Bringing a new cat home is an exciting time for adopters, but the change in scenery can be overwhelming for some cats. With patience and creative management of your home’s environment, you can set your cat up for success to become confident in their new surroundings.
Let your pet decompress
Your first instinct as a new cat parent may be to give your new cat all the creature comforts and open space of your home. For most cats, this can be too overwhelming. Compare this to moving to a new country where you don’t speak the language. You wouldn’t want to be dropped off in the city center on your first day.
Instead, let your pet get used to your place slowly. Provide a sanctuary where they feel safe before letting them out to explore. This way, if something startles your cat while exploring later, they have a familiar place where they can retreat instead of hiding behind a bookshelf or under a bed.
On average, it will take three days for your pet to begin eating and sleeping normally, three weeks for them to start settling into a new routine, and three months or more to feel fully confident in their home.
Establishing a daily routine teaches the cat to know when to expect food and helps align their sleeping patterns with rest of the household. Your behavior and actions affect their behavior. Here are some trust-building tips:
- Keep the cat’s sanctuary space quiet and cozy.
- Let your new cat get used to sounds, smells, resident pets and family gradually.
- Establish a routine.
- Be present while they eat, if possible.
- Let the cat decide when they are ready to emerge from their safe space.
- Wait for the cat to approach you before reaching to pet them.
- Use toys and playtime to build confidence.
- Pair petting and handling with food and treats.
- Build trust and your new cat’s confidence before you try handling, grooming, or visits to the vet.
Your kitty sanctuary should include:
- A small room* with a door that closes
- An uncovered litter box
- Food & water
- A cat den, soft bedding, toys, & scratching pads
*The room can be as small as a bathroom or as large as a guest bedroom. We realize that everyone’s living areas are different. An alternate solution for small shared spaces or open concept housing is to use an extra-large dog crate.
We are always here to help! You can find additional behavior and training resources at pasadenahumane.org/behavior.