Adopting a new cat is a bit different than adopting a new dog. Cats are more independent and finicky than their canine counterparts, so when you make the decision to adopt a cat, follow these steps to ensure their integration into your family is as smooth as possible.
Give Him His Own (Small) Space
Cats are territorial beasts, and they love to have a place to call their own. Putting him in a big new space can be overwhelming, though, and he might spend most of his time hiding behind furniture and only coming out at night when everyone is asleep. Instead, confine him to a comfy space like a bedroom or office where he can be left in quiet to adjust to his new surroundings. Equip it with fun stuff like a cat tree and plenty of toys to keep him occupied. Take turns as a family going in to visit him for short periods of time, and play and pet him. Even if he’s not receptive to the attention, just sitting in the room and reading a book in his company will help him adjust to your presence.
Go to Your Regular Veterinarian for a Checkup
Kitties can get all kinds of respiratory infections when they’re in a rescue environment, and despite the efforts of the staff, it’s not uncommon for your new cat to come home with something resembling a cold. It’s important to keep your new cat away from your current cats until you’ve gone to your vet and gotten the all clear. Remember that respiratory infections can crop up a week or so after adoption, so practice good hand washing routines and don’t allow your new cat to share bowls with your existing felines.
Take the Introduction of Your New Cat with Your Current Cats Seriously
If you’ve had cats for a while, you know that it doesn’t take a whole lot to make them mad! While some cats are ecstatic to have a new friend, others will flat out refuse to accept the new family member and may regress with urinating outside the litter box, refusing to eat, or showing aggression towards the family. Don’t let your new cats meet face to face as soon as you bring your new one home. Instead, once your new kitty has had a few days to a week to adjust (and you have the vet’s confirmation that your new cat isn’t harboring any illnesses), exchange the bedding between the two cats so they learn each other’s scents. Let the new cat out to explore the house and put your resident cat in the room to further learn about each other. Allowing them to meet through a crack in the door is the best way to introduce them successfully before you let them together completely.
Adopting a cat can be far more rewarding than getting a pet from the pet store or a breeder. Adopted cats are often mature, litter box trained, and can quickly become productive members of your household. Remember to adopt (don’t shop!) and take care to introduce your new feline family member slowly for the most success.