How do you go about introducing a cat to a new home? This adjustment can be very difficult for a cat, especially if it is a stray that's used to living outdoors. During the initial adjustment period, you will need patience and understanding to help your new cat feel more at home.
Start by thinking about your cat's previous experiences. If you're bringing a kitten home, it may have recently been separated from its mother and littermates. The cat may have had to deal with the transition of a shelter or the stress of being spayed or neutered. An adult cat may have been separated from a familiar home, and may have been forced to break their bond with human companions or other household pets. In every case, the cat will need to adjust again to totally new surroundings.
So, what are some techniques for bringing a cat home? It may take several weeks for your cat to adjust to their new living situation, but it primarily needs to get used to you as their new provider of love, food, and shelter. It is not uncommon for cats to display behavioral problems during this adjustment period, but these problems should disappear in time. If your cat hides under the furniture, just sit and talk quietly to the cat. Also, place their food and litter box are within reach.
When you take your cat out of the carrier, immediately show them the location of the litter box. Provide a bowl of water, but don't feed them immediately, and try not to overwhelm the cat with attention. Allow them to acclimate to their new surroundings on their own terms.
It is best to introduce your cat to their new home gradually, so begin by restricting them to one room. During this time, isolate other animals from your new cat and supervise your children when they interact with the cat. Try to spend a few hours with your cat as they settle into their new home. You may also want to place a cozy cat bed in a quiet corner of the room.
If you have other animals in the home, you will need to introduce them gradually. Remember, the cat is being introduced to a territory already claimed by your resident pet, so you need to take both of their feelings into account.
The ability of animals to get along together in the same household depends in part on their individual personalities. It will take a week or two for a successful transition and it may be a little hectic. Be patient; things will most likely work out in time.
Here's how you can introduce your new cat to other animals in the home, according to Dr. Monique Chretien.
After bringing a cat home, they should be put in a private room during the first week in their new home. Your resident cat should not be allowed to enter this room or stay at the door hissing.
- After a week has passed, allow your resident cat to explore outside the door of the room where the new cat is residing.
- Open the door a crack after all signs of aggression (hissing, growling) are absent. Use a doorstop or hook to secure the door.
- If you have a large carrier or crate, place the new cat in it. Then bring it into your main living area. Try simultaneously feeding both cats treats or delicious food so that they associate each other's presence with a pleasurable experience.
- Once the cats are comfortable in this situation, allow them to interact under your supervision. If there are any signs of aggression, you might have to limit their exposure to 5 or 10 minutes, or perhaps go back to the separation phase.
- Gradually, increase the time the cats spend together as long as they are not behaving aggressively.
- Also, always keep in mind that cat play can be a little rough.
Your cats will be more likely to get along if they are happy in their environment. Make sure there are plenty of hiding places for them, and place the food, water and litter boxes out in the open so the cats don't feel trapped.
Follow these guidelines when introducing a cat to a new home's resident dog:
- Don't ever let the dog rush toward the cat, even if only in play.
- Provide your cat with a variety of escape routes and high hiding places that are easily accessible at all times. Your cat must be able to get away from the dog whenever necessary.
- Slowly allow the dog and cat to spend more time together, but always supervise them until you are absolutely sure that there is no threat of danger.
Cat-to Bird or Other Small Pet Introductions
Cats are natural predators, so keep your small furry friends safe by housing them in an enclosure that cannot be opened by an agile paw. Try to keep them in a room that is off limits to your feline family member when not supervised, and follow this same protocol with your feathered friends, but be careful where you choose to keep them. Birds have some restrictions as to where they can be kept for health reasons (not in direct sun or near a draft).