Bringing home a new cat or kitten can be very exciting for you. For the cat or kitten it can be terrifying. Cats are creatures of habit and dislike change. Changing homes is a big change and they are likely to be unhappy. A small space that can become their own is usually preferred to start with. Bathrooms or an extra bedroom that is cat proofed is a great way to start.
In the room, there should be some hiding places, a litter box, and food and water, placed well away from the litter box. If you have toys or a familiar blanket for the new family member, this can be comforting and it is a good idea to leave it in the room. Allow the cat to explore the room for a bit.
You can join the cat for awhile, sitting there with it while it decides where it wants to go and how friendly it wants to be. If your presence seems scary to the cat or the cat backs away, then allow it to settle in for a bit longer before you approach. If it’s a friendly cat, then enjoy the time alone. The rest of the house will wait and your new baby will be out and about soon enough.
A very human and practical reason for having the cat in the room for a day or so is to make sure they understand the litter box. It also allows you to check and be sure they are accepting of the litter box you have. Many cats when things are changed can decide they don’t like the new arrangements. This can head off poor litter box habits before they begin.
If you have other cats, you want to introduce them to each other slowly. Different cats will accept others at different rates so it’s important to allow them to settle into the family at their own pace. If there are no other cats, you can slowly allow your new pet to explore your house on their on terms. Leave the door open and let them come out and see the bigger area, always knowing the way back to their sanctuary. Even adult cats see the world through a point of view much smaller than a human’s and a large house can be overwhelming.
A litter box, a safe place to hide, a food dish and water dish are all necessities for a cat. Toys are the icing on the cake. Cat trees and cat toys can do much to enhance the quality of a cat’s life. Interactive play with you the owner can help an uncertain cat settle in. Cats are social creatures; they are just not social in the same way we are.
Trying to see life through the eyes of a cat will help your cat adjust. Having a place to feel safe is very important to cats. Having a small area that is just theirs can also help a cat settle in much more quickly. There is no reason to rush the new relationship and end up traumatizing kitty. The more you go at their pace, the more likely the pace will be as fast as you want it to be.