Thinking about welcoming a new cat to the family? Your local animal shelter is a great place to start. You’ll not only be saving a life, you’ll also be rewarded with years of love, companionship, and fun.
While this will be an exciting and wonderful time for your family, it can also be stressful for its newest member. Cats are territorial creatures, so moving to a new landscape where nothing is familiar can be unnerving and make your cat scared. Here are some tips that will help your new cat or kitten make a smooth transition.
Give Her the Scents of Home
Cats produce naturally occurring chemical substances called pheromones, which they use to signal ownership of territory and communicate with other cats. When your cat rubs her face on an object, or even you, she’s releasing a pheromone to signal that the object is familiar and safe.
The Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser helps her to feel more at ease (and helps to reduce potentially dangerous roaming). For best results, plug it in a few days before you bring your new cat home. Diffusers last for 30 days and are recommended by veterinarians.
“YOUR NEW CAT WILL NEED TIME TO GET USED TO YOUR FAMILY AND HER NEW TERRITORY, SO LET HER DICTATE THE TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT.”
Set the Stage
Before you bring her home, be prepared with all the supplies your new kitty will need:
- Litter box and litter: options range from a simple plastic tray to covered boxes (some disguised to look like furniture or potted plants) to uncovered boxes with unscented litter or automatic, self-cleaning versions. Place in a less-trafficked part of the house (noisy, busy areas may discourage her from using it) and keep it far away from her food bowl.
- Food and water: your new cat maybe be stressed from the travel and need a drink of water to help soothe her nerves. Offer her food, but don’t be surprised if she doesn’t have much of an appetite the first few days.
- Toys and accessories: Some fun toys can help you bond with your cat, and cat furniture can give her a safe perch from which to view the world. Some cats love to be brushed, and you may need to clip her claws, so take a trip to your local pet store to get all the necessities.
Let Her Set the Pace
Your new cat will need time to get used to your family and her new territory, so let her dictate the terms of engagement. She’ll definitely want some safe spaces to hide while she’s settling in, and it may be a good idea to confine her to one room until she gets comfortable. Then you can slowly allow her to explore the rest of the house. Just make sure she has access to food, water, and her litter box at all times. If you have other pets, talk with the animal shelter staff about the best way to introduce them so that you don’t get your new cat scared.
Enable Safe Explorations
Your new cat is eventually going to explore every nook and cranny of her new territory—probably including countertops, bookshelves, and the tops of cabinets, if she can reach them (you may be surprised how high she can leap). While she’s investigating your house, put away breakables, remove paperclips or other small items that kittens might swallow, and don’t leave out any tempting morsels of food. Block access to any spaces that could be dangerous for a cat to hide in or explore.
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to find your new friend! Visit the Shelter Pet Project to find animal shelters or pet adoption groups near you.