Settling in your new cat

Being taken to a new home can be a very daunting experience for your new cat or kitten, because they have not yet had time to form a bond with you.  Cans 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, but for others it could be weeks or even months, especially for the more nervous or timid cats.  So be prepared to be patient and you will get there.  The following advice will help your new cat's transition, from centre to home, go as smoothly as possible. Establishing a 'Safe Room' which is setting the cat up in a quiet room, that is away from bust areas of your home, for your new cat to settle into.  In this room should be everything your cat needs, such as:

  •  Food and water bowls, in separate areas of the room
  •  At least one litter tray, placed as far away from the food and water as possible and in a private location.  Cats like to have a choice of where to toilet so if there is room for a second tray in another location that's great!
  •  A cosy place to sleep, again as far away from litter trays and food and water bowls as possible.
  •  A couple of places to hide eg an igloo bed or cardboard box
  • A scratching post
  • Access to a high spot, this could be a perch on top of a tall scratcher or perhaps a sturdy shelf.
  •  A few suitable cat toys for when they feel ready to play.

First, ensure that all doors, windows and cat flaps are secure, and any hazards are removed, such as sharp objects. If you have a fireplace make sure that it is blocked off - cats can easily climb up inside a chimney! 

Settling in your new cat?
When you get your cat home, take it to its dedicated room, open the carrier and allow your cat to come out when (s)he is ready. Be patient, this may take a little time, after all, your home will be a strange environment for your new cat. Leave your cat alone to explore their room for an hour or so. When you are in their room, always let them come to you and if your cat hides, just sit with them and talk gently, offering encouragement. Please don't force them to come out of their hiding place - it's perfectly natural for a cat to hide away at first until they get used to their new home. Just give them plenty of time and they will soon feel at home.
Whilst your cat is settling in, they may exhibit behaviours including: hiding, not interacting, not eating or drinking, diarrhoea, scratching or spraying.  These are all signs of stress and can be avoided by being patient and attentive to your cat's needs.  Offering a 'Safe Room' will help limit these behaviours.  There isn't a time frame for how long you should keep the cat in the 'Safe Room' as it depends how fast their confidence grows but they should stay there for at least three days for a confident cat.  If the cat is more worried it could be a few weeks before you start to open up the rest of the house.

Introducing your cat to the outside world.
We strongly recommend that you keep your cat indoors for the first 4 weeks although some cats may need longer. It is important to give your cat enough time indoors, as your cat may run away if you let them out during this settling in period. Please remember to keep all doors, windows, cat flaps (and open fire places) closed. Kittens must be kept indoors until they are neutered. We recommend that you get your cat used to a particular call at mealtimes - cats respond best to a higher pitched voice so bear this in mind when you call them. Before letting your cat out for the first time (after the 4 week settling in period), make sure that your cat is hungry (i.e. let them out around 30 minutes before their mealtime) and that it is daylight. Leave the door open and let your cat outside; it is a good idea to supervise their first few outings, then after they have explored for a while call them in for their meal. By doing this, your cat will associate your home with food, and will help ensure they come back when called. We recommend that you keep your cat indoors at night time - this will help prevent them getting into fights and avoid road accidents, both of which tend to occur mostly after dark.

Keeping your cat happy and healthy
Always provide clean, fresh water for your cat at all times. We recommend a good quality diet for your new cat, as cat nutrition and health are related. If you provide wet food ( pouches or tins), as well as dry food, your cat will get additional water from this food, which can benefit them as cats don't drink as much as they should - in the wild, cats get most of their water from their prey. Please buy the best food you can afford and check the label to see what the food actually contains. Animal protein is the most important ingredient - the higher the percentage, the better quality the food will be (10% and above is considered to be high quality). If you want to change your cat's food, try and do so over a period of days to prevent an upset stomach. Avoid food that contains lots of plant-based ingredients or carbohydrates (rice, wheat, potatoes, sugar or any other grain etc.) as cats cannot digest plant matter, and it brings them no nutritional benefits. A litter tray must be available at all times even if your cat goes outside. If you wish your cat to wear a collar, only use a snap-release safety collar, to avoid your cat getting its collar caught on things.

Make sure your cat receives regular flea and worming treatments, which your vet will be able to provide advice on. Flea treatment needs to be provided monthly and worming treatment needs to be provided every three months. Your cat will have been vaccinated by us but they will need a yearly booster vaccination - to prevent diseases, some of which are fatal, and, if you have insured your cat, your chosen insurer will make vaccinations a condition of the policy.

When should I register my cat with a vet?
You should register with your preferred vet as soon as possible. We can give you details of local vets if required.

How can I insure my cat?
You will get 4 weeks free PetPlan insurance with your new cat. The excess on your free cover is £85 (this is only payable if you make a claim against the policy). We recommend that you insure your cat after this free cover ends as unexpected vet bills can be costly. Did you know, you are more likely to claim on your pet insurance than you are on your home or car insurance? (according to Allianz). If you continue the policy with Petplan, 10% of your premiums will be donated back to Cats Protection to allow us to continue helping more cats.