by Barbara George
Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
The first days in a new home can be difficult for both a new cat or kitten and the family. For the cat it is a complete change of lifestyle, routine and environment. Kittens are generally more open to learning have fewer early experiences so have less to compare. While an adult cat may take a little longer to settle, she will understand and fit in with existing routines more easily than a kitten.
All cats brought into a new home need time to adjust. The length of time will depend on the cat and the family, including existing resident pets.
New cats should be kept in a restricted area with all their needs – litter trays, food, water, entertainment and interaction with the family – until they are familiar with the routines, food, and family members. Cats need to feel safe and secure so a smaller area to investigate and learn is a better option. Allowing full access from the beginning could be overwhelming and cause her to hide away or become nervous.
New cats need attention and interaction with the family but also need time to rest, explore and learn. Routines need to be established around food, litter trays need to be cleaned regularly and preferences for games and sleeping spots decided. It is also important to establish a trusting relationship while setting guidelines for discipline. These will vary for each home.
Once the cat or kittens has settled in, its time to explore the rest of the house. This should be scheduled in a controlled way and without the presence of any other resident pets. The new cat needs to explore and understand the entire house before being introduced to other pets. During the exploring the new cat will read the smells of the resident pets and leave a few markers of her own for them to read later, usually by rubbing her head or body items of furniture and doorways.
Only then it is time to introduce her to the resident pets and the great outdoors.