Settling your cat into their new home

Settling your cat into their new home

Being taken to a new home can be daunting for your new cat or kitten because they have not yet had time to form a bond with you and the surrounding are unfamiliar. Cats are notorious for disliking change and need plenty of time to adjust to their new environment. For some cats this could be a few hours, for others it could be weeks, or longer (especially if more nervous or timid).  Be prepared to be patient and you will get there.

Following the advice below will help you assist your new cat in becoming used to their new surroundings:

• Be prepared - make sure your home and family are ready before you bring your new cat home.   Choose an appropriate time when eg you have no forthcoming holidays or building works about to take place.

• Set aside a room (known as a “safe room”) dedicated to your new cat’s arrival, setting this up in advance with all they will need eg, litter tray, food, water, toys and a bed.   We recommend using this room for the first 24hours to let the cat acclimatise to the sounds and smells in the house, but keep it available during the settling in period for the cat to retreat to should they so wish.    It is best to avoid noisy rooms such as kitchens or utility rooms for this.

• Once home, place your cat in the safe room with the carrier door left open, and leave them alone for an hour or so to settle.

• Do not force the cat out of the room or out of any hiding places within this room.   It is important to provide a cat with a place to hide as cats choose to hide or get up high when scared.   If there are any areas you do not wish them to hide in such as eg open chimneys, block them off before the cat arrives.

• Let the cat come out of their own accord, giving them plenty of time to adjust. As long as they are eating and using the litter tray there is no concern.  Regarding litter trays, go with what they are used to eg, wood or grit or enclosed tray.  We will provide information on this before the cat joins you.

• Use reassuring tones.

• Play is a good bonding tool

• Do not let your cat outside for at least 3-4 weeks after homing (or until they are at least 6 months old if a kitten), and when promoting going outside, this should be on the cat’s own terms so do not carry outside or use eg a harness or lead.

• Get you and your cat into a routine as soon as possible.   Cats thrive on routine and this helps them settle faster. If they know when to expect to be fed and where for example it gives them stability which reduces stress.


Whilst your cat is settling, they may exhibit behaviours including:


•Not interacting

•Not eating

•Soft faeces


These are generally signs of stress and can be avoided by being patient and attentive to the cat’s needs. Offering enough spaces for your cat to sleep, eat and go to the toilet in peace, as well as providing safe hiding places will mean that your cat can maintain a sense of control in their new environment.

Most importantly, all of the above measures are temporary and as each day goes by, with plenty of patience, your cat will grow in confidence and these behaviours will cease. If behaviour persists, please contact your vet for advice.