Whether you are adopting a fuzzy kitten who is just a few weeks old or you are adding an adult cat to your family, you will need to adequately prepare for the transitional stage that follows. For you and your cat, this is an exciting yet anxious time. You will both be getting used to each other as well as the surroundings, and these tips can help your new pet adjust as quickly as possible.
Acclimating a Cat to Its New Home
- Purchase basic supplies prior to your cat’s arrival at home. You should have food and water in a dish, a litter box ready to go, and a few blankets and toys for your cat.
- Designate a safe space for your catfor the first few days. It is normal for your cat to be skittish or nervous. A small room, such as a laundry room or bathroom, is the ideal place for your cat to begin its transition into your home. Generally, cats should spend about three days in the transitional room.
- Give your cat places where it can hide. Small boxes or a plush bed will allow your cat to feel secure and safe.
- Provide your pet with an item that may already have its scent on it. For example, a blanket that it used at the shelter or at the breeder will help your cat feel more comfortable in the new home.
- Allow your cat to take its time as it explores its surroundings. Your cat should have the opportunity to check out the house and the people who live there on its terms.
Introducing a Cat to Its Human Family Members
- Ideally, your new cat will be introduced to other human family members on an individual basis. The primary caregiver should spend the most amount of time with the cat at first, so the cat will come to trust that person and feel comfortable around him or her.
- Anyone who is being introduced to the cat within the first few days should go into the cat’s enclosed area and give the cat the opportunity to approach him or her. He or she should not make sudden movements, or reach out to pet or lift the cat. In most cases, the cat will approach the person and introduce itself within a few moments. Cats simply need to make sure the situation is safe before they continue to explore.
- If your cat will be living with young children or infants, it’s important to condition the animal first. A trusted adult should gently pull on the cat’s ears or tug its tail to get it used to the touch of young children. If the cat seems accepting and responds well, the next step is to provide the cat with an item that has the child’s scent. A T-shirt or blanket would work well. Then, the child can be allowed to meet the new pet. Children also need to be taught how to treat their new family member, and should avoid aggressively petting or lifting the cat.
Introducing a Cat to Its Pet Siblings
- If you already have another cat in the home, it’s important to slowly introduce it to the new addition. Provide the other cat with an item that has the new cat’s scent, to facilitate a “soft” introduction by scent. Keep the cats apart for about a week. Then, allow them to get to know each other face-to-face on their terms.
- Introducing your cat to a dog that lives in the home can be easier than introducing it to another cat. Dogs and cats can greet each other sooner, but they still need to be in a safe and supervised environment. The dog should be on a leash, and the cat should be allowed to interact with the dog on its terms.
During this adjustment phase, it’s important to monitor your new cat closely and look for signs of stress, frustration, or depression. These feelings can manifest in the way of behavioral issues or even physical health problems. If, at any point, you feel like your cat is not adjusting well to your home, contact the veterinarian to see if there are additional steps that can or should be taken for your new pet.
Author bio: Stephanie N. Blahut is Director of Digital Marketing and Technology for Figo Pet Insurance. Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology — the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud — and the industry’s best pet insurance plans.