How can I make my recently adopted cat feel comfortable in his new surroundings?

CatChannel behavior expert, Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, explains how to welcome a new, adopted cat into your home.

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Q: I am adopting a 2-year-old male tabby cat in two weeks. He has been in a shelter since he was 6 months old and was on death row. Can you give me some tips on introducing him into his new home? I have all of the necessary toys, bed and litterbox and want to make it an easy transition for the two of us. I’m also taking the weekend off to be with him. Any pointers would be most appreciated.

A: Kudos for rescuing this little one from death row. Loving animals are surrendered to shelters and, when given a chance, become wonderful companions.

Before bringing your new little cat friend home, prepare a room for him. This will be his room until he feels safe enough to venture out into other parts of your home. The room should have at least two litterboxes in it, a comfortable place to sleep and food and water. It would be ideal if there were a window (closed and secured) that he could look out of while adjusting to his new situation. If he is a shy kitty, a few boxes lying on their side with towels inside will provide him a place to hide and give him a sense of security.

It is not uncommon for cats rescued from shelters to spend a few days hiding under the bed or another piece of furniture. Don’t force him out of hiding. Let him come out on his own time. He’s not on your schedule. He has his own cat schedule, and when he feels safe he’ll venture out. Make sure to monitor his food and water intake because it’s very important that he eats.

Spend lots of time with him in his room. Help him get accustomed to your voice by reading out loud, singing softly to him or conversing with him. Food is a great motivator. Whenever you go into the room have a delicious cat treat for him. You want him to see you as the provider of everything good. Give him some time. With a little patience and tasty treats, he will eventually feel safe enough to trust and bond to you.

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Reader Comments

CatChannelEditor    Irvine, CA

7/10/2012 10:02:23 AM

Hannah -- Thank you for rescuing this cat! You did a great job by giving her a home. It sounds like she could come around to being a friendly pet, if you provide a lot of patience.

Please try to refrain from grabbing your cat; let her come to you for scratches and pets. This will allow her to trust you and seek you out. Good luck with your cat, and let us know how it goes!

Hannah    Chazy, NY

7/7/2012 7:07:16 PM

I have rescued a cat and we got her spade and got all her shots. However, she will not come near you or let you pick her up. If by chance you can grab her as she comes to the fridge when it opens she will snuggle in your arms and purr and enjoys the fuss made over her. Also if you talk to her she will lie on her back and purr but she won't let you near her to pick her up. She came to our family last August. (She was a stray in our back yard and I had to catch her in a trap. She was about a year old then so the vet said.

Michalle    Portland, OR

4/11/2012 1:33:21 PM

This is a good article. It shows that patience is a key.

Mary    Wyoming, MI

4/5/2012 9:03:13 PM

have just taken in two neutered female cats.....they don't seem to like our two neutered male cats.
The girls are screamers.....and the boys'll just look at them and there goes the "zen" in the house.
Any suggestions?

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