Bringing home a new adult cat: What you need to know

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Welcoming a new pet into your home is always exciting. However, introducing an adult cat to your family and household can take patience and time. These four strategies can help ease the transition period.

Unlike kittens, which have had little interaction with different people, places and situations, adult cats bring their previous experiences, both good and bad, into any new setting. That’s why it pays to take your time when introducing your home and your family to your new adult cat. Here are four ways to acclimatise them to their new home and the people who live there.

1. Get to know your cat’s history 

If your cat came to you from a previous owner, don’t be afraid to ask questions:

  • Did the cat spend most of its time indoors or outdoors?
  • Does the cat have any quirky behaviours to watch out for?
  • What is the cat’s personality? Does the cat love cuddles, or is it more aloof around people?
  • What food did the cat eat?
  • Is the cat used to using a litter tray? And if so what kitty litter was used?
  • Has the cat had much interaction with children or other pets?
  • Does the cat have health records available i.e. vaccination, parasite treatment, vet appointment histories?

Having as much information as possible will ease your cat’s transition into its new family and surroundings.

2. Don’t push your new cat too fast 

In the beginning, accept whatever amount of contact your new cat is willing to offer, and then gradually work from there. Let the cat initiate interactions for the first couple of weeks. Take your time and be patient if it seems scared or skittish.

Don’t attempt to pick up or pat the cat if it’s not comfortable or ready. Your cat may let you know with fear or aggression if you’re moving too fast. Treats can help break the ice. Just remember, your patience and kindness will pay off in the long run.

3. Allow gradual access to your home

Your new cat won’t feel secure in the new environment until it’s had a chance to explore every inch of your house. When you first bring the cat home, allow it access to only one area in your home and then slowly offer more and more access to other areas. Another important consideration is providing easy access to the cat’s key resources so that they feel secure in their new environment. This means having private access to food, water, and a litter tray while they are settling in.  Remember that your cat’s food and water bowls should not be put directly beside the litter tray as this may put them off eating or toileting.

Having a smaller territory in the beginning will help your cat settle in more quickly. As you expand access to your home, the cat can slowly expand its ‘universe’ at its own pace. Chances are, your new cat will be darting in and out of rooms with confidence before you know it.

4. Establish a few routines 

Some of the most important routines for cats include social, play and meal times. A regular meal schedule will give your cat a sense of trust and appreciation for your presence. Regular social and play times will also enhance your relationship with your new pet.

Cats are creatures of habit. Maintaining a predictable activity level in your household, with set morning and evening rituals, is important, to help them settle in. If you’re constantly changing how you do things, your new cat can become confused, not knowing what to expect.

Helping a new adult cat adjust in your home can be a challenge, but with time, patience and consistency your new companion will soon settle comfortably within your home and take their spot in your family.