Introducing a new kitty to your family can be an exciting time. It can also be a stressful period for the cat. It can take time for them to adjust to their new environment, and there are several things that you can do to help minimize the stress during this time.
If you work, taking some time off during this initial period can make a massive difference in helping your cat settle in more smoothly. Planning to take a 'Purrternity Leave' Holiday, if your place of work allows, should be a priority when bringing your new feline home.
What to Expect During the Adoption Process
Adopting a cat can be hugely rewarding. You are offering a home to a pet in need, and it can warm your heart, seeing them coming out of their shell and enjoying life.
Rehoming from a reputable rescue organization means you will get the right level of support before, during and after adoption. It also means your cat will have had proper health checks, temperament assessments and support during their stay with them.
Don't be offended if the organization wants to visit for a home check, or if they ask you lots of questions about your home environment and lifestyle. It is a good thing that they want to place their cats in the right type of home.
Why Taking a 'Purrternity Leave' Holiday Can Be Beneficial for Your New Cat
While lots of people realize the benefits of taking some time off to help a dog to settle into their new home, often it is assumed that cats will do fine without as much support given their more independent natures.
Adjusting to a new home environment can be exceptionally stressful for a cat, and being there to help ease them in can reduce their stress, help them settle more quickly, and contribute to building a strong bond between you and your new housemate.
The first 24 to 48 hours can be the most anxiety-inducing for your cat, making sure you are there to monitor things during this time is crucial. Some things that you can do in the early stages that will help include:
Provide Your Cat With a Safe Space
This is so important and something that is often not considered. Allowing your cat immediate access to the full house can be overwhelming. It is much better to set up a cat-proofed, quiet and secure room that they can use as their 'safe space' when they first arrive. This should be their sanctuary for the first day at least. Don't allow other pets or noisy children into the room.
Supervision Is Important
If you are out working from the moment your cat comes home, not only will it make it harder to establish a strong bond but it also means you can't see if they are distressed, confused or even mischief-making. Maybe you just need to remind them where the litter box or feeding station is. Some cats may feel more reassured by having your presence in the room. If you have a cat that is settling quickly but is a bit of a rogue, you may need to take more steps to cat-proof the house. Do they need redirecting to a scratch post instead of the sofa corners? Maybe you need to move some ornaments once they start exploring countertops.
Managed Introductions with Other Furry Family Members
Cats can be very territorial. Introductions with any other cats in the household will need to be carefully supervised and done very gradually. If you are around during the first days of introductions, it will allow you to step in if things are not going smoothly.
Establish A Bond Early On
By being home and spending quiet time with your cat, you will increase the chances of helping them to relax and bond with you from the beginning.
Building Trust: How to Establish a Good Relationship with Your New Cat
You may find that your new cat immediately seeks out a hiding spot. Don't try to force them out of this space.
When you do go into the room, try not to be moving about or making too much noise. Your time off could be the perfect time to catch up on that book you wanted to read, or you could watch a movie with headphones on.
If your cat starts to come out of their hiding spot, let them initiate any contact. Have a bag of tasty treats nearby and, if they take them, you could reward them for any curiosity or interaction.
If they retreat again to their hiding spot, be patient and let them come out again when they are ready. For some cats, this could be within hours, others may take days before they venture out with confidence. Patience is key here.
Once they are more comfortable in their space and happy with you being around, you can gradually start introducing other members of the family. If you have young children, make sure they know the rules. The cat's room is a quiet space; they should not chase the cat or sit right next to their hiding spot. They should only interact if the cat comes to them.
Once your cat is fully relaxed in the 'safe room', you can then start to introduce them to other areas of the house gradually.
Being around 24/7 for the first few days or week of your cat's arrival will help you to supervise, react, interact and build a strong bond for the years to come.
It is worth knowing that an increasing number of forward-thinking companies even offer this type of 'Purrternity Leave' as part of their employment package. The numbers are still small, but, if you work for a pet-friendly company, it may be worth enquiring about their policies.