My Indoor Cat

Bringing a New Cat Home: Tips to Prepare

bringing a new cat home

Bringing a new cat home is a really exciting time for all owners (or soon-to-be owners). But it can also be a little nerve-wracking. Will they settle in OK? Is there anything you should specifically be doing to make it easier for both of you? How should you manage the first day?

These are all normal questions that go through everyone’s mind in the run-up to adoption day. But, luckily for you, we’ve come up with all the answers to make the transition home as smooth as possible. 

It starts well before they arrive… 

Whether you’re adopting or buying a cat, there are certain things you need to do before you pick them up.  Here are my top tips to prepare yourself, your home and your cat for a smooth transition.


bringing a new kitten home to another cat
  • Try to find out as much information as possible about their history. Knowing your cat will help you to understand their behaviour and react accordingly. You can also ask the foster home or breeder if there is anything they particularly like/dislike. 
  • Find out what cat food and litter they’re used to. A different location is a big enough change for one day and keeping some things the same will make them feel more at home. 

Use scent 

  • Cats are really curious creatures and love to use their noses to explore. Scent is a really important way to make them feel comfortable and relaxed. Bring a piece of clothing to the foster home/shelter a couple of days before you pick them up. This will let them get used to your smell and make the transition easier. You can also pop this item in the cat carrier when you fetch them to make the journey home more comforting. 

Prepare a room 

bringing an older cat into a new home
  • When bringing a cat home, it’s really important that you don’t overwhelm them with their new surroundings. New noises, smells, people and a different house can all be a bit scary. For the first few days or even weeks, it’s best to keep your cat or kitten in a single room. 
  • You should try to make this room ‘their’ space. Nervous cats feel safe when they’re covered, so make sure there are plenty of places for them to hide in the room. This could be a cardboard box, a chair with a blanket draped over it or a kitty tunnel. 
  • Put their litter tray and food bowl in different areas of the room. 
  • If your new family member is an older cat, make sure they have somewhere to climb. They’ll love being up high and will feel more secure. 
  • As well as being safe, their room should also be fun with plenty of things to keep them entertained. Buy some toys in advance and set up a scratching post for them to use. 
  • Furniture in the room will help them get used to their new surroundings but try to remove any item that they could easily hide under (and supplement this with a box). You’ll spend less time on your stomach trying to talk to your cat under the bed! 
  • Talk to your family and make sure everyone knows the rules. The door should always be kept shut and the cat should be given some space to acclimatise. 

How to introduce a cat to a new home? 

Once you’ve picked up your cat and survived the journey back, you’ll want to know the best way to introduce them to their future home. When you arrive back, take your cat to their safe room, open the door to their cat carrier and leave them be (closing the room door behind you). Give them a good hour alone to explore their new environment before you go in. 

When introducing a cat to a new home, you really need to go at their pace – especially if you have a nervous or scared cat. As you enter the room, bend down and let them come to you. Don’t approach them or corner them as they may start to feel threatened (however much you just want to stroke them)! 

Talk to them, call their name and let them get used to your voice. Play with them a little but try not to overwhelm them on the first day. If they choose to stay in their box just sit with them in the room and don’t try to force them out. 

Signs of a stressed cat 

how to bring a new cat home

You may notice that your cat is particularly stressed during the first few days. They may not be eating which is often a sign of stress. Try mixing their regular food with something extra tasty, such as tinned tuna or giving them a treat. If their lack of appetite lasts, take them to the vet to be sure. 

They might also be meowing a lot, like to hide for large parts of the day or even be acting in an aggressive way. If this is the case, try to calmly sit with them in their room and relax them – whether that’s with a toy, a treat or by speaking to them. 

When to introduce your cat to the rest of your home? 

Depending on your cat and their personality, they may be ready to explore the rest of the house after a day or so, or it may take them a little longer to settle in. When they are ready, make sure you close the other doors in the house so they can orientate themselves and easily find their way back to their safe space. 

After a while, open a door to let them explore a new room and slowly bring the toys out of their room and into another.  

What if your cat used to be an outdoor cat? 

bringing home a new cat

If you’re adopting a cat, it’s very likely that it was an outdoor animal before it arrived at your home. There are many reasons why owners decide to keep their cats indoors, safety being the main one, but it can make the transition to a new home a little trickier. 

The good news is that all cats need to go through the same process of slowly getting used to a room before they explore another area. And actually, this is even more the case for outdoor cats because they’ll need to be able to find their way back home from far away. Stopping them from bolting to the front door when your back is turned might be a bit more of a problem though. Here are a few tips on how to make an outdoor cat an indoor one. 

Is bringing a new kitten home different? 

Anyone who’s ever had a kitten knows they need a bit more of your attention than a mature cat. And that’s the same when you bring them home for the first time. Whilst a cat needs a little more time to explore a room on its own, it’s probably a good idea to be there with the kitten. They’re unlikely to be aggressive but might be a little frightened being away from mum and their siblings for the first time. So a bit of comfort from you will help. 

Although it’s a good idea to have somewhere for them to hide, toys will probably make your kitten feel more at home and keep them distracted. Their little legs won’t need somewhere to climb, but a kitten scratching post will be useful. 

Bringing a new cat home is a really exciting time for any family. With these few simple tips, you can be sure that they’ll feel happy and comfortable in no time. 

Have you got any advice for introducing a cat to a new home? Let us know in the comments! 

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