Cats are animals who rely on consistent, familiar surroundings to feel secure. Relocating a cat to a new house with a new family can be scary for them. Not knowing where they are may cause a cat to hide, refuse food and water, growl or hiss as a way of asking for space, or even develop illnesses such as a urinary track infection.
To cut down on the level of stress a cat may feel in their new home, we have added a New Cat Care Sheet to help both you and your cat through this transition. Listed below are tips to creating a comfortable setting for your new cat.
* Provide your new cat with their own room for a few days. When cats enter a new, unknown territory, they are prone to finding a small area hidden away from the rest of the world. By giving your new cat their own room, you are allowing them personal space until they settle in. Keep the door closed the first 2-3 days unless they show signs of wanting to explore. If your new cat seems nervous or otherwise uncomfortable, please extend this period until they appear relaxed. Provide an area such as a box or a closet for them to hide in.
*Never force your new cat out of their room. After 2-3 days you can open the door to their room, but never force them out. Your new cat will leave when they feel safe to explore the rest of the house. If you’d like, you can entice the cat out with treats, but always leave the door open in case they want to go back. In most cases, the cat will be ready to leave their room within a week.
*Let your new cat come to you. The fastest, most effective way to gain an animals trust and in turn, love, is to let them come to you first. Cats are so cute, its natural to want to run up to them and pet them and hold them, but this approach is very forward and can make a new cat uncomfortable. By sitting with your new cat, speaking softly and holding out your hand to them, they will feel safe enough to come to you. Once your new cat understands you are the source of food and your intentions are not to harm them, they will come around quickly.
*Be patient. This is actually the first and foremost rule. Remember that your new cat doesn’t know you or your home, nor do they understand why they had to move. Cats require safety and security to feel comfortable and you remove both of these components when you relocate them. All of our cats are welcome back anytime if they do not work out, but we ask you give them a trial period of at least 3 days. If we think a cat may take longer than one week to settle in, we will tell you up front.
*If you already own a cat. Cats are territorial and although we approve of adopting a new cat as a companion for your existing cat, we suggest slowly introducing them. This involves introducing each cat to the others scent first and then letting them meet in a controlled setting. Assuming your new cat has their own room, wait 2-3 days before beginning the introductions. Begin by swapping bedding, toys, and even stool samples if you can. Exchange one cats scent for the others and place treats on or around the bedding and toys, or substitute petting and attention for treats. This will attach a positive outcome with the other cats scent. After swapping scents, start feeding your cats at the same time, but on opposite sides of the door. Cats rely strongly on their sense of smell so these steps can have a dramatic effect on that first meeting.
*Letting your cat meet your new cat. Once your existing cat and your new cat seem to be at ease with the others scent, the face to face introductions can begin. Let them meet first through a cracked door. We suggest opening the door a crack, tossing down a few treats, and closing the door after 10 seconds (also ending treats), and then trying again adding more time. Your goal is to gradually increase how much time they see each other without any hissing or growling. Each time one growls or hisses, close the door and stop the treats. When they’re comfortable with each other, you can open the door and let them interact. Watch for signs of discomfort such as prolonged eye contact or thrashing of tails. For subtle signs of discomfort, we like to distract the cats. For more obvious signs or aggression, we prefer to remove one cat and spend more time with them on opposite ends of the door before we try again.
*If you own a dog. Dogs are much more excited to meet a cat than a cat is to meet a dog. In our experience, dogs and cats get along famously and cats often prefer the company of dogs to that of cats. Start by swapping scents as you would another cat, such as bedding and toys, and create a positive outcome by providing treats or attention with those scents. When your dog and new cat are accustomed to each others scents, they are ready to begin face to face introductions. You can either wait until your new cat leaves their room or after a few days, bring your dog in. Whichever you choose, keep your dog on a leash for the first few introductions. Try to avert your dogs attention from the cat. Its good for your dog to show interest, but too much excitement can make a cat apprehensive about the meeting. Giving your new cat treats during these meetings will also spark a positive association with your dog. The best outcome would be for your new cat to happily approach your dog, but sometimes the best you can ask for is that your cat ignores your dog and vice verse. Some of the closest relationships take time so don’t be bothered if they’re not immediately best friends.
*If your dog doesn’t have cat experience. Follow the steps listed above, but take a slower approach to them. This isn’t just about getting your new cat comfortable with being around a dog, but also to socialize your dog to interact with cats. In the event that your dog has not met cats before, your aim should be to desensitize your dog to the existence of cats in their home. On a leash, walk your dog around the room your new cat is in, allowing a lot of space between the two. Stay calm and praise or treat good behavior from both animals. Throughout the course of many visits, close in the gap between your dog and cat. Remove your dog from the room for two minutes for bad behavior. For the fastest results, please do an online search for instructions on teaching your dog the “watch me” or “leave it” commands. Depending on the breed or personality of your dog, further instruction may be needed. If you own a breed designed to hunt or protect, please research your breed or email us.