first…let’s talk about what you need to have to be ready for your new feline friend.
Litter Boxes & Litter:
You will need a minimum of one litter box, preferably uncovered. Cats prefer being safe in an uncovered box so that they can see potential threats and escape them. Covered litter boxes do their job of containing odors, but they don’t really work for cats.
The general rule regarding the number of litter boxes needed in a household is 1 litter box per cat, plus one. So, if there are 3 cats in the household, you should have 4 litter boxes. If you have only one cat in your house, you should be fine with just one litter box, or you can have one litter box on each floor of your home.
Each litter box should be scooped at least once or twice a day, and it’s even better if you can get to it as soon as your cat has finished his/her “business”. Each litter box should also be emptied and washed with soap and water at least once a week. There are self-cleaning litter boxes available that use a sensor to tell when a cat has entered and then left the litter box. In fact, there are so many litter box options available today that it’s enough to make your head spin. I recommend to start basic and see what your cat prefers.
Speaking of head spinning…what type of litter should you buy? It seems that every cat owner has their own preference. I personally use unscented clay litter for ease (it’s all that my cats have ever used and switching litters can be disastrous for some finicky felines!). Here is a summary of the various types of litters available. Whichever one you choose, make sure it is unscented. Most cats don’t like the scents, which can be quite strong.
- Clay clumping: Usually made from bentonite, clumping clay litter is easy to clean up and most cats like this type of litter. Unfortunately, it isn’t biodegradable, is heavy, and creates a lot of dust. Also, note that you may not wish to use clumping litter for kittens.
- Clay non-clumping: These types of litter are made from clays other than bentonite. They are not as easy to clean and require more frequent and diligent cleaning because they don’t form into nice scoopable clumps.
- Crystals: This type of litter is usually made of silica. They often control odor better and last longer than clay litter. However, they’re more expensive, and they are dangerous if a cat ingests too much of them when they’re cleaning their paws.
- Corn, wheat, and pine: Litters made from recycled corn, wheat, and pine are all available. They usually don’t clump up but are mostly low or no dust, and the great thing is that they’re biodegradable. If a cat has a food allergy to any of these ingredients, however, he may develop a reaction when this litter is used because cats always ingest some litter while grooming.
Tip: If your cat is eliminating outside of the litter box this could be an urgent medical issue. Please have your cat seen by your veterinarian to rule out any medical issue before switching litter brands.
– Veronica (LGAR Cat Lady)
“The short answer is Jody Harris-Stern.
The long answer…
I was not looking to foster or adopt a dog since I am cat foster of more than 20 yrs and haven’t had a dog in 30 yrs. But there was a dog that pulled my heart strings and by the time I inquired, he had already been saved. That is when I was bombarded (in a nice way) [with] pics and details about a dog named Missy. I said no, no, no but the sending did not give up until I agreed to give it a chance.
That is where Jody came in. She immediately pulled the dog from death row NYACC and made arrangements to get Missy to me. From the very first minute, Jody was there to hold my hand, talk me through it and reassure me the whole way.
Since then I have seen Jody give herself to the saving and caring for animals at remarkable sacrifice. I have watched Jody get unfairly accused of ridiculousness and attacked by the petty and the jealous. I have watched Jody deal with rescue issues when she was not sure her son would even be ok. I have watched her selflessly give herself to animals and friends with grace, class and overwhelming beauty. And I know that any time of the day or night that I need help, no matter what the issue, she will be there for me… as she would for all who are connected to her.
Any organization with a leader like Jody… I want to be part of.”
Rather than recreate the wheel, we found excellent perspective on a few very important issues that we wanted to share; each of the highlighted words link to further guides that you may find useful from a wonderful group called Dogs Out Loud. Rescue takes a village, and sometimes that village consists of other rescues resources. We appreciate DogsOutLoud giving us permission to link to their words of wisdom and are thankful there is such good information out there to share. We have your back but need to know that the commitment goes both ways. Our dogs’ lives literally depend on it.
- So, You’ve Brought Home a New Dog, Now What?
- I Need to Return This Dog
- Catch Your Dog Doing Something Good
- The Magic of Adopting a Long Stay Dog
- Leash Gremlins Need Love Too..Helping Your Leash Reactive Dog
- The Say Please Protocol
- Separation Anxiety
- Crate Training
- Thinking about getting a Dog – read this first
- Introducing your Cat to a Foster Dog
- Decompression and the Two week Shutdown
All guides used with permission.
Be patient with your foster dog. Even house trained adult dogs will make mistakes, especially if they’ve been at the shelter for a long time and have been eliminating in their kennel. If there are smells in your house from another dog or cat, some foster dogs may “mark” out their territory. This action should be re-directed immediately with a calm “Oops” and escort him outside where he can finish. You will then want to use some odor neutralizer (like Nature’s Miracle) on the areas where the foster dog “marked” to insure he will not smell and mark that area again. You can begin to house train a puppy at 8 weeks of age. Even if you bring home an adult dog that is housebroken, you will want to follow these guidelines until your foster dog adjusts to his new situation and to your schedule.
Determine where you want your foster dog to eliminate – it could be the backyard, side yard or an indoor substrate.
When you have determined where he should do his business, take him to the same place every time, and tell him “go potty” or “do your business”. Take him out when he wakes up, after he eats or drinks, after a play session, or at least every 2 hours. Puppies should go out every 45 minutes until you learn their pattern. Stand with him for 5 minutes. If he eliminates, reward him (with treats, praise, a favorite game and your own special happy dance). If he doesn’t go in 5 minutes, take him back inside and try every 15 minutes until he goes. Every time he goes, make sure you reward him!
Supervise the puppy closely while you are inside. If he starts to sniff the floor, or even squats to go, interrupt with a calm “Oops”, scoop him up quickly and take him to the approved spot and praise when he finishes.
If he goes in the house while you are not paying attention, don’t correct him – it is not his fault. Clean it up and go back to your schedule. Use an odor neutralizer (like Nature’s Miracle) to get rid of the smell. NEVER put the dog’s face in his mess, or yell at him. He will not understand you and you will only be teaching him to fear you.
Before you introduce your foster dog to your cat, you should wait a few days until you have confirmed or instilled basic obedience in your foster dog. You will need to have your foster dog under control and know which behaviors are appropriate when interacting with a cat. All dogs are driven to chase things; some may have a stronger drive than others. In a dog’s eyes cats are wonderful to chase. They are small, furry, and have those wonderful long tails. Cats are also usually pretty fast and can lead a dog on a merry chase, which only makes the dog want to do it again and again. If we could only teach those cats not to run away! That is beyond my expertise, so the focus of this article is what we can do to help the dog stop chasing the cat.
Properly introducing the dog and cat can help things go harmoniously from the start. Never force the cat to meet the dog. Cats are cautious by nature and will approach when they feel safe. Crating or tethering the dog so the cat can get close without having to worry about running can go a long way toward making the cat feel better. Making sure that the dog is in the presence of things the cat loves, such as her favorite toy or cat nip, can also help things along. However, there are times when even the most careful introductions won’t make Kitty and Fido best friends. That’s where the rest of this section comes in.
First of all, make sure that you have a safe place for the cat to go. You can use a baby gate, jerry-rig a door to open only wide enough for the cat to slip in, or actually install a cat door in the interior door. (If your dog has full run of the house, you may need to make a safe place for your cat on all levels of you home.) In the cat’s sanctuary, have at least her litter box and water. Make sure the sanctuary is a place the cat likes to go.
The next thing you should do is work on basic obedience commands with your dog in a distraction-free environment. “sit”, ” stay”, and ” come” are a minimum and they should be very reliable off leash and out of your arm’s reach. As the dog gets good at these with minimum distractions, gradually add distractions. Keep in mind that the cat may be the highest level distraction, so it could be awhile before you are ready to introduce her to your training sessions.
ASSUME THE DOG WILL CHASE THE CAT SO YOU ARE PREPARED!
If all is reasonably calm so far, walk the dog around the room on leash, but don’t let go of the leash in case the dog decides to chase the cat. On leash interactions give the cat the opportunity to approach the dog if they choose, or to find a route of escape. During the first few meetings, the cat and dog will probably not interact face-to-face. A dog is a predatory animal. It’s a natural instinct for a dog to want to chase a cat. Assume the dog will chase the cat so you are prepared. Never allow the dog to intimidate the cate by barking or chasing. Each time the dog acts inappropriately (barking), let him know these behaviors are unacceptable; try using a verbal interrupter like “Oops” to get their attention and redirect their energy. On the other hand, if the cat bops the dog on the nose as a warning, that’s a good sign and should not be discouraged. When they set up boundaries between themselves, they are beginning to establish a working relationship.
Let them interact with the dog on leash for about 30 minutes, then return the cat back to its safe haven and bring the dog will chase the cat so you are prepared. Never allow the dog to intimidate the cat by barking or chasing. Each time the dog acts inappropriately (barking), let him know these behaviors are unacceptable; try using a verbal interrupter like “Oops” to get their attention and redirect their energy. On the other hand, if the cat bops the dog on the nose as a warning, that’s a good sign and should not be discouraged. When they set up boundaries between themselves, they are beginning to establish a working relationship.
Let them interact with the dog on leash for about 30 minutes, then return the cat back to its safe haven and bring the dog to its crate or bed. Give the dog a treat and lots of praise. Increase the amount of time they are together a little each visit. It is important to be patient and encouraging in their interactions. If you’re relaxed, they will be more at ease. Always praise friendly behavior.
Don’t rush the introduction or force them to interact more than either is willing. Pressing them to accept each other will only slow down the adjustment process. When the cat and dog seem to be getting used to each other, let the dog go, but keep his leash attached to his collar. Let him drag it around the house as he wanders, that way you can control him at any time. The cat will probably hide first. You should use your best judgment as to when they can begin supervised sessions with the dog off-leash.
Remember that this will take some time. Keep in mind that the dog is not only getting used to the idea of a cat in his house, but also his new people, routine, and what these people expect of him. It may take a month or more for things to settle into a somewhat normal existence. Also remember not to tempt fate by allowing the cat and dog to be together if you are not around to supervise. Sometimes the best-behaved dogs can get too rough in play, which can result in injury or worse. Crating the dog, or closing him in one area while the cat is in another area is a wise safety precaution, even if you don’t feel it is necessary.