Cats have a special place in the hearts of millions of people. These wily rascals can be flirty, funny or even aloof. The personality of cats, coupled with their compact size, makes them ideal pets for homes of all sizes.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says approximately 1.3 million cats are adopted from animal shelters each year. However, of the cats entering shelters, only around 37 percent are ultimately adopted, according to the National Kitten Coalition. Individuals who adopt cats may want to take every step they can to make the relationship with a new companion animal work. That often means finding ways to help the cat feel comfortable by acclimating it to its new home. The length of time it will take to adjust to a new environment depends on the cat’s temperament. However, these tips can help.
– Pick a familiar item and bring it with you. Does the cat have a favorite toy, carrier or scratching post? Moving something into the home that has the animal’s smell may help him or her adjust more quickly.
– Select a room as a home base. Introducing the cat to the entire home and all of the people in it can be overwhelming. Rather, select a small room in the home, such as an office or laundry space, that the cat can call home for the time being. With the door closed, this small space can be comforting and let the cat learn the smells and sounds of the home before it ventures into other areas. Remember to visit often and provide plenty of love and affection as tolerated.
– Avoid lots of traffic. Now is not the time to host a house party. Remove stressors like large crowds, increased foot traffic and kids’ play dates. Loud sounds and sudden movements can put cats on edge.
– Don’t force the issue. The kitty will start to come around when he or she is ready. Don’t be compelled to pull the pet out from hiding under a bed or couch; let the cat set the pace.
– Keep kids away. Young children tend to be boisterous and jerky, which isn’t a good mix with a skittish cat. While the cat is acclimating, keep young children away. When they are introduced, do so in small intervals and supervise carefully, so the cat does not get hurt and children are not accidentally scratched or bitten by a scared cat.
– Provide a quiet area. Perhaps that first room or a cozy nook can be the cat’s quiet spot. According to cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy, cats need solitude and quiet time. A box or basket lined with soft, washable bedding in a corner can serve as a place for a cat to retire to.
– Introduce existing pets slowly. Existing pets should be introduced gradually. Keep a dog confined until the cat feels secure in the home. Two altered cats can become friends in the same home. However, older cats often are more accepting of kittens than other adults. Keep this in mind when making introductions.
Cats are happiest when they’ve had time to settle and get used to the surroundings in their new home. Once the adoption takes place, give the cat plenty of time to become comfortable in its new environment.