Thriving Cat

How to help cats adjust to a new home.

You found an adorable cat at the shelter. You take him home and can’t wait for him to become your new buddy. Unfortunately, you may already have a cat or the new cat may be traumatized from its rough past. There are many reasons a new cat might be nervous, anti-social and just not seem interested in getting to know you. They will likely spend a lot of time hiding in the first few days or weeks. They may not get along with your existing pets. They may hiss and growl at the other pets or even at you. So, how can you help cats adjust to a new home?

There are many ways to ease the transition. You should definitely give the new cat its own space as soon as you bring it home to allow it to feel more safe. Put him in a bathroom with the door shut or a separate bedroom away from the other pets. Put food, water, a litter box and a bed in the room so they don’t have to leave and feel ambushed. There is a lot of advice out there on how to introduce the new pet to your existing pets. Here I want to address some other ways to help ease this process.

Make sure you are patient with the new cat. They could have been through a very rough experience before they were left at the shelter and just being in a shelter is enough to make them scared and mistrusting of people. It can take months and even years for a full adjustment to the point they are your best friend. There will be slow steps along the way as the new cat starts to get along with the other pets, lets you pet him, stops hiding so much, maybe jumps on your lap or sleeps on your bed. My cat that had the hardest time adjusting, took a long time to come around, but he slept on my bed the second night!

A book called How to Make Your Cat Adore You is available here. It is filled with great advice to help understand how your cat thinks, how you can communicate with him, and how to help him make the transition from scared and mad, to your best friend and admirer.

I wish I had found products to help ease the tensions of all my cats when I brought my cats home. There are a number of products that can make a world of difference. Several lines of products contain pheromones which help the cats feel safe and content. Sentry brand Calming Diffuser for Cats, Calming Collar for Cats and Calming Spray for Cats are all good. I especially like the collar since it is much cheaper than the diffusers.  You will likely need multiple diffusers throughout the house and this can get expensive. However, if your cat won’t wear a collar or if you have multiple cats that need to be calmed then a diffuser may be the way to go. Comfort Zone by Feliway makes a diffuser similar to the Sentry brand. They also have a diffuser specifically for helping multiple cats get along.  This is the Comfort Zone Multicat Diffuser.

Another great way to make cats feel safe in their current space is to use Safe Space For Cats Drops by Spirit Essences. These drops are applied to the fur…no medicine to swallow! I use both the collars and the drops for my very nervous cat. He went from peeing outside the box, jumping at every sound and generally being skittish, to becoming my buddy. He is sweet, loving and calm. And best of all, no more peeing outside the box!

If you want to see these products here is the link to my page for products to ease cat anxiety.

So that’s my advice on how to help cats adjust to a new home. I truly hope you can try these solutions and get the great results I did. I only wish I figured this out a few years sooner. Please leave a comment if you have these problems with your cat, have tried these products or have more suggestions! Thanks!

Jessica

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8 Comments

  1. Cathy

    Hi Jessica
    Can I ask, do these products have a smell? My mum’s cat is really anxious so was thinking it might be good for him.
    Thanks
    Cathy

    Reply
    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Cathy,
      Thanks for stopping by! The Safe Space for Cats Drops do not really have much of a smell to me. It looks just like water. Very mild, but boy do they work! My crazy, paranoid cat settled down in 10 minutes after I started using the drops and he got all sweet! I don’t notice such a drastic change in him now because I think he more on a maintenance dose now. He is used to feeling safe and happy, so as long as he gets the drops and has the collar on he is fine.

      The pheromone products (collar and diffusers) definitely have a smell. It may be a little annoying if you are sensitive to strong smells. The collar is the strongest but it wears off over time. It is strong for the first several days. Of course you will only smell it if you are close to the cat. The collar I use has a “lavender” smell. It was worth it to not have a cat peeing all over the house though!

      The pheromone plug in diffusers have a scent also. It is not as strong as the collar but spreads through the house a bit more as it gets heated up. There are at least three different brands of diffusers however and they have different smells. The Sentry brand is a lavender chamomile smell. The Comfort Zone with Feliway brand claims to be odorless. I can smell it but it is not as strong as the Sentry brand. If you are sensitive to smells I would recommend the Safe Space for Cats drops as they are odorless, followed by the Comfort Zone diffusers. There are also off brands such as one carried at PetSmart that work the same way. I am not positive, but I think that one has a light odor like the Comfort Zone. The problem with the diffusers is they can get quite expensive. I got multi-packs from Amazon. Now I only use the drops and collar however as it is so much easier and cheaper.

      I will be adding links soon so people can get to Amazon to see these products directly from my posts.

      Thanks, hope that helps!
      Jessica

      Reply
      1. Cathy

        Thanks Jess. That’s really helpful. My mum is a huge fan of lavender so that one would probably be best for her.

        It would be great if you could link to Amazon, so I know I’m getting the right one!

        Reply
        1. Jessica (Post author)

          Hello Cathy,
          I just got the Amazon affiliate links set up this weekend! Try it out! The Sentry collars and pharemone diffusers are both lavender scented.
          Thanks!
          Jessica

          Reply
  2. Sylvie

    Hi Jessica,

    I love this blog, I have been a cat owner for about 25 years and can relate to what you`re saying about their anxiety when entering a new home. I`ve been fortunate in that my cats have always adapted fairly quickly and get along well with the dogs and other cats. Love the picture.

    Cheers, Sylvie 🙂

    Reply
    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Thanks Sylvie! My husband and I grew up with dog teams so we really miss having dogs. We are quite busy though and in love with our three kitties, and slowly learning all the details of starting an aquarium.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Jessica

      Reply
  3. Ange

    Hi Jessica.
    What a great blog, full of wonderful and non-invasive little tips and tricks to help you with your cats. I have a sister who has recently adopted a cat that was surrendered to the animal welfare league in Australia. The cat seems to really like me, all cats seem to for some reason, probably because I’ve rescued a few over the years myself and maybe they can sense it. The problem we are having is that she’s a biter. You’ll be patting her one minute and the next she has turned around a bitten you. It seems really odd behaviour to me when she appears to be enjoying the smooch time. Have you come across anything like this with your own cats or research?
    Thanks for giving such great ideas for cat owners.
    Ange

    Reply
    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Ange,
      My cat that peed on things and used to be jumpy and nervous did the same thing early on. Eventually they should become more comfortable. My cat gave subtle hints that he was getting frustrated such as no longer purring and twitching his tail. I learned to stop before he got too annoyed. Cats that don’t feel completely at ease in a new home have a short fuse. They have a hard time staying in the perfect state we expect of being happy, not behaving badly and appreciating our affection unconditionally. In the mean time your sister can ease the transition with some of the products on my pages here. The products I listed for cats peeing outside the box due to anxiety work for that sort of problem also since anxiety causes that lashing out. (In my experience). The Safe Space For Cats Drops that go on their fur and the pheromone collars are the ones I use for my cat. He is a little angel with those. He doesn’t pee outside the box anymore and stopped being jumpy and grouchy.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Jessica

      Reply

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