About Adopting

7 Tips to Help Your Adopted Cat Become a Cherished Member of the Family

Pets enrich our lives in countless ways and adopting is one of the best things you can do for an animal in need. If you’re considering adding a cat to your family, there are some things you can do to help them feel more comfortable and become a cherished member of the family. 

adopted cat

When you’re ready to add a new feline family member, keep these top tips in mind to make sure that your newly adopted cat feels comfortable and loved from day one!

1. Look for a cat with a personality that fits your family and lifestyle.

If you’re looking to adopt a cat, personality should be at the top of your list of considerations. After all, you’re not just welcoming a new pet into your home—you’re also inviting in a new member of the family. And just like any family member, it’s important to find someone who fits in with your existing lifestyle and personality. Are you looking for a rambunctious playmate for your kids? Or a calm and relaxed lap cat to curl up with on the couch? No matter what you’re looking for, there’s sure to be a purr-fect personality match out there for you. When adopting, take some time to get to know your potential new pet before bringing them home.

2. Prepare for your new feline family’s arrival.

It’s important to make sure your home is ready for your new cat’s arrival before they come home with you. Prepare a quiet space for them to sleep and relax in, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. This will help them feel safe and secure as they adjust to their new surroundings. Be sure to also have food and water dishes, litter boxes, toys, and scratching posts set up around your home—and make sure they’re all easily accessible to your cat.

If this is your first venture into cat parenthood, you may need to do a little cat-proofing, too. To ensure your home is safe, think like a cat. Cats are known for their curiosity and they love to jump up high, making countertops and tables prime spaces for exploration. Keep any sharp, dangerous, or breakable items out of reach or stored away to keep your cat safe and your favorite trinkets intact.

newly adopted cat

3. Give your new cat time to adjust to their surroundings.

Unless you’ve adopted a kitten or found a feline friend with lots of confidence, their natural instinct is to be reserved and hesitant to enter a new environment. Rushing things will only make your new cat more stressed. When you first bring them home, let them explore their new space at their own pace and without interference from other pets. At first, keep them confined to a few rooms until you sense they are comfortable. Then begin allowing them more space to roam. Be sure to monitor their behavior and don’t push them to interact with other pets or people until they are ready.

Once they’ve had some time to adjust and are comfortable in their new home, you can start introducing them to the other members of the family—including any other pets you have. It’s important to do this the right way.

4. Introduce your new cat to existing pets gradually and appropriately.

Cats are very curious creatures, but they can also be easily overwhelmed. When introducing your new cat to other pets in the home, it’s important to do so gradually.

Once they’ve had a chance to explore and feel comfortable in their own space, you can begin slowly introducing them to the other four-legged members of the family. Start by feeding the animals on either side of a closed door so they can smell each other without being able to see or interact with one another. After a few days of this, swap your pets’ bedding, so each pet has an opportunity to smell and get used to their future fur-brother or sister’s scent. When your new cat and resident pets are all calm, it’s time to begin introductions. Start by allowing pets to see each other, but not actually touch, either through a baby gate, with one pet in a crate or carrier. Pay close attention to body language and stop introductions if either animal isn’t ready yet.

But be sure to take things slowly—rushing the process can lead to stress and conflict for all involved. Just like people, every cat is different, so there is no set timeline for how long this process takes. But, a proper introduction can lead to a lifelong, loving friendship between pets.

introducing your adopted cat to existing pets

5. Keep a regular routine.

Cats are creatures of habit and they thrive on routine. To help your new cat feel comfortable and settled in, keep mealtimes, playtimes, and bedtimes consistent from day one. This will help them feel safe and secure in their new home and make the transition as seamless as possible.

Setting a schedule—and sticking to it—will make things easier on you, too. Cats are very smart and will train YOU if given the opportunity. If your new cat learns that howling at 4am prompts you to get up and give treats, chin scratches, or playtime, you can guarantee future 4am kitty wake-up calls.

6. Make sure your new cat is eating and drinking.

It’s normal for cats to lose their appetite or avoid eating when they arrive at a new place. This is most often because they’re stressed or hesitant to eliminate in an unfamiliar place. It’s important that you try to encourage your cat to eat during the transition to their new home. Unlike dogs that can safely fast for a day or two, it’s quite dangerous for a cat to stop eating. 

If your new cat isn’t eating or drinking, contact your veterinarian right away. They may recommend appetite stimulants or other medications to help ease the transition and get your cat back on a regular eating schedule.

Whenever possible, continue feeding the same food they were eating before you adopted them. If you have other cats and want to feed them all the same food (or if you simply want to upgrade to a more nutritious diet) slowly transition them over the course of at least a week.

new cat

7. Take your new cat to meet your veterinarian and make vet visits a part of your regular routine.

Cats are typically very good at hiding illness and pain, so it’s important to take your new cat to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. If your cat was adopted from a shelter or rescue organization, they may have already been spayed or neutered and had a basic health check.

But it’s still a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian to get them up-to-date on vaccines, discuss any potential health concerns, and begin developing a relationship with a trusted vet in case your cat ever gets sick or injured. After that, plan to take your cat in for regular wellness visits at least once per year—more often if they are elderly or have chronic health conditions.

Welcoming a new cat into your home can be an exciting time, but it’s important to remember that they need some time to adjust just like everyone else in the family. By following these simple tips, you can help make your new addition feel right at home and ensure they become a cherished member of the family for years to come.

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