Settling in your new cat
Settling Your Cat into the Home
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. 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, 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’ Set aside a quiet room, that’s away from busy 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 food and water as possible and in a private location. Cats like to have a choice of where to toilet, so if there’s 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 e.g. 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 clear, sturdy shelf.
A few suitable cat toys for when they feel ready to play!
Make sure the room is secure by blocking off fireplaces and any nooks and crannies, and ensure windows and doors are shut or securely latched. Cover up any accessible cat flaps too as your new cat won’t be ready to go outside just yet. When your safe room set up is complete, have a good look around to check you’ve removed any items that might cause your cat harm, such as elastic or nails.
Settling in your Cat
Once home, place your cat in his/her safe room with the door closed, and leave them alone for an hour or two to explore the room. When you do go in to see your new cat, it’s best to get down to their level, talk to them gently in soft low tones and let them come to you. If your cat does choose to hide, just sit in the safe room and let them get used to your presence and the sound of your voice. Give your new cat plenty of time to adjust to their new environment. As long as they are eating, drinking and using their litter tray there is no need for concern. Your new cat will need to be in their safe room for at least three days, but some may need longer. Once you feel your cat is comfortable and confident in their room, it’s time to open the door and let them explore the rest of the home. We suggest doing this one room at a time. For example, if your cat is confined to a bedroom, open the bedroom door so they can now access the bedroom and the hallway, but leave all other doors shut so they don’t feel overwhelmed by so many new places. If this goes well, you can continue to open a new door every couple of days or so, BUT if your cat becomes anxious or stressed then it’s time to go back to the number of rooms that they were comfortable with. Make sure your cat has access to their safe room at all times – this will be the place they go if they are feeling uneasy. Remember to make sure the rest of your home is secure before letting your cat venture out of their room. This especially means blocking off any access to the outside world! Your cat won’t be ready to go outside until they are completely comfortable in their new home and have spread their scent around. This is usually about 4 weeks, but could be longer for some shy and timid cats.
Stressed or Timid Cats
Whilst your cat is settling in, they may exhibit behaviours including:
These are generally signs of stress and can be avoided by being patient and attentive to your cat’s needs. Offering a small, quiet safe room with 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 cats can maintain a sense of control over their world. 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 concerning behaviour persists, please call us at the Homing Centre or contact you vet for advice. And remember, these things take time! It’s O.K. if your cat doesn’t settle in straight away. If you’ve followed all the advice on this sheet then you’re doing the best you can!
Introducing your Cat to the Outside World
If your cat is ready to venture into the garden, you can encourage them outside for a supervised visit. Here are some tips on how best to do this:
Before your cat is ready to go outside, try to establish a regular feeding time and make some noise when putting food out, e.g. shaking their biscuits or calling their name.
For their first supervised visit, let your cat outside during daylight and about 30 minutes before feeding time.
When it’s time, leave the door to the outside open and go out with the cat. They might need a little encouragement – the outside world can look big and scary at first! But avoid carrying your cat as the scent trail they leave will be important for finding their way back inside.
Spend some time outdoors with your cat, then call them back inside with some food.
You might need to repeat this process a few times before your cat is confident going out on their own.
If you have a cat flap installed, you will need to show your cat how this works. Try coaxing the cat through with some food.
At Cats Protection we strongly recommend that cats are kept inside overnight, so if you are planning to install a cat flap, we suggest purchasing one that can be locked.
Keep a litter tray inside the home, even if you wish for your cat to toilet outside. They’ll need somewhere to go overnight!
Your cat probably won’t feel comfortable or safe toileting outside at first. You could help them along by sprinkling some of their used litter in a quiet outside area where they may feel comfortable to go
Introducing Your Cat to Children, Cats & Dogs
Here’s some handy tips to make these introductions go as smooth as possible.
Even though it is an exciting time for children, it is best to wait until the cat is settled in their safe room and confident with adults before making any introductions. Once your cat is settled, put a blanket with the child’s scent on it into their safe room so they can familiarise themselves with it. When your cat seems calm, let the children meet him/her at feeding time. It’s important that the introduction is supervised and children let the cat come to them.
Cats: This introduction will take some time – around 4 weeks is best!
Week 1 – Don’t try to make any introductions this week, keep the cats separate.
Week 2 – Stroke each cat with a clean cloth. Place the cloth with the resident cat’s scent into your new cat’s safe room and leave this for them to investigate. Dab the cloth with your new cat’s scent around the rest of the home and leave out somewhere for your resident cat to get used to. Make sure to keep topping up these scents throughout the week.
Week 3 – If both cats are no longer reacting to the other cat’s scent then it’s time to let them meet each other. It’s a good idea to do this at feeding time so there is another distraction, but make sure their bowls are placed far apart. If possible, place a glass or mesh door between the cats. This will allow them to approach or hide as they choose.
Week 4 – If daily meets are going well, increase the cats time together. Keep your new cat inside until both cats are happy and content with each other.
Dogs: Just like with cats, this introduction should be done over 4 weeks or so.
Week 1 - Don’t try to make any introductions this week, keep the dog and cat separate.
Week 2 – Just like week 2 of cat introductions, start scent swapping until your pets show no reaction to the smell. If your cat is confident enough, you can let them enter the dog’s areas when the dog isn’t around.
Week 3 – Let your cat and dog meet little and often, keeping your dog calm and restrained on a lead. Never restrain your cat or force them to approach the dog.
Week 4 – If the introductions are going well, increase your pet’s time together. Keep your cat inside until both pets are happy and content with each other.
It’s up to you if you feed your cat a complete dry food, or a combination of wet and dry, though keep in mind that dry food usually has a better nutritional value and is healthier for teeth. Adult cats should be fed twice daily, and kittens 3 – 4 times daily. Look for a good quality cat food that’s free of colourings. Feel free to ask our centre staff for advice!
To start with, we recommend that you keep your cat on the same diet that they’ve been used to at the centre, and gradually change over a period of a few days.
Make sure your cat has access to plenty of clean, fresh water at all times. It’s a common misconception that cats should drink milk, but in fact cow’s milk is difficult for many cats to digest. However, specially made ‘cat milk’ can be bought and given as a tasty treat, as long as it’s part of a well-balanced diet.
We recommend you register your cat with your local vet as soon as possible, in case of any unexpected emergencies. You should be able to do this over the phone. Going forward, we advise regular health and dental check-ups for your cat. You will have been offered access to ‘VetfoneTM’ through our membership scheme. We strongly recommend you consider registering for this as vet appointments may be difficult to obtain at present.
Your cat will have been vaccinated whilst in our care, but a 2nd ‘booster’ may be required in some instances - the centre staff will be able to advise you further on this at adoption. Please ensure that your cat receives an annual vaccination booster, including leukaemia, every year to help prevent illness.
Your cat will have received treatment against fleas and worms whilst in our care, but this should be kept up to date. Please ask your vet for advice on further treatments, as different vets prescribe different products. We recommend that you purchase flea and wormer treatment from your vet as most shop bought products aren’t as effective.
Your cat will have already been neutered, unless they were too young at the time of adoption.
It is Cats Protection policy to neuter all cats over 4 months of age. If you have adopted a kitten that was too young to be neutered whilst in our care, we ask that you get them neutered as soon as possible after they have reached 4 months. Your vet will be able to advise you when this can happen. A proof of neutering certificate must then be returned to us. If proof is not received, then we will be in touch to remind you.
Your cat has a unique microchip which will trace back to you should they become lost. We will send you details of this after the adoption. Please make sure you keep the microchip details up to date, for example if you were to change address at any point.
We don’t recommend the use of a collar, but if you do choose to use one please ensure that you are able to fit two fingers snugly under the collar and that it is a ‘quick release’ or ‘snap’ variety, and any bells are removed. This is to prevent any harm or danger to your cat should the collar become caught on something.
If you / your family decide to go away at any point, we recommend your cat is cared for by a trusted friend, family member or reputable cat sitter. This should be done in the cat’s home so they are in familiar surroundings. We also recommend that your cat is kept inside during this period, making sure all essential resources are available to them.
If you do decide to use a cattery during this time, please choose a reputable, council licensed and FAB approved local cattery. We also recommend visiting the cattery beforehand, so you view the facilities prior to booking. This will give you peace of mind whilst you are away from your cat.
Support after Adoption
We are not only here to help you through the adoption process, but to lend support after as well! Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any worries or concerns you may have. If there is an emergency, please contact your vet directly first.
You will receive a follow up call or email, 3, 7 and 14 days after the adoption. This is just to check everything is O.K. and that your cat is settling in to their new home. Please let us know if your details change, e.g. telephone number or address.
If you feel that things aren’t working out with your new cat then please let us know, though keep in mind it may take some time for your cat to settle.
If you are unable to keep your cat for any reason then please contact us ASAP, and we will arrange for the cat to come back into our care. Please do not rehome your cat to anyone else.
Please keep this document safe for future referral. You can also access more information on the Cats Protection website – www.cats.org.uk Here you will find all of our Cat Care leaflets available to download, along with other advice and information. We love receiving photos and stories of how your cat has settled in! Your story and photo may be posted on our website under “success stories” for everyone to view, unless you specifically ask us not to use it. Please send these to firstname.lastname@example.org