Your New Cat

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Congratulations! We are very excited that you have decided to adopt a new cat. We want this to be a positive experience so that you and your new cat can live happily together for a long time, so here are some tips for starting your new relationship off on the right “paw.”

First Day Home

You have just committed to adding a new member to your family, which can be enjoyable but also stressful for all involved, including your new cat. When bringing your cat home for the first time, keep in mind that he has probably been through a lot in the last few days. He may have been lost on the streets for a period of time before coming to the shelter or been given up by his previous owner. Being adopted into a new family can initially be very overwhelming for a cat.

Your first day with your new cat should be spent allowing him to get used to his new home. Establishing a sanctuary room for your cat will help him adjust well. Cats are territorial animals and do best if they are introduced to one small part of a new home at a time. Pick a quiet room where your new cat can stay until he has adjusted.

Some Supplies Your New Cat Will Need

During the Weeks to Come

Visit your cat regularly as he adjusts to his room. Everything he encounters will be new and possibly stressful for him, so it is important to allow him to adjust at his own pace. It could take two days for him to be his normal self, or it could take two months—every cat is different. A good indication that your cat has adjusted to his new home is when he is eating, drinking and using the litterbox normally. Your cat should also not show any signs of fear, such as hiding when you walk into the sanctuary room. When your cat is ready to see the rest of the house, gradually introduce him to each new room.

We strongly encourage you to take advantage of the free exam within 14 days of adoption generously donated by members of the Denver Area Veterinary Medical Society (DAVMS). However, be aware that a veterinary clinic is a stressful environment for any cat, and do everything you can to make it a positive experience for him, like bringing treats with you or using a calming spray like Feliway (see our “Stress Relief” handout).

Introductions

If you have other pets at home, take your time introducing your new cat to them. Rushing through an introduction can cause long lasting conflicts between your new cat and your current pets. See our handouts “Introducing Your New Cat to Your Resident Cat” or “Introducing Your New Cat to Your Other Pets” on our website.

Training

Training should begin early, no matter how old your new cat is. Socializing kittens is crucial to their development and will help you have a well-rounded adult cat. Talking to, touching and playing with your cat all lead to a more socialized pet. For all cats, we recommend clicker training (see our “Cat Clicker Training” handout online). This is a great form of positive-reinforcement training that can help teach a cat manners, help a fearful cat become more confident or relieve a cat’s stress.

Resources

If you have any questions regarding your new cat’s behavior, we offer a free Pet Behavior Helpline. You can sign up for an appointment online at https://ddfl.org/behavior-help.

Common Myths about Cats

Cats drink milk – False

Cats can enjoy human food – False

Certain cats are “alpha” cats – False