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Safe Space: The First Step In Introducing Your New Cat to Her New Home
Congratulations on your new kitty adoption! Welcoming a new furry family member is exciting, but it can be overwhelming for the little newcomer. She was taken from her mother, possibly placed in a shelter or foster home and separated from her littermates. Depending on her circumstances, she may have experienced other changes in her life before your lucky paths crossed. Joining your family throws yet another change of environment her way. It’s a lot for your new cat to take in. Help her get used to her new home gradually by setting up a room of her own.
Plan for Your New Cat
According to Katharine Hillestad, DVM, your home contains a host of items that can be hazardous to an active and curious cat. Before you even bring your new cat home, take steps to make your home kitty proof. Stash away all small objects that she could swallow. Unplug, wrap or secure electrical wires. Temporarily stow away breakable objects. Get rid of poisonous plants and lock away all toxic foods, medications, and household cleaning products. Once your home is cat proof, go on a shopping spree at your local pet supply store. Buy everything you will need to care for your new furry friend. The final step in preparing for your new furry arrival is to set up a safe room.
Kitty’s Safe Space
To your new cat, your home will seem like a giant’s world full of new scents, scary sounds and places to get lost. Choose one room where she will spend the first few days in her new home. The room should be quiet, and it should have a door that closes securely. It should be a room that family members don’t need to go into. At the same time, however, the room shouldn’t be so isolated that no one ever walks by. You should able to easily go into it several times a day.
Place your new cat’s belongings, including a litter box, a bed, toys, a scratching post and food and water dishes, in this room. You have now created a safe room for your cat. This is where she can start to process her new surroundings and bond with family members without feeling overwhelmed or threatened.
Introduction and Visitation
When you bring your new cat home, take her directly into her safe room, shut the door and open her carrier. Allow her to come out of the carrier on her own. Don’t be shocked if she would rather stay put for awhile. She may soon dart from the carrier only to hide underneath a piece of furniture. Leave her to explore the room on her own for a bit.
Spend time with her in her safe room as often as you can each day. Once you attend to her litter box, food, and water, sit on the floor and allow her to come to you. Offer treats, engage her in some playtime and talk to her. Do some quiet things in there that you would normally do elsewhere, like catching up on social media or reading a book. As she becomes more comfortable with you, she’ll come to you for petting. Other family members can also visit the safe room for some bonding time. Make sure that all visitors are calm and reasonably quiet. Remind them that bonding must take place at the cat’s comfortable pace.
Acclimation and Acceptance
Don’t allow your cat out of her safe room until she seems happy, playful and outgoing when you visit her. At that point, she is ready for a slow and gradual introduction to the rest of her home. Introduce your new cat to other areas of the home, and supervise your little explorer. Leave the door to her safe room open during these excursions. Make sure that she can see a clear path back into the room if she feels the need to retreat.
During those first days of freedom, keep her in the safe room when you can’t keep an eye on her. Give her treats and affection when she goes back into her room. For the time being, she should continue to see the room as her safe space. When she’s ready to meet other pets in the family, keep these introductions are gradual, controlled and closely supervised.
A safe room allows your new cat to settle into the new groove gradually. It’s perfectly understandable that you’re eager to have her with you through all of your activities. That time you spend together in her safe room is valuable bonding time where she won’t feel overwhelmed. Before you know it, your feline family member will confidently strut throughout your home like she’s ready to take charge.
Remember that as a PetHero member, you receive a 25 percent discount off of all vet visits. This and other benefits kick in as soon as you register for membership. If your new cat starts to show any signs of illness, be sure to schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.