Bringing a cat into your home—whether it’s a kitten or an adult cat—is an exciting time. There's a new furry member in your family, and you can't wait to bond with your latest addition! For your cat, however, it is a different experience. Your pet is being thrust into a completely different environment. It will instantly experience sensory overload: There are different people surrounding it, new smells throughout the entire space, and new sights to see. It's not surprising that it's a stressful and even scary time for your pet. So, it's important that you do your best to help your cat transition.
Here are a few tips to consider when welcoming a new cat into your home:
Start the transition during the trip home. While you are driving home with your new pet in tow, you are likely thinking about all of the memories you will make together. Your cat, however, is probably very nervous and does not understand what is happening. Make sure that your cat is in a crate for the entire drive, as it is not safe for you or your pet if it is roaming around. Include a blanket or favorite toy from the shelter in the crate. Giving your cat a place to feel secure will help as you begin this transition.
Create a private, secure space for the first few days at home. Your cat will be overwhelmed by the magnitude of its new house, so it's important to give it a small room to explore initially. Many homeowners find that a laundry room or small bathroom is best. Prepare the room ahead of time by removing dangerous items and securing any doors or cupboards that the cat may be able to open. Add a few blankets and toys—placing its food, water and litter box in the room, as well. After you arrive home with your cat, open the door to the crate and allow your cat to come out on its own accord. It may take time, but the cat will eventually decide to explore its new space.
Allow the cat to explore at its own pace. Sometimes, your cat will need to be in its private room for a few days or even a week before it is ready to discover the rest of the house. Once you feel your pet is ready, simply allow your cat to visit each area of the home at its own pace. Cats often feel most comfortable checking out their new digs during the nighttime, so don't be surprised if you hear the pitter-patter of little paws while you are in bed.
Monitor initial interactions with other pets in the home. If you have other pets in the home, you will want to be present the first time they meet one another. Remember that the interactions will vary based on the type of animals that you have in the home and the personalities of those individual animals. Cats will typically paw or bat at dogs in order to establish personal boundaries as well as dominance. Cats may wrestle, bat or completely ignore other cats as they decide who will be the leader of the pair. Work with your veterinarian in order to help all of your pets peacefully coexist within your home.
Stay patient throughout the entire transition. This is typically not an overnight transition. The amount of time it takes for your cat to become comfortable with its new surroundings as well as with its new human and animal family members can vary, but it's not uncommon for it to last several days, weeks or even months. It is important that you remain patient with your new pet, your previous pets and yourself. Before you know it, you will all be enjoying your time together as a happy family.
Remember that this transition will be different for every cat and every family, because the unique dynamic of your home and the individual personality traits of your new cat will have a significant impact on the process. If you or anyone in your home feels concerned during the transition process, it is important to reach out to your veterinarian. He or she can provide you with customized guidance based on the needs of your cat and of your family.
Author bio: Stephanie N. Blahut is Director of Marketing for Figo Pet Insurance. Figo Pet Insurance is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology — the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud — and the industry’s best pet insurance plans.