Bringing home a cat or kitten can be exciting; you may be looking forward to spending lots of time playing and cuddling with your new feline friend. It’s important to understand, however, that cats (like many animals) often have a difficult time adjusting to change. As a result, those first few days (or even weeks) at your home may not be quite as fun for your cat as you hope.
Even more complications can occur if there are existing pets or small children in the house. The good news is, there are simple yet effective steps you can take to make the transition easier for everyone! These days, there are plenty of pet proofing solutions out there too, but we’ll get to that in a second.
As tempting as it may be to bring your cat home and immediately offer it free roam of the house, consider setting up a small and enclosed space where your kitty can get acclimated. Being placed in a large and unfamiliar space can be overwhelming for a cat, so a small sanctuary room is generally best.
Make sure your cat’s room has everything it will need — including a litter box, food, fresh water and toys. Take time to visit your cat inside this room regularly, but do not let other pets and children enter. It’s important that your cat feels safe in their dedicated room which is why pet proofing may be necessary. With the right product, you can give your cats their space while keeping unwanted intruders out.
During this time, you can make an effort to help your cat familiarize itself with other household members’ scents. You can try placing worn pieces of their clothing inside the room for them to sniff and get used to. Once your cat seems to be adjusting to this space (usually after a few days to a week), you can gradually introduce it to other areas of your home.
If you already have a pet in the home, you’ll need to be especially careful about bringing your new cat home. Cats can be very territorial creatures, so if you’re introducing a new cat to an existing one, be sure to make it a gradual process. You may consider setting up an adjustable door strap, like Door Buddy, to create a safe barrier between your new and existing cat. This way, they can see each other first (and smell) while staying a safe distance apart.
Don’t be surprised if there is some hissing and growling at first; it can take weeks or even months for fellow cats to adjust. In the meantime, keep them separated but continue to expose them to each other’s scents. Once the cats seem less hostile, allow them to meet face to face, but don’t leave them unsupervised. If this encounter goes well, continue to allow them supervised face time in the same room each day until you’re comfortable they can fully coexist in a shared space.
If you have a dog, regardless of size, be especially watchful. While dogs don’t tend to be as territorial around cats, all dogs are different. Even a well-meaning dog could try to play too aggressively with a new cat. It’s best to follow similar protocol with introducing your new cat to a dog as you would with an existing cat. Also, keep your cat’s food and litter in an area of the home that is inaccessible to your dog. Using a product like Door Buddy is great because it lets your cats in while keeping the dogs out. This way, your cat can enjoy their food and litter in peace.
Whether you’ll have a baby in the future or already have a baby in the home, make sure your cat’s personal space is respected. As your child grows and begins crawling, he or she will likely take an active interest in interacting with your cat. Take time to demonstrate gentle interaction with your feline friend; use a stern “no” when your child grabs or pulls at the cat’s ears, tail, whiskers or fur so he or she learns to respect the cat’s boundaries.
Likewise, protect your baby by restricting the cat’s access to your child’s nursery and making sure that the cat’s food, water and litter are out of baby’s reach. Not only is this essential to helping your cat adjust, but it will keep your child out of harm’s way. Crawling babies tend to get into the kitty litter where lots of germs and diseases, like toxoplasmosis, live.
No matter how careful you are about introducing a cat to your home, there will likely be some obstacles along the way. If your cat seems stressed by its unfamiliar surroundings, consider trying a natural calming remedy, such as a plug-in diffuser with cat pheromones. Remember that some cats like to have their own space — especially if there are already other pets or small children in the home. Make sure your new cat always has a safe and quiet place in which to retreat.
Consider Door Buddy’s pet door strap for this exact reason. Instead of battling with a complicated pet gate or going through the hassle of installing a cat door, this strap installs in seconds and is simple and convenient for you and your cat.
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Remember, a little preparation, patience and understanding go a long way when bringing a cat into your home. Be sure to keep these tips in mind to make the transition as smooth as possible for all involved.