I’m not going to lie: We didn’t do any of this when we brought the Three Irish Cats home from the shelter. And now that I know Aine a little better, I wish we would have.
You see, Aine is shy and a bit skittish, even now. She spent most of her time hiding the first few weeks that she lived with us. She came out to eat, and she would sleep with me at night. But if you moved too quickly or company came over, she was gone.
Fast forward to today. Aine is still shy around most company except the most familiar faces, and if you move too fast toward her, she darts away. But given nearly two years in her forever home – not to mention a break from foster cats – and she has come out of her shell and really started to own the place.
But, these tips shared with us by Petco are going to be invaluable when we move with Aine, Emmett, and Seamus a couple of times over the next few months. Our first move is next week, and we’re already planning how we’re going to set up a “safe room” for them to hang out in when we first get to the new rental house.
Ease Your Cat Into Their New Environment
Cats are typically wary of new environments. It’s important to introduce them to your home gradually, so they feel comfortable and confident in their new surroundings.
While humans typically love to explore every inch of our new homes, cats are the opposite. The more room they have to explore, the more scared and overwhelmed they may become. Designating one room where your cat can stay for the first few days is a great way to start things off on the right paw. Keep the door of the “safe room” shut and make sure there is a litter box, food and water in the room, as well as a few toys. Your cat may hide for the first few days and that’s totally natural. Let them come out of a hiding place on their own time. Make sure to visit your cat throughout the day so they get used to you, your smell and sounds. After a few days, let your cat explore the house or apartment at their leisure. Make sure to leave the “safe” room accessible so they can return whenever they want.
Introduce New Pets Slowly
Bringing a new pet into the home can be extremely stressful for the new pet as well as any resident animals. First off, make sure new pets visit the veterinarian and are up-to-date with vaccinations before exposing them to other family pets. Then give them time to get used to each other before allowing full access to one another. (This is another reason why giving your new cat a room of their own for a few days is important.)
For homes with other pets, put a baby or pet gate at the entrance of the safe room and open the door periodically so pets can see and smell each other at a safe distance before they are allowed full access.
Experts like Pam Johnson-Bennett, behaviorist and author of Catwise, helps clients introduce cats by exchanging the pheromones using her Sock Exchange method. For an easy transition, pet parents can rub each cat’s scent on a sock and introduce the sock to the other cat, helping both pets grow accustomed to each other’s scents.
Regardless of the method used, it’s important to take cues from your pets to determine how quickly you will let them interact with other pets. If you notice any problems, you may need to take some time before everyone can roam freely throughout the house together.
Cats make wonderful pets. But while they may have a reputation for being relatively low maintenance, it’s important to set yourselves up for success. Shop for the right supplies, give your pet time to transition to their new home and take your time introducing other pets. Soon, it will seem like your cat has been part of the family forever.