Coronavirus: Rescue centres' homing procedures may be changed or limited at this time. To ask about adopting, please contact them via phone or email. More Info & how you can help

Thinking of getting a Cat?

How to prepare for a new furry family member.

Adopting a cat can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do, and has many benefits. Good preparation will really help when welcoming your new feline companion...

Tabby cat photo by Curtis Thornton on Unsplash

Have you been thinking about getting a cat? There are lots of things to consider before you welcome a new furry friend into your home, but there are also plenty of benefits to doing so. We’re going to guide you through the things you will need to do to prepare yourself and your home for adopting a cat.

One of the benefits many cat owners believe their feline friends provide is a positive effect on their mental health, and this has been backed up by research. Cats Protection teamed up with the Mental Health Foundation to conduct a survey, which “found that 87% of people who owned a cat felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing, while 76% said they could cope with everyday life much better thanks to the company of their feline friends. Half of the cat owners felt that their cat’s presence and companionship was most helpful, followed by a third of respondents describing stroking a cat as a calming and helpful activity.”

black cat photographed by coppercat photographyPreparing for getting a new cat

Getting a new cat is exciting, but it’s important not to rush into things. Don’t expect your new cat to instantly curl up on your lap, but this could happen given the right preparation.

The Bonding Room

If you have a spare room it’s a great idea to give this up as a ‘bonding room’ for your new cat. Put a litter tray, bedding, food and water into the room - make sure the tray, food and water are as far apart from each other as possible. When you bring your cat home, place the carrier into the room, open the door then leave them to settle in and begin exploring.

Hide & Seek

It’s normal for your cat to hide while they settle in, so provide them with places to do so like cat tunnels or cardboard boxes. Keep noise to a minimum and try not to disturb them for a couple of hours. Once they have settled in a bit you can go into the room and sit or lay on the floor, talking in a quiet and calm voice.

Time to Explore

Averagely your new cat will need between 2 and 7 days in the bonding room, but they will usually let you know when it’s time to start exploring the rest of your house. We recommend you keep your new cat indoors for at least 2 weeks so they begin to recognise where ‘home’ is. Let him/her outdoors gradually, try and do this just before a meal so they have a reason to come home.

Introducing a new cat

If you have other cats in your home, settling a new cat in can take longer. Cats have what is known as a ‘relative hierarchy’, meaning each cat has a different position based on time, place and situation. This hierarchy is an important part of a successful multi-cat household.

fussing a ginger cat, Image by swagoren from PexelsSniff Sniff

You will need to go through the same ‘bonding room’ technique as above, but you will want to start swapping their scents while they are still separate. Switch blankets between the new and existing cats to help them get used to each other’s smells. You can also gently rub a blanket or towel on your new cat then let the other sniff it to introduce them to this new member of the family.

Face To Face

Once the cats are used to each other’s scents you can begin to introduce them physically. The best time to do this is at mealtimes, placing their bowls at opposite ends of the room. It’s normal for a little growling and hissing so don’t be alarmed if this happens. If it looks like there could be a conflict it’s time to separate the cats and try again when they have calmed down. If the problems persist try a Feliway spray or diffuser to help with their anxiety or stress.

Give Me Space

Make sure your cats have plenty of space to hide and sleep away from each other, especially high up spots like cat trees and windowsills. Cats love to play so give them toys they can play with on their own, but make sure to also play with them yourself - for new cats this is also a great way to learn about their personality.

tabby cat and man on sofa, photo by pexels on pixabayFinding the right cat

Finding the right cat for your family is extremely important. Rescue centres and rehoming groups will work with you to find a cat that will fit into your life, but it’s important to remember that it can take time for this to happen. Cat Chat works with many rehoming organisations across the UK to help them find the right homes for the cats in their care.

You can begin your search by selecting your area on our cats needing homes section and taking a look at some of the cats who are looking for a new home. Read more about each cat and get in touch with the rescue shelter to find out more about them.

Adopting a rescued animal is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do!

Further Information

See Cats Needing Homes in your area.
Find Cat Adoption Centres near you
Preparing for a new cat - The Bonding Room
Introducing a new cat - Cat to Cat introductions
Why Rescue? (and why not to buy) - Pets: Why Rescue?
Cats Protection Survey - Purring the Blues Away
Feliway for calmer cats: Feliway spray or diffuser

Contributor: Ella Street, Cat Chat Blogger
Published: May 2020