Introduce a cat to a new home
When planning to bring your cat or kitten home, there are many things to keep in mind. As a cat owner, you are responsible for having the knowledge of the cat's natural behaviors and needs that is required according to the animal owner responsibility in your country. To make it a little easier to introduce the cat to its new home, here are two checklists, one with practical preparations and one with tips on how to treat the cat to make it feel at home.
When a cat is to be introduced to a new home, it is a big change. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you as a cat owner have the opportunity to create an environment where the cat can recognize itself and become safe more quickly.
Feel free to try to minimize the changes that the cat is exposed to during the actual move. To reduce the cat's anxiety when it is introduced into the new home, you as a pet owner should find out as much as possible about the cat's previous environment and routines to initially mimic these. Think a little about what the cat is used to since before and what it has encountered during its life. Is the cat used to children? Has it lived with access to outdoor activities or only indoors? This can create an understanding of how the cat will react.
INTRODUCE THE CAT IN THE NEW HOME - CHECKLIST
Are all the resources the cat needs in place?
Bringing new things into the home can cause stress in a cat, especially in an environment that is otherwise unknown and new. Therefore, it is better to have as much as possible in place from the beginning before introducing your cat to its new home. Make sure you have litter boxes, food and water bowls and more in place. A good tip is also to make sure to continue feeding with the same food, use the same cat litter for the litter box and keep the routines around care and handling that the cat is used to.
Are there things from the old home to create security?
You can create a safe environment for the cat by spreading the cat's scent in the home. For example, bring a blanket, pillow or toy from the old home and rub against strategic places in the home - places that cats would use to mark scents such as edges of furniture, corners or around entrances and cat doors. Also feel free to use products that the cat recognizes from its previous home, such as a similar litter box, food bowl, water bowl and hiding place. If it is not possible to bring objects from the previous home, it is also possible to collect the known scent of new objects.
It is important to create the opportunity for a cat to get high up and preferably also get around above floor level. For a start, it may be a good idea to remove fragile objects that are on window sills or bookshelves. This is especially important for kittens and younger cats who often also use the three-dimensional space for activity and play.
Has the home been risk assessed to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries?
Removing poisonous plants and fragile objects is a way of trying to predict risks and remedy them. Do this before introducing your cat to a new home. It is also good to think about whether there are places where a cat can get in out of curiosity or fear and where it can then get stuck, for example behind a freezer or washing machine.
HOW DO YOU BEST TREAT YOUR NEW CAT FOR THE FIRST TIME?
Plan to introduce the cat to the home and family
At the actual introduction, it is good if you start this in a limited part of the home such as a room. Choose a room that can function well as the cat's safe base also in the future and that can be used as a starting point for the cat when it gets to know the remaining parts of the home. In this introductory room, everything the cat needs to be available should be available - a litter box, hiding places, soft sleeping places, food and water, toys and, on occasion, the opportunity for interactions with humans.
Get the cat used to it for a few days or until the cat seems to have calmed down. Let family members meet the cat in calm conditions in this room. Remember to let the cat control the contact.
Once the cat has gotten used to its room and met the rest of the family, you can introduce your cat to the rest of the home. Gradually, the cat's litter box, food and water bowl can be spread out to permanent places.
Enables rest, activity and play and to withdraw if it gets scared
When you introduce a cat to a new home, you should create opportunities for rest, activity and play. But the cat should also be able to pull away to rest undisturbed when it needs it.
Always play away from the body, for example by throwing away a toy. Never play directly with hands or feet as this can create problems in the adult cat such as the cat starting to show behavior towards people that can be interpreted as aggression.
Make the cat listen to you and feel safe
It can be good to practice summoning with the cat already when you introduce the cat to its new home. That is, practice that the cat listens to its name and comes when you call. You do this easily by saying the cat's name and immediately giving a treat. Repeat until you feel that you get a reaction when you use the command, that the cat reacts to its name and looks for its reward.
Increase the distance between you and the cat gradually and remember to only train by rewarding behaviors you desire. Everything else you ignore!
When you introduce a cat to a new home, it will experience some stress and fear no matter how well prepared the home is. This can mean that it can be hidden a large part of the time. Remember it's okay, this is a strategy that cats use to create control over the situation.