How to Help Your New Cat Adjust to Your Home
If you are considering getting a new cat, you'll need to introduce them to the current occupants of your home. It is super important to be as prepared as possible for this introduction to allow your new cat’s journey to be as stress free as possible.
Let's get started!
Prepare a safe room
Before bringing your new cat home for the first time, set aside a space that is quiet and safe for them. If you have a room available for them to use, put their cat food, water bowl and litter tray in there so that they have everything they need until they're ready to explore the rest of the house. Once they have settled in nicely, you can reposition these things to where you want them to be.
Next, get lots of fun toys to play with them in this safe space. By doing this, you will help your cat associate the room with a positive feeling.
We suggest investing in pheromone based products as they can be extremely useful for cats when they are settling into new situations. Feliway mimics the “happy” chemical that cats release when rubbing their face against corners, furniture, and people. This pheromone works on cats' brains to calm them down and help relieve stress and anxiety. Additionally, Pet Remedy is a Valerian-based product and mimics the natural calming mechanisms that are present in cats.
Provide plenty of hiding places
For every introduction, make sure your cat has plenty of hiding spaces where they can escape to if they begin to feel stressed.
Introducing a dog
Cats tend to have a little more confidence when being introduced to dogs, compared to meeting a new cat. The most important thing is to allow the cat to come to the dog in their own time rather than the other way around.
Never force a cat to interact with something new until they are ready. This is more than likely to create a negative association with the introduction rather than positive one, making it more difficult going forwards.
It’s a good idea to place your dog in a crate for the first interaction in order to allow your cat to enter the room without being overwhelmed by the presence of a dog. Try to keep the dog nice and calm, asking them to sit or lie down to stop them frightening the cat.
Once they have interacted this way a couple of times, you can then move onto a lead and eventually allow them to interact with no restraint. The most important thing is to stay in control of each early interaction and to be present at each until you can ensure that they are both safe to be left alone.
Introducing another cat
Introducing cats to one another is a little different to introducing a cat to a dog. Cats are not naturally good at interacting with cats they did not grow up with. It is extremely important to not rush this interaction and to understand that the interaction can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Always remember the 'plus one' rule! It's possible for the cats to get stressed if they are forced to share food/water bowls and litter trays so always have one per cat and then one extra.
Start by having the new cat in their own safe space and give them a blanket. After a little while, allow the current feline occupant to smell some of the new cat's belongings before they are physically introduced and let the new cat smell some of the old cat's belongings. This will allow them to recognise each other's scent when meeting for the first time.
For the first interaction, let them see each other but not come into physical contact. For example, this can be done through a door with a glass panel or a crate. Once you've done this a few times, you can then allow physical interaction. Allow the cats to come to each other in their own time and don’t force the interaction. Be present at each interaction until you can comfortably leave them alone together.
Remember, there is no rush to this process so let it take as long as needed. As discussed above, pheromone diffusers can be extremely useful in these situations and some are specifically designed for multi-cat households, like “Feliway-Friends”.
Introducing to children
Introducing your cats to children should also be thought of as introducing children to your cat. Children tend to become very excited when they see a new animal, and this hyperactive behaviour can be frightening for them.
Have the children sit down calmly in a room and then allow the cat to enter the room in their own time. Once the cat approaches the children, teach them how to calmly and gently stroke the cat and if the cat wants to leave, let them. Don’t force the interaction by picking the cat up. This process needs to be calm and stress free.
With all of these interactions, take things nice and slow and allow the cats to do things in their own time.
Bringing a new cat home is an exciting time for you and your family but can often be stressful and overwhelming for your cat until they settle in. We hope that these tips help make the transition as smooth as possible.
If you have any questions, please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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