Introducing a new cat into your home is exciting. So for the sake of discussing how to make the introduction, our new cat’s name is Fluffy, a female, for this purpose.
Cats typically hide in a new environment, to assess whether the new place is safe or not. Some adapt in just a few hours, but there are those that may take days, weeks and sometimes longer. Don’t be dismayed or give up; they’ll soon trust you. Patience in the key.
The foster from whom you adopted your cat can tell you how she’s likely to react, and anything you should be aware of that would make her respond to you.
STEP ONE: Create A Safe Room
- Fluffy’s first introduction to your home should be in a “safe room” – including food, water, bedding, toys, and litter box (not too close to the food).
- A spare bathroom/powder room is ideal because limited hiding places make it easy to pet and bond with your new cat.
- A bedroom is not a good safe room – where a shy cat could hide under the bed, out of reach of your bonding efforts. Laundry rooms are hazardous also; cats have been known to hide behind or inside the workings of washers and dryers.
- The small room will make her feel secure, while she gets used to the smells, sounds and people of this strange new world.
- It’s easier to interact with Fluffy in a small area, where she can see and hear you.
- “Cat proof” the room, removing breakables and potential hazards. Look up for hazards – cats can get to almost any height (including curtain or shower rods). Close any windows; a frightened cat can push a screen out and escape.
STEP TWO: Place Cat in Safe Room
- Place the hard carrier inside the safe room, leaving the carrier door open so she can come out when she’s comfortable.
- Speak quietly in a happy tone of voice, encouraging her to come out.
- Fluffy may not hesitate to explore right away, or may not come out for hours. If she continues to hide, leave the room and come again in 30 minutes.
- Sit in the room quietly several times a day, reading or talking quietly to her.
- If she’s out of the carrier, but behind something, you can slowly reach in and pet her, but don’t drag her out or force affection. You’re trying to build trust and make friends, so be patient!
- Instruct your children to be patient also – using quiet voices and slow movements.
- At first, she may only come out when alone to eat and use the box.
- Do not let Fluffy out of the safe room until she comes to you voluntarily. If she is in the rest of the house before she trusts you, she may hide where you can’t reach her or even find her.
STEP THREE: Letting the Cat Explore
- Fluffy will show her trust by coming to you voluntarily. It’s now time to let her explore.
- Let Fluffy explore a little at a time. You want her to be able to find her safe room (and litter box) quickly if necessary.
- Before you let Fluffy explore more rooms, scan them for hazards: breakables, electrical cords, string or yarn, open windows, screens or doors, plants, etc.
- Open the safe room door, and let her move walk around where she wants. Don’t carry her into other rooms; she may not know how to find her way back.
- She may be easily startled and run back to the safe room time and again. That’s a common reaction. Let her explore as slowly as she wants.
- It’s best to put Fluffy back in her safe room at night until she’s confident in the whole house and you’re confident she can’t harm herself.
- When Fluffy knows her way around, you can place the litter box and food in the places you’ve planned for them. Be sure to take her to them and show them to her.
If you have other pets, refer to the specific information for “Introducing to a Dog” or “Introducing to a Resident Cat” from your foster. If you didn’t receive it, ask for it. Slow and careful introduction to other pets is crucial. A bad “first impression” will take time to overcome.
- It’s best to feed Fluffy what she’s been getting at her foster home. Your adoption papers should indicate what and how often she has been fed.
- If you want to change her food, do so gradually – increasing the percentage of the new food every few days.
- Fluffy needs a well-balanced, high-quality dry food.
- Find one with an ash content 5.5% or lower. Too much ash and not enough water can lead to bladder infection, especially for male cats.
- Cheaper brands of dry food are often too high in potassium, magnesium and sodium, creating heart problems and kidney/bladder disorders.
- Make sure the food includes taurineA nutritional substance that is essential to cats’ health. Lack of taurine in the diet can lead to blindness or certain types of heart disease. Most commercial cat foods now contain enough taurine to prevent these conditions, but always best to check the ingredient labels..
- Cats tend to eat small meals throughout the day, so leave her dry food out to free feed at will. Watch that Fluffy doesn’t gain weight; dry food is higher calorie than canned.
- Cats are carnivores and most enjoy canned food in their diet. Canned food also provides important moisture, and can be fed morning and evening (left out, it will dry up).
- Always provide fresh water with her food.
- TIP: When you give Fluffy her canned food, always call “Kitty, kitty” in a high voice – even if she’s right at your feet. She’ll soon associate that call with feeding, so if she should ever get out, you can call her that way and she’ll respond.
- See Nutrition & Food for more information.
- Your CC4C adoption paper indicates what shots Fluffy has received and when additional vaccines or annual boosters are due.
- RabiesRabies is a deadly viral infection that is transmitted by the infected saliva that enters the body through a bite or broken skin. The actual time between infection and when you get sick, called the incubation period, ranges from 10 days to 7 years, however, the average incubation period is 3 to 7 weeks. Animals with rabies suffer deterioration of the brain, where it causes swelling or inflammation, and symptoms may include stress and anxiety, drooling, convulsions, muscle spasms, numbness, restlessness, and difficult swalling. Rabies is rare in many developed countries. shots are only necessary if Fluffy will be going outside or if you have an indoor cat who has a tendency to bite.
- Fluffy has tested negative for FeLVFeline Leukemia Virus, FeLV, is a retrovirus transmitted between infected cats when the transfer of saliva or nasal secretions is involved, for example when sharing a feeding dish. The infection is responsible for more deaths among cats than any other infectious disease. There are three main types of the virus and FeLV-positive cats can be infected with one, two, or all three types including: FeLV-A causes severe immunosuppression or a weakened immune system. FeLV-B causes neoplastic disease (tumors and other abnormal tissue trowths). FeLV-C is the most rare and causes severe anemia. The virus replicates in the body once infected, then spreads via the bloodstream to other parts of the body, namely the lymph nodes, bone marrow, and intestinal tissues.. A vaccine against this disease is available from your veterinarian if there’s exposure to outside cats.
Scratching: Posts or Cat Condos
- Cats need to scratch with their claws on something solid – to sharpen them, and to stretch their muscles. Toes also have a scent that marks their territory.
- To keep Fluffy from scratching the furniture or carpet, give her something appropriate to scratch on: a cardboard horizontal scratching box; a sisal or carpeting posts; or a multi-level cat condo. A wide variety is available at pet stores.
- A condo is an especially good choice, since it combines a place to scratch, climb, sleep and hide.
- Make sure the post is sturdy and stable; she won’t use it if it’s wobbly.
- If she won’t use the scratcher you’ve bought, return it and exchange for something else. It’s essential that she will use the place where it’s OK to scratch.
- Training her to scratch appropriately is a combination of positive reinforcement and negative consequences.
Positive: This is the most important approach. When she starts to scratch the wrong thing, say NO, gently remove her and place her on the right thing, moving her front paws in the scratching motion.
- Give her a treat, praise her profusely, pet her when she does the right thing.
- If she scratches the wrong thing, never scream, hit her or throw things; this will only frighten and confuse her. Positive reinforcement is the key.
- Catnip is often provided with scratchers. It’s worth a try to put this on the scratcher, but know that some cats ignore it.
Negative: make something unpleasant happen when she scratches the wrong thing.
- Have a squirt bottle of water handy, and squirt her body once when she scratches.
- Drop a heavy book or magazine near her, or shake a can of pebbles or coins at her when she scratches; cats dislike loud noises.
- There are sticky tapes and other deterrents available at pet stores.
- A cat carrier (hard sided or soft) is essential for trips to the vet or any car ride.
- A cat loose in the car is dangerous for both of you. A sudden noise (horn, dog barking, squeal of brakes) can scare her right out of your arms and under the brake pedal or out the window.
- Cats groom themselves perfectly well. Do not bathe Fluffy! It is stressful for both of you (and can result in bloodshed).
- Brushing is usually pleasant for Fluffy (especially if she is long hair) and can prevent matting. Some cats don’t like it; so don’t force it.
- Flea treatment is important. Fluffy was treated with Advantage or Frontline topical flea treatment – a monthly product applied to the back of the head.
- Do not waste your money on flea collars – they only work for an inch or two around the neck.
- Never use products for dogs on cats.
Never hesitate to call your CC4C foster with questions about Fluffy, her care or her behavior. The foster is the expert and has lots of experience. Her phone number is at the bottom of your yellow adoption paper.