How best to make new cats feel at home?

Mrs_ZMrs_Z Forumite
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Hello to everyone
We have just adopted new cats to our household after our dear oldie was PTS back in April. So we have taken on a pair of 5 year old cats, a brother and sister which both adore each other. They came directly to us from their previous owner, not via rescue place and are understandably overwhelmed and stressed.
We've given them space in the spare bedroom with their old beds, litter trays and put out food for them. They came out of their transport carrier, had a cautious sniff around and then went into hiding under the chest of drawers. This is understandable, as their whole world has suddenly turned upside down completely.
I"d just like to hear experiences from others as to how long it might take them to come around? Clearly all cats are individuals but I"m a little bit worried as the space under the chest of drawers can't be that comfortable for them!
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  • MovingForwardsMovingForwards Forumite
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    Could be a day, could be months.

    Its all new to them, new smells, new noises, new furniture, new rooms, new people etc to get used to.

    Leave them to find their own way around.

    Put food, water and their litter tray(s) in their bedroom while they settle in.

    Go into the room, but stay a distance away, talk to them, ask them how they are, talk about their new home, why they have moved in, about your day etc, they obviously won't know what you are saying but will learn your voice and tone.

    Keep doing that each time you go in, every day move a little closer and tall to them.

    Bribe with a piece of kibble (dry food) as you are on your way in / out.

    They will settle down and are very flexible, small spaces means they are safe and can watch.

    They will explore at night when everyone goes to bed.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Forumite
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    My cat came with a blanket as a kitten - I'm aware she chooses to gets into the cat carrier of a night where it is.

    Started purring two days later.

    Still doesn't like new people - when I had someone come around recently, she was trying to squeeze behind a radiator which I felt a touch guilty about. Martha can get herself into the weirdest of places.

    Rags on the other hand who I got from a cat charity, on her very first night kept jumping and climbing my chest of drawers.

    Both loved/love windowsills.

    Much happiness with your pair x
  • Fiona_CWFiona_CW Forumite
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    My cat was 8 months old when I got him from cats protection. He spent 2 weeks hiding under my bed most of the time but gradually came out of his shell and is very happy now
  • KiKiKiKi Forumite
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    Could be days, could be weeks! If they've not experienced trauma, the chances are that they will explore whilst you're asleep and it's dark. Just let them be - and let them hear you. Be sensitive to them - eg, don't use the hoover if you can avoid it for a week or so - things like that. Sit on the floor near them (rather than being 'above' them standing up or on a sofa). Over the course of a few days, move their food slowly nearer to the door, so they get used to coming out and moving further around the room. Find out what treats they like - Dreamies are great! - and you might find you can tempt them out for a few minutes each day.

    Cats go by smell, so the more you can get their smell around the house, the better it will be. If they'll let you rub a small piece of cloth (dry flannel or similar) around their chin / side of their head, then you can get their scent onto the cloth and then rub it around door frames etc, to make them think the house is more familiar.

    They will probably settle down within a week or so, and start coming out. Just keep being gentle. As long as they are eating, pooing, weeing and sleeping, don't get hung up on whether they are comfortable or able to stretch etc where they are - that won't hurt them for a week or so. :)

    (My newest boy spent the first week on a chair under the dining table - literally wouldn't move. He was traumatised though, and I had to crate him and cover the crate with a blanket to make his world seem smaller and more bearable (he'd never been in a room, let alone a house before). He took three weeks to come out properly - and even then he still hid under things, and wouldn't be 'out' unless it was the middle of the night. Another cat I know literally hid and hissed for 42 days, but he came from an extremely neglected and abusive home, so he was a very different kettle of cat.)
    ' <-- See that? It's called an apostrophe. It does not mean "hey, look out, here comes an S".
  • BlondetottyBlondetotty Forumite
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    I've had two elderly cats at different times after my long term baby had to head over the rainbow bridge.




    The first one, Lizzie, 19 years old, hid under my bed for a week. She'd come from a foster home after her elderly owner died and was, as you would expect, still traumatised from all the upheaval. I spent a week sitting on the floor chatting to her and watching TV in the evening and then sleeping and would only hear her at night wandering around the room. After a week, she suddenly strolled out one evening, stood on her back feet, miaowed and demanded pets and fusses as if to say "Okay, it's all good here, give me attention". From that point on she was a total lap cat, wanted nothing more than a warm lap and plenty of strokes. She lived another 18 months until cancer took her.






    I then took on Ginger, 15 years old who came from an abusive situation. He lived in a crate at the rescue place because he was so timid and scared and would not come out. He'd been rehomed once but the family returned him after 6 weeks as he wasn't enough of a "pet" for them! I took him on with the understanding that if he wanted to live under my bed or in a crate for the rest of his life he could do if that's where he felt safe. I did the same as I did with Lizzie; spent the evenings chatting to him and heard him roaming at night while I was "asleep". For 6 months I never saw his face, he turned away from me under the bed and wouldn't face anyone. Eventually he talked to me when I talked to him and would make eye contact but as he was a big cat (6kg) and my bed low (under 1 foot) I worried about him. I moved away after about a year and the first night in the new place he walked out of his cat carrier and demanded a fuss. I think it was reassurance for him. Within a few weeks he was sleeping on my bed all night and wanting gentle fusses. He lived another 5 years on the sofa mainly but disappearing into his oversized cat carrier which we'd covered with blankets to make a hidey hole, when he felt he needed that security. He was put to sleep last month when cancer was getting too much.


    Every cat is different. Some will just need some quiet space for a short period, some will need it for longer. You'll probably find that one brother will come out much sooner than another. Try to spend time with them getting them used to your voice but let them go at their own pace. If they show interest, drop some treats just under the bed and gradually further and further away from the bed when you leave. Wavy toys like the Da bird might coax them out to play once they feel at home. Try to resist the temptation to fuss, stroke or pick them up when they do come out. Let them make all the first moves! If they want a fuss they will approach you and the best thing is to rub the side of the face where the scent glands are so you end up wearing their scent once they do ask for a fuss. Let them lead and you just follow according to how fast they want to move. Give them as much time as they need and they'll soon integrate but this is a trauma for them. They've gone from a place they knew and were comfortable to a completely different environment they don't know and with people they don't know. They're going to be upset and will take their time.
  • wh_emwh_em Forumite
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    As somebody else said, it could be days, it could be months. When we took in my grandparents' cat (after they died) the cat hid in the garage for 2 weeks. He was and still is a very timid cat that hates change. We just gave him time and space and let him explore at his own pace with no pressure. It definitely took him a few months, if not a year to be fully settled with us.

    On the other hand my partner and I adopted two rescue cats earlier this year. We kept them in the bathroom for the first day until they started to become interested in leaving that room and then slowly introduced the other rooms as the weeks went on. For the first day I went in and sat with them, made a fuss of them (if they let me!) and gave them treats. One of them was definitely more adventurous than the other and once he investigated a room that gave the other one the encouragement to follow. They settled in within a matter of weeks!

    I think the important thing to note is that the cats will not be rushed or made to do anything they don't want to do. But just let them get on with it and go about your routine as normal so they can get used to how the house functions around them.
    Original settlement date: Dec-54 Projected: Jul-55 (due to 3 month mortgage holiday!)
  • Mrs_ZMrs_Z Forumite
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    Thank you all for your responses. I'm glad to be reporting that we are making progress! I've been spending time with them in the spare room, sitting on the floor and chatting to them. I bought one of those toys (stick with a feather top) and that proved to be irresistable for them. Food was disappearing overnight but and I only saw the female cat eating it.
    For the past 2 days I've also given them access to the other bedrooms - blocking off the entry point to the stairs. The female went on to explore straight away, the male did not dare on the first time, but cautiously did yesterday. This morning, even the male cat came out of hiding when I went to put down and started eating which was great to see.
    I hadn't come across this kind of situation before, the previous 2 cats that we rehomed - cat no 2 came from a rescue place, was let out the basket and made herself at home on the sofa straight away. Also cat no 3 was pretty much the same.
  • Mrs_Z wrote: »
    Thank you all for your responses. I'm glad to be reporting that we are making progress! I've been spending time with them in the spare room, sitting on the floor and chatting to them. I bought one of those toys (stick with a feather top) and that proved to be irresistable for them. Food was disappearing overnight but and I only saw the female cat eating it.
    For the past 2 days I've also given them access to the other bedrooms - blocking off the entry point to the stairs. The female went on to explore straight away, the male did not dare on the first time, but cautiously did yesterday. This morning, even the male cat came out of hiding when I went to put down and started eating which was great to see.
    I hadn't come across this kind of situation before, the previous 2 cats that we rehomed - cat no 2 came from a rescue place, was let out the basket and made herself at home on the sofa straight away. Also cat no 3 was pretty much the same.

    How are they getting on?
  • Mrs_ZMrs_Z Forumite
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    How are they getting on?

    Hello and thank you all for your responses. We are now just over 3 weeks in since the cats arrived and I'm pleased to report that they are doing great!
    After the first couple of days in 'their bedroom', we let them wonder to the other rooms upstairs, one room at the time (supervised) and once they seemed comfortable with this - then we did the same with downstairs. So at the end of the first week, they had free rein of the house.
    We have also moved their food bowls and litter trays to downstairs utility room and that went ok too.
    The cats have even been sleeping in our bed :eek: so I guess they feel at home :rotfl:
    Now the next phase will be more challenging... how to introduce them to the garden. These 2 have only ever had very minimal supervised garden access so it'll be interesting. I've ordered cat harnesses from eBay and will try if they take on to wearing them. If they do, then we could start with letting them out in a harness. Any tips welcome!
  • suki1964suki1964 Forumite
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    Mrs_Z wrote: »
    Hello and thank you all for your responses. We are now just over 3 weeks in since the cats arrived and I'm pleased to report that they are doing great!
    After the first couple of days in 'their bedroom', we let them wonder to the other rooms upstairs, one room at the time (supervised) and once they seemed comfortable with this - then we did the same with downstairs. So at the end of the first week, they had free rein of the house.
    We have also moved their food bowls and litter trays to downstairs utility room and that went ok too.
    The cats have even been sleeping in our bed :eek: so I guess they feel at home :rotfl:
    Now the next phase will be more challenging... how to introduce them to the garden. These 2 have only ever had very minimal supervised garden access so it'll be interesting. I've ordered cat harnesses from eBay and will try if they take on to wearing them. If they do, then we could start with letting them out in a harness. Any tips welcome!


    Well done so far

    Its stressful isn't it? I was always a dog owner, finding myself the slave to a rescue and then a new baby kitten a year later was a bit of an eye opener for sure :)

    How you introduced them to the home was how I done it - room at a time and like you found, they soon feel comfortable and relaxed

    The garden, well tbh I just opened the door and let them at it. First few times they got as far as the door step, then the patio, then the edge of the patio - and so it went till they were away across the fence and across the fields. I have patio doors so I could see them at all times, let them back in as soon as they came back to the door. Then I went sod this, put the cat flap in, taught them how to use it and left them at it


    The older cat ( the rescue ) is feared of cars and doesn't go further then the bonnet of our cars at the front of the house but roams wherever at the back. The kitten, well hes away every direction, he has no fear and loves to torment the dogs in the neighbourhood

    Neither will accept collars, so I haven't even tried a harness. I am a true animal lover yet at the same time I am one that will say cats will be cats , they cant be tamed, let them roam and take their chances
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