Cat’s first moments at home – how can you help your pet settle in?
New house, new objects, new smells, new people... Such conditions might be very stressful for a cat, an animal that appreciates stability and routine. Fortunately, you can help your new household member feel more at home in their new environment.
A cat’s first day in a different environment can be overwhelming for both the animal and its owner. However, if you get properly prepared and give your cat some time to explore its new home, both you and your pet will soon leave all stress behind. Of course, there are cats who can settle in right away, however, there are also ones that are more shy and require more patience as well as a little help.
Before the cat arrives at the new home
The place should be prepared for the arrival of the new four-legged resident. The most important thing is the cat’s layette. It is necessary to prepare two bowls, one for food and one for water, a litter box, a scratcher, toys and a cat bed, although the latter one might end up not being used by the cat, which might prefer a chair, a couch or some other, unexpected spot. Another necessity is a cat carrier.
The balcony and any windows that are sometimes opened should be secured with a net which will prevent the cat from falling out. Tilt-turn windows should be secured with a grid to prevent the cat from slipping into the gap between the window and the frame. Moreover, make sure that the household does not contain any plants, which could be poisonous to the cat.
If possible, choose one room for your cat to spend its first days in and place the entire layette inside of it. It will be easier for the cat to adapt to a smaller area at first. It will be also help the pet in getting used to the new accessories it is going to use. Remember not to place the litter box next to the bowls. If you can tell the cats is quickly adapting to the new place and does not seem stressed when exploring the home, move the litter box to a permanent place.
If there is already a cat or a dog in the house, a separate room might be essential for the newcomer’s proper adaptation. To prevent significant discomfort, you need to enable it to gradually get to know the other pet residents.
Arrival of the cat
Some cats will enter their new home with confidence and will calmly start sniffing around, rubbing their faces into various objects and exploring the new territory. However, other cats tend to be anxious. Faced with a radical change in the form of being brought to a completely unknown place, they will hide under the bed, behind the cupboard or another inaccessible place. Kittens adapt to new situations with the most ease as they are only discovering the world and everything is equally new to them. Yet, even among kittens there are ones that are more shy and anxious and who might cry for their cat mummy at night.
It might be a good idea to include into its new accessories an item from the cattery, shelter or temporary home that the cat used to stay in. It could be its favourite toy or a blanket, items saturated with a familiar smell, which would form positive associations. To fulfil the cat’s natural need for hiding (not just out of fear, but simply for fun), provide the new household member with a dedicated hiding place so that it does not have to look for a quiet spot behind the wardrobe. The perfect solution might be Dr Seidel cat house, designed by a behavioural medicine specialist. It will be the perfect playground, hideout and observation point for the cat. The cat house is made of durable cardboard. You can assemble it manually for your cat. The possibility to combine several boxes in different configurations is an additional feature of the toy.
Upon arriving at the new home, let your cat out of the carrier and let it become familiar with the designated room where the cat accessories were put. If you cannot provide a separate room, you can let it out into the home after securing potentially dangerous places (such as cellar door). If there are other animals in the house, even the bathroom might serve as a temporary cat’s room. Such dedicated space will ensure comfort and safety for the new resident in its first days. This will allow the “old” residents and the new cat to get used to each other’s smells and sounds while being physically separated by a door. Bathroom door usually has holes or a gap in its lower part. This allows for a free exchange of smells. After the cat spends a few days in the dedicated space, try letting it enter other rooms while closing the other pet inside the cat’s room. The next step is to allow for controlled direct confrontation. The so called “socialisation with isolation” might take one to two weeks, depending on the animal’s personality. Make sure the pets do not harm one another although you may not be able to prevent all conflicts. Observe the animals and intervene if necessary. Remember not to show favouritism towards your new pet. You must not allow the “old” residents to feel neglected after the arrival of your new cat.
Give your cat some water but do not feed it yet. If it seems nervous, do not pick it up. Let it discover new smells and sounds. In the case of most cats, curiosity takes over quite quickly – they begin exploring and do not need to be closed off in one room. Once your cat seems calmer, give it a meal. At that point, remember to move the litter box to the place where it is supposed to remain permanently. If you already have pet residents, the isolation of your new cat should last longer. Pets must be familiarised with each other gradually and slowly.
How to help a stressed cat?
Some cats require more time to get used to a new situation. You can help both older and younger cats by reducing their stress levels with Dr Seidel electric adaptation vaporizer for cats. It soothes the pet and makes it feel safe. It contains a composition of natural substances. Their action resembles the action of cat pheromones. It will surely help your pet adapt to the new environment. In order to achieve the desired effect, the device should remain plugged in for 30 days.
Provide your cat with hiding spots and toys. You can increase their attractiveness with Dr Seidel Atraktis, which contains a catnip extract. It can be sprayed on toys, beds and other cat accessories. If the cat plays around and gets to know more objects and areas, it will eventually become encouraged to explore and gain trust towards you.
If the newcomer is a kitten, it may cry for its mother when left alone. Play with it as much as possible, pick it up often (if it does not mind). If the cat is anxious, do not allow younger children to play with it as they may not yet have a proper understanding of the cat’s needs.
Do not be surprised if the cat adopts a peculiar, curled posture, examines the surroundings closely, hides or retreats while exploring the rooms. When it makes sure there is no danger in the area, it will relax. Remember that cats value routine. Introduce fixed hours of meals, playtime and grooming sessions.
It is best for your cat to settle in during the weekend, while you are at home. Do not leave your pet on its own right away. First, create an atmosphere of safety. Settling in might take from several hours to as much as 2–3 days. In exceptional cases, more time may be required.