INTRODUCING CATS AND KITTENS INTO A NEW ENVIRONMENT
Bringing cat or kitty into your home could very well be one of the most stressful times in his or her life. There are several things that you can do to make this acclimation period easier on kitty and on yourself. Many of the ideas listed below are taken directly from my readings, many from experience. One of the most beneficial readings to me has been Cat VS Cat, written by Pam Johnson-Bennett author of Think Like a Cat.
THE SANCTUARY ROOM
When you bring a cat into a new home, it is absolutely necessary that she have her own safe little sanctuary room. The newcomer needs a quiet, safe area where she can get her bearings, and the residents (cat or dog) don’t need to have a new cat immediately in their faces intruding upon their territory. The sanctuary room gives the newcomer an opportunity to get familiar with the scents of her new home. It also gives her times to get to know you and begin the trust-building process. A sanctuary room can be any room in your home that has a door. The cat doesn’t need alot of space right now- she needs safety and security. Even if your cat won’t have any other pets to deal with, a sanctuary room is still needed. Think of how overwhelming it would be for a cat to try to get comfortable and find her way around a home. She isn’t going to remember the location of the litter box in time to take care of t business or where she last saw her food. This is especially overwhelming and unfair to a kitten who needs a convenient setup since her litter box habits are still in the learning stage. If you’rebringing in an adult cat, you have to consider the stress factor as well. You don’t want your new cat spending the first couple of months hiding behind furniture or under the bed because she is too threatened to get her bearings.
PREPARING THE SANCTUARY ROOM
The first rule is that the room shouldn’t be empty. There’s nothing more frightening for a cat than not having a place to hide. It’s important to set up additional hiding places so the cat doesn’t just dive under the bed if you’re using a bedroom and stay put for weeks. Boxes are simple and effective hiding places. Put one or two on their sides and line them with towels or T shirts that contain your scent. If the cat is truly terrified, use paper bags and boxes as refuge. Place the food and water bowls on one side of the room and the litter box on the opposite wall. The litter box shouldn’t be located close to the food because cats don’t eliminate where they eat. No matter how small the sanctuary, make sure you’ve separated the food from the litter box as much as possible. The litter box should be uncovered. If you’re bringing in an adult cat and she had a previous home, try to use the same type of litter she’s accustomed to.
CATS NEED ELEVATED PERCHES
CATS NEED A SAFE PLACE FOR THEIR LIFETIME IN YOUR HOME.
CATS NEED SCRATCHING POSTS WITH NO PREVIOUS SCENT FROM OTHER CATS
ADULTS NEED FRIENDLY PHEROMONES, IE: FELIWAY DIFFUSER
ONE LITTER BOX MORE THAN YOU HAVE CATS
LOCATE LITTERBOX ON EACH LEVEL OF YOUR HOME.
THE INTRODUCTION PROCESS
The big day has finally arrived. Bring the cat (in her carrier) into the home and go right to the sanctuary room, which you will already have set up. If the cat is an adult, open the carrier, sit quietly where kitty can see you. Speak softly, and wait. Read a book, magazine etc. If kitty is reluctant to venture out, you can leave the room for a short time to give her space. This way she can stay in the carrier until she feels comfortable enough to start investigating the room and won’t be intimidated by your presence. Have food and water set up for her, although she probably won’t be interested in eating right way. She may, however, appreciate that the litter box is so conveniently located. If the newcomer is a kitten, you may want to stay with him for awhile until he can find his needs. He may need to be shown. Ideally, this sanctuary room would be your bedroom for kitty to have access to you in the night. Litter box off bedroom in master bath. She can come to you if she wants, and explore as you are quiet, sleeping.
Never put a new kitten or cat, in a basement or laundry room.
Interactive play with the newcomer is an important trust building exercise to start immediately.
This time frame is different for all cats. Adults can take days or months to acclimate. Quiet is essential. A cat relies on senses to acclimate. Sight, sound, smell, touch.
Suggested reading: Cat vs Cat Think Like a Cat The Cat Whisperer
Some of this you will find is pretty common sense, although my husband continues to remind me that this may not be so for some.
If you ever have any questions, please feel free to call me, email, whatever. I don’t claim to know it all. Think like a cat….get down on their level, observe from their level and ask yourself what you see. Whispering always gets attention, soft warm breath on their head around the ears has proven to be a comfort with my cats. Hand feeding although said to be a no-no…is what I do instead of treats. Treats are usually not at all healthy for your cat. Another good well-balanced food in lieu of a treat is a good idea. (Dog food is definitely not suited to a cat’s needs or metabolism. Do not allow your cat to eat your dog’s food.) They many times just want your undivided attention, rather than food.
Cats must play….it is not playing to them. Play is a substitute for hunting. Hunting for prey is what nature tells them to do. Allow them to catch their prey as keeping it from them creates frustration. Laser toys are great as long as the beam ends on something that they can grab and believe they have caught. Praise them for their efforts. Above all…..make time for quiet bonding time with your cat as often as you can. They only appear to be happy single because they were the more recent specie to be domesticated as far as house pets. Cats do live in colonies, dogs in packs. They are social (this breed especially) and not only want human companionship but have a need for that loving trust. Always remember that we bought them into our homes for our needs. We owe it to them to be their advocate in all ways. Respecting them brings reward to us. Not a day goes by, that I am not thankful for their companionship.
We reserve the right to refuse placement of any cat or kitten at any time.