Two months ago we adopted a new cat from a friend in need. We already have two cats named Teddy & Dexter, and having lost our gorgeous ginger boy Scampi last year, this sweet little 8 month old kitty had a space all ready for him. With a little bit of tweaking we really hoped our new cat that we named 'Sonny', would fit into our mad house well and settle.
As well as the concern of the new cat settling, there was also how it would affect our other cats that we've had since they were just 8 weeks old, 8 long years ago. Our home was pretty settled, the cats were happy, our dog Peg gets on great with them so we did think we were probably a bit mad to rock the boat (pretty much Noah's ark now) with a new cat, but needs must. Plus he's a gorgeous ginger thing and I'm a crazy cat lady, the maths was easy!
At first Sonny was a little shy, he'd spent most his days in an empty house while the previous owner worked full time and was suddenly thrown into the madness of ours, with noisy kids and even noisier animals. He spent a good few days wedged firmly behind our TV cabinet coming out only for food, but soon ventured out in the evenings, came face to face with the others gradually and occasionally came for a cuddle too.
After a month or so Sonny was very settled, standing up to the dog and sharing food with his new cat 'brothers'. Although a little shy still, he liked getting stroked and began to be more relaxed to the noise and around the kids.
Two months on, Sonny is fully settled, he loves Alf's room and pretty much lives there enjoying Alf's strokes. He's started going out now and every time you go outside you hear his double squeak (he can't meow) and he comes straight in the garden. Letting him out was scary at first but he was happy to sit on the doorstep and thankfully had no urge to 'escape' or run away, he obviously knows where home is.
Introducing a new cat to the family home was nowhere near as traumatic as I'd thought it would be! I haven't enjoyed reintroducing a littler tray, but that has been phased out now so we are back to normal, just with one extra fluffy face.
If you're thinking of introducing a new cat, here's a few tips that really helped us in those first few weeks.
Bring the cat into a quiet room
When you bring a new cat home, make sure it's quiet, calm and that if children are present they know not to make any sudden loud noises. Turn TVs and music down or off and bring the cat into a closed room while they adjust to their new surroundings, sights and smells.
Keep the new cat separate in a room with hidey holes
If possible, keep your new cat in their own room with their own litter tray and bed. Make sure there's a few hiding places where your new kitty can retreat to if they feel scared or want to feel safe while they sleep. If you can keep other pets out, do so until the new cat is completely settled in their room.
Feed alone and give treats
If you have other cats, keep them separate at feeding times and give the new pet his meals in his own room. Also, give the new cat treats on their own so they can learn to trust you and feel happy in their new home.
Introduce the cat to people and other animals slowly
When you feel your new cat has settled in their room and maybe showing interest in venturing out into the house, slowly let them explore your home and gradually meet your other furry friends. Let the kids be around the new cat, just keep reminding them not to make sudden loud noises or try to pick the cat up too soon. Sometimes it's best to let your new pet take the reigns and decide how far in the house they want to go. Don't force him to explore, but don't hold back needlessly either. Give them lots of fuss and food to let them know they are safe.
Use a plug in cat calmer
I had never used a plug in of this kind, but it was so incredibly effective! The plug in cat calmer had the same effect on our other cats as catnip and visibly made the new cat calmer and more relaxed. These are pretty magical and I'd highly recommend.
When relaxed feed with other animals
Once your new cat is exploring and has met the other pets, start feeding them closer together so they can ultimately eat all in one space. Cats can be very territorial and this is definitely the case with their food. If they can eat together, you are definitely winning!
When ready to start going outside
When you are happy your new cat is feeling at home, eating well, not showing signs of stress or trying to escape, you can think about letting them outside. It's best to make sure they have been both neutered and chipped before making that big step outdoors too, so that in the event of them getting lost they can make it home. Also, if they are a male cat and have been neutered they are far less likely to stray too far in search for 'ladies'.
It's really scary letting them out that first time, but if you venture out to the garden and see if they want to follow, then go from there. This is where giving those treats comes in handy, one shake of that packet in the garden and they'll come running! You can start letting them out after a few weeks, or later if you feel they aren't quite ready.
I hope this helps anyone that's considering bringing a new cat into their home. It's a daunting prospect but so worth it, especially to give a loving home to a cat in need.