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Your New Cat

You are bringing home a new cat.  If you follow these procedures you can make the transition easy and stop problems before they start.


Firstly you need to think about where your cat came from. Changes in a cat’s environment can be very stressful for them. By maintaining a similar environment and routine you can reduce the stress for the cat and gradually change their routine over time.  

  •  Was the cat staying in a cage, a room or in a foster home?

  •  Were there other cats living there or was your cat alone?

  •  Was the environment noisy or quiet?

  •  How often did the cat get fed and where did the cat sleep?

Prepare for your cat's arrival.

Have these things ready.

  • Food and water bowls (At first feed your cat the same food it was eating at the shelter - you can gradually change later).

  • Treats.

  • Cat bed, toys, brushes and scratching post.

  • Cat litter tray and litter (Use the same litter that the cat has been using).

Watch for sign's of stress and help your cat to adjust.


Signs of stress can include decreased appetite, lack of grooming, hiding and lack of interest in attention or affection. Sometimes a stressed cat will behave quieter than normal or be fearful or aggressive despite the fact that it is not the cat’s normal character.

As the cat becomes more comfortable in its new environment the signs of stress will decrease, however if they continue for more than a month you should speak with your veterinarian.

Prepare your cat's new environment.

Many cats are fearful when introduced to their new home.  They have been moved from a small enclosure to a large space. The smells, noises and everyday interactions are different so must gradually transition your cat into the new environment.

  • Confine your new cat at first to one room and spend regular time with him.

  • Provide multiple hiding places.  A cardboard box with holes cut in both sides and a blanket in the bottom is a favorite for cats.  Provide hiding places on the ground as well as up high. Always leave the cat alone when it is in a private hiding space.

  • Place a scratching post in the room.  If you place the cats scent on the pole it will be more likely to use it.  To place the cat's scent gently rub its face with a towel and wipe the towel on the post.

  • Let the cat adjust to the room, and to you. Never force a new cat to stay close to you or to interact when it does not want to.

  • Spend time playing with the cat with toys and stay near the food bowl while the cat is feeding. It will soon get used to you and the new environment

  • After three days, or once your cat is comfortably living in that room let it access the rest of the house. Some cats may take several weeks so be patient and do not force the cat to investigate further until it is ready.

Feeding your cat.

Cats eat less when they are stressed, and sometimes stop eating altogether. It is very important to make sure that your cat is eating adequate amounts regularly. If possible buy the same type of food that the shelter used. If he is not eating  try mixing in a little bit of a tastier food such as canned tuna or salmon.  

After at least two days, or once the cat is eating regularly you can gradually change him over to another type of food. It is important to change slowly or you may find the cat will not eat the new food or the change of diet causes digestive problems. Follow these procedures to make a change to a new diet by using the shelter food and the new food mixed together.

  • Day one and two -25% of new diet to 75% of shelter

  • Day three and four - 50% of each

  • Day five and six - 75% of new diet to 25% of shelter diet

  • Day seven - 100% of new diet

Cats do best with two meals a day but if you decide to give your cat free choice by leaving dry food out at all times you need to keep an eye on the cat’s weight as they tend to overeat when food is constantly available.

Make sure you cat is happy with the litter tray.

One of the most common reasons that cat’s are surrendered is litter tray problems so you need to make sure your cat is happy with the new tray. Following the recommendations below can make a difference between a cat that is house trained and one that isn’t.

  • Provide your cat with an uncovered, clean litter tray.  Do not use a covered litter tray as the cat will not like the odours trapped inside.

  • Cats are often quite fastidious. They are sensitive to the smell of urine and faeces, as well as deodorizers. Reducing the smell inside and around the litter tray is very important

  • Scoop out the litter tray once daily and empty it completely to clean once a week. Use a mild soap, not strong-smelling detergents or bleach to clean the litter tray.

Keep your cat amused with toys.

Cats like novelty so buy several different types of toys and try them out. Do not put out the toys and expect your cat (particularly and adult) to play with them alone.  Play with the toys with your cat. Don’t worry if the cat does not want to play at first.  Give it time and try different toys. You will probably find one of the most liked toys by your cat will be the feathers on a stick.

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