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Bringing A New Cat Home

When bringing a new cat home, timing can make all the difference.

Choose a time when the normal life is in full swing. Christmas or holidays are not the ideal time, as there will be lots of non-routine, exciting things going on, and you might not have the time or focus necessary to help the cat settle into a calm household. A new home is always going to be a bit stressful for a cat of any age, so a calm and relaxed environment is important. Another issue about Christmas is that houses are often full of tinsel, fairy lights and other decorations. Cats, especially kittens, find these irresistible, leading to chaos n your festive displays, and even the chance of accidents with tight wires and electrical hazards.

American Shorthair cat having a good look round her new territory.
A new cat will need to settle in to her new surroundings. This American Shorthair is having a good look round her new territory.

If possible, pick a time when the whole household is around – the weekend for example – to acclimatise your new cat. Get everyone involved. Even in a quiet setting the cat will need a few days to settle in. Some are more nervous than others, so give them all the time they need.

If you know you’re due to move home in the next year or so, it might be wise to delay bringing a cat home. They become very attached to their surroundings, and frequently “go missing” when owners move house. What they have usually done is to return to the old neighbourhood and their old territory. You may have thought of “home” as the four walls and garden; but for your cat the whole town was where she lived.

If you do have to relocate, give yourself a few days with your cat in the new home to help her settle in. A few food treats will help. In years gone by, people used to put butter on their cat’s paws when they moved house. This gave the cat lots to lick off and clean up, and prevented her from immediately heading for the nearest exit and running back “home”. Buttering the paws isn’t something we’d particularly advise, but it backs up the general point about providing treats and nice distractions.

Bringing a cat home in a cat carrier
This cat is staying in her cat carrier until she's mustered a bit more confidence!

Make Your Cat Feel Welcome

A kitten will need lots of fuss so that she doesn't miss her mother too much, while a rescue cat will need reassuring that its new home is safe and welcoming. To any new cat your house is a very alien environment stuffed full of unfamiliar smells, so the more you can do to make her feel welcome the quicker she will settle in.

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Angel, 6 March 2019

I really appreciate your suggestion to bring in new cats only when the whole household is around to get the cat used. Mom is planning on getting two teacup Persian kittens for the Sacramento apartment, so I'd suggest she brings them over when the whole family is present to acclimatize these two new family members. Teacups are really tiny and seeing new family members one by one could really get them tense and anxious. It might be good to have these tiny cuties inside an Easter egg case for the Easter reunion at home.