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How to help your new cat to accept indoor environment of your home
For a cat, coming to a new home is a highly stressful experience. Cats are territorial animals, especially adults, and prefer living in familiar surroundings without many changes and disturbances.
In general, kittens adapt quicker, but you should be prepared that they will still be frightened and insecure once they appear in unknown territory. Let’s take a closer look at the subject.
What to Do When the New Cat Steps into Your Home?
No matter how old the cat is, it will appreciate a gradual transition into a new space. However, the possibility to adapt will depend on the character of the new kitty, as well. Some of them need just a few hours to decide if the new home is the right place for their comfortable life, and jump into the lap of the new owner and start purring right away. The others will need days, sometimes weeks, to start feeling safe in the new environment.
I have three cats and three different experiences. Clementine picked me up on the street, and she started feeling comfortable as soon as she came into our home. Believe it or not, she needed half an hour to consider our American Staffordshire Terrier a mom without any hesitation.
On the other hand, Josephine was terrified. She was abandoned, and I found her on the street, starving. I kept her in a carrier and let it get used to the new condition.
It took her two days to stop shrieking and hissing on Malena. Our lovely dog understood the situation better than me and helped the new buddy a lot. Despite all the love and attention, Josephine needed over a year to begin feeling relaxed and comfortable.
Sophio was in a different situation. She came as a kitten in our backyard and lived there for six months. When the neighbor’s cat started beating her and stealing her food, we let her into the house. Since she knew us all, it wasn’t difficult for her to get used to the new home.
In any case, be prepared that your home will be unfamiliar and strange for your new cat, regardless of whether it comes from the old owner, who can’t care for it anymore, foster home, or shelter.
Be supportive, but not too pushy. In my experience, the best solution is to let your kitty accept the new life in its own rhythm.
How to Help a New Cat Customize the New Home?
The most important is to minimize the stress your new cat will experience. Therefore, it is on you to help your furry friend as much as possible to accept your house as a new home.
Arranging a neutral territory
One of the proven methods to help a new kitty is to provide a separate room for it at least a day or two. Consider accommodating it in a bathroom with a window or bedroom.
The crucial thing is to provide a quiet and safe environment with a bed, food and water dishes, a scratching post, toys, and a litter box. If it is possible, bring something familiar from the place where the kitty lived before, such as its favorite toy or blanket. Then, let it explore.
Try to visit the room from time to time and talk to your new pet calmly and quietly. That way, you will help it get used to your presence, voice, and body smell. However, never be too pushy and let the cat comes to you in a moment it decides so.
Once your new furry friend starts feeling comfortable, it will leave the room to explore the rest of the new territory. If it is possible, leave the door open and let the kitty come in and out at its discretion.
Introducing the cat to other family members
Children, especially toddlers
Find a way to persuade your small kids to leave the new kitty alone for a while. Sudden movements and loud noises will probably terrify the cat, and it is a better option to keep them separated in the very beginning.
Pick out moments when your child is calm and in a good mood, and let her or him meet a new member gradually. Never leave a toddler alone with a small kitten to avoid getting hurt.
Always teach your kids how to hold and pet a kitty properly before bringing one in your home. Children need to understand the cat’s body language and leave it alone when it begins hissing while its ears are flattened, fur puffed, and the tail starts twitching.
If you have a child under seven, the best solution is to adopt a four-month-old kitten since young cats better get along with small children.
In most cases, a cat will be an excellent companion for elderly members of your household. They just need to learn how to hold and pet a new kitty and to avoid disturbing it to prevent accidents.
How successfully animals will get along in the same household depends on their personalities. Since one of them is always a dominant individual, the situation will be tricky until they decide who the boss is.
Be prepared that a new cat will upset the existing order in the house, and the resident will probably give it a try to establish dominance right away. Keep in mind that the first two weeks will be frustrating and exhausting, but patience always pays off.
In my experience, animals will best establish the necessary hierarchy on their own, with only a little occasional assistance on the side.
Home with a resident cat – Every time you want to bring a new cat in the house, be prepared that the old one won’t be happy about the newly created situation. Let them meet each other, but always provide a safe place for a newcomer to retreat if necessary. That is a reason for letting a new cat alone in a room for a few days. It will become its territory and a safe place. In most cases, a resident kitty will respect it and accept the newcomer over time.
Unexpectedly, the one who brought order to our house was Malena. That level of love and patience of that dog is fantastic. She has accepted cats as her children and taken care of their behavior since the first day until now.
In any case, be careful. For example, I could not pet Josephine for months, without causing Clementine’s adverse reaction. It was unbelievable how jealous this cat was. I had to compensate for any kindness to a newcomer by satisfying Clementine and offering her a bribe. Fortunately, offering a pay-off to a cat is not a crime.
Home with a resident dog – There is no much difference in introducing a new kitty to a resident dog than when you meet it with a cat already living in the home. There are two crucial things you need to consider.
First, your dog needs to know basic obedience and to listen to commands. Second, you need to provide the new cat with its own safe place to hide when feeling unsafe, threatened, and insecure.
The excellent option is to let the kitty explore the new space while the dog is absent. Let them meet once the cat becomes relaxed in the house. To avoid injuries, keep it in the carrier and the dog on a leash at the beginning. Always gently correct the dog’s bad behavior and reward its obedience. Repeat the meeting daily in short periods and let the kitty approach at will. One more thing! Never leave a small kitten alone with a dog.
If you are lucky like my family, your dog will behave protectively over the kitty, and cats will become best friends. However, in some cases, you can be satisfied if they learn to share the same space without outright hostility.
Be careful when your dog doesn’t stop showing overt aggression toward the cat. There is probably no chance that this dog ever accepts the kitty in the house. Unfortunately, it is better to return the cat to the shelter for its safety. The other option is to let the dog live outside. The decision is up to you.