Share

How long does a Cat Take to Adjust to a New Home?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. January 4, 2018
How long does a Cat Take to Adjust to a New Home?

See files for Cats

The cat is not only a creature of habit, but also still retains much of what would be their habits and instinctive behavior in the wildlife. That is why, either because you have decided to adopt one or because you are moving homes with your fluffy partner, you should take into consideration the time that the cat will need to adapt to the new home, doing everything in your power to make this process easier. Here are some tips and recommendations in case you're wondering: how does a cat take to adjust to a new home?

The adaptation period in cats

Of course, this will depend on the personality of the feline and, more importantly, on the experiences that the cat has had before, because in felines that have suffered traumatic moments with humans it is normal for them to feel suspicious and find it much more difficult to feel safe.

Usually, in a cat that is not traumatized and has no socialization problems, a week or week and a half will be more than enough to make them feel completely comfortable in their new home. Some shy kittens may require a little more time, but following our recommendations you will be able to provide peace of mind even for felines who have gone through painful experiences. To do this, here are some tips for getting your cat to adapt to their new home quickly.

If after this period of time your kitten continues to be nervous in their new home, growl and snarl and try to hide, it is very likely that they may be carrying a severe trauma, so we suggest that you go to a specialist.

The first encounter

Cats are animals that love routine, so a small change in daily activities affects them. If you've just adopted a kitten, it's normal for them to be suspicious and mistrustful. In addition to not knowing who you are or what your intentions are, they will suddenly find yourself in a strange environment, full of unknown smells and without a single mark of their own scent, which is so important for cats to feel comfortable.

Arriving at home is crucial to getting used to the new environment as quickly as possible. Some cats will feel at ease from the beginning, exploring and taking over quickly, but this is not the most common.

When you adopt a cat it is important that you anticipate their arrival and prepare everything for such an event. To do this, check out our our article on "How to welcome a Kitten". Regardless of whether you live in a house or apartment, it's best to use a room in the home for the first contact so that the cat can stay for a while without being disturbed by anyone. Remember to place a litter box of clean sand, water and food containers and what will be their bed from that moment onward in this room. However, the sandbox should be as far away as possible from the feeder and bed, since cats are very neat animals. Let them stay in the room as long as they need, sniffing, scouting or even sulking, when they feel ready they will explore around them, just give themm time and respect their rhythm.

Relationship with the family

A good relationship with all family members should begin to be built from day one. Obviously, the first approach is with the person who brings the cat home. Ideally, you should pick them up in a pet carrier, where they can feel secure, without being forced to be carried by an unknown human being. On the way home, use a soothing and calming tone of voice to talk with the cat. Allow them to sniff through the door of the carrier and respect their decision if they want to stay at the far end of it.

When you get home and leave them in the room we have described, let them decide when to leave the carrier, do not force them to do so. Keep an eye on them when they come out, letting them sniff, and back off if they feel very tense. Give them time to explore the room alone and then come back. If you notice they have become calm, sit on the floor so you don't intimidate them with your height, and remain still so that they approach you alone when they wish to.

They'll probably come over to sniff. Let them do it a couple of times before I try to caress you. Keep some delicious food nearby to offer them as a reward, this way they will interpret that being with you brings good things. And when the cat feels comfortable with you, other members of the household can apply the same method to identify their scents and not take the cat by surprise when they are exploring the rest of the spaces.

How long does a Cat Take to Adjust to a New Home? - Relationship with the family

Give them their own space

Once the cat has decided to explore the entire house and feels more secure and confident, it is time to move their belongings to the areas where they will be in from then on. Of course, if you think the newcomer will be better off in the room you've set up for them, you can let them sleep there. In the end, the most important thing is to know the animal and adapt to their needs to ensure that the cat can adapt to their new home and, most importantly, live happily.

If you decided to remove their belongings from the room because it's in their best interest, remember to place the water and food containers in places that are easy for the cat to access, but that aren't so frequented by humans. The same goes for the litter box, keeping in mind to place it away from the food. Place the bed in a warm and protected place, where the cat can rest but not feel isolated. You can't forget a scratching pole and toys, preferably in the areas where family life ocurs, so that the feline can share and have fun with everyone.

Tips for moving home with a cat

As we pointed out at the beginning of the article, if what happens is that you are already living with an adult cat and you are going to move out of your current home, it is logical that you ask yourself what steps to follow and how to get a cat used to their new home. In such cases, the same steps mentioned above must be followed. That is to say, move all the furniture to the new home before taking your cat, set up a room just for them with all their belongings and leave them there with the carrier so that they only leave when they feel ready, sniffing and exploring.

It is very important that you finish moving everything from one place to the other before taking your cat to the new home for a very simple reason:avoiding unnecessary stress. Cats are animals that are very easily stressed, and noises, strangers and sudden movements are some of the factors that cause anxiety in them. Therefore, we recommend avoiding this situation in your cat and take them when everything is in order. In addition, they can recognize the smell of furniture and adapt to their new home much faster.

As we have repeated throughout the post, patience, affection and respect are the key to getting the cat to get used to his new home. So, don't force them, leave them alone exploring every corner and move their belongings when the animal is ready.

How long does a Cat Take to Adjust to a New Home? - Tips for moving home with a cat

If you want to read similar articles to How long does a Cat Take to Adjust to a New Home?, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.

Write a comment about How long does a Cat Take to Adjust to a New Home?

Add an image
Click to attach a photo related to your comment
What did you think of this article?
7 comments
Poppy Gloria
Hi! We have a stray female cat visiting us when we’re not at home. Usually, she goes through the trash and rummages for food then, leaves. Recently, we found her 5 kittens inside a cabinet that’s not in use. The cats are about a month old or so. (they can stand but walk wobbily) She came back to get the 4 cats but has left one behind and it’s been days. I’m now worried that she won’t come back for the last one. What should I do and prepare to take care of this kitten?
Belen
Hi, I am looking for some piece of advise as I am really torned with my cat´s situation. I moved to New Zealand 2 years ago, when I moved in this house there were two kittens that started coming in looking for food. One of my neighbors, Barry, adopted them, but only the girl stayed with him, the male cat, Horacio, kept on coming in my place. Even I didn´t feed him, he would stay here. My neighbor said that as Horacio was more comfortable with me I could keep him. Now I have to go back to my home country, but I will be travelling for four months before settling down and I don´t know what would be best for the cat, as I don´t want him to suffer. My neighbor says that the cat should stay with me until I am gone and once he realizes I am not there anymore, Horacio would go back to him. I feel like I would be abandoning him this way, so I said to my neighbor if he wanted to start from now feeding Horacio and so on so the cat can get used to being at my neighbor´s place before I leave but my neighbor is not interested in doing that. He says that the cat will be just fine when I leave. The other option is taking him to my home country to stay at my friend´s place for a couple of months and when I settle taking him with me. I am going to take him to the vet to see if he is fit to fly. But what would be your insight on what is the least traumatic option? I appreciate your help.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Belen,

First of all, it really sounds like you are trying to be as considerate as possible in looking after this cat's needs and we applaud you for it. Cats do form strong bonds with humans, but they can also adapt to new situations. The least traumatic option will likely be for them to stay with your neighbor. They may miss you, but flying in an aeroplane, adapting to a new home and even getting to grips with a new country will probably be more traumatic.

In saying that, every cat is an individual and they might also be happy to make the trip and enjoy your new life together. Moving to a new country will also require new vaccinations and probably a lot of paperwork and expense. Find out if it is even possible first and see if you are ready and/or able to make the commitment. Unfortunately, cats are left in shelters every day. Many of them are able to find new homes and enjoy their lives with a new family. While they may miss you, cats are also very resilient and should be able to adapt to your leaving. As long as they are still being cared for by your neighbor, it seems like a good option.
AS
Hi,

I've adopted a friend's cat, he was from a home with three other cats who don't like him. He's been in my closet, aggressive, hissing and yowling, and hasn't eaten nor gone to his litter box. This is day 2 now. He's 4 years old and we have another cat turning 1 this Christmas, she's a Siberian and very friendly but skittish.

I'm not sure what to do at this point because my closet now seems out of bounds, but he's terrible aggressive so anyone who so much as comes within the fence (we had to set up a fence around my closet) will most likely get attacked.

Is there any advice you could give me?

PS: I know he's quite frightened but I'm afraid he might never leave the closet.
Rona
I adopted a 2 yr old 3 mths ago still very shy and running away other times friendly
What do I do
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Rona,

Ensure you give them their space. Don't force interactions and let them come to you. They will need some time to build up trust, especially as you may not be aware of their previous history. Use positive reinforcement and remove any stressors which may be in their environment. Also, they will need lots of positive mental and physical stimulation, so have the right kind of play things for them. Unfortunately, this process can take time, so the most important thing you need is patience. Good luck!
Rating:
Nathan Domingue
Back in December of last year, I got a Hurricane Harvey rescue cat. His name was Pumpkin then, but, he responds to his new name of Francis. He was 1, so it was really easy for him to adjust.
He lost his left hind leg in that storm, but, fur has overgrown the spot now.
After I got him, I left the carrier door open, and he crawled out and sniffed instantly. 5 minutes later, he laid on the bed. I always believed it was instant trust.
Administrador AnimalWised
Thank you so much for sharing Nathan!
Rating:
Wanda Eaton
We just got a 1 year old tortie tux, female. (Annabelle)
I can't walk much. I have a broken knee cap.
I am in a recliner most of the time. Sometimes in a wheelchair.
How do I get the cat used to me since I can't get down to her level? I wish she will go into my lap.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Wanda,

Regardless of mobility issues, you shouldn't pick up a cat which doesn't want to be handled. You are right, however, that being able to go down to their level can make interaction difficult. However, if you exercise patience, your cat should be interested enough in you and will eventually come to you. What you need to do is make this as appealing a prospect as possible:

Find some toys which make noise. Jangle the toys and your cat will hear and try to play with it. You don't have to have the cat on your lap, but you can play next to a couch or some other high are you are happy to have them play.

Keep treats and reward the cat for coming up to you.

Cats bond with their owners partly because they provide for them. If you can, be the one to feed and water them. This will engender you to the cat's affections.

Don't push it and try to force interaction. Let them come to you and use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior.

If anyone else has direct experience and would like to share with the community, please feel free to comment and share your advice.
Rating:
Lexi LaGrow
Thanks for the article! I got my cat as a 1 year old, he moved into a house with 6 people and a dog (same age). My older brother moved out later, and I visited him very regularly. The cat and the dog mostly laid around but they'd occasionally play fight, and he would watch her when she went outside. Now he's 3, and I moved into my brother's apartment with him yesterday. He already knows my brother and since I visit here half the time, he probably recognizes the scent of the place. He walked out of his carrier immediately, but he was still iffy about walking into new spots for a short while. Since then, he's been venturing around and sometimes going under things. One thing I've noticed is he's doing the kneading action with his paws constantly, and he's more clingy than usual (typically when I sleep he just sits on my bed, but last night he kept jumping on, rubbing his face on me repeatedly, rolling around/clawing playfully, then jumping off). Other than that, he hasn't been much different, he really likes sitting by the glass door and watching outside. My main concern is that I hope he doesn't get lonely since he's used to having another pet at the house (I feel really bad for the dog too, maybe my dad will get her a new friend), but I hope that's not the case because I don't want to go through the hassle (and can't afford/don't have the room) for a second cat! It's only been 2 days and I only have a part-time job, but I just worry about him. :)
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Lexi,

Thanks for the comment and pic! Being considerate as you are is the best thing you can do at the minute. Use positive reinforcement to ensure this new home is seen as a happy place and ensure they have enough environmental enrichment to keep their mind active and engaged. We hope you're cat settles in well and you both enjoy your new home.

How long does a Cat Take to Adjust to a New Home?
1 of 3
How long does a Cat Take to Adjust to a New Home?

Back to top