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Bringing home a new adult cat: What you need to know

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Welcoming a new pet into your home is always exciting. However, introducing an adult cat to your family and household can take patience and time. These four strategies can help ease the transition period.
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A close-up of a cat’s face

Unlike kittens, which have had little interaction with different people, places and situations, adult cats bring their previous experiences, both good and bad, into any new setting. That’s why it pays to take your time when introducing your home and your family to your new adult cat. Here are four ways to acclimatise them to their new home and the people who live there.

1. Get to know your cat’s history 

If your cat came to you from a previous owner, don’t be afraid to ask questions:

  • Did the cat spend most of its time indoors or outdoors?
  • Does it have any quirky behaviours to watch out for?
  • Does the cat love cuddles, or is it more aloof around people?
  • What food did the cat eat?
  • What kitty litter was used?
  • Has the cat had much interaction with children?

Having as much information as possible will ease your cat’s transition into its new family and surroundings.

2. Don’t push your new cat too fast 

In the beginning, accept whatever amount of contact your new cat is willing to offer, and then gradually work from there. Let the cat initiate interactions for the first couple of weeks. Take your time and be patient if it seems scared or skittish.

Don’t attempt to pick up or pat the cat if it’s not comfortable or ready. Your cat may let you know with a scratch or a bite if you’re moving too fast. Treats can help break the ice. Just remember, your patience and kindness will pay off in the long run.

3. Allow gradual access to your home

Your new cat won’t feel secure in the new environment until it’s had a chance to explore every inch of your house. When you first bring the cat home, allow it access to only one area in your home and then slowly offer more and more access to other areas. (At the very least, however, your cat’s food and water bowls should be kept in a separate spot from its litter tray, and your cat should have easy access to both spaces.)

Limited access in the beginning will help your cat settle in more quickly. As you expand access to your home, the cat can slowly expand its ‘universe’ at its own pace. Chances are, your new cat will be darting in and out of rooms with confidence before you know it.

4. Establish a few routines 

Some of the most important routines for cats include playtime and mealtime. A regular meal schedule will give your cat a sense of trust and appreciation for your presence. Regular playtimes will also enhance your relationship.

Maintaining a predictable activity level in your household, with set morning and evening rituals, is important, too. If you’re constantly changing how you do things, your cat can become confused, not knowing what to expect.

Helping a new adult cat adjust in your home can be a challenge, but with time, patience and consistency your new companion will soon settle comfortably within your home.

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