You finally have the kitty of your dreams. You've been to the vet and the store to get all the supplies he'll need. Now what do you do?
From your new cat's perspective, your home is a big, unfamiliar place. He'll need time to get his bearings. The best way is for you to create a safe room. This will serve as his nest for now. Being in a private, quiet room, your newcomer will feel comfortable to investigate his new territory and figure out where his necessities are located.
In this room should be his litter box, food, water, a scratching post, places to hide and a couple of toys. The food and water should be placed on the opposite wall of the litter box. Cats don't eliminate where they eat, so put the food and water as far away from the box as possible. The scratching post should be a sturdy one covered in sisal material.
Now let's talk about an often-overlooked safe room necessity: hiding places. If you place the cat in an empty room, he'll feel too vulnerable and will end up hiding in his litter box. If you provide cover for him, he'll feel secure enough to begin his investigation with confidence. Hiding places are easily created with furniture, open paper bags or empty boxes turned sideways.
Now we come to the fun part: spending time with your new kitty. When dealing with a kitten, go ahead and enjoy lots of time with him. He'll be eager to bond with you (remember, a kitten needs lots of little naps, so don't wear him out). If the new cat in your life is an adult, he'll need some time by himself in the safe room in order to get the lay of the land. Interact with him with respect to his comfort level. Don't overwhelm him or he'll spend all of his time under the bed.
Congratulations on your new kitty. It's the start of a beautiful relationship.
About the author: Pam Johnson-Bennett began her career when her own problem cat was labeled hopeless by the vet. After successfully treating her own cat, as well as hundreds of other "hopeless" pets, she became a veterinary technician and the award-winning author of four books on cats. She's now a popular guest on national TV and radio, writes regularly for three major cat magazines and runs a private vet-referred counseling practice in Tennessee.