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Introducing a New Cat to Your Home

Part One

Your how-to list for this transition

Cats are funny creatures! If you’re a cat lover like me, you are fascinated with their behavior and are interested in many of aspects of why they do particular things. If you are introducing a new cat to your home, you can help make sure they have as many of their needs met to make the transition as smooth as possible by doing certain things geared towards making your new family member’s transition a peaceful and happy one.

You’ve probably heard that cats are creatures of place or some kind of expression like that. This is very true. While cats who are allowed outside can have large territories (we don’t recommend letting your cat outside), a cat’s environment is fundamental to the cat.

So, it is important that when bringing a cat into a new environment you allow your feline to set the pace while you observe and make modifications to assist and further help her or him.

Here is a list of some critical aspects to consider when rehoming a new cat:

  • Is there going to be a safe place for the cat when s/he arrives?

  • It is important to make sure the cat is in a small space for a couple of days upon arrival. A bathroom or small room is ideal. Hopefully it is a place with some light and where you will feel comfortable visiting your new family member!

  • Is there safe place for your kitty to hide in this new area? Leave the carrier in a corner with some snugly material in it for her/him to hide in so s/he can feel safe! If you don’t have a carrier a cardboard box should do nicely.

  • Please don’t force the cat out of the box or carrier by pulling them out – at any time. Allow your new friend come out on their own.

  • Do you have your cat’s physical needs met?

  • Your new companion needs a clean, new litter box. This is critical! Re-using a litter box is not an option for a new cat. Even cleaning a box that has been used gently will not do for your new friend.

  • Put at least two inches of litter into the new box. A cat likes to have something to scratch and push around in when s/he does her/his business. Sometimes this can get messy. I have found that a litter box with high sides can work perfectly. Make sure you clean the box a minimum of once a day.

  • What was your new pal eating at the shelter? If your cat is a young kitten you may be able to jump to a new food right away but it is probably best to get the same food they were used to and gradually transition them to a new diet that you’re comfortable with. It is much healthier (especially for older cats) to switch their food slowly. Food changes made quickly can lead to unfortunate health or behavior issues. Or both.

  • Our feline friends work hard to keep themselves clean and bathe themselves often. You can bond faster and better with your new kitty by starting a brushing routine during the first few days. Brushing your cat will help both of you feel more comfortable with each other and will improve your relationship quickly. My cats like brushes that are made of rubber, I think the brush feels like their mom’s tongue and this kind doesn't scratch their skin.

  • What to do for your cat’s emotional needs:

  • Sit with your new friend and speak quietly to her/him. S/he needs time to feel comfortable with you just like we do with any new friend. Having an ‘out loud’ conversation with her/him and telling her what you’re doing to take care of her/him can really help your cat to adjust. This also helps her/him in becoming accustomed to your voice and will aid in the bonding experience for both of you.

  • Limit or reduce loud noises in your home. This isn’t the time to play basketball in your living room or practice your new juggling plates hobby! Try to make sure that the sounds outside of your kitty’s room aren’t going to scare her/him. That said, most households do have some unpredictable noise so don’t feel as if you need to completely tiptoe around.

  • Try some flower essences to help with the transition. AnimalRx Essences specifically blended Be Here Now to help with the adjustment period of rehoming. When introducing a new cat to a different environment, flower essences can easily help support this process.

  • The use of flower essences is especially important for animals who came from the shelter after being abandoned or left there by their former families. A sad cat might respond better to Happy Heart to help with feelings of loss and depression. Happy Heart works to soothe away sadness.

  • Helping a scaredy cat can be a little different. S/he may feel unsafe or extra-challenged in a new place, so using a flower essence that is specifically formulated to help her/him feel safe is our recommendation. Protection Plus is a great remedy which increases safe feelings by helping to create an emotional boundary around your animal friend.

Your success in rehoming a new cat is dependent on many of the factors listed above. Everyone does these things a little differently than each other, but based upon many years of observed cat adoptions, I know this list works great for giving a helping paw to your new family member as they adjust as smoothly and happily as they can into a new home.

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