Rehoming a cat can be a daunting prospect. Cats can be prone to stress and it takes time for them to bond to both a new home and new pet parents. Grown cats take more time to adjust to unfamiliar situations than kittens so need more understanding and respect. So we’ve compiled some tips to help you make the transition as enjoyable as possible.
Things you may need when you bring your cat home
- Beds and hiding places – your new cat is likely to feel overwhelmed by the new situation, you should provide comfortable beds in a few spots where he can either unwind amongst the family if he chooses to or retreat to a secluded dark area to get some alone time.
- Food and water dishes – remember some cats prefer to drink from flowing water so consider a water fountain if you find this to be the case.
- Cat food – It’s important to feed a good quality nutritious diet to your cat, you should find out what their diet was at their previous home and continue to feed this while your cat settles in then gradually introduce a new diet over 5-7 days to avoid tummy upsets.
- Litter trays – It is best to provide as many litter trays as cats plus 1 so provide 2 if this will be your only cat, or 3 if you have 2 cats. Place these in different rooms but where they are easily accessible, you may change this once you realise where your cat likes to spend his time. Don’t put it in exactly the same place as cats are clean animals and will not sleep where they toilet.
- Feliway – This replicates a pheromone left by cats when they are feeling comfortable in their environment, your cat will not leave this pheromone when they are anxious, adding to its distress. Replicating this scent (which is odourless to people) helps cats to feel more relaxed and adapt better to a new environment. The diffuser is best for this but sprays can also be beneficial to use in particular areas where your cat can feel secure.
- Cat toys – when your cat starts to socialise more with you it is good to engage with them, even if they don’t want to let you fuss them yet, toys can be a great way to do this.
- Scratching posts – provide somewhere your cat can sharpen and wear his claws, try to encourage them to use this rather than the furniture!
- Cat carrier – It’s worth having a good quality portable carrier. Ones that have front doors and tops that are easily detachable from the base are best and make it less difficult to get them out at the vets.
- Number of your vet – Make sure you register at a vets and know what you need to do in an out of hours emergency.
What you can expect when your cat comes home
- Hiding – your cat may well feel threatened and overwhelmed when you bring him to his new home and hide away from you, it is important to give him places to do this until he starts to trust you and his new surroundings, make his food, water and litter tray easily accessible during this time and be patient.
- Undesirable Behaviours – Your new companion may have undesirable behaviours to begin with such as spraying, hissing, and clawing to get out if they’re used to being able to let themselves out. It’s not easy to train cats and they don’t respond well to punishment so be patient while he adjusts and provide places for him to relieve himself and hide away.
Introducing your cat to the family and existing pets
Don’t try to do everything at once and let your new cat dictate greetings to a degree. Even if your cat comes from a multipet and children household, your pets and children are new to him. When you bring your cat home, try to contain other pets somewhere while your new cat explores the home and meets the human family members.
- Allow your new cat to approach family members, make sure your kids understand that crowding the cat or invading his chosen hiding place won’t help him to feel at home or trust them. They can invite him to interact with treats and with an upturned hand but let him retreat when he wants to.
- If you have other cats, try to supervise their first meeting and make sure each of them allows the other to have his own space. Remember your existing cat may also hide away for a period and interact with the family less while he adjusts to sharing the house with a new feline.
- If you have dogs, allow cats and dogs to see each other through windows and doors first or intruduce them using crates. Then bring dogs into the same room on a lead and allow the cat to have an esacape route if they wish. Even if your dog is used to living with cats, this cat will react differently so play it safe to begin with. Remove the dog from the room if he barks or tries to give chase, do this again and again until he gets the message. Distract the dog with treats when you bring him into the same room so they can learn to ignore each other. If they make friends this will come in time.
Initial Health Care
Try to find out the following from the previous owner;
- Is s/he neutered?
- Is s/he up to date with vaccinations? If so when is it next due?
- Is he microchipped?
- When was he last deflead? Try to have this done before you collect him.
- When was he last dewormed?
- Does he have any past or ongoing health issues you should be aware of or is he on any medication?
Take him to the vet for a general health check. Have him microchipped or have the vet scan his existing one so you can change the details to your own. Get up to date with vaccinations and book in for neutering if necessary. Get up to date with flea and worming treatments.
Letting him out
I would wait atleast two to three weeks for your cat to bond to the house before letting him go outside, this can be difficult if he’s used to being outdoors a lot. Try to take them out with yourselves in the garden first and then tempt him back in for dinner. If you have a cat flap for other cats you may need to lock this or change its lock function to only let cats come in until he’s ready to go out.