Whether you're moving into a new home with your cat or adopting a new cat for the first time, there will be an adjustment period. Cats and dogs are much like humans when it comes to a new environment. It takes some time and patience to fully adjust to new surroundings.
So, what can help a new cat with the introduction process of a new space? It's important to plan ahead for a new and big environment change for your cat. With proper cat-proofing and monitoring of potential behavior problems — introducing a cat to a new home can go smoothly.
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How to cat-proof a new home
When planning for a new baby, most people will start early to baby-proof their space — to make it as safe as possible for the new infant. The same planning should apply to a new kitten or cat. Cats (especially kittens) are naturally curious and will get into anything and everything that interests them.
Cats are also great climbers, and capable of jumping onto high surfaces. Cat-proofing your house will protect your cat in their new environment — while also not making a mess of your belongings. Here is a helpful checklist when working to cat-proof your home:
- Place all dangling wires such as electrical cords out of reach or in cord protectors
- Don't leave breakable items accessible on shelves
- Cover all heating and air vents
- Never leave a candle burning unsupervised
- Keep trash cans covered or inside a latched cabinet
- Keep medications, cleaners, chemicals, and laundry supplies in a closed cabinet
What should you do if the cat is scared of new furniture?
When moving to a new house, it's expected there will also be some new furniture. Cats can be very nervous creatures who enjoy familiarity and routine. Some cats will be scared of a new piece of furniture or show signs of stress when furniture is rearranged.
While it's not in your best interest to let your cat dictate the order of your home, allow your cat the space to feel the new furniture out. Give them the time to explore the new changes. They may smell new furniture and leave their scent.
However, keep an eye on them to help prevent the cat from scratching the furniture. Placing a scratching post near the new piece of furniture can help direct their attention to something other than your new couch or chair.
How to prepare your cat for a new home
Before introducing your cat to a new home, it's vital to prepare ahead of time. For a safer and stress-free transition to the new surroundings, gather and set up their food, toys, and supplies before you bring a cat home. This would include their litter box, scratching post, water bowls, and a cat bed, if applicable.
Having all of a cat's familiar objects in the house beforehand will help ease the anxiety of a new home. It may also be beneficial to add a pheromone diffuser that emits a synthetic version of a pheromone that cats produce naturally from scent glands in their cheeks. Getting one of these set up in their designated room at least 24 hours before their arrival can help reduce their stress.
Once you're ready to bring your cat into the new home, make sure you have a secure cat carrier to keep them safe during the journey. Make sure you place a blanket in the bottom and cover the carrier with a towel or blanket to help your cat feel less exposed on the journey to the new environment.
How to introduce your cat to one room
Along with bringing in their supplies, it's also important to relegate them to just one, safe room in the house to start off the adjustment period. For the first several days after the move, allow your cat ample time to decompress and slowly adjust to the new environment.
When selecting a room in the new home for your car, find a quiet, low-traffic area where your can relax. Depending on the personality of the cat, they could spend their first week or, two in this room.
How long does it take for a cat to get used to a new house?
It may take weeks up to a few months for a cat to fully adjust to the move from an old home to a new home. However, properly preparing the cat for the move can help a lot with the length of the adjustment period.
If a cat is more on the shy side or is brand new to the existing family, it may take a bit more time for them to fully adapt. In this case, give them a safe, comfortable environment to work out hesitancies.
How to introduce a cat to a new pet or child
Cats and children can get along in the right environment and with the right personality matches. It's important that this relationship develops organically and is not forced.
Rushing introductions between your cat and children may cause nervousness in your cat and cause some behavioral difficulties. This can lead to not only a disinterested cat but a scared child. Instead, after you see signs that your cat may be ready to come out of their designated room, introduce them over a week or two.
Contrary to rumors, cats can get along with dogs and other resident cats. The introduction period just takes time and patience. First, keep the pets separate for at least a few days. The animals should have no physical contact. The goal of this separation is to allow the pets to get used to each other's presence and scents without face-to-face contact.
Once the two animals can eat a meal close to each other, conduct short meet-and-greets in a common area of the house. Keep the first few sessions short, and make sure the dog is on a leash. The cat can come and go as they wish. Reinforce the meetings with treats to help instill a calm demeanor in your dog. When the animals appear to be getting along well after several meet-and-greets, allow them loose in the room together. It's vital to keep an eye on both animals and always be in the room when the two are together with no leashes.
Potential behavioral issues in a cat during a move
After making the move to a new space or introducing your new cat to your home, they may start to exhibit some behavioral issues. Keep an eye on your cat during the first few weeks of transition because they may try to make a break for it.
If the cat's previous home is nearby, they may wander back and try to join whoever lives and make sure they are microchipped. Also, note that the microchip company will need your current address.
What is a cat's natural instinct when they're in a new environment?
When cats are in fear or feeling stressed, they tend to hide. Your cat may take up a hiding spot after moving into the new space. This is normal. Be one step ahead of them by providing hiding spots that you will know about.
These places can be under a bed, inside a closet, or even in a box that you provide. Just make sure Once your cat is hiding in a cozy spot, leave them be. They've most likely gone there to feel safer and more secure.
The bottom line
The process of introducing a cat to a new environment can be stressful. However, taking the proper steps to prepare your new feline friend for the change can help immensely and relieve stress. Set your cat up in a sanctuary room with their favorite things. Give them time to adjust to their new surroundings. Keep an eye on their behavior throughout the transition process. All of these steps can help the move go smoothly.