How do I introduce the new cat to my household? (no other pets)


Moving to a new home is essentially stressful for a cat. A cat's basic reaction to stress is to run and hide. If you provide a safe haven for the cat which has some familiar scents, it will ease the stress.

When you pick up the cat, in addition to the cat's regular litter box and dish, ask for the cat's toys and bedding to take with you. And item worn by the owner (unwashed) carries the owner's scent and can also be helpful in minimizing the stress during the duration.

Upon arriving home, set up a
room that will serve as the cat's initial territory. Any small, quiet room, such as a bathroom, small bedroom or large walk-in closet will meet this criteria. The best arrangement is often a small bedroom with attached bathroom where you can keep the litterbox. Keep the cat in the carrier while you are setting up the room, allowing the cat to adjust to the sounds and smells. The room should contain litterbox, a dish of dry food and a dish of fresh water (food and water placed far apart from the litterbox), toys, scratching post, bed, and any other items needed by the cat.

Once the room is set up, open up
the carrier, and let the cat decide whether he/she wants to explore or to remain inside the carrier. Many times a cat will remain inside the carrier for hours or return there periodically. Give the cat time to adjust to his/her new territory. Come back to the room to visit often, but don't impose yourself on the cat by reaching out to pet or attempting to pick it up - pet the cat only if the cat DEMANDS it. Talk to the cat, avoiding making any loud noises or sudden moves. Don't force your attention on the cat--when the cat wants affection, the cat will ask for it. Cats are more attention-needy than most people think. They can become bored and depressed if they are ignored, and they will start to seek you out. Your being available on a regularly scheduled basis for at least 15-20 minutes at a time is important even if at first the cat doesn't initially take advantage of your availability.

Setting up a
schedule of feeding (treats of wet food) and a routine play time and grooming time minimizes anxiety and makes the cats feel more secure. For instance, if you watch the news on TV every night keep the grooming supplies close at hand so you can groom the cat while watching. The more regular the routine, the more comfortable the cat will feel.

Playtime is a special time where you can cement a bond between you and the new cat. Many experts suggest using a feline flyer or other similar toy which allows the cat to maintain a distance while getting to know you.

After 4-5 days if the cat appears comfortable in this room, you can open the door and let her explore the rest of the house at her own pace. Cats usually begin investigating at night, making short explorations interspersed with rapid retreats to their safe haven. It is unusual for a cat to explore a vast new territory without hesitation, though some cats are exceptions to this rule due to a more extreme level of curiousity. Allow the cat to adapt to a new environment at his/her own speed. Some cats take days, others will take weeks or months.

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