Introducing a cat into a new home can be easy or extremely stressful. A cat’s normal reaction to a new
place can be to run and hide. Others are curious about the new home right away and want to explore as
soon as they exit the carrier. Everything generally works out if cats are allowed to adapt to a new
environment at their own speed. Some cats take minutes or hours; other will take days, weeks, or even
months to get comfortable. The length of time needed to adjust to a new territory will depend on the
cat’s personality, past experiences, and whether there are other animals present. A normal adjustment
period usually takes one to two weeks.
The following four steps will help ease any cat’s transition to the new home:
Step 1. Before arriving with your new cat, set up a small room that will serve as your cat’s initial safe
place. Any small, quiet room works well, such as a bathroom with a window, small spare bedroom, or an
office. Put everything your cat needs inside this room: litter box, food, water (food and water placed as
far as possible from the litter box), toys, scratching post, bed, a hiding box, and possibly a Feliway®
pheromone diffuser that makes the space smell familiar. Provide multi-level access such as chairs and
shelves. Cats like to go up high for safety.
Step 2. Bring your cat into the room and open up the carrier. Let your cat choose to exit and explore or
to remain inside the carrier for a while. Many times a cat will remain inside the carrier. Don’t force. Give
your cat time to adjust to new surroundings and explore in time.
Step 3. Sit and talk to your cat or leave them for a few minutes and come back to the room to visit later;
let your cat set the pace of the visits. Don’t force your attention on the cat—cats will ask for attention
when they want it. When your cat is perfectly comfortable in this one room, (it may take a day, a week,
or more) open the door and allow exploration around the rest of the house without hurry. Some cats may begin investigating at night,
making short explorations interspersed with multiple retreats to their safe haven. It is rare for a cat to explore a new territory without hesitation. The initial room
should always be accessible for safety.
Step 4. Once your cat is comfortable in every room of the home, then you can rearrange the food
station and the litter box locations. Keep in mind that depending on the size of your home you may want
to offer more than one litterbox.
Note: If the cat is allowed to adapt to a new environment at his own speed, everything generally works out in good time. Some cats take days, others will take weeks or months. The length of time needed to establish new territory will depend on the cat’s temperament, past experiences, and whether there are other cats or dogs already present in the new home. If no other cats or dogsare present in the household, the adjustment period usually takes one to two weeks, but it may take several months.