Bringing Your New Cat Home
Introducing a new cat to your home can be exciting, frightening, or daunting, depending on how well prepared you are. Arrange to pick up your cat in a carrier, cage, or cardboard box with air holes punched in it. There are few experiences in life more frustrating than trying to drive with a cat squished up under the gas pedal. And that’s usually where they try to hide, believe me!
When you get home, if there are no other pets in the home already, you can simply open the carrier door, and let the cat come out when it is ready. That may be immediately, or it may take several hours. Don’t fret – it will come out.
Show the cat where the food and litter box is as soon as it come out of the carrier. Do this again several times over the next few hours. Cats are smart, have a great memory, and a better sense of smell. They’ll find what they’re looking for, even in the dark.
If there are other pets already in the home, leave the carrier door closed for several hours to allow the existing pets time to get used to the newcomer’s smell. Don’t be concerned about snarls and howling between them. They are simply setting boundaries. After several hours, open the carrier door, making sure that there are ample places nearby for the newcomer to hide where the existing pets cannot follow. Again, the newcomer will come out when it’s hungry or needs to go to the litter box.
Expect to not see the newcomer much over the next few days. Expect it to run and hide when it sees you coming. Then, when it doesn’t do that anymore, you can be excited and overjoyed at your progress.
Expect existing cats to hiss and snarl at the newcomer for some time. My Himalayan had not been around any other cats before I adopted him, having been in his own cage all his life. Because of that, he didn’t have any boundaries to set. However, my existing cat did have boundaries and territory to defend. In my experience, cats seldom fight. They make a great fuss, but most is for show. Leave them alone, and they’ll get over it, normally within three days or so.
Be prepared for the newcomer to do things that are not acceptable behavior in your household, especially if you have existing pets who misbehave. Cats are wonderful imitators. Of course, the definition of ‘unacceptable behavior’ can be as varied as the number of households. For me, scratching furniture and carpet; jumping on counters and tables; and running out the front door are all no-no’s. However, I found that my Himalayan was so anxious to please, one loud ‘No!’ was all it took for him to not do it again. Okay, maybe I never completely broke him of the scratching thing, but, two out of three isn’t bad!