By Dr. Stephanie Janeczko, D.V.M., Medical Director for Animal Care & Control of New York City
Going to a new home is a stressful situation for any cat, and some need more time to adjust than others. The best way to help your new friend adjust to his home is to give him time and safe place to hide. If there is one word you need to know about introducing a cat to your home, it’s this: SLOWLY!
Initially, your new cat should be restricted to a single room in the house with all the necessities — food and water, a place to rest, a place to hide (this doesn’t need to be anything fancy — cats love having a cardboard box or paper bag to hide in), something to scratch, and a litter box. This is also the perfect time to set up your litter cafeteria so that you know exactly what your cat will like best! Be sure to spend plenty of time with your new cat during this time, but don’t force him to interact with you — you should let him come to you on his own terms. Some cats will be out exploring that first day, and others might hide for a week, so it is important to go as slowly as your cat needs you to.
Once your kitty has adjusted to this area of your home, it’s time to give him access to a bit more of the house. Again, this should be done slowly and gradually if at all possible rather than turning your cat loose to a whole new area. If your new cat shows signs of stress, you may need to restrict his access to a smaller area of the house and allow for more time for adjustment. With enough time, patience, and attention, just about every cat can happily settle into your home!