Companion Connection

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Helping Your New Cat Adjust

Over the past several months, Companion Connection has had a few cats adopted and then returned to us within days because the new guardians did not understand how to    acclimate the cat to their new home.

Cats are highly territorial and are extremely uncomfortable when moving to a new location. When moving into a new home, they will feel vulnerable and afraid. It may take them hours or weeks before they accept the new location as their home. During this period, cats will hide. The last thing they will want is to be picked up and petted. In more extreme cases, they may not even eat, drink or eliminate waste. Managing this period is critical for your relationship with the cat you have adopted.

There are some steps that will help your new cat decide your home is a safe place:

If you have young children or other pets, this is NOT the time to allow them access. The cat will already be frazzled. It needs peace and serenity, not additional chaos. In just a few hours, it has been ripped from a place it thought was safe, stuffed in a carrier, and driven through (Austin?) traffic, exposed to new people, and brought into a new home. No wonder it is scared.

Before your new cat comes home, make a place for it to spend the adjustment period. Prepare a small room, such as a bathroom, study, or large closet. Create a place for the cat to sleep and hide, such as an upside down cardboard box with a door cut out in front and back and a sleeping pad. There should be no other places to hide in the room. Put food and water near the “hideout box.” Put a litter box on the opposite side of the room. Put treats (Temptations work great) around the room, so the cat will have to leave the box to get them. The cat can be further comforted by using the pheromone Feliway (spray or plug-in dispenser) before your cat arrives.

Your cat will want a location high in the room to give it a place from which to oversee its domain. If the room does not have a natural place, bring one in (cat tree or similar).

Once the cat is in the room, deliver some premium wet-food for the cat. The cat may choose not to eat until it feels safer, but it should be available. You can visit the cat. Have a place to sit and watch the cat, but do not force your attention on it. Let the cat come to you. If the cat shows interest in you, let it sniff an extended finger.  If it accepts that nearness, slowly pet it, but do not pick it up and try to hold it. Wait for the cat to make the first move. It will jump to your lap when it is ready for that.

If there are things of value in the room, move them so the cat cannot break them.

Once the cat feels comfortable in the current space, open up an additional part of the house. Do not allow complete access to your home all at once. The cat will need to go through the adjustment period again. If you open up too much at one time, the cat will feel overwhelmed again.


Acclimating Your New Cat

             Tip of the Week by Jerry Vinyard

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated...

I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man." -Mahatma Gandhi-

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