With approximately 3.4 million cats being abandoned each year just in the United States, rescuing a cat is more important than ever. While not every cat lover can take on their first (or even eighth!) cat, those who have the opportunity to help a cat in need will benefit immeasurably. However, as with any household change, the first days or weeks with an adopted cat or kitten can be stressful. Here are some ways to help your rescued cat love their new home.
Before bringing your new feline friend home, it’s a good idea to have a space set up for them. We recommend:
- Food and water bowls
- The food your cat has been eating (You can gradually transition them to a different food, if you like — but don’t suddenly switch their food.)
- Cat bed
- Cat-Safe Collar and ID tag
- Cat toys
- Cat brush
- Litter box and litter (Again, try to stick to the type of litter to which your cat is accustomed.)
- Scratching post or strips
If you have existing cats, you should keep them separated for a while. This will curb territorial behavior such as chasing.
Also, keeping your new cat in one room (such as a bedroom or kitchen) will help them adjust better. You can introduce them to more rooms as they get more comfortable with you and your house.
Be patient as you let your new cat settle in. It can take days, weeks, or even a few months for your cat to decompress. You don’t know what trauma your new pet has been through before coming to you. Some cats and kittens fend for themselves on the streets before going into a shelter or a rescue organization, and the stress can take a toll on them. Also, they have probably had three or more “homes” before coming to you. It will take time to build trust.
Spend plenty of time with your new cat, but also respect their need for time alone. Don’t be alarmed if your cat spends a lot of their first days with you sleeping or hiding. This is normal during transitions. Keep an eye out for the following behaviors and consult a vet if these behaviors do not decrease as the days pass.
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased grooming
- Lack of interest in attention or affection
- Sleeping in unusual locations
If you don’t already have a vet, establish a relationship with one before you need it. This will save you stress when you do need help for your new furry friend.
Above all, enjoy the journey! Rescuing a cat is one of the most rewarding things you (and your cat) will ever experience.