Bringing a new cat home
23rd May 2018
A new environment can be stressful for any cat so when you adopt one, be prepared for a settling in period of a few weeks (or more). By making sure your home is all ready for your new cat, you can ensure the transition from rescue centre to house runs as smoothly as possible.
A dedicated room
Choose a quiet room in your house where your new cat can spend time when they first come home. This should contain their essential resources separated from each other; food bowl, water bowl, litter tray, bed, hiding places, a high perch, a scratching post and some cat toys. Your new cat should be given time to explore this room at their own pace. If they are timid, they may spend quite a bit of time hiding initially until they feel confident enough to investigate their new surroundings.
Interacting with your new cat
Approach your cat quietly and speak to them with a soft voice. Stroke them if they are happy for you to do so and refrain from picking them up until they are properly settled. If you have children, take the time to show them how to stroke the cat gently. Family members should be introduced one at a time so that your cat doesn’t feel overwhelmed.
Expanding your cat’s territory
Once your cat has had time to settle in, open the door to their room to give them access to the rest of the house. Don’t force your cat out of the room; allow them to venture out when they feel ready. It’s likely that you’ll want to give your new cat access to the outdoors. Keep them inside for a few weeks and when you do let them outside for the first time, do so when they are hungry so you can entice them inside with food. Also, accompany them in the garden. You should ensure they are neutered and microchipped before they are allowed outside.
The importance of scent
Scent plays a big part in how settled a cat feels. To get your new cat used to your scent, leave an item of your clothing/towel/blanket in their enclosure at the rescue centre for a few days before you bring them home. This gives them time to get used to your smell without changing the setting. They can also build up their own scent on this item, which will help them settle in at home. When you transport them home, place the same item of clothing in their cat carrier and transfer it to their designated room once you get home.
Make your home more inviting by spreading your cat’s scent around your home. Do this by rubbing their face with a cloth and rubbing the cloth against objects around the home that your cat is likely to encounter. Their scent should also be introduced to other cats in the household. Further information about how to introduce your new cat to your existing cat can be found here.
Synthetic scents can also make a cat feel more settled. Use a pheromone diffuser or spray around the home and in their carrier. If spraying inside their carrier, do so at least 15 minutes before you place your cat inside.
Above all, give your cat time. Allowing your cat to settle into your house under their own terms can ensure that your cat will soon consider your house their home.
This article is in collaboration with Cats Protection.