Bringing home a new cat or kitten is exciting. but since cats are creatures of habit, adjusting to new surroundings, new people and other pets can be stressful for them. Thoughtful planning, patience and understanding will help make kitty’s transition to their new home as smooth as possible. Here are some tips.
Before bringing kitty home
Take a “cat’s-eye tour” of your home to spot potential hazards. Look for and remove poisonous chemicals, toxic plants and choking hazards (paper clips, coins, string). Ensure kitty can’t access wires or window blind cords that can electrocute or strangle. Cover any holes in walls or ductwork and move breakables to a safe place.
There are also things you should think about daily to keep kitty safe. Ensure your washer/dryer and dishwasher doors are closed. Don’t leave windows open and ensure screens are secure. Cats can escape and become lost and many are injured or killed by falling from high windows.
Ensure you have basic supplies on hand. You’ll need: a cat carrier, food/water dishes, cat food, litter box/scoop, litter, a scratching post, toys, collar and ID tag and a bed with a washable cover.
Prepare a ‘safe room.’ it’s important to introduce your new cat to your home slowly. Choose one room that will give them the quiet and safety they need for the first few days or weeks while they become familiar with the sights, smells and sounds of your home. The room needs a secure door and should contain: food, water, a cat bed or comfy blankets, a litter box (away from food, water and bedding), toys and a scratching post.
The ride home
Have a cat carrier and bedding ready for kitty to ride in. Car rides can be traumatic for cats and they feel more secure in enclosed spaces, an uncrated cat is a driving hazard if they climb under the pedals.
Take your cat directly to their ‘safe room.’ With the door closed, open the carrier and let kitty out. Don’t force them — they will come out when they are ready. spend some quiet time with them through the day. Reassure them with a soft voice and a few gentle scratches but don’t overwhelm them. Let them smell and brush up against you before trying to hug them or pick them up. Play with them if they want to and give them some treats. Leave them on their own for a while to explore their new space and get comfortable. Do not allow other pets into the room. Don’t worry if kitty hides for two to three days; this is normal. Never force them out of hiding.
Do not let them out to roam. They will feel stressed and overwhelmed and other pets will view them as invading their territory. Let them stay in the ‘safe room’ for two to four days; shy cats may need a few weeks.
Transitioning beyond the ‘safe room’
Introduce your cat to their new home slowly. Let them explore at their own pace to avoid overwhelming them. Be sure you’re home to supervise.
Relocate kitty’s food, water and litter box to their permanent location. Do so a few feet at a time so they are not anxious.
Keep your cat indoors. When you adopt a cat, you commit to providing a good home and keeping them healthy and safe. The only way you can truly do this is by keeping them indoors.
Introducing kitty to your children and other pets
The NS SPCA website has important tips for introducing your new cat to the rest of your family, including children and other pets: http://spcans.ca/animal-care/cats-and-kittens/. If you have questions or are having any difficulties, contact the SPCA (toll-free: 1-844-835-4798; local 902-835-4798) and they’ll be happy to provide advice.
Thanks for offering a deserving cat a loving home and for taking the time to start things off right. Now, you’re ready for a happily ever after!