Homecoming Dance

Make your new cat's transition into your home a smooth one.

By Larry Lachman, Psy.D.

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Moving an existing cat to a new home, or bringing a new cat home, can be traumatic for all involved. Cats are very attached to their turf, and moving to a new place can cause it unimaginable anxiety that is frequently manifested by not using the litterbox, spray-marking the walls, destructive chewing or clawing or misplaced aggression toward people or animals in the home.

To avoid these problems, first make sure you're completely unpacked, with boxes put away, movers gone, windows closed or screened and chimneys and ventilation crawlspaces blocked off so your cat cannot escape or get stuck. Next, before bringing your cat home, rub a towel on your cat to get its scent and rub the towel on many areas in your home. This will spread your cats scent, thereby reducing its anxiety and easing the transition process.

Next, place your cats water bowl, food bowl, bed, condo and litterbox in areas similar to kittys previous residence. Cats prefer predictability and consistency.

Also, create a safe room for your cat to stay in for at least four weeks before introducing it to the other parts of the home. In this safe room, provide your cats familiar items food, water, and on the opposite end, litterbox filled with its regular litter. During the four-week period, as your pet gets used to its new limited space as evidenced by eating regularly, using the litterbox regularly and laying out in plain sight in a relaxed posture engage it in playful chase-me games with pingpong balls, catnip toys and interactive toys. By the fourth week, begin introducing your cat to the other rooms of the house under supervision.

Next, from all the far reaches of your cats new kingdom, run relay races showing it the quickest and most direct route to where its litterbox(es) are located so your cat doesn't become disoriented or lazy and begin to have accidents in its new kingdom. If your cat is used to sleeping with you at night, you can temporarily bed down with it in its safe room, make your bedroom the safe room or allow your cat to have access to your bedroom only at night, while spending the rest of the day in its safe room, especially while your are out of the home.

Finally, give the adjustment process at least three to six months to take full effect.

 

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Reader Comments

Joanna    Beaverton, OR

8/28/2010 10:35:27 PM

to arlene and sabrina I would recommend talking to a nearby animal shelter on cats that get along with dogs. I think it is inhumane to declaw a cat though it is their defense system. Claws are as important to your dog as your cat. I would recommend a small dogs and older dogs that aren't in their puppy stages still. A dog can do real dammage to a cat so they should always be supervised. I also recommend getting pet insurance. Your animal is your family and they deserve to be treated as such. your vet can normally recommend inexpensive plans. My cat just passed away and I have two knew cats one is very shy and the other is already exploring on the first day she is very friendly and playful. I hope the other cat comes out soon I would like to meet her to.

Becca    Fremont, CA

8/17/2010 5:27:06 PM

Thank you for this well written article. I have read and been given much advice on helping my babies adjust to our cross town move. This article reitterated alot of that advice and gave some more specific tips. I agree that cats are intelligent and I am sure that there are many who may thrive without these tips; however, my cats were abandoned by their previous owners and I believe they were also abused. In their case our move has been extremely stressful. I think this article is helping them both get through our move as peacefully as posible.

arlene    new port richey, FL

5/6/2010 2:11:05 PM

looking for siamese F spayed and possibly declaed.I have a 14 yr old mini schnauzer.will they adjust

Kay    Wenatchee, WA

3/15/2010 6:58:45 AM

I agree....the author isn't giving cats much credit....They are WAY smarter than this authors recommendations. Cats love to explore...and while yes, they may have some anxiety about their routine being disrupted..they will love the many new places they can explore!

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