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1. SETTLING INTO A NEW HOME

This information applies to cats being re-homed or re-located. Also, if you live with a nervous cat or in a busy household, please use this page to create a quiet place for them to relax within.

Cats & kittens are generally not happy when they are re-located. They are very territorial animals & feel secure if their surroundings & the personalities within them are familiar & follow a routine (cats thrive on routine).

Although you may be re-homing a cat to a better quality of life, they are still likely to disappear in search of the familiar to begin with. They may appear to be terrified, creep along close to the floor in search of a hidey hole & lick their lips (a sign of anxiety) with very wide eyes. They may seem anxious, become vocal & appear to be searching for something or a way out. Don't worry this is normal, but ensure that they cannot escape before you let them out in a room. 

Blinking when making eye contact (without wide eyes), yawning, or looking away calmly can communicate to a cat that you are relaxed & unthreatening. Don't pressure them. Our well intended attention from watching their every move, can instill anxiety & be intimidating, give them plenty of space & time. Avoid trying to reassure them as this can portray to them that there is something they should be worried about, just calmly go about your business.

Before & during their arrival in your home, follow these guidelines to help settle your new family member in...

1 • Prepare a transitional, secure, quiet room in your house for your feline friend to settle into (away from appliances or toilets that will make sudden noises). To begin with block chimneys, close windows, physically obstruct catflaps & close doors to ensure that they cannot stray from that secure room. They are very likely try to escape in their confusion, in search for something familiar. (It may also be a good precaution to remove electric cables they could chew & certainly secure any precarious objects that could fall on them.)

Kittens may need an especially secured room, they are not yet aware of dangers, can get underfoot & become victims of their own curiosity. Provide some warmth - if necessary wrap a hot water bottle in a towel.
If you have a very nervous cat & days go by, you could leave a radio on - quietly tuned into a talk or relaxing channel during the days.

2 • Make sure there is always fresh water, some familiar food (they may not eat at first, if they eat in front of you it is a good sign that they are accepting your presence) & place a litter tray (preferably in the quietest corner or in an open cupboard with familiar litter) away from any doors or their food bowl. Cats are private & cleanly animals - given the opportunity.

3 • Create a couple of secure beds & hidey holes or "safe dens" in the room. (cardboard boxes with a blanket inside for comfort & something draped partially over the entrance are ideal)

4 • If your cat came with any familiar toys or blankets, leave them around the room for your cat to find for themselves. You can also install a feliway diffuser to help them to calm down.

5 • When your new family member arrives, open the carrier in their secure room & leave them to emerge for themselves (don't just tip them out). Leave the carrier in the room, they may cling to it & feel more secure settling within it to begin with.

6 • If your newcomer seems comfortable with your presence & explores straight away, sit on the floor & let them investigate their surroundings & investigate you, but don't pressure them. (Just one person should bring food & water to begin with, until they are accustomised to a routine & one personality)

7 • Leave your friend to explore his or her new surroundings & shut the door behind you. There will have been enough experiences & excitement during the re-location, they will need to quietly relax & familiarise themselves their new space. Some cats will be noisy, some will silently explore, just allow them to settle themselves.

They will soon catch up on some needed sleep, once they feel secure & all is peaceful.

If your new cat remains in hiding for some considerable time & retreats from people, it is common for owners to believe that they are doing something wrong & the cat is unhappy. Be patient & stick to a routine, it is likely to take more time than you had thought, pressuring an un-confident cat will not help & may slow the process down. They should be left to emerge in their own time, with only the gentlest encouragement.

Cats thrive with routine, maintain regular feeding times with food that they are used to.
Maintain your own recreational habits - so they know what they can expect during the days & nights. (obviously as long as it isn't something frightening - like drumming/dancing in their room)

The settling in process can take days, weeks or even months depending on the individual. Be patient, don't pressure them, just let them settle in their own time & open up new rooms to them gradually once they become more relaxed.

If you have released them to the whole house already, just maintain a routine & let them be (ensure they cannot escape through windows & do not nip through external doors as they are used).

It is highly recommended that you keep your cat indoors for about three weeks once they have settled into their transitional room & then the wider house, so that their new home territory is ingrained. This is to familiarise them with their surroundings, so they know exactly where their food, safety & warmth is located. Releasing them to the garden too early could have them straying in search of familiarity or bolting in panic & getting lost.

For examples of cats settling into new homes, please see examples in Happy endings

Your new family member may be scared on arrival

Your new family member may be scared on arrival

Cats may cling to their carrier, let them keep their safe den

Cats may cling to their carrier, let them keep their safe den

Don't be alarmed if your new cat hides away at first

Don't be alarmed if your new cat hides away at first

Give them somewhere snug, and leave them in peace

Give them somewhere snug, and leave them in peace

They will settle in their own time

They will settle in their own time

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