Welcoming your new cat

Congratulations on the new addition to your family! Bringing home a new cat is an exciting time. Here are a few tips to make kitty’s homecoming smooth and relatively stress-free.

Supplies
Make sure you have the following essential supplies before you pick up your cat from her foster home or adoption centre:

  • Litter box, litter, and a litter scoop
  • Food, preferably wet or raw food. RCR’s partner, Metro Pet Market, can give you some good tips on proper nutrition for your cat
  • Bowls for food and water, preferably shallow (about 1 inch deep). Cats don’t like their whiskers in their food!
  • Cat bed. A soft blanket will do.
  • Cat toys
  • Scratching post or cat tree
  • Cat brush and kitty nail clippers

You might also want to consider:

  • Something to calm your new cat, like a Feliway diffuser (available from your vet clinic) or Rescue Remedy, available from Old Fashioned Foods or Metro Pet Market
  • Cat treats
  • Ask the foster parent(s) if they would be willing to let you borrow a favourite toy or blanket. The familiar feel and scent of the item will bring comfort to your new cat, and ease the transition.

The “Safe Room”
You’ll need to designate a separate room for your cat for the first few days or weeks of his arrival. This is to reduce stress and get him used to the smells, sounds, and feel of his new home. Some cats only need a few days in the safe room, while others will need longer. Don’t feel bad about keeping your new cat in a separate room, even if he wants to come out! He’s got everything he needs in there, and trust us, the outcome is well worth it.

If your new cat is a kitten, make sure to kitten-proof the room:

  • Put child-safe covers on electrical outlets
  • Remove any electrical cords or wires
  • Remove any chemical cleaners
  • Stick fragile items down with mounting putty

Check on your new cat regularly. Fill her water dish, play with her, talk to her, and most of all, give her lots of love!

Introducing your new cat to your resident cat(s)

WesRicky.png

Wes and Ricky, from strangers to best friends in days!

If you have resident cats, you will need to introduce them to your new cat gradually. Never “just let them work it out.” This can lead to relationship problems between your cats. If you want your cats to be buddies for life, follow these steps:

  • Feed resident cats and your new cat on opposite sides of the “safe room” door. This helps them associate the new arrival with a positive experience – food!
  • Over a period of a few days to a week or even two weeks, move the food bowls closer and closer to the door.
  • Once the cats seem relaxed while they are eating, and any growling or hissing has stopped, open the door a crack while the cats are eating. This allows them to partially see each other while they’re chomping down on their dinners.
  • Once the cats can eat without growling or hissing, gradually open the door wider until they can get a good look at each other. Baby gates can be useful for this. Let them sniff each other, and be sure to monitor them.
  • If things seem to be taking a turn for the worse, go back to step one, and start over. Seriously, it’s worth it. *Tip* if a physical fight breaks out, stay calm – it happens.  Don’t break up the fight with your arms/hands. Just make a loud noise by clapping or throwing your keys nearby, scoop up your new cat, and place him back in his safe room.
  • For a great video on how to introduce a new cat to resident cats, click here.

Scent Swapping
Cats have an amazing sense of smell. After he has been with you for a few days, offer your new cat a blanket or toy that’s been well loved by your resident cats. At the same time, offer your resident cats something your new cat has been sleeping on or playing with. This “scent swapping” gives the cats a chance to sniff each other before actually seeing each other, which reduces stress.

Need Advice?
RCR volunteers are available to help. Email us at adoptions@reginacatrescue.com. You can also visit one of the Metro Pet Market locations to talk to knowledgeable staff.

Additional Resources

BCSPA
How do I welcome a new cat into my home?
Tip sheet:  Welcome Home!  Bonding with your new cat

Jackson Galaxy
Before you get a kitten
How to introduce two cats

Dr. Karen Becker
What you need to know before bringing home a new pet

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
Introducing a new baby to your dog or cat