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The Big Day – And Every Day After: Bringing Your New CH Cat Home

September 28, 2012

Bringing home a CH cat – no matter if it is your first or third – is always an exciting time.

Photo courtesy adamreading

In addition to sharing your life with a new family member, you’re also learning more about cerebellar hypoplasia, and how it impacts every cat in a different way.

Since adoption days can be so much fun, sometimes it’s good to be reminded of best practices ahead of time. Remember, you’re beginning a fantastic adventure. But your new cat may not view it that way.

Here are some tips to keep your cat happy and comfortable during his first few days in your home:

A few days before

Before even bringing your cat home, take care of a few details first. You’ll be glad you did, so you can spend more time with your new cat on the first day, rather than running around to your local pet supply stores.

Adoption day

While the shelter may provide a cardboard carrier for your pet, you may want to consider purchasing a sturdy carrier prior to picking up your cat. If you have multiple carriers at home, wash one out (bleach if necessary) and let it air out for a few days before you take it to the shelter.

While traveling home, keep your cat in the carrier at all times. Most cats hate to travel, so resist the urge to take your new friend out before you reach your destination. Letting him loose in your car may cause him to panic, not to mention cause an accident. Plus there’s always the issue of getting your cat back into the carrier.

Arriving home

Once home, your cat will likely be a bit stressed. To help calm him down, take him to a quiet, closed-in area (like a bedroom or den), which can be the cat’s home base for a couple of days. This area should be equipped with his food, water, litter box, bed, some toys and other essentials.

This room may be essential for your cat, as many cats are territorial and may feel overwhelmed if confronted with a whole home to explore. This will help make the first few days less stressful.

Photo courtesy Birrell Walsh

One big cue as to how your cat is feeling about this change is how he exits his carrier. If he runs out and hides or crouches in the carrier, he’s most likely scared. Those who walk out casually may feel more confident.

Allow your cat to explore this room quietly for a while. Spend plenty of time with your cat, and if it’s obvious that he’s scared (hiding under a bed, acting defensive), give him a few days to calm down. You should be come better friends in a few days if you bring in food, talk to him, play with him and give him treats.

Even if your cat is acting like he’s dying to explore your home, you may still want to confine him for a few days, especially if you have other pets at home.

For the first few days, or even weeks, you’ll want to feed your cat the same food he’s had previously, as well as  the same type of litter he’s familiar with. Sudden changes like these can make a cat anxious or not feel well. You can always switch to other products eventually.

Needless to say, lots of loud noises and physical contact may make your cat nervous. Try to cut back on the squeals, hugs and kisses until you can tell your cat is comfortable. Usually that occurs when your cat approaches you for attention.

The first week(s)

Take the next few days to allow your cat to slowly explore your home. You’ll want to supervise the first few times in case your cat finds a hiding spot you didn’t know about. This may take more or less time depending on how well your cat is doing.

Photo courtesy elycefeliz

If possible, allow him to first explore other rooms without other pets around. In time you can slowly introduce them to one another. When your cat is exploring the other parts of your house, make sure he has access to his home base. That way he can run back to it if he feels nervous.

If your cat is anxious about exploring your home, try creating positive associations by offering treats in other rooms or playing with him.

Once your cat is comfortable in your home, you can move his food, litter box and other essentials to their permanent positions in your home. Your cat should be able to find them, but you may want to show your cat just in case!

Also make introductions slowly. Allow your cat to meet all of the members of your household (slowly if there are many of them), and obviously don’t invite the whole neighborhood over on the first day.

No matter how your cat reacts to your home, remember to be patient. The best way to introduce a new cat into your life is to let your pet take steps at his own pace.

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