Cats Prefer a Proper Introduction
If you want a well-adjusted cat to occupy your home, you must be patient and follow these steps:
Before you bring the cat home:
- Have a specific room in the house that is rarely used and has it’s own door that closes securely. If you do not have a whole room like that, pick a room that is the quietest.
- Equip the room with a litter box, fresh water in a wide topped bowl, and fresh dry food. An old blanket or fuzzy throw should be folded and placed in an out-of-the-way area.
- Have an approved animal carrier clean and ready to go. Fold an old towel on the bottom of it.
Now you are ready to go get your kitty. While you are filling out the required paperwork, a shelter volunteer will take your animal carrier and retrieve the cat. It is best to allow them to do this, as at this point the kitty knows the volunteer better than it knows you.
This is an extremely stressful time for the cat, and it may start to howl. Vocal breeds will get very loud on the drive home. Be patient and keep talking. Do not allow anyone to put their hands in the carrier or open it, but encourage them to talk to the feline. The cat will not understand what is being said, but can be soothed by the tone of voice. Remember, this animal has no idea what’s happening to them, where they are going, or why.
Once home, put the carrier in the room. If the room is prepared and has a door, unlock the carrier and sit quietly. If you have other things to do, it is okay to leave the room, shutting the door behind you. Check on kitty occasionally, but do not be surprised if you cannot find her. Leave the cat in the room for at least 12-24 hours or longer if there are already other pets in the household. The animals will sniff at each other under the door.
If you do not have a room, put food, water, and a litter box in the carrier itself. Be ready for hissing and perhaps swatting, as the cat does not understand what is happening. Close the carrier and leave the feline alone to listen to the sounds of its new surroundings. Once things start to become familiar, about 12 to 24 hours, let kitty out of the carrier. Do not be surprised if the cat doesn’t immediately come out – let them take their time and come out on their own terms. Remove the food, water, and litter from the carrier and place it in an area the cat can easily see.
Generally, a cat will view their room as their territory, and will stay pretty close to it for the first week. They will gradually explore your entire house. Give the animal fresh food and water daily, and keep the litter box clean. Offer your hand to your kitty regularly and allow them to sniff it. Gain the cat’s trust by not trying to touch her until she nudges your hand.
Being prepared and allowing your cat the time to accept your home is crucial. The feline does not realize it is in a safe place until they check it out completely themselves. Failure to offer even part of this slow introduction could lead to an insecure cat who does not come out of hiding for weeks or even months.