Your New Cat or Kitten

The first weeks

This leaflet is designed to help you and your new arrivals settle down together in the first few days. Remember it has sometimes taken us months to nurse a neglected cat back to health and happiness before she is well enough to be rehomed. So it’s very important that you and your new cats get off to a good start.

Preparing for your new arrival 

Cat smiling image

Prepare your home so that it is safe and there are no dangerous places to hide. Lock all windows and keep doors shut. Block up any chimney access. Keep her in a secure room to start. Have her litter tray ready in a private corner before you let her out of the carrier. Put a little food down in another area when you let her out into the room. Keep her bed and feeding bowls away from draughts so that she will think ‘This is my home and it is safe’. Let her inspect her new home in her own time, and show her the litter tray and bed. Try and keep her attention until she settles in. DO NOT leave her on her own. DO NOT let the family pull her about. Keep noise levels down. 

Settling in 

Your cat or kitten will probably hide for a few days. This is normal. Even confident cats can take a few weeks to settle in. Likely places will be behind sofas & kitchen units, or under beds. Never force a cat to come out of a carrier or hiding place. Your young kitten may be frightened and distressed after leaving her family. You could give her an enclosed box/bed and cuddly toy to snuggle up to at night and make sure she is warm. It can sometimes be 4 or 5 days before a new cat starts to eat properly and a few days before they use the litter tray for the first time. They may also prowl around the house meowing all night. This may happen for just 2 nights but can go on for 2 weeks or more. They are calling out for other cats but once they know they are on their own they will settle down.

Cats are all different and what suits one may not suit another. There is no hard and fast rule about how quickly a cat will settle into a new home. We try very hard to match a cat and new owner but if you find your new cat does not seem to be settling in after a few weeks, please contact us. Remember, your cat has already been through one traumatic experience and needs your patience and tender loving care now. N.B. If you decide you need to find a new home for your cat, she MUST COME BACK TO HAWS. Please contact us without delay. 


A kitten needs four meals of kitten food a day and clean water should always be available. As she grows, her appetite will increase, so if she cries and looks for more food let her have some. Kittens will not overfeed themselves – they will go back to the food as required. Do not leave uneaten food around. You should feed your adult cat two-three meals daily and give her a varied diet of ‘complete’ cat food (tinned and/or dried). You should allow one large can of tinned food or 3-4 pouches per cat per day. If using dried food, the amount should be altered accordingly using information on the packet. Your cat will tell you which she prefers, but it is not good to leave too much food. Cats also need a constant supply of fresh water. Milk can cause diarrhoea so should be avoided. 

Introducing other pets 

2 cats illustration

It is a good idea to settle the new arrival in a spare room to start off with and then slowly introduce existing pets. They may be hissing/yowling/swiping each other for several days/weeks. This is to be expected. When they are in the same room make sure there are places to hide or shelves to climb on so that eye to eye contact can be avoided. Do not be seen to be lavishing too much attention on the newcomer. Make the introduction gradually. Let each cat get a view or the scent of the other without actual confrontation. This could be done at feeding time when their minds are on food, but feed them well apart. Do not leave your pets together unsupervised until they have totally accepted each other.

If the confrontation looks violent and they start attacking each other, try and distract them so that you can keep them separate for longer. Established kittens and young cats will chase after each other and get into mock fights which can look very unfriendly but this is normal. Just keep an eye on them.

Keep cat flaps locked or on ‘incoming only’ for existing pets. Avoid allowing new cats near the cat flap until they are ready to go out as flaps can be forced open by a determined cat.

It may take about 2 months or more for your new arrival to be accepted as part of the family, and it may well not be love at first sight, but they usually settle down quite amicably in the end. 

Letting your cat out 

Cat going out illustration


If you do, she will probably become a stray again and all our time and patience will count for nothing. When you first let her out do so before a meal and in the morning, so she comes back soon to eat. Always stay with her the first few times until she comes back and give her a lot of encouragement when she returns. Do not carry her outdoors or put her on a harness or lead. 



At dusk and dawn your cat’s instinct may be to go out and hunt. At night whilst chasing other animals, there is increased danger of being hit by a car or being attacked and/or injured. You will therefore also risk the possibility of larger vets bills. Imagine your cat lying injured in your garden whilst you are asleep for the next few hours. It’s unlikely that anyone else will spot her, let alone get her to a vet. It is also prime time for them to get stolen. With poor visibility and in bad weather, your cat may even find it difficult to find her way home! Your cats should NOT be let out at night. 

Health Care 

Please note that you are taking on full responsiblity for the health and well being of your kitten/cat. HAWS rehomes all cats subject to a clean bill of health declared by our vet. If you have any causes for concern, please contact us immediately.


We vaccinate all our kittens and cats against cat flu, feline enteritis and feline leukemia (FeLV). They receive 2 treatments, 3 to 4 weeks apart.

At the time of adoption you will receive a vaccination card stamped and signed by our vet. This will show exactly what your kitten/cats have been given. Kittens can only start their first vaccination when 9 weeks old, so if the kitten is homed at that age or slightly older we ask the adopter to take care of the second vaccination which again should be 3 to 4 weeks after the first one. To stay immunised, you will need to take them back for yearly booster vaccinations. The date you need to do this will be marked on the card.


HAWS believes most strongly that cats, both male and female, should be neutered and not permitted to reproduce. We home a cat or kitten subject to your written agreement to this policy. If you have homed an adult cat, he/she will already have been neutered. If you have accepted a kitten you will be given a date when he/she is old enough to be neutered (usually at five months old). 


Male cats are far more affectionate when neutered. They will not become involved in fights, nor will they be inclined to roam the neighbourhood looking for females, risking injury or loss. Entire males are more likely to contract the FeLV and FIV viruses (the former being frequently fatal).

Viruses and Parasites

Your new cat or kitten will have been treated recently by us if she was found to have fleas and this treatment is required every 6 weeks to ensure adequate protection. We recommend regular spot-on treatments which are administered to the cat’s skin on the back of the neck, between the shoulder blades. In addition, cats and kittens need regular treatment for roundworm and tapeworm parasite infection especially when they are going out and coming into contact with wildlife. This should be given every few months. The most effective flea and worm products are only available from your vet. 


HAWS undertakes to microchip all kittens and cats which come into our care. We will transfer ownership into your name free of charge within a few weeks of receiving your completed adoption papers. You should receive notification from the microchip company in due course. If you do not hear anything within 2 months of the adoption date, please do not hesitate to contact us. As a precaution please do not let your cat out in the meantime. Please also let us know if she goes missing, as we may hear of her whereabouts before you do. 

Pet Insurance 

We recommend taking out an insurance policy to cover any unexpected or emergency vets bills or to compensate you should your cat ever go missing. Do check the small print and make sure that as long as you keep up the regular payments, that whatever condition your cat may get in the future, your insurance company will cover treatment for life. An insurance policy will not cover routine treatments such as vaccinations, neutering etc.


If you think you may be allergic to your new cat, please think ahead and use a product like ‘Bio-Life Petal Cleanse allergy lotion’ which you stroke through the cat’s fur on a regular basis. This will help to desensitise your home especially if used from the start. It can relieve symptoms such as: streaming puffy eyes; runny nose; inflamed throat; wheezing; sneezing; asthma; eczema; hives.

Please let us know immediately so that we can offer advice. If the condition becomes unbearable we will expect plenty of notice before being able to take her in. Please make sure you have treated your cat for fleas before assuming that you have become allergic. 

Going on Holiday

If you are going away make sure your cats are safe inside the home with a litter tray. If you are away for just a couple of days then you may be able to rely on automatic cat feeders to open up fresh food at regular intervals. If you will be away for longer then you should consider getting a friend, family member or reputable pet sitter to come every day to feed them and clean out the litter tray. We also suggest locking the cat flap so your cat cannot wander off looking for you or other company.

Remember that if you intend to board your cat at a cattery they will require to see the up to date vaccination record card from your vet.  

Transporting your cat 

Always use a large, secure, ventilated plastic, or covered wire cat carrier. We do not recommend cardboard, wicker or fabric carriers – cats can become unpredictable and may be able to escape from them in transit. They are also unhygienic. Be aware that due to stress, some cats are inclined to soil inside the carrier during transit.

The correct way to immobilise your cat is to grip her firmly by the loose skin at the back of the neck, pick her up and place her quickly and purposefully in the open carrier. Double check that all catches are fastened firmly before transporting.