1. Healthy kitty – Making sure the newest member of the family is healthy is a top priority.  Have her checked by your local vet to ensure that she has no intestinal parasites or is in immediate need of care.  A series of shots will be administered to rid her of intestinal parasites, prevent disease, and vaccinate for rabies.  She may be put on flea preventative, and some formulas discourage mites.  Most animal control agencies require that the rabies vaccinations be recorded.  You may be required to mail in documentation proving your cat has been vaccinated.  Most veterinarians will not board your cat until vaccinations are administered.
  2. Potty training – Place a litter box in a conspicuous location so that she will readily locate it and be encouraged to use it.  It does not take long to potty train a cat.  Their natural instinct is to use the sand-like area.  They are quite clean with the occasional spillage.  Ensure that the litter box is the appropriate size for your cat.  If the litter box is too small, there will be a larger mess to clean up.  
  3. Diet – Your vet will let you know the best type of food and vitamins to give your new cat, especially if she has become malnourished from neglect.  Vitamin supplements are important during the first year of life.  When searching for food in stores, make sure it is appropriate for the age of your cat.  The label outlines dietary content.  You can decide what is most needed for your cat.  Contrary to popular belief, a cow’s milk is not appropriate for a cat, nor is human food.  There are many foods that are dangerous to the health of your cat.  Research these foods and avoid access to them.  
  4. Safe environment – Like children, cats will get into anything they are not supposed to be in.  They are curious by nature and will investigate everything.  Ensure that your home is a safe place to raise a cat.  Hot stoves, loose electrical wiring, string, human food, and access to extremely high locales are just a few of the hundreds of dangers your cat faces in your home.  Perform a walk through or pay attention to what interests her and make it safe. 
  5. Introducing to other pets – Medical treatment needs to be completed prior to this step.  Allow the cat time to adjust to her new home.  This may be accomplished initially by avoiding other pets if space allows.  Once the cat feels comfortable, begin the introduction process while ensuring the safety of all the animals involved.  If you feel any of your pets are in imminent danger avoid this step.  Use common sense.  If the pets are going to cohabitate they should at least be able to tolerate one another.
  6. Spay/neuter – The decision to spay/neuter is entirely a personal preference.  It is a good idea for a stray to be spayed/neutered due to the fact that they may ‘escape’ back into the wild and you will never see them again.  Some strays have a wild side that cannot be tamed.  If this does occur, at least you have done the humane service of ensuring that breeding by this cat does not occur.
  7. Declawing – There is much debate on this procedure.  Cats claw at furniture, trees, and carpeting to stretch, sharpen claws, and mark their territory.  Declawing should be considered as a last resort option after all other attempts have failed.  If you decide to have a cat declawed because of a cat’s natural instinct, it is self-serving and not for the benefit of the cat.  The decision may be made because of an existing or potential health related problem for you.  You may have a cat allergy or immune deficiency and the scratch from a cat could cause you health problems.  Additionally, the claw may be damaged or infected and need removal.  Although declawing can occur much earlier than spaying/neutering, you may want to wait and have both surgeries performed at the same time.  This will mean only one administration of anesthesia and save you money.  Remember, if you declaw a cat, you cannot voluntarily return her outdoors, or if she ‘escapes’ as previously discussed, she will have no way to defend herself and will be vulnerable to attack.