Whether you’re bringing home a feisty tabby cat or perhaps adopting a fluffy white kitten, not all cats are the same: they won’t all quickly go from being shy to having the entire household under their front paw.
If you’re introducing a new cat or kitten to your home, it’s important to prepare properly to make sure the transition is stress-free for everyone—including you.
Cats are incredibly territorial and may not take well to new environments or other pets in their space. If you already have a cat or dog (or two), it’s essential to consult with your trusted friends at Miami Pet Concierge to make sure a new addition in the home won’t be a problem.
To help your new feline friend feel right at home, here are the Miami Pet Concierge top tips for introducing a new cat or kitten to your home.
Tips For Introducing A New Cat or Kitten To Your Home
Create A Safe Space For Your New Kitty
Designate an entire room, such as a bedroom, for your new addition. Plan to have them remain there for up to two weeks or until they have acclimated to their new environment.
A dedicated “safe space” for your new cat is essential for many reasons. First, depending upon where your new furry friend came from, they may need some quiet time to decompress. Older cats who have spent time in the shelter system will likely need a calm, quiet place to relax where they can begin to feel comfortable in their new home.
The best safe space is a room that can be clocked off or closed. This allows your new feline friend space to explore when feeling more confident, where they can move about at their own pace. Wherever it is, make sure that your cat’s food, water, and litter are easily accessible. Your cat will love nothing more than a cardboard box, kitty tree, or soft, plush bed as well. These allow them to roam, hide, scratch, and nap; comfortably.
If you introduce your cat into a home with children or other cats, ensure everyone understands that the safe space is off-limits. Your cat needs to feel secure and be given time to adjust to its new home. On the other hand, if they are constantly being interrupted in their sanctuary, it can lead to stress, and if you’re not careful, a swipe or two. It might take them a few days to come out of hiding, or it might take them a few seconds! Either way, make sure your cat always has access to its safe space, even when they begin to explore outside of this territory.
Make Sure You Have The Proper Equipment
Food, bowls, a litterbox, scratching posts, toys, and a fluffy, warm bed are necessities every pet parent needs to have in preparation for their new family member.
Always remember to place your cat’s food bowl and water bowl in a different location or away from their litter tray. Cats have strong survival instincts, and they won’t touch food or water that is too close to their litter tray for fear of contamination. So, it’s always best to keep them separate, allowing your kitty space for eating and drinking and using the box.
Don’t be too worried if your cat doesn’t take to their toys right away; they may need time to decompress after their big journey to their forever home. According to Spruce Pets, a treat-dispensing toy is an excellent addition to any safe space. In addition, it will help to keep your cat physically and mentally stimulated while you’re not in the room.
Be Prepared For A Fussy Eater
Cats are notoriously fussy eaters, and you may notice that your cat will refuse to eat one kind of food and can’t get enough of another. Sometimes, a cat will decide overnight they no longer enjoy tuna and instead prefer salmon—that’s just what cats do!
You may need to try a few other brands before getting the right one. If possible, consult with the cat’s previous caregiver to see what diet they offered.
As always, consult with your veterinarian if your cat shows any signs of malnourishment or illness. Also, keep an eye on their eating habits and note any drastic changes.
Slow And Steady Wins The “Get To Know You” Race
Cats take a little time to warm up to new humans, and as tempting as it is to cuddle them 24/7, they will need to get to know you better before you do (otherwise, you might end up with a scratch and a stressed kitty).
Help your cat become familiar with your smell by leaving an item of clothing in their safe space. This could be a t-shirt, a sock, or anything else you use frequently. Slowly, your cat will adjust to your presence, and once they realize you’re no threat, they will quickly get down to business, making the house their own.
Get To Know Your New Cat Or Kitten, At Their Pace
A nervous or scared kitty will hiss, meow threateningly, or put its ears back to warn you to keep your distance. Rather than forcing an introduction, it’s better for your cat if you heed their warning, keep your distance, and give them some space to get used to you on their time. You have to take things slowly. Allow them to lead the pace. Little by little, if given the proper amount of space and time, your new cat will be sitting on your lap demanding TLC when you Netflix and chill.
When you first bring your fellow feline home, visit them for short periods when they are in their safe space. Most likely, your cat will not want to come out of its hiding spot, and that’s fine. Start by sitting opposite their hiding place in their line of sight and softly speak to them. If your cat is super nervous, sit close by but don’t give them any attention. Sometimes turning to the side or even with your back to them will be less intimidating. Little by little, these short visits will become longer. Once your new kitty begins to greet you at the door when you enter or wants to follow you willingly out the door, their time spent alone in the safe space will turn to brief trips to the other part of the home for short stints of exploration.
Let Them Explore The Home
Once you and your furry friend have established a trusting relationship, it’s time to let them explore.
It may be tempting to throw open doors and windows and let them have free reign, but this isn’t a good idea. Instead, the Meow Foundation suggests using doors to compartmentalize the space. “Too many new spaces at once can be stressful and frightening. If you’ve adopted a shy cat, be sure not [to] let it run free; especially in rooms with lots of hiding spaces such as basements”.
Make sure to close off any dangerous areas or place netting over high windows. In no time at all, your new cat will be ruling the roost.
Are you looking for more ways to make your cat happier, healthier, and more relaxed in your home? Then, why not subscribe to our Miami Pet Concierge newsletter? You’ll be notified of upcoming promotions, discounts, and other pet-parent advice!
Nicole founded Miami Pet Concierge in May 2007, with a mission to provide Miami, Florida’s pet parents with personalized pet care plans based on their pets’ species, age, breed, health, and lifestyle. All while keeping their pets “happy at home.” In addition, offering pet care education for all pet owners to guide them to become great pet parents.