Bring your new cat into your family home the right way:

What to do when you bring your new cat home

Bringing a new cat home for the first time is always an exciting experience for cat lovers. What cat-adoring individual would not find new joy in adopting an 8 week old, bright-eyed and energetic kitten? The same could be said about welcoming an older cat from the help shelter into a loving home. The possibilities for amusement, companionship and friendship are endless, provided that the new owner of the cat takes care to start the relationship off on the right foot. The first few weeks and months that your new cat is living with you will be a crucial time of getting to know each other and building a foundation of trust. Any lack of trust your cat may have toward you and your family members when first brought home can easily be overcome with the proper approach. As long as you take into consideration the following five tips, your chances of having a cat who is outwardly friendly toward you, your family members and friends will be much higher.

1. Allow the cat as much time as it needs to become acquainted and comfortable in its new surroundings and around its fellow inhabitants(that's you!)

Place yourself for a few moments in an 8-week-old, newly adopted kitten's shoes. You have just been separated from your mother, siblings, friends and everything in life you were comfortable and familiar with, and placed in a new location far away from any of them. Your new surroundings are completely unfamiliar, the smells are quite foreign and you are somewhat distraught from the sudden change. To make things worse, the strangers who took you home with them love you to death, and won't stop following you around and bothering you everywhere you go! They want you to love them back, but you do not yet know whether they are future best friends for life or your worst enemies in disguise. So until further notice you feel inclined to hide somewhere safe from everyone until can you get your bearings straight, and are able to sort out whether you are in a safe place or not.

This is the sort of situation facing a cat being brought home for the very first time. Despite how tempting it is to immediately start playing and cuddling with your new cat from the get-go, give your new pet some space for the first week or so, and let her get used to you and the new environment. If the cat is shying away from you, back off a bit and allow some space. Talk to your cat with an inviting voice and extend your hand to see if she will approach you for attention. If she will, that's great! If your cat isn't ready yet, that's fine too. But there is no need to worry if the latter happens because with time and patience your cat surely will begin to approach you. As long as you always give your cat the invitation to receive attention, and always allow the cat to ultimately decide whether she wants attention or not, you will soon find your cat to be more friendly toward you than friends and family who do not honor allowing the cat to decide. Always remember that friendship with a cat is similar to the one you have with your friends; you have to earn it. 


2. Keep the noise level down

A cat in a loud confined space is an unhappy cat. How often do you see a pet cat working the crowd of guests at a birthday party? Probably never. Usually you see a flash of something furry that is moving at lightning speed from the base of the stairs to the second floor master bedroom. How can you bond with your cat if the noise level surrounding you is always so loud that it does not want to be near you? Strive to keep the voice levels in the house to an appropriate indoor level, and any other loud noises to a minimum. Sometimes a bit of noise can't be helped, like when vacuuming the floor. But in those situations, the noise should never be intentionally directed at the cat in order to get some sort of a kick out of watching your cat tear out of the room in a terrified state.

3. Establish and enforce rules for your kids regarding how they may and may not interact with the cat

We have all seen the seven year old child who loves his family's pet cat with all his heart, but does not stop to think that great amount of fun he is having in swinging the cat around in circles is not at all in the best interest of the animal's happiness or safety. Such treatment from a child oftentimes ruins any chance the child has of really getting to interact with the cat on a personal level unless the behavior is stopped and corrected because in time, the cat will associate the child as someone to fear and avoid. Teaching how to handle a pet gently will also decrease the likelihood of the cat ever lashing out at a child and causing injury.

Many parents sadly do next to nothing in teaching their children what are acceptable ways to treat the pet cat, and what are intolerable behaviors. It is important to impress upon your children to understand that just like us, the family cat is a living and breathing being who experiences happiness, pain, fear and hunger. And because of this, all children should taught to treat the cat in the same way we want to be treated ourselves.

4. Use the one cat toy that really matters to your advantage: an indestructable piece of string

Just because your new cat is maybe a little shy during the first few days and weeks, and won't let anyone too close to it, does not mean that you can't still have bonding sessions. Strings are one of the ultimate cat toys because almost every house cat alive will attack a piece of string repeatedly. When your cat is quaking in fear in the darkest corner beneath the livingroom couch, dangling and dragging a string slowly across the floor is a surefire way to get her racing out from under the furniture in a desperate attempt to catch the "mouse tail". Using this method can achieve a win-win situation for both you and the cat. You get to play with your new pet, and the cat begins to slowly over time become more comfortable interacting with everyone in the house. The cat will almost always eagerly attack the string as long as nobody consistently uses the string as a cheap way to draw the cat out in the open so they can just pick the cat up and hold it.

5. Wait a while before bringing everyone over to meet the cat

It is never too bad of an idea to get the cat comfortable around you and your family first before bringing more people around to meet it. This doesn't mean you can't have a few friends come over on the first day to meet the cat, but inviting your 10 closest friends over to meet the cat all at once on the same day you brought him home will just cause your cat more stress. So just give yourself and your family a couple weeks of primarily exclusive interaction with your new pet before inviting the hordes of friends and family over for that party you've been planning, in which the new cat will surely be one of the highlights of the party for many of your guests.

A few weeks of patience in exchange for years of happiness

The first few weeks in bringing a new cat home for the first time is a delicate period of transition for your new cat, but with some commitment and patience it is far from difficult to begin the bonding process. Those of use who actively strive to induct our new cats into our homes as smoothly as possible will in turn be rewarded for our efforts. By taking a few weeks to allow the new family cat to properly adjust to us and its new home, we effectively unlock the doors to living with a highly sociable cat who welcomes and craves our attention. Hopefully these five tips will be helpful to next time you are welcoming a new cat into your family. Best of luck!