You’ve just recently committed to taking a cat home with you and you want to make it right. Regardless of the age of the cat, you are taking to a new home, we all know moving can be overwhelming. We are most certainly not the only ones that can get stressed out when establishing ourselves in new places.
I’m moving in right now and I went through the process of making it as comfortable as I could for my cat Mia and I thought, let’s take a look at what can you do to make introducing a cat to a new home a better experience for everyone. There’s not a one size fits all strategy when introducing a cat or a kitten into a new home. Every cat is different as well as their circumstances but there are a few basics that you must get right to have a successful introduction.
Watch the below video to learn all about it, divided into 2 parts:
- Taking the cat from the shelter
- The 1st day
At the end of the video I will share with you some mistakes you need to avoid when taking your new family member home. We are going to keep this video short and sweet but I’ll try to make sure you get value from start to finish! Let’s see what you SHOULD do first!
Let’s start from the beginning, you arrive at the shelter or the breeder and you have already fallen in love with one cat (or the cat has fallen in love with you) all the paperwork is done, and you are ready to go home. There are 3 things that you need to get from the shelter or the breeder at this point: Food, Litter and something with their smell.
Understanding what food the new family member has been eating is key as some cats can be picky with their food. For a reason. They may become ill or stop eating if their food changes abruptly because cats have sensitive stomachs. Gut bacteria are crucial for digestion and obtaining nutrients from the food your cat eats and not all bacteria can digest all food. When a new food is introduced, it alters the intestinal environment. This means that if you produce an abrupt change of diet, there won’t be enough bacteria of the one that is capable to digest the new food and the existing bacteria that it’s good at digesting the old food, is not going to have enough food to survive. This is a complex topic I’m not expert about but long story short, changing food abruptly may lead to a bacteria imbalance with symptoms as diarrhea, vomiting and a refusal to eat. A good idea is to ask the shelter or breeder what food the cat is eating beforehand and having some of that food ready at home for when the new cat arrives.
There are at least 2 other things you should ask the breeder or the shelter but before I get to that I want to ask you a question, is your cat from a shelter or from a breeder? I’d love to know what proportion of the audience is adopting a cat instead of buying can you write it down in the comments section?
Back at it. There are 2 other things you should ask the place you are getting your cat from:
- The litter they were using to have some at home ready. Some cats might have problems identifying where to go if nature calls and having the same litter with the same smell is a very easy thing that we can do to avoid surprises.
- Also asking for a blanket or a toy or something with your cat’s smell. This is important because Cats find their own scent reassuring so we will use this on our favor to make the carrier first and home later feel more familiar.
During the trip home, note that the cat will most likely be meowing and stressed out you can try to comfort with touch but not all cats appreciate it so if it doesn’t sooth them, better to not interact much with them.
At home, you should have a room ready to host the newcomer, a safe place. If you can choose, it is ideal to pick a room which is mid-sized to small. Bigger spaces will be more overwhelming, and we want the cat to conquer the house little by little as they spread their smell. Linked to the smell as well, if the room doesn’t have any soft surfaces like a sofa, carpets or towels we should, at least add one cat pillow and the blanket you took from the shelter/breeder. We want the cat to impregnate those surfaces with their pheromones, creating that familiarity we were mentioning earlier. That room should have at least a litterbox with litter, water, their carrier and the soft surface we were mentioning before.
We have a room and the room has everything the cat needs, so it’s time to open the carrier. We are going to let the cat exit the carrier on their own. Some cats might jump off the carrier right away and some will need to take their time and get ahold of the situation from the safety of the carrier. Once the carrier is open and your newcomer is out, we can stay there but we are going to try to minimize interfering with their first exploration phase. Let them peacefully explore the room and if they are in the mood for playing, you can gently engage with play. If the cat is too agitated, I would recommend you leave the room. You can check in every fifteen minutes to half an hour and if you see that there’s curiosity to know more about your home, you can leave the door open and let them explore the rest of the house. If your house is big or it has more than one floor, try to keep spaces separated and let them explore only one floor at a time, to prevent them from getting lost or overwhelmed.
Some cats are more of a hider than other and if that’s the case of your newcomer, they can spend a couple days under a sofa, under a bed or inside the carrier that you provided. It’s okay and it’s completely normal. In those cases, when you open the rest of the house for them I would highly encourage you to offer safe spaces to hide in the areas where you hang out so that they can get ahold of your smells and your voice. I have personally placed a safe space for Mia next to my working desk so she can hide or hang around me without interfering with my work.
There are a few mistakes people often make when bringing a cat home that you want to avoid:
- Don’t push your cat to be with you. Quite the opposite, the last thing you want is for your cat to create an association between being with you and being stressed. Therefore, it’s so important both in the car and when first arriving home that you leave the cat alone, particularly if they are asking for that space.
- Another common mistake is not having the litter, the food or a soft surface for your cat when they first get home and the last thing you want to do is to get to a pet store with your stressed-out cat to get the supplies they need. If you can anticipate and ask the shelter or the breeder about the food or the litter, it is a good idea to have them ready before you go pick up the new family member.
- Review if any of your plants is toxic for cats. Some of them are toxic or even lethal and you want to avoid having them in your home. I’ll add a link in the description below with a website that allows you to check if your plants are toxic or not for your cat.
I am working on a new video where I’m going to talk about taking your home to the next level and make it perfect for your buddy so I highly encourage you to subscribe and click the bell button to get notified when the video is up. Until then, though, there are some essentials you’ll need to have so that both of you have everything you need. There’s no need to take pen and paper, all the things on the list are in the description box down below. I’ll add links to the products that I use and like the most, so in case you don’t know what to get, at least you know there’s one happy cat dad using them 😊
- Scratchers – Crucial if you want your sofas to survive
- Toys – Both interactive, where you play with your cat, as well as solitary, which your cat can use on their own.
- A hiding place – You can use the carrier at the beginning, but your cat is going to be more comfortable if you can provide something more fluffy
- And finally litter and food, that you can start with the ones from the place you took the cat from, but you might want to do some research and get what you are going to be more comfortable with.
If you want to make sure you and you cat has a very successful life together in their new home make sure to check out this video. Clicker training is the best tool you’ll ever find to elevating the bond with your cat.
See you outdoors!