What you should know before bringing home a rescue cat

You’ve found your purrfect kitty and you’re ready to give them a happy home. The question is how?

With a quarter of all Australian cats adopted during the pandemic, more of us than ever are wondering about the nuances of bringing home a rescue cat.

National charity Pet Rescue has some handy hints:

Make it official

Before bringing home a rescue cat or kitten, the first thing you’ll want to do is get the paperwork sorted.

You’ll need an adoption contract, medical records, desexing and vaccination certificates, and microchip details.

Also, make sure you have contact details for the rescue group or past owner. These will mean you can easily get in touch with any follow-up questions.

Bringing home a rescue cat for the first time

New sights, sounds and smells may be a bit overwhelming when your cat first moves in. So it’s important to ease the transition for them.

Set aside a bedroom or enclosed area to help them feel more secure, before letting them explore the rest of the house.

Also, a place to hide like a cupboard or cardboard box will give them the security of their own little hide-away.

Kitting out for kitty

Bringing home a rescue cat also means bringing home the various supplies they, and you, will need.

Your initial shopping list should include:

  • A cat carrier
  • A collar and tag
  • A comfy bed
  • Two litter trays
  • Kitty litter
  • Food and water bowls
  • Scratching post
  • Cat-specific toys
  • Cat food

Setting up the litter tray

If you have never had a cat before, you’re about to become very familiar with kitty litter.

Fill a litter tray with around 2cm of kitty litter and place it in your cat’s space. It should be positioned away from their food and where they can use it undisturbed.

Try and find out which type/brand of litter they’ve been happy using in their former home and use the same one, if possible.

Place your cat in the litter tray when they first enter your home, so they know where to do their business from the outset.

Feeding your new cat

Find out what food your cat has been eating and have a supply ready at home. This can be especially important for rescue cats, as it provides some consistency while adapting to their new surroundings.

Feeding your cat quality food is an investment in your cat’s long-term health and wellbeing.

If you do decide to change the type or brand of food, transition them slowly over several days. Start by mixing a little of the new food into the current food, and gradually add more of the new food. A staged transition will help avoid tummy upsets.

Also, cats generally prefer their water bowl away from their food bowl. So find separate positions in your home for each.

It’s normal for your new adoption to be a bit off their tucker when they first move in. However, if your cat hasn’t eaten for a few days, call your vet for advice.


Unless your cat has long fur, you won’t have to brush it every day. But do have a brush on hand and groom when needed.

It may take some time for your cat to build trust with you, so don’t be alarmed if they aren’t interested in being brushed at first.

And, for most pets, treats will go a long way towards making it an enjoyable experience, for both you and your cat.

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