How to Introduce A New Cat Into Your Home

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Mom has been volunteering at the Union City Animal Trust (UCAT) adoption events this fall. Working the sign-up desk gave her the opportunity to observe the prospective adopters as they studied each of the cats up for adoption.

Some families come in asking for a certain type of cat with specific fur color, sex or personality. Others just want to “look and see” and find that cat that “talks to them”! Each cat has a bio attached to their cage with their age, neuter status, vaccinations, traits and preferences such as whether it is great with other animals and children or it needs to be the only animal in the house.

What do “cat matchmakers” do?

UCAT fosters and volunteers are on-hand to act as matchmakers as they interview each prospective cat parent to determine which cat would be a purr-fect match for their furr-ever home. This is the most important part in any adoption.

Sometimes the family really wants a certain cat, but the team has to discourage the idea if it has been determined by the team that this is not a match!

Don’t worry! They will suggest other kittens and cats that would be a better match with their family.

After the match is made – and the credentials of the adoptive family are checked – the new parents get to take their new kitty home. And that is when the fun starts!

Except for kittens who are generally friendly from the moment you get them home – but need a lot of training, most adopted cats need some time to get used to their new surroundings and their new humans. Whether they were free-roaming in a foster home or lived in a cage at the rescue shelter, will have an impact on how fast they get comfortable with their new home.

How to Acclimate A New Cat Into Your Home

Conventional wisdom says to keep your new cat in a small room for a few days to a week so that they acclimate to the new sounds and smells of the house. This also helps if there are other pets in the house as they may start getting used to each other from under the door jam. Please note that some cats will hide for a few days, meanwhile others will be out and about like they own the place immediately!  

I was never confined because mom and I lived in a studio apartment, but then came 4 month old Beau, who lived in the bathroom for a few days before he bolted and refused to go back in confinement! He was so cute, I said OK! 

Always remember that it takes time as well as some simple strategies to keep in mind as you build that special relationship with your new feline buddy.

How And When to Pet Your New Cat

In the beginning, let the new kitty approach you, don’t chase after them as it is our nature to run away – especially if the cat is somewhat shy – as they come close to you, let them sniff you and check you out first.

Wait until they start to get comfortable with you before you pet them back…which you will know when they start to rub against your legs or head-butt your hand.

In the beginning rub the back of the ears, neck and scratch the top of the forehead and as the cat responds then you can test them with long petting strokes down their back…but go carefully as you get to our butts and the base of our tails…some cats love to have their butts scratched, but other cats don’t and will strike out with claws and maybe even fangs! 

Also we can get over-stimulated “in general” so pay attention to our ears and our eyes…mom says I am famous for “the look” – ears back, pupils dilated – if I am done with the petting – she knows when to stop and she has war wounds from our early days to prove it! 

In the beginning, try to keep noises to a minimum as us kitties are very susceptible to loud noises – Beau still gets spooked if he hears a loud bang. Cats prefer a zen-like atmosphere rather than a lot of household chaos, so don’t be surprised when we retreat to our favorite hiding place sometimes! 

How to Call Us

It’s a good idea to call us kitties by our name – daily and often. Beau and I know our names very well and mom can get our attention just by calling our names – she calls us and we come running hoping it might mean it’s treat time!

As you can tell, introducing a new cat to the house takes time and a little bit of thought to insure a smooth transition from “just adopted” to beloved family member!