How To Welcome A New Cat Into Your Home

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Just Adopted A New Cat?

Congratulations on your new fur baby! Adding a new cat to your home is a big deal and we are so excited for you to get to begin experiencing the love, snuggles, laughs, excitement, and all the purrs that a new cat brings to your life. 

While it’s not as simple as just letting the cat out of the carrier and expecting everything to be perfect, the patience of introducing a new cat to your home is completely worth the process. Below you will find the best way to welcome your new cat to your home. It’s all about doing things on their terms, slowly but surely, so that they know your home is now their home. Pretty soon, they’ll be running the show!

1. Set Up a Sanctuary Space

Your new cat will need a smaller space all their own to get used to the new surroundings. This space will need to have all of the essentials – comfy bed, food & water, litter box, scratching post, and solo toys.

Things to consider for optimal results:

  • Block off any areas that the cat can hide in that you can not access them from. You can leave the cat’s carrier or a cardboard box in the room to provide an appropriate and safe place to hide.
  • Using Feliway may help the cat relax
  • Classical music played softly may help the cat relax.
  • Do not force interaction with you, let them approach you in their own time.
  • During the cat’s time in the sanctuary room, feed 2-3 meals per day so they will associate you with good stuff.
  • Sit and talk quietly with the cat
  • Once the cat has had a chance to explore the sanctuary room, you can introduce interactive play.

2. Allow Your Cat to Explore Your Home

Your cat may stay in the sanctuary space for a few days or few weeks, it all depends on them. They will let you know when they are ready to come out of the room, by crying or scratching at the door. Let the cat explore at its own pace  – whether it wants to check out the whole house or if it just comes out of the room a few steps.

Things to consider for optimal results:

  • First, be sure to do a scan of your home. Secure the home for the cat’s safety, tidy up things like loose wires and cords, move or remove potentially poisonous houseplants, block off any areas that the cat can hide in that you can not access them from, makes sure hiding places, like under the bed, don’t have too much clutter that it becomes dangerous, ensure there is nothing out like human food, plastic bags, or other things that could be harmful to the cat
  • Once your home is secure, prop open the door to the Sanctuary Space and allow the cat to choose to leave the room or not.
  • When the cat chooses to fully leave the room and explore, give him some time and space to learn the ins and outs of the new environment. The cat will likely find some hiding spaces and may even want to stay there for a little while he takes in the rest of the new environment from a safe place.

3. Welcome Your New Cat

Welcome your new cat to your home and to your daily routine with plenty of treats, positive and loving talk, playtime, and a consistent mealtime routine. 

Things to consider for optimal results:

  • Implement at least two 15 minute interactive playtime sessions per day, and make sure they have plenty of solo-play toys available to them. 
  • Be sure you are providing your cat with plenty of enrichment
  • Help your cat learn and understand desired behavior by positively reinforcing things you want your cat to do – like providing a high-value treat anytime the cat is sitting on your lap or scratching the cat scratcher instead of the couch, etc. 
  • Schedule mealtimes and stick to it. Cats prefer routine and will begin to look forward to mealtimes. Choose meal times that work best for you and stick to it every day. We recommend ⅓ cup of dry kibble for breakfast, and about 3oz of wet food (with some water mixed in) for dinner, but please consult with your veterinarian for the best dietary needs for your cat.
  • Most importantly, enjoy your new furr baby! It’s so fun to get to know their unique personality and love them for who they are. 

Have Another Pet At Home?

If you have another pet at home, this step is super important. All of the pets involved are stressed during this transition period, so the key here is patience. The more patience you have with this process, the better the likelihood that your pets will soon be best buddies. The worst case scenario (which isn’t bad at all) is that they peacefully coexist. 

Here are the next steps in how to introduce your new cat to another pet.

1. While the New Cat is in the Sanctuary Room

Your pet(s) will most likely sniff at each other under the door while your new cat is getting adjusted in the sanctuary room, and that is a great start! Remember to reinforce all positive interactions with a jackpot treat for each pet.

2. Scent Switcheroo

Once your new cat is showing confidence and comfort in the Sanctuary Room, put something that smells like your other pet(s) (like a blanket, bed, or toy) in the Sanctuary Room so that the new cat can get used to the other pets’ scent before meeting them face to face. Do the same for your other pets, putting something that smells like the new cat in their space.

3. Independent Exploration

When your new cat is ready to come out and explore, allow them to do so on their own at first. To further introduce via scent before the face to face introduction, put your other pets in the Sanctuary Room while allowing the new cat to roam and get used to its new environment without pressure from other animals. You may want to do a few different sessions of swapping the pets out until the new cat is showing confidence in the environment. Always return everyone to their original spaces and end each session with positive reinforcement. 

4. Face to Face Introduction

With introducing any new cat to another pet, you want to do it on the new cat’s terms. NEVER hold the new cat or put the new cat in a carrier or crate for the introduction to your other pet(s). You may however have the other pet in a crate and/or on a leash if you have a dog. Let the cat approach the other pet(s) and continue to reinforce all positive interactions. Never punish the pets as this is already a scary situation for them, and punishment will make it worse for all involved. If you see hissing, growling, etc – this is likely just the cat communicating fear or apprehension while they are getting adjusted to their new siblings. Once all pets are calm and comfortable around each other, the other pet can be allowed out of the crate or off leash, where they will likely either sniff noses and/or walk away.

Remember

Positive reinforcement and patience are key! Most importantly, enjoy your new furr baby! It’s so fun to get to know their unique personality and love them for who they are. 

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