Introducing a New Cat to Your Home

Introducing a new cat to your home

Introducing a new cat to your home can be a really exciting time but it can be a scary and traumatic time for your new pet.  The new change in environment and routine can be extremely disorientating and unnerving, especially if they have come from a place in which they felt comfortable and secure, or straight from their mother.

This fear can lead to aggressive behaviour and/or refusal to eat and drink, but you can ease the transition.

Set Up a “Safe” Room

Do not let the new arrival loose in the house as soon as you get home. They will already be nervous about their new home and will quickly become overwhelmed if children and/or other pets are brought to their attention too quickly.

Instead, set aside an “isolation room” in which they can feel comfortable and safe, and receive private attention from you. This area should be set aside for sleeping, playing, eating and going to the toilet. Bring your cat into this area and let them exit the cat carrier at their own pace. This may not happen straight away, especially if he or she is feeling apprehensive about their new surroundings so you may prefer to leave your cat alone to get used to things before offering food and reassurance.

Ease the transition by helping your cat to get used to the smell of other pets in the household. This can be done by encouraging other pets to access the “safe” room while your new cat is not there.

Fleas and Worms

Check what flea and worm treatment the cat or kitten has had previously so you know when they are due another treatment.

Ask for your vet to recommend a flea treatment and wormer or visit Animed to see available options.

Isolation Periods

Isolation periods in a “safe” room are usually recommended for the first week to allow your cat to get used to you and its new routine without being overwhelmed. It also offers a good opportunity to check your cat’s health. Fear can impact on his or her inclination to eat and drink but if this continues after a couple of days, he or she could be at risk of dehydration. If you’re at all concerned about your cat’s health or behaviour during the transition period, get in touch with your vet.

Initiating the First Meeting with Other Pets

During the first introduction, keep your cat in his or her carrier. Hissing and other aggressive behaviour is to be expected, in which case meetings may need to be controlled on several further occasions before a face-to-face meeting is initiated. Only do this when there are no longer signs of aggression and/or hostility. If the relationship does not go smoothly, it may be useful to return your cat to the “safe” room and begin the introduction process again.

Never leave your new cat alone with other pets until you can be sure that there will be no aggression or hostility. The “safe” room should be used while you are not at home until you are confident that they can be left together unsupervised.

Introducing Your Cat to Children

If there is more than one child in the household, meetings should happen on a gradual basis so that your cat does not feel overwhelmed.

Don’t Neglect Other Pets

It’s natural to focus your attention predominantly on the newest member of the household while he or she settles in but don’t forget to also spend time with other pets too so that they don’t feel pushed out or unwanted. The introduction of a new cat may also upset the routine of other pets in the household, who may become aggressive towards the newcomer and/or act badly towards you. Spend some time every day to reassure other pets that they still have a key place in your affections.

Do you have any extra tips for introducing a cat or kitten to its new home? Let us know in the comments section below!