Just adopted a lovely new kitty, but worried about them settling into their new home, being safe, and obeying the house rules? You’re not alone. When a cat has been in a shelter for a period, their habits can become a little bit odd, so a bit of TLC, their own space, and a few ground rules is just what it takes to help them feel at home. It might take them some time to settle in and get used to their surroundings, but with patience and love, they’ll be walking around like they own the place in no time.
1. Give them their own space
New cats, especially from shelters, can be very timid and nervous around humans. When they first turn up at their new home, their instinct is going to be to hide, preferably in a small, cozy space. You can make this easier on them by setting this space up – include food, water, a litter tray, and comfy bedding. A laundry room or a bathroom is the perfect space for this as they’re generally quiet, but there is room for you to get in with them as they start to get used to you too.
2. Establish the ground rules
Depending on the background of the cat, they might have some basic instincts which are natural to them, but problematic for you. For instance, some cats feel the need to mark their territory by urinating on objects around the room. Using a hormone-based spray such as Feliway can help to nip these problems in the bud. If they’re indoor cats, they might decide that sofas or walls are perfect for scratching their claws on. Setting up scratching posts nearby and moving the kitty to them when they start scratching is a great way to teach them right and wrong. You can also take them to the vet for regular claw clipping to keep this problem to a minimum.
3. Set up their feeding station
Cats can be quite particular about what they eat and where. For example, it needs to be situated away from the litter box, preferably in a different room. They often prefer to have their water and food separated too, so it could be worth bearing this in mind.
4. Make it safe
Cats have a habit of exploring in the most awkward places. Get a kitten’s eye view of your home, and block up any potentially problematic nooks and crannies. What you don’t want is for your cat to go exploring through a small hole in the wall, only for you to have to rip the wall out to free them from their terrible mistake.
5. Establish no-go zones
Many people prefer their new cats not to go upstairs or the sit on the couch, especially if it’s leather. Establishing these rules early on can save problems further down the line. Every time they head into a no-go zone, don’t spray them with water or shout, just simply move them into an area they are allowed in. They’ll soon learn.
Helping a rescue cat to feel at home can be time-consuming, but they’ll get there eventually – perseverance is key.