You can make a purr-fect first impression for your new cat
By Lena Hart, Marketing & Event Planning Manager, Suncoast Humane Society
If you recently adopted a cat, or are thinking about adopting one, you may find this quick read helpful. Many people view a cat’s new life as a wonderful transition from a shelter, but some may not realize just how big of an adjustment it is for the cat. The adopted cat was familiar with the surroundings, sounds, smells, routine, and caretakers at the shelter. As soon as your new cat enters your home, he/she becomes confronted with a whole new set of unfamiliar things and people. Here are some tips to help you and your new cat get acclimated.
- Don’t introduce your new cat to too much too soon. This means other pets and humans. Give your cat time and space to get used to a new environment. Children should be always supervised and never left alone with your new cat. Kids can move quickly and scream with excitement, which can spook the cat in an instant. Slow introductions help to prevent fear and aggression in your new cat.
- Your new cat may hide and refuse food for several days until she is comfortable. Be patient and don’t panic. If you have another cat in your home, introductions should be slow as well. Confine your new cat to a medium-sized room with a litter box, food and water bowls and a bed. Feed your resident cat on the other side of the door, but not so close that they are uncomfortable being within such close proximity. Gradually move the dishes closer to the door until both can eat calmly while being fully aware of each other’s presence. Next step – use a doorstop to open the door just enough for them to see each other and repeat the feeding process. Eating releases endorphins, therefore allowing both cats to associate this introduction with a positive experience.
- If you are introducing your resident dog to your new cat, it might be more difficult, but can be smooth if given enough time, patience and monitoring. A dog can hurt a cat easily with just one shake, so it’s important to have your dog on a leash and have another family member calmly sit next to your new cat on the opposite side of the room. Many small visits are better than long visits. Repeat this until both pets are calmly tolerating each other’s presence without fear or aggression.
- If small spats between your pets occur, it’s best to not intervene directly. A loud noise, like clapping your hands, or having a squirt bottle ready, can distract both animals and help to separate them. Give them time to calm down before re-introducing them. And lastly, make sure both pets have a safe and comfortable area to hide/relax in.
Cats like their space, so the more patient and respectful you are with them, the stronger of a foundation you will build. If you’re thinking about adopting a cat, please check out Suncoast Humane Society or another shelter first. There are many great felines in need of great homes right now. You can view all adoptable animals online at www.humane.org or call Suncoast Humane Society at 941-474-7884 to speak with an adoption specialist.