Bringing Your New Cat Home

Cats are sensitive to surroundings. In a new home, some may hide for days or even weeks. Help your feline friend transition with the following tips.

Preparing Your Home

  • At home, initially provide your cat with a small territory, such as a bathroom or laundry room, to call his own. Furnish his space with food, water, and a litter box.
  • Cats' claws need to be worn down, so provide a scratching post in each room where there's soft furniture. You can place sticky tape (available at pet supply stores) on the edges of couches and chairs to encourage scratching in the appropriate place.
  • Fill a litter box with one to two" of litter, and put it where your cat can use it undisturbed.
  • If possible, buy a cat tree. Cats like to survey their territory, so a high perch is often a favored resting place.
  • Offer your cat a safe haven, such as a carrier or even a box with a blanket. Whatever you use, just make sure there's enough room for the cat to stand and turn.
  • View your home with curious eyes. Remove breakable items on high shelves, and ensure your cat cannot access ductwork.

Bringing Your Cat Home

  • Bone up on how to introduce your cat to other pets. Let your existing pet get used to the smells and sounds of your new cat for a few days before you attempt any introductions.
  • If there are other human family members, go over the ground rules about your new pet. Remind them not to startle him and to keep the door to his room shut.
  • Preferably, bring your new cat home in a cat carrier. It will feel safer than a box to him.
  • Sit on the floor in your cat's room, and wait for him to come to you. If he hides, try again later. Some cats are particularly frightened and may only come out at night when the house is quiet. Give him time.

Settling In with Your Cat

  • As your cat adjusts, he'll want to explore outside his safe haven. Try to avoid startling him.
  • Gradually introduce toys, and try to play with your cat. Many cats like feather wands from the pet supply store, but homemade toys are often favored. A wad of a tissue paper to bat around or a paper bag to hide in can be fun.
  • Within the first three days of bringing home your new cat, take him to the vet. Many vets offer a free first visit for newly-adopted shelter pets. Bring all vaccine records with you.
  • Your cat may not eat much or at all at first, but it's still best to give him the same food he had at the shelter or in her foster home.