How to introduce a newly adopted cat into a household

How to Socialize a Kitten – Bringing a newly-adopted cat into your home should not be rocket science. Whether you rescued a kitten from the local Humane Society, SPCA, or shelter, typically felines are likely to adapt to new homes with or without resident pets, as long as you follow the proper steps.

Because all cats are different by nature, there is no failsafe plan. Felines are most likely to successfully adapt to a new home with less stress, if the following arrangements can be made prior to introducing the cat to your home and other resident cats.

Do clean your home of debris and strong smells

Nothing is better then a clean home for the arrival of your cat. Cats have a very keen sense of smell and enjoy a home that is scent free. Also, like children, cats are into everything they can and cannot reach.

Any small items that can be swallowed should be removed. The last thing you need is your new cat rushed to the veterinarian for an internal blockage.

Do invest in a cat tree

Cats love higher grounds and also like to scratch things in their environment. If you have the room, invest in a cat tree (also known as a cat condo or cat stand).

Cat trees can be a great outlet for a cat’s desire to scratch and claw, and provide hours of fun to play on and relax.

Do find a “safe room” for the cat

Find a nice comfortable room or what is often called a “safe room”. Your safe room should include toys, a place for food and water and a litter box placed away from other things in the room as much as possible.

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This room should be closed off from other pets, and make sure the door is securely shut and doesn’t open easily to allow other pets to enter. A safe room doesn’t require much space, and actually a room on the smaller side is more comforting to the cat.

Do properly introduce the cat to other pets

Purchase a cat carrier for your cat. It’s best to invest in a larger carrier since this will be used for the lifetime of your animal during its veterinarian visits. Introduce your new cat to other resident cats before introducing him to the resident dog(s).

In most cases, the cat to cat introductions will be more harried, with the cat to dog introductions being somewhat easier. Give your current pets time to get used to the new cat’s smell and the idea of having a new resident in the house.

Do not rush introductions with existing pets and home

Cats like routine. Your resident cats’ behavior may change when you first bring the new cat home. It is not uncommon to have hissing, growling, hiding or fighting among resident pets. Your current cats may even act differently toward you by displaying aggression and/or ignoring you.

Start introducing the smells of each cat to the other. You can do this by brushing all of the cats with the same brush. Brushing with the same brush will get their scents on each other. Creating a positive experience will help with bonding both you and other cats.

Do not introduce the cat at night

Avoid introducing a cat into your home late in the evening or overnight, given cats’ fondness for routine. The best possible way to keep your cat stress-free is to try to maintain your daily routine and to keep changes to a minimum.

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When changes are necessary, try introducing them to your cat gradually while leaving every other aspect of the routine in place. Limit exposure to new people and new foods, etc., on the first day and increase the exposure to newness over the following week.

Do not ignore a cat that stops eating and drinking

Watch to make sure that the new cat is eating well, drinking and using their litterbox.

Sometimes the cause for this may be more evident than other times, but when your cat refuses to eat or use the litterbox for more than 24 hours, it’s best to have him evaluated by your veterinarian.

Do not think an accident outside the litter box is normal

In almost every case, a cat that does not use his litter box is suffering from a medical condition. Any instance of inappropriate elimination (outside of the litter box) should be followed up with a visit to the vet.

Do not leave the cat alone with other cats at first

After introducing smells for a few days, place your new cat inside his cat carrier and let the resident cats come into the “safe room.” Interaction among the cats while the new cat is protected in his carrier will create a less traumatic experience.

During the initial meeting, there will be some hissing and/or posturing. If there is aggression, you will need to do this controlled introduction using your carrier.

Do not leave the cats alone unsupervised until you are comfortable that there will not be aggressive behavior. During the first one or two weeks, the new cat should stay in his “safe room” when no one is home to monitor the interactions.

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Summary

Bringing a new cat into your life and home can be a challenge and above all, fun. The whole process is a learning experience, even if you have had other cats. It’s best to prepare early for your new arrival and take your time. The sooner you get everything in place, the easier it will be on you and your cat.

Before you bring the cat home, evaluate the placement of the litterbox, food and safe room. Ensure that you have all the everyday supplies. Do not feel that you need to get every toy possible, you will learn what your cat’s likes and dislikes are.

If you ever have questions regarding the behavior or health of your cat, contact a trusted veterinarian and/or an animal behaviorist. Above all, enjoy your recent addition and the many years of love.

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