Bringing a new cat or kitten into your home will certainly be a happy occasion for you, but your new buddy may need some time to adjust as cats territorial instincts may make your new pet feel uneasy coming into a new space. Here are some tips to ensure a smooth transition:
- Before bringing home your new feline friend, prepare a safe space where they can gradually become acclimated to their new surroundings. Outfit a small space, such as a bathroom or laundry room, with food, water, toys, a litter box, a bed, and a scratching post – and make sure there’s a place for you to stay and enjoy some time with your pet.
- Most cats hate to travel, so make sure they are confined in a cat carrier when coming home. If they are loose in the car, they could panic and potentially lead to escape from the car when you open the door.
- Once your new cat is inside the house, immediately take them to their safe place and let them become comfortable there for the first few days. Sit on the floor and let the cat come to you. If he or she doesn’t approach you, don’t worry – just give them time.
- If your new cat hides, don’t try to force them to come out; instead, talk to them, provide treats and let them gradually investigate their surroundings.
- Cats are comforted by scratching, so add a scratching post or scratch box to their surroundings. Because cats can be stressed by the smells of other cats, make sure you purchase a new scratching post or box.
- The stress of moving into a new home may initially affect your kitty’s appetite. Keep them on the same food they ate at the shelter or foster home initially and then you can start to mix in your preferred food as a transition once they are acclimated to their new home. Change the water frequently and make sure that your cat is drinking. If your new pet has not eaten and isn’t taking water after a few days, be sure to consult your vet.
- Make sure all family members are aware of the ground rules for helping to acclimate your cat to its new home. Remind them to keep the door to the safe space closed and not to startle them with loud noises.
- Within a week of bringing your new companion home, plan a visit to the vet for an initial wellness check-up. Make sure you take along a record of immunizations, if you have one.
- As you and your new cat begin to trust each other, he or she may be ready to begin exploring their new home. Be sure you’re at home to supervise this process. Too many spaces may be overwhelming, so close doors to most of the rooms. Particularly shy cats should not be allowed in the basement because they may find a hiding place that you can’t get to easily.
- If you already have cats, a slow introduction will be necessary.
- The scent glands in cats cheeks produce pheromones which they transfer when they rub against things. Exposing each cat to towels that were gently rubbed on the each other’s cheeks may be a good way to start the process.
- Next place the cats on opposite sides of a closed door so they can smell each other. Then you can allow them to see each other through a baby gate positioned with a two-inch gap at the bottom. If they seem to be interested in each other, remove the baby gate and allow them to meet in the room, just be sure to supervise the meeting. If they show signs of aggression, separate them and try a slower introduction.
- If you introducing the new cat to your dog, it is important to watch the body language of both animals closely. If your cat’s ears are pinned back and their tail is swishing back and forth, they are uncomfortable. More importantly is to observe the body language of your dog, especially if your dog has a high prey instinct. If your dog stiffens, stares intently, and is barking, these are your warning signs to not let them near the cat. If this occurs, you will have to go through a longer period of desensitization. Ideally, you are looking for your dog to be interested, but their body should be loose.
Remember, every cat is different, and some may take longer than others to become comfortable in their new home. Letting them adjust at their own pace is the first step toward building a life-long bond with your new pet.