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"How to Help Your Newly Adopted Cat Adjust: The Frisky Feline's Guide"

Updated: May 17

Having a newly adopted cat is certainly an exciting new adventure. You can’t wait to settle in with your new companion and show them a life of love they’ve never imagined. But have you wondered what is it your cat is thinking? Well... there’s often curiosity. With new sounds, sights and smells your cat is taking in and trying to process a whole new world to them. It is a delicate and slow moving process for some, but for others they can’t wait to check out their new forever home. Curiosity can also be met with excitement. It’s exciting to have a change, to maybe finally have the life you have dreamed of. For some cat’s excitement means a window seat or a warm blanket by the fireplace but for others, it’s as simple as having the company of their person each and every day. 

A cat hiding under a bed

It’s important to know that while this whole new life is bound to be wonderful, many cats will experience some level of fear or cautiousness in their first days or weeks coming home. This time is referred to as “the adjustment period”. But why would they be scared upon having such a wonderful home? These new surroundings bring awareness that they have no familiarity with what or who could be around every corner so cats will often need time to assess the space at their own pace. Things your cat might be thinking: “Is this place safe?” “What are these smells and noises?” “Where is the food / water?” “Where is safe to eliminate?”

 “Are there others?” “Who are these people?” “Where did everything go I once knew?”

It’s important to know that your cat needs time to answer these questions and they will do so with time and exploration at their own pace. This is why it is SO important to start your cat in a single room with all their resources which includes food, water, litter box, scratcher and plentiful hiding spots.

Once they’re feeling confident and at ease in that room, you can then have them check out the rest of the house - but now, if they should face something scary they will have a base camp room they will return to in order to gain their confidence back. Be sure to give your cat plenty of time to adjust. You might find that they hide for the first week but as long as they’re eating, drinking and eliminating they may just need a little more time to come out and show the world they’re ready for more. Avoid things like crawling under the bed to talk with them and pulling them out of hiding as this can actually set them further back into hiding. Having the choice to interact is key. Leaving on TV or a radio on low can help and simply going in to visit regularly can make them become familiar with you. Feliway diffusers can also be helpful for new or challenging transitions. Hold off on meet and greets with other pets until your cat has fully adjusted to their space and ensure SLOW introductions are done with your supervision and guidance.

Always monitor food, water, and litter box use closely. If at anytime you notice your cat is not eating, drinking, eliminating or has a sudden change in behavior, contact your veterinarian. If after a month or so your cat is not adjusting well, consider talking with your rescue, veterinarian or a trusted and experienced behavior professional for guidance on things your may be able to try to help them adjust.

Remember that patience, time and choice is the greatest love you can give your newly adopted feline companion. They will love you for it!  

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