Last Updated on July 8, 2021 by Jenny
Being a cat person you are, of course, worried about how to minimize the stress on your new cat when you bring them home.
This is not to be confused with how to introduce cats or a new cat to any cats that are already in your cat home.
When you bring your new feline roommate home, it helps to try and put yourself in their place. Not literally of course because I doubt that you’d fit in their carrier. What I mean is to imagine that you have made yourself at home someplace. You have your routines, you know where the kitchen is, you know where you sleep, you can find your way to the bathroom, and you have even gotten to know the neighbors. You feel safe. Then one day some big stranger scoops you up, puts you in a box, takes you somewhere in a vehicle that you don’t understand, and puts you in a whole new place. All of the things you used to know are gone. You have no idea where anything is, and you don’t even know if you’re safe. You’re going to be freaked out right?
Well, welcome to the reality of your new cat. If you think about it this way, you can realize that placing a cat in a new environment is very stressful for them. I don’t want to unduly alarm you, but it is possible that making the transition too stressful can cause your cat to act up (like peeing and pooping in inappropriate places), make them sick (throwing up, or even problems from not going to the bathroom), or create behavioral problems (like biting and scratching and hiding). The good news is that there are several things you can do to make moving a less stressful transition for your new kitty.
To reduce your cat’s stress, keep these goals in mind: keep their world small, give them control, keep stimulation to a minimum, make sure they have a place to feel safe, and make it easy to find what they need (food, water, and a litterbox). Each of these goals is important, but let’s review them in order. These are a few things you can do when you introduce your new cat.
First: keep their world small. Having a spare bedroom to explore and learn is a lot less daunting than having a whole house where who knows what might be waiting to pounce on them. Before you bring your new roommate home, set up a room for them. It should be relatively small, you should be able to close the door, and you need to put a food source, a water source, and a litter box in the room. Also: make sure that you can easily maintain the food water and litter.
Second: give your cat control from the moment you bring them in the room. Make sure the door is shut then set their carrier down on the floor, open the door, and move away. Your cat should be able to see you, but you shouldn’t be so close that they feel threatened. Let your cat come out when they feel like it and do not try and pull them out: it’s terrifying for the cat.
Third: keep things quiet and relaxed. Let your cat come to you when they are ready. Resist the urge to bring out the cat toys and laser pointers. Cats are curious and, in time, they will come to see who you are. When they do, move gently. Offer your finger for them to sniff and, maybe, claim by rubbing their cheeks on it.
Fourth: give them a hidey-hole/place to retreat and feel safe. It works well to just keep the carrier door open so they can retreat into it if they feel scared. An old blanket formed into a “nest” in the corner works well. If you are in a bedroom your cat will likely scoot under the bed. This is OK. Let them. They won’t be under the bed forever and they feel safe there.
Finally: make sure that they know where their food, water, and the litter box is. Let them find these things on their own (don’t pick them up and “introduce” them). Again, it might take time, but your new friend will find what they need and all you have to do is be patient while they do.
These seem like simple, logical things to do, and they are. Sometimes, though, it’s very difficult to be patient and let your cat adjust. If you can let your cat adjust to things on their own timetable, you’ll be rewarded with a happy, well-adjusted furry friend.
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