Patience is a virtue...

Adopting a rescue cat is a rewarding experience. But every cat and every home is different, and some cats take longer than others to adapt to their new surroundings.

Excitement can lead to unrealistically high expectations and, sadly, the cat often suffers when they cannot live up to those ideals. There are some easy ways to avoid this upset to the family and the cat.

At the National Cat Adoption Centre we have hundreds of cats and kittens at any one time looking for a second chance.

They come in for rehoming for a variety of reasons. Maybe the owner has become too ill to look after them, there has been a change in financial circumstances, or they have had to move and the cat cant go with them. Sometimes the cats are found as stray or abandoned.

At the NCAC, we treat those in need and ensure that they are vaccinated, neutered and microchipped.

Once they are through their medical procedures and have been declared fit to rehome by our vet, they move to the homing wings to meet potential families.

Cats are creatures of habit and will find the experience of being at the National Cat Adoption Centre a very stressful one.

On the surface they may seem fine as cats have developed a protective mechanism to not show weakness. Cats are masters of disguise.

Once they are adopted and taken to their new home, the stress just starts all over again.

While for us this is a joyous occasion, full of expectation of the new addition to our family, the cat just sees another change: new people to get used to, new suroundings and new sounds and smells.

And our excitement can add to that stress, and provoke unpleasant reactions in the cat.

Time is the biggest and best thing we can give a rescue cat. But it is sometimes the hardest one to achieve as a human, as we always want things so quickly. We want it to be perfect overnight. Cats don't see it that way.

One of the best ways to empathise with what your new cat is feeling is to think of yourself, picked up and dropped off in a foreign country where you can't speak the language, you don’t know anybody and don’t know what is expected of you. 

This would be very scary, and not dissimiliar to how your new cat will be feeling when they first come home.

On arrival in their new home they will not be experiencing the joy and excitement you will be feeling, and this is something to bear in mind on settling in your new family member.

Likewise they come with baggage from a previous life that they can't tell us about.

They have probably been taught or acquired all sorts of habits that will need to be retaught if they are not condusive to what you would like.

Again, this takes time for them to unlearn, and consistency in the lesson you are trying to teach is key. 

Learning new lessons will be confusing to your new cat, especially if they are told they can't do something that in the past they have always been allowed to do.

Similiarly, previous treatment in their past life may have left them certain behaviours that may be concerning or potentially frustrating.

What needs to be remembered is to ask yourself 'why do they do this? What has happened to them?’  

This may be especially prevalent in our shyer, more timid cats, so even more patience and understanding is required. 

And equally in our stray cats, particularly if they have been straying with us a long time. They will have naturally acquired self preservation behaviours that may make them a little cautious of people, so they will need time to trust you and get used to what a home life is. 

Part of the agreement signed in the formal adoption of your new rescue cat is that the National Cat Adoption Centre will always take back your cat if you feel that is the right decision.

All we ask is that you maintain realistic expectations of your new rescue cat and bear in mind all the factors.

Of course, you will be overjoyed at your new arrival and it is only natural to want to expect those same feelings to be replicated in your cat.

But their understanding of yout world will be entirely different and the experience of another move to a strange new home and new people will start out as a negative one to them. It's only natural.

This is a base from which to start, a road down which to build your new relationship together one day at a time.

But you won't be alone. Our team is more than willing to offer as much support and advice that you need in those early tentative days with your new rescue cat.

It does take a little work. So just remember: patience is a virtue.