Tips & Tricks for Adopting a Cat

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Cats can be a wonderful addition to any household and make great companions. If you are looking to adopt, here are some tips and tricks to help ease the process. 1.

Before bringing your cat home, be sure to furnish your house with all the necessary supplies. Essentials include a litter box, food and water bowls, a scratching post, toys, a bed, a brush, and a collar with appropriate identification 1 – purchase a breakaway collar to ensure your cat cannot injure themselves with it. To ease your cat’s transition, purchase the food that your cat had been eating at the shelter/previous home and slowly, over a period of several weeks, switch them to a different food. The same goes for your cat’s litter. Familiarity is an important thing to consider when bringing home a new family member, so try not to overwhelm them with too many new things at once. (1)

This is also a good time to remove any harmful substances, unfriendly pet plants, and dangerous items from your home (or at least relocate them to a place which your cat cannot access) (2). Cats are naturally curious animals, so it is important to assess your home through their eyes; your cat can find their way on top of kitchen cabinets, inside any accessible ductwork, or on high shelves so be careful where you place fragile or valuable items.

When you bring your cat home, there are important steps to take over the first few days. Cats are independent, territorial animals, so arriving at a new place can make them feel very uneasy. To reduce this stress, start by confining them to one small room or area 3. In this room, be sure to place their litter box, food, water, and a place for them to hide (like a cardboard box or pet carrier). Cats love to escape to small, enclosed spaces, so having ample hiding places available will relax them and increase their happiness.

Use these first few days to spend a lot of time with your new cat. This will help assure them that they are not alone and will also provide an opportunity for them to bond with you. Let your cat come to you and don’t force any interactions. If they seem apprehensive and don’t approach you, leave them be for the time being. Do not be concerned if they spend a lot of time hiding under the bed or in the closet—they are still adjusting. The trick here is to be patient and not to force them into anything. Allow them to familiarize themselves with you at their own pace 4. Eventually, when they begin to feel safe, your cat will come around and happily join the family.

As they become more acclimated to their room over the first few days, you can slowly begin to introduce them to the entirety of your home and your family (though make sure they still have access to their special area). You may even be surprised by how eagerly your cat explores their new surroundings.

It is also important to recognize signs of stress in your pets. Common things to look for include a lack of appetite, reduced grooming, and constant hiding 1. For these first few days, your cat will likely spend a lot of time hiding and little time eating; this is natural and shouldn’t be a major concern. As time goes on, however, these behaviors should change. If a few weeks go by and your cat is still showing signs of stress, then it may be time to reevaluate their environment or consult your veterinarian.

Remember that every cat is different. You may bring home a very social cat who wants to spend all their time with you and hates to be left alone. On the other hand, your new cat may be shy and require more time to become comfortable in their new environment. So long as you have the right equipment, patience, and love, you will ultimately end up with a loving, life-long companion.

Take-Away Points

  • Have your home furnished with all your cat essentials before bringing your pet home.
  • For the first few days after you bring home your new friend, make sure they have their own room with plenty of places to hide.
  • Familiarity is key—start off using their old food and litter before switching them to new products.
  • Be patient with your cat, and let them slowly warm up to you.
  • Don’t force any interactions.
  • Learn to recognize signs of stress in your cat.
  • Every cat is different so let them set the pace.

Sites Referenced

  1. “Bringing a New Cat Home: How to Prevent Problems from Day One.” Best Friends Animal Society. N.p., 29 Feb. 2016. Web. 15 June 2017.
  2. “Adoption Tips.” ASPCA. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2017.
  3. “Tips for the First 30 Days of Cat Adoption.” Petfinder. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2017.
  4. “Bringing Your New Cat Home.” The Humane Society of the United States. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2017.


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