Bringing Your New Cat Home
It is easy to get swept up in the excitement of picking up your new pet, so it’s a good idea to prepare in advance:
- Be sure to bring along a pet carrier lined with a soft, washable material
- Prepare a room in advance to ease the transition
Most cats will settle in well if given some time to acclimate to their new environment. A new routine and an unknown environment can be traumatic to an adult cat. Place your new cat in a room that you have prepared in advance. Confining her to a small area will be less overwhelming than giving her free rein over the house right away.
Place all the necessary supplies – litter box, food, water scratch post and a soft place to sleep in the room. It is not unusual for a mature feline to deal with this type of change by going into hiding. Don’t force the relationship; ignore the cat until she begins to seek some attention from you. This may take a few days or weeks for an adult cat.
If she is the only cat in the house, you can begin letting her explore the house after she has begun eating and using her litter box regularly. If there are other resident cats or dogs, a gradual introduction is all-important – first impressions can be lasting impressions for felines.
Time and patience are the keys to successfully introducing a new cat to into the household. The cat should have a room of her own during the introduction process.
- Exchange the new cat’s bedding with that of the resident cat so that they can become acquainted with each others scent before they meet each other.
- Next, rotate rooms. Let the new cat explore the house while the resident cat spends time in the new cat’s room.
- When they are relaxed about this step, crack the door of the room open so that the cats can see each other, but cannot push the door open. Two small toys attached with several inches of string and slipped under the door will encourage parallel play.
- When the cats are calm in each others presence, it is time to let the new cat out for a few minutes. The length of the visits can increase each day. The process may take a few days or a few weeks depending on the personality of the cats.
Throughout the introduction process speak quietly and calmly to the cats. Praise them when they are tolerant of each others presence. Give special attention to the resident cat because it is this cat’s territory that is being invaded, and is the one who is most likely to need reassurance. Until they become friends, give the new cat loving only when the resident cat is not around.
If at any time the cats become fearful or hostile, return the newcomer to its room and close the door. A minor setback will not ruin the budding friendship, but an aggressive encounter will be remembered for a long time and should be avoided at all costs. Whenever you run into a problem, backup to the previous stage of the process and then move carefully forward again. Only you can determine the pace of the introduction process. The time you spend gradually introducing your cats will eventually be rewarded with years of harmonious feline companionship.