Cats typically don’t enjoy car rides, new environments, or change in general, so arriving at your home is likely going to be frightening for your new pet. Here are some tips to help make her homecoming less stressful.
The Quiet Room
The first thing you want to do is pick a quieter room in your home for her to stay in while she adjusts to your home.
Here’s what you’ll want in the quiet room:
- A litterbox (placed away from the doorway)
- Food & water bowls (away from the litterbox)
- Some toys
- A scratcher
- Places to hide (Cardboard boxes turned upside down with openings cut out and brown paper bags turned sideways can do the trick). You can also leave the carrier in the room as an additional safe space.
- Soft bed
- If you can clear a higher shelf or dresser in the room it will be a great perch!
Make sure the room is as safe as possible. (You will also want to do this throughout your home before your cat explores your entire home.)
- Tie up cords and drapes to window blinds as they can strangle a curious cat.
- Some cats and kittens will chew on wires so unplug electrical cords when they’re not being used. (At the very least tie them up so she isn’t tempted to play with them and catch them in her mouth.)
- If you’re using a bathroom for her quiet room make sure she can’t get to cleaners, medications, razors, bug repellents and poisons, etc. Remove any potpourri as it is toxic if eaten. Do not leave toilet bowl cleaners in the toilet. Make sure everyone in your home knows to keep the toilet lid closed. Put the garbage can in a closet if possible and keep the door closed.
- Cats may also nibble on plants so if you have any in the room make sure they aren’t toxic or dangerous. Better yet, remove any from the room to be safe. (may want to include link to harmful plants)
- Check all windows in her quiet room to ensure the screens are secure.
- Look up high and down low on the floor. Make sure there aren’t any small objects, like rubber bands, string or pieces of plastic lying around as they are choking hazards.
When you bring your cat home take her into the quiet room and open the carrier door. She may not want to come out at first. Don’t force her to come out or try to pick her up. Just let her be. If she seems fearful give her some time to adjust by leaving the room.
Visit the room throughout the day and just hang out. Talk to her so she can get used to your voice. If she comes to you, pet her gently. You can try to entice her by offering treats or by using a wand toy or laser, but keep in mind that she may not be comfortable enough to eat or play in front of you yet. Some cats will hide for several days or longer when brought to a new place.
Have your other family members visit with your new cat one at a time. If you have children, have them go in one at a time with you. This is a great time to talk with your kids about how to interact with their new cat. Here are some guidelines you can use:
- Sit down and use quiet voices
- Let her come to you
- If she comes to you, pet her slowly and gently. (Scratch under her chin or on the back of her head. NO belly rubs!)
- Do not pick her up
- Do not use fingers, hands, feet, etc. as toys. If she’s interested in play, use wand type toys to avoid getting scratched or nipped.
- Do not chase her or do anything to intentionally scare her
- Cats can become overstimulated quickly so keep petting brief, just a couple of minutes. Keep an eye out for the signals that she wants a break from petting. Some of these signals include tail tapping, flattened ears and shifting body position.
Ready to Explore
It may take several days or even longer before your cat is ready to explore the rest of your home. She will let you know when she’s ready. If you have other pets in your home do not let her explore until you’ve taken steps to slowly introduce her to your other pets and have safety precautions in place in case they don’t hit it off.
If you feel that your cat is having a particularly difficult time adjusting to your home, consider using a Feliway plug in diffuser in her quiet room. (Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that can help cats feel more safe and secure.) You should also consult the organization you adopted from as well as your veterinarian for advice.
By following these guidelines you can help your new cat feel safe and loved in her home.