(BPT) - Do you give the furry family members of your household presents to celebrate the holiday season? If so, you're not alone.
Nearly half (47 percent) of cat owners say they have bought their cat a holiday gift, according to ARM & HAMMER Clump & Seal Lightweight Cat Litter's 'Lighten the Day' study. But what if instead of getting your favorite feline a present, you're gifted a new kitty to join your family?
If you receive a cat as a gift this holiday season, it's important to prepare your home for a lifetime of love with your new furry family member. Mieshelle Nagelschneider, The Cat Whisperer, author and internationally-respected cat behaviorist, offers eight tips for pet parents opening their home to a new feline companion:
Find a good location for food and water
Place food, water and litter boxes in different locations in your home. In nature, cats like to keep their eating and drinking areas away from their bathroom site (litter box) because they want to avoid them becoming contaminated. Cats also prefer to drink water away from their food so it doesn't come into contact with their 'dead prey' which in this case is their eating area.
Buy larger litter boxes
Cats prefer open litter boxes due to their survival instinct of not becoming trapped by predators. Also, the larger the litter box, the more attractive it will be for your cat. If you notice your cat pawing at the edge of the litter box, it's a sign that the box may be too small.
Keep the litter box clean
To encourage your new kitty to use their litter box, be sure to scoop litter at least once per day and use a litter that traps odor. A messy, smelly bathroom may cause your cat to go elsewhere. For easy maintenance, try ARM & HAMMER Clump & Seal Lightweight Cat Litter which provides 7-day odor control, is 50 percent lighter than the Clump & Seal base litter and is 100 percent dust-free. Visit clumpandseal.com to learn more.
Separate resources in multi-cat households
Will your new holiday gift be sharing your household with another feline friend? In a multi-cat household, cats structure their social hierarchy by time-sharing resource locations. The more locations you have for your cats' important resources (toys, perching and resting areas, litter boxes, eating areas, watering areas) the better your cats will coexist.
Encourage play each day
Playtime or 'hunting' is essential for your cat's happiness as both their mind and body need stimulation. Interactive toys that you can use to play with your cat, like wand toys, toys your cat can play with on his own, and food puzzles can help reduce stress and keep your cat physically and mentally healthy.
Provide multiple litter boxes
Domestic cats have a wild instinct to use multiple bathroom sites which is why it's recommended to have two litter boxes in separate locations for a single-cat household. For two cats, three boxes in at least two locations is preferred. Remember, scoop boxes frequently, use an odor-trapping litter and replace the entire litter every 30 days.
Make the litter box easily accessible
Litter box locations should replicate what a cat practices in nature - locations in multiple areas. Some cats prefer more hidden areas, while others prefer litter boxes that are more out in the open. Regardless, the boxes should be easily accessible and in a low traffic area.
Keep cats comfortable when meeting new people
Your cat has just found her home, but meeting so many new people can be overwhelming. It's important to put your cat in a relaxed mood when new people visit. Keep your cat happy with an interactive wand toy - they'll be most confident when hunting or playing. Remember never to force interaction with a new person. Let the cat approach new people first.