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10 Signs to Watch for When Bringing a New Cat Home

10 Signs to Watch for When Bringing a New Cat Home

Bringing a new cat home can be extremely exciting for you and everyone else in your family. However, you want to do everything possible to help ensure your feline friend feels at home. 

Luckily, you can look for several signs your new cat is adjusting. Keep reading if you’ll be bringing a cat home soon!

How Long Does It Take for a New Cat to Adjust?

Cats can take several weeks to adjust to their new home. The more comfortable you can make them, the faster they’ll adjust. 

During this time, keep your windows and doors closed to ensure your cat stays inside. Even if you intend for your cat to be indoors and outdoors, it’s essential that it begins to learn your home is a source of safety and comfort, and where there’s food.

Keep in mind that, like humans, cats have different personalities. One cat may adjust quickly, and another may take weeks or even months. Bringing a new cat home requires patience. Providing a loving environment during the transition period will help your cat ease into a routine.

signs your new cat is adjusting
Have a plan ready to welcome your cat home and help it adjust to new surroundings.

How Can You Help Your New Cat to Adjust?

You can do a few things to help your cat adjust. Here are a few tips to help you and your cat settle in together. Let’s take a look!

Kitten or Cat-Proof Your House

Before bringing a new cat home, take the time to make some changes around the house. You’ll want to protect them and your home from any potential issues. 

Cats and kittens are curious by nature and will mess with things. You may want to consider outlet covers, purchasing a pet gate to restrict them from any rooms you want to keep off-limits, and putting secure lids on your trash cans so they can’t get in or knock them over.

You’ll also want to ensure everyone in your house gets in the habit of closing the lid on your toilet, especially if you want to avoid your cat drinking out of it. And beware of the cat’s curiosity toward toilet paper and making a mess of it!

Give Your Cat Space to Adjust

It can be tempting to play and cuddle with your cat as often as possible. However, this can be overwhelming for them when bringing a new cat home.

There’s nothing wrong with showing affection and helping them learn you’re not a threat. But do yourself and your new kitty a favor and give them plenty of space in the next couple days and weeks. And allow them to initiate playing or affection. 

Make the first night home as stress-free and quiet as possible. We recommend putting your cat’s food, water, litter box, and bed in one room of your house. Close the door for the night to allow your cat to relax and adjust to new surroundings.

While adults may understand this concept, it’s imperative to communicate it with children. Young children may not know they can’t use loud voices or quick movements around a new pet if they want to bond with it. Help as much as possible to teach kids to give the cat the appropriate space to warm up to them.

bringing a new cat home for children
If your bringing a new cat home to children, talk with them about how to help their new pet adjust.

Make Them Feel Safe and at Home

The best way to help your cat to adjust is to give them a sense of safety. This means providing them with a calm and stable environment. Have plenty of toys to keep them stimulated and entertained. And teach them straight away where their litter box, food, and water are located.

Additionally, be generous with the treats, especially in the first few days and weeks of bringing a new cat home. A change in environment can be a massive adjustment for a cat. You may want to consider restricting them to using a single room where you keep their litter box for the first week. 

Once they get the hang of using the litter box, you can expand their boundaries. You can continue to increase their borders as long as they show signs of adjusting well.

Introducing a New Cat to Your Existing Cat(s)

If you already have one or more cats in the home, you will have additional steps to cover in introducing them. Slowly introducing a new cat to your existing cat is critical to avoiding a negative experience and starting their relationship off on the wrong foot. Remember, it can take months for incumbent cats to accept a new cat, so this process will take time.

To start, separate the cats so the new cat can smell the new home and existing cats. After a while, switch areas so your old cats can sniff the new cat smell before any interaction. Once they have become acquainted with each other’s smells, you can allow visual access, but wait until tensions calm before trying any supervised physical access. Hissing and growling are to be expected at first as they establish their boundaries, but try to prevent and interrupt any fights that break out. Patience and gradual increases in contact are key to a smooth and peaceful transition.

bringing a new cat home
Slowly increase your new cat’s boundaries in the house as they adjust.

10 Signs to Watch for When Bringing a New Cat Home

It’s natural to worry when bringing a new cat home. You want to help make the transition as easy as possible. But while cats have eyebrows and eyelashes like us, you won’t be able to read their facial queues quite like a human’s to see what they are really feeling. However, here are 10 easy signs to watch for to see if your new cat is adjusting.

1. Staying Visible Instead of Hiding

If your cat stays visible and moves freely about your home, they likely feel comfortable. However, if your cat hides and you rarely see them, they’re still warming up to you or the space. 

A new home can feel intimidating and overwhelming. So remain aware of this and give them plenty of time and space to adjust.

2. Eating Well

Cats, like many other animals, will lose their appetites when experiencing stress. If your cat isn’t eating well, it may have some anxiety and struggle to adjust. This is common for a day or two but becomes a serious issue if it’s been several days since it last ate and still refuses to eat. Keep an eye on your cat’s food bowl so you can monitor the amount that’s been eaten. 

If your cat isn’t eating, be sure to check if it found another food source you missed when cat-proofing your home. Your new cat may have found a better-tasting food source than you’re offering in an open cupboard or other location.

3. Playing With Toys

Once a cat adjusts to a new environment, it should exhibit some sort of playfulness. This could be with you or toys, but playing with toys is an excellent sign. 

However, just because a cat doesn’t play with the toys you provide doesn’t mean they’re not happy. It can take time for you to get to know your cat and what toys they prefer. This is normal and will likely take some trial and error. Eventually, your cat will have a basket full of toys they love.

Pro Tip: If you have existing cats, get your new cat some new toys that don’t smell like your old cats.

4. Peeing and Pooping in the Litter Box

Every cat needs to learn how to use the litter box. This is a sign your cat is adjusting to a new home. When a cat pees or poops in other places, it could be for various reasons. Some of the possibilities include stress, medical problems, or territorial behaviors.

Additionally, some cats can develop litter box aversion even after learning to use their litter box. It can be the result of many factors, including health conditions. Chat with your vet if you’re struggling with your cat not using the litter box. They can do tests and check to ensure your cat is healthy and not having any serious issues.

5. Expressing Vocally

A cat may purr or even meow at you when it needs your care. Cats also like to rub against you or other objects to scratch and express themselves.

A cat may bond better with certain members of your household than others. It’s perfectly natural for this to happen. They may express themselves vocally with specific individuals. Those who aren’t as close to the cat should have patience until they develop a bond and trust. 

6. Displaying a Relaxed Posture

Another sign your cat is adjusting is through relaxed postures. Cats sleep with their paws under them when they feel safe and relaxed. Sleeping with their paws out is a sign that they don’t feel comfortable and need to be ready for a potential threat. 

It’ll take time for a cat to develop trust in you and learn that their new home is safe.

7. Putting Tail Upright

An upright tail shows happiness and that they’re calm or confident. Cats will often twitch their tail when something makes them happy. If you see this in your cat, it’s a good sign. Keep doing what you’re doing.

If not, don’t worry. Not all cats behave the same, or your cat may need a little more time to warm up to you and your home. They’ll eventually settle in and relax.

8. Rolling on Back

A cat rolling onto their back is putting itself in a vulnerable position. Exposing their stomach is a sign that they trust you and know you won’t hurt them. 

It could be an invitation for you to play, pet them, or both. Be gentle and proceed slowly to avoid startling them or causing threatening feelings until you know them better.

9. Being Curious and Exploring

When a cat feels safe, it’ll feel comfortable exploring its new home. Your cat will start to show casual vibes, like climbing on and under things and venturing from room to room. 

Don’t be surprised if your cat tours the home repeatedly, looking for their favorite spot to nap or sprinting from one location to the next. It’s a good sign it feels safe and part of the family.

10. Grooming

The last sign on our list that you can look for to see if your cat is adjusting is grooming behavior. They lick their paws and wipe them over their bodies. Grooming is essential for a cat’s survival, such as regulating its temperature and maintaining a neutral body odor. And they also groom to show affection to other cats and their humans.

Cats experiencing stress or a medical condition will often stop these behaviors, begin having messy coats, and develop odors. So, when your cat grooms itself, it’s a good sign.

taking a new cat home
With a bit of patience, your cat will settle into its new home.

Bringing a New Cat Home Requires Patience

You and your family may be excited to bring home your new cat. However, ensure you give them plenty of space and time to adjust. Keep patience in mind to ensure the adjustment is as smooth as possible for everyone. 

While some cats can adjust overnight, that’s not always the case. Take your time with the process, and know that your cat will eventually settle in.

Are you ready to bring a new cat into your home?

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Petrics was born out of a love of helping animals and their owners live life to their fullest! Established in 2022, Petrics was founded by Caitlin and Tom Morton of Mortons on the Move, Discovery TV Show hosts and successful RV Travel Experts. They are a full-time RVing couple who loved traveling with their beloved rescue dogs. This Petrics team strives to share the most interesting questions answered, the most entertaining news and culture, and the most inspiring rescue stories. Additionally, our mission is to give back to animal welfare organizations so they can continue their good work in saving the constant stream of animals in need. In fact, 5% of all profits from Petrics are donated to animal-saving initiatives!

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