If people find it difficult to get adjusted to a new home and grow accustomed to new surroundings, the same can be said about their pets. Cats (and dogs) have a keen sense of familiarity and territory and if you take them away from their comfort zone, you should expect them to take a while before truly feeling safe and secure in their new area. However, you can do something about it. Here is how to help a cat adjust to a new home:
- Patience is a virtue. Remember that it does not matter whether your cat has been with you for five years or five minutes, it will have difficulty in adjusting to a new home. The process will take time and your only job is to facilitate it. If it takes a month or two, you just have to deal with it. Be patient. Put up with your cat and its animal instincts until it finally settles down.
- Travel time. Traveling will be hell on your cat. You have to make sure you can get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time possible. Avoid unnecessary pit stops as much as possible. Make sure you have a safe, secure and sturdy carrier for your cat to reside in for the duration of the trip. Try not to rock or disturb it while it is inside or else you will have a real wild animal in your car.
- Initial adjustments. Keep your cat isolated first. This is for its own good. Pick a room which to keep your pet in for the first few days and weeks. Provide it with a bed, scratching post, water bowl, litter box, toys, etc. You want to make it feel as safe as possible. Leave it alone and allow it to explore its new surroundings. Do not reprimand it for exploring or scare it by rushing toward it if you find it on top of something. This is why you need to make the room as cat-proof and cat-friendly as possible. Spend a few hours in the room with the cat so that it can get to know you but do not force the issue. Keep younger children and other pets away from it so that it does not get spooked. Shut the doors and windows so that it does not escape and make sure it cannot crawl under or into anything where you can’t get to it. Let it sleep where it wants to and make sure not to disturb it so that it can feel in control over that specific spot.
- Making new friends. Limit interaction with other pets and children. You want the cat to make friends on its own time. A small kitten will be extremely fearful at first so you should avoid knee-jerk movements and loud sounds. Keep dogs on a leash at all times. Always supervise getting-to-know-you sessions and again, never rush into it.
- Going outside. Make sure your cat has its name and address on its collar it all times. Vets advise against taking cats outside at all because it could get lost, injured or infected with diseases. If you really want to go outside, only spend a few minutes and then go back inside. For subsequent trips, you can increase the duration gradually.
Helping your cat adjust to a new home will take lots of time, patience and perseverance, not to mention a lot of TLC. You cannot force it so you must give your pet time to ease into the situation gradually.