When you decide to add a feline companion to your family, it’s important to remember that it’s not just your life that’s about to change–but your cat’s as well. They are about to be immersed in new surroundings with new people.
Their adjustment won’t happen overnight. However, with some advanced planning and a few tips from us, you will learn how to help a new cat adjust to their new environment. All it takes is some planning and advanced prep work.
Cats are curious animals that love to explore. When you introduce them into a new environment, they have no concept of what’s off-limits. That means everything in your home is up for grabs. If something catches the attention of your cat, they can and will make their way over to it to check it out.
Most of the time, that shouldn’t be a problem. However, some items in your home may be potentially hazardous to your cat’s health. So, before you bring your new cat into your home, go through the following checklist so that everything is safe for their arrival.
Here are some of the top things to do to effectively cat-proof your home:
Although it may sound silly, sometimes it helps to get down on your hands and knees and go through your home looking for potential hazards. Bringing yourself down to a cat’s level will help you see things from their point of view.
When you bring your new cat home, naturally, you'll need to make the introductions to any other pets that you have. After all, other dogs and cats are part of the environment. They're essentially like roommates.
How these introductions go is dependent on a few factors. The temperament and personality of the new cat will play a big role. It's possible that the new cat feels completely comfortable right away and is easily immersed in the new environment. However, some cats will feel nervous or anxious, and the instinct to hide will kick in.
As a pet parent, it's important that you remain calm and patient. Give your cat plenty of time to explore and get acclimated to their new environment. Eventually, they will come out of their shell and feel free to mingle with the other pets.
Introducing your new cat to your resident cat should be a slow and delicate process. In fact, the two cats should not meet face-to-face for at least a few days.
When bringing in the new cat, place the resident cat is in a separate room. This gives the new cat the chance to check out their new home without the potential for confrontation or interference. It's crucial that you keep the two cats separated in different rooms so that they can get used to hearing and smelling each other. After they get acclimated to these new sights and sounds, you can move forward with a face-to-face meeting.
Upon the initial introduction, supervise the two cats as they interact. Look for any signs of aggression, such as backing away, arching of the back, or hissing. If you see any of this, separate the two cats for the time being and try another day.
However, if you notice that the two cats are getting along and don't mind each other's presence, you can let them mingle for longer periods of time.
Introducing a new cat to a resident dog can be tricky because dogs generally tend to be more rambunctious and energetic, which can be off-putting to a cat. This holds especially true for those dogs who have no sense of boundaries and like to initiate contact with their nose or their paws.
The best thing you can do in this situation is to make the environment and your pup as calm as possible. If you have a particularly energetic dog, we suggest taking them out for a very long walk or trying to tucker them out at the dog park. Additionally, it's a good idea to keep your dog on a leash just in case your cat wants their space. You don’t want your dog to chase after them.
In the event that you have any issues or concerns, don't hesitate to speak with your veterinarian or with an animal behaviorist.
Introducing a new cat to kids is easier if your kids are old enough to understand simple directions. If you can explain to your children that the new cat needs time to get used to its new surroundings, it should help the acclimation process go smoother.
However, for those children who are too young to understand directions, it's best to lead by example. Always interact gently with the cat and give them plenty of space if you feel they need it. Make sure that you supervise your child so that they don't pet the cat too hard or try to squeeze it in a way that makes them feel trapped.
All cats are unique, so some will acclimate to being around children rather quickly, while others will take some time. With enough patience and good coaching from you on how to interact with the cat, your children will eventually learn the cat’s boundaries.
Some cats–especially those who have been adopted or found–may have a difficult time adjusting to their new environment. In these cases, they may exhibit one or several of the following behavioral issues:
Behavioral issues can be caused by stress or by underlying health conditions. For example, a urinary tract infection can cause a cat to act out of sorts, so it's a good idea to get your cat to the vet as soon as possible to get checked out.
However, if you find that your cat is in good health but is still exhibiting signs of behavioral issues, then you should enlist the help of a professional. Cats are wonderful companions, but sometimes they need a little extra help to get acclimated to a new environment.
For those of you planning to get your cat from a shelter, you may be wondering, “What do I need when I adopt a cat?”
First of all, you want to make sure that your adopted cat is up to date on all their shots, vaccinations, etc. In fact, the sooner you can get your cat to the vet for a comprehensive check-up, the better. Most shelters are good about keeping their cats and dogs in good health, but you can never be too careful. You should also get your cat spayed or neutered if it hasn’t been done already.
Additionally, you’ll want to consult the following checklist of items to ensure your cat has everything to cover their basic needs.
Having all these items along with following all the cat-proofing tips we’ve provided should make for a better acclimation process for your new cat.
Secondly, it’s important to make sure your new family member is microchipped and provided with a collar and ID tag to give them the best chance of making it back home to you in case they get lost. When adopting from a shelter or rescue, it’s very likely that your cat will already be microchipped. Be sure to check that the contact information on the microchip is accurate and up to date. If your new cat is not yet microchipped, talk to your vet about getting it done. It is a quick and virtually painless procedure that can mean the difference between lost and found!
Additionally, a cat health insurance plan is great for handling any unforeseen healthcare issues that may arise with a new cat. 24PetprotectTM’s Complete CoverageSM pet insurance plan even covers microchip implantation.
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.