Tips for Bringing a New Cat Home

Calico cat sitting in the outside worldWelcoming a new cat into your home is a rewarding experience.  You’ve bought food, a litter box and litter, some toys, a scratching post, and a cozy bed, and now you’re ready to bring your new cat home. As you prepare to integrate your new furry friend into your home and family, it is important to remember that your cat will need some time to adjust to her new surroundings.  By taking things slowly and providing a little TLC, you can ensure a smooth transition that will set the stage for many happy years to come.  Here are some tips to consider.

Prepare your home

Make sure your home is cat-safe before bringing her home.  Cats can find places to hide where none of us would think they can, and potential trouble may be lurking in places you wouldn’t even consider.  Cat-proofing your home is much like baby-proofing. Ensure stray items your cat may chew or swallow are tucked away.  Consider taping wires to baseboards, as cats can easily chew through them.  Keep harmful cleaning products, human medications, and household poisons in a safe place where kitty cannot access them.  While houseplants are beautiful additions to your décor, some of them are toxic to cats, so rehome any that might be harmful to your new family member.

Set her up in a room of her own

While your home is ultimately a better environment than the cattery at the shelter, your cat is not ready to see all of it right away.  Your new kitty will be overwhelmed if you simply open up the carrier and let her loose.  Instead, provide her with a sanctuary where she can take some time to become familiar with her new surroundings.  Choose a room in your home that is away from heavy traffic, and set her up with food, water, a litter box, scratching post, toys and a bed.  Create some safe hiding places, like boxes turned on their sides or covered cat condos that give her a place to which she can escape and feel safe and secure.

Stick to a routine

Cats are territorial creatures of habit, so providing a bit of structure will help with the transition.  Try keeping your cat on the same feeding schedule she was following at the shelter, and consider using the same brand of litter so she can have a familiar scent and feel on her paws.

Take Your Cues from Kitty

While you will likely want to snuggle and cuddle your cat right from the start, she may not be ready.  Be sure to spend plenty of time with her in her quiet room, but let her lead the interaction.  Try playing with your cat with a fishing pole-type toy in a low-intensity play session.  Or, sit on the floor talking to her and offering treats.  Let her sniff you without trying to pet her at first.  She will let you know when she is ready for more interaction.

Let her explore

Once your cat has gained confidence in her new sanctuary surroundings, you can begin to let her explore other parts of the house.  Let her begin exploring a few other rooms progressively, always ensuring she has an escape back to her private space.  As she gets used to more space in the house, you can begin to open up more of it to her each day.  Soon she’ll be feeling comfortable with the whole house you’ve opened up to her.

A cat may need seven to fourteen days to relax into her new environment. If you have kids, let them introduce themselves one at a time. With proper preparation, patience, and the love and affection you pledged to give her, your new kitty will soon become a confident and comfortable new member of the family.